Decorative chrome is a multi step process resulting in a highly reflective finish. All parts are stripped of paint, old plate or scale, down to the base metal. The next step is to polish with various grits to obtain a satin finish. The polishing process is the foundation for an excellent finish. Depending on the type of metal, the condition of the metal and the configuration, the price to refinish the part can vary drastically. Once the part is uniform the copper plate is applied. The next step is to buff the copper to a mirror finish and inspect for flaws. Once the part passes inspection it is ready to nickel plate and the final chrome plate. Decorative chrome is designed to enhance the appearance and retard corrosion. To retain that high luster it is important for you to use very soft cloths when washing and wax the chrome as often as possible after the wash. The waxing seals the plate, much as it does on painted surfaces and keeps your parts looking their very best.
Decorative Nickel Plate
Decorative nickel is applied the same way as decorative chrome, except the final chrome layer is left off. Nickel has a yellow white appearance where as chrome has a white look. The corrosion protection is reduced when the chrome is left off and for that reason the parts should only be used in doors. Cabinet hardware, guitar parts, piano hinges, and other interior uses are common. Nickel can be very bright and shiny like chrome or many times the surface is brushed to get the stainless steel satin look.
Electroless nickel (EN) is a coating applied for corrosion protection. IT is more expensive to apply than zinc but offers better protection. The nickel is applied from a chemical reaction rather than an electrical current like decorative nickel. For that reason, the plate thickness is uniform throughout the part where ever the solution touches the metal. EN is often used in the food industries where rust can not be exposed to the processing. Other uses are highly corrosive atmospheres, like salt water or underground in drilling applications.
Copper is used as an underlay for many of the decorative finishes. It is easy to apply and allows for easy work when buffing closing minor pits and buffing lines. In some instances copper is used for a decorative finish, often in the kitchen and fireplace areas of the house. The copper is buffed to a high shine but will tarnish if not protected from oxidation. Many times the oxidation is advanced to a greenish black stage, lightly buffed and sealed to get the "old" or antiqued look. Copper is also an excellent conductor for electricity and is used in the circuitry industry.