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Chrome Trim: Delete, Blackout or Customize

Chrome Trim: Delete, Blackout or Customize

Throughout most of automotive history, chrome trim has been used to signify an upscale trim on mainstream vehicles and a premium look on luxury cars.  It wasn’t until the 1980s that carmakers began replacing the chrome with black trim to make a car more sporty.  This trend comes and goes, but many enthusiasts are finding ways to black out their trim to make their vehicles more sporty or sinister looking.

That works most of the time, but can go too far in others.  Deleting the chrome or covering it with paint or vinyl can remove too much of the detail on a car, which caused me to find a new approach.

Methods to Deleting Chrome

When it comes to grills and emblems, the easiest way is to spray those items with Plasti Dip.  I’ve done this on several vehicles, and it is an easy way to get the blackout look that is also reversible.  I did this last year on my Camaro with great success.

Related article:  Camaro Project 1: Emblem Color Change 

Another popular method is to use vinyl wrap to cover emblems and trim.  This requires a bit more skill, but the result is usually impressive and reversible.  The challenge with vinyl comes when trying to cover a shape with irregular curves (like a mirror or curved molding).  With patience and careful application of heat, this too is possible.

An Easier Way

I have a 2022 Subaru Outback in Autumn Green.  It is a beautiful color (especially in bright daylight), but the lower trim levels come with big chrome moldings around the side glass and a big silver bar across the grill.  It detracts from the rich color, so I explored some options to dechrome the look.

Several companies make a pre-cut vinyl kit that completely covers the chrome trim.  One of those companies, Crux Moto, is one of the more popular choices.  They make a kit specifically for the Outback for under $60.  Being pre-cut, it is a pretty easy install.

As you can see in the picture above, the Crux kit completely covers the chrome.  If that is the look you are after, then this is all you need.  I don’t like the total blackout effect, so I devised my own solution for my Outback.

Custom (And Cheap) Solution

The blackout trim on a green vehicle (like the Outback) tends to deaden the look of the vehicle.  In my case, a little chrome showing was ideal.

If you look through the Repairs/Mods section of this site, you will see many projects where I used vinyl wrap from VVIVID Vinyl to create custom graphics.  I have a lot of extra vinyl wrap on hand, so I decided to make my own blackout design.  I typically buy my vinyl wrap in rolls that measure 12” x 60” for around $10.  I used less than half of a roll for this project.  Instead of eliminating the chrome, I decided to tone it down. 

cutting board with straight edge

The process was fairly easy, once I landed on the design and method.  The molding at the top of the glass was about 3/4” wide and the lower part was just under 1/2.”  I cut strips of vinyl 5/8” wide for the top moldings and 5/16” for the bottom ones.  This left a small margin of chrome showing on the outside edges.  Since I cut each vinyl strip 12” long, this made the application easy and allowed me to create a mosaic look by making a 1/8” gap between pieces.

front door of green car

For the section at the rear of the vehicle, I decided to use smaller pieces cut on different angles.  This made it easy to work around the curve of the molding.  I then cut a 1” wide piece of copper vinyl wrap for an accent.  I think it gives my Outback a unique look.

back window trim with black and copper vinyl

Shower Tile Grill

When I first got my Outback in 2021, I used Plasti Dip on the silver grill bar.  As expected, it caused the grill bar to disappear within the rest of the grill.  I tried using a solid piece of vinyl wrap, but the many contours made this a tough task.  As with most of my projects, I looked around the house for inspiration.

One morning as I was showering, I dropped the shampoo bottle.  As I went to pick it up, I saw the hexagon tile on the floor of the shower. The size and shape were ideal for this design.  Thank goodness I was not looking at other parts of the bathroom! Ironically, the Outback has several areas that have hexagon elements (like the speaker grills).

I took one of our spare tiles and traced it on the vinyl. It looked good on the grill bar and was the perfect size. I started applying it to the grill, then the design came to life.  Yes, I had to hand cut each hexagon with scissors.

 

before and after look of vehicle grill

Like the window trim. I left a small space between vinyl pieces to give the grill bar some texture.  I really like how it turned out, and think this is one of my better creations.

Final Thoughts & Questions

For less than $10, I was able to transform the look of my vehicle. I have become a big fan of vinyl wrap as it is easy to work with, inexpensive and can be removed when desired.

I hope this serves to give you some inspiration for your vehicle project.  Please let me know if you have any added thoughts or questions. You can reach me via email (wct.billtaylor@gmail.com) or in the comments below.

Want to learn more about me?  Go to this article:   Who’s Your Nanny?

About The Author

2 Comments

  1. D Stone

    First time visitor to your site, and I like it.

    I’ve always tried to maintain the “to each his own” policy, and keep an open mind regarding new trends, but I cannot swallow this black wheels look. They remind me of someone who had to quickly scrounge up some tires and wheels for their car after the nice originals were stolen, and since the scrounged ones were all different colors, he painted them all black for his quick trip to the tire/wheel store (hoping no one saw him on the way).

    There certainly can be TOO much chrome (58 Buick), but none at all is almost fatal to the looks of most vehicles.

    I suppose there is one thing good about the black-out look though, any vehicle can easily be converted in a short amount of time by applying a few cans of black spray paint (or brush-on) after covering the glass and lights. Quick and easy (and atrocious)!

    Reply
    • Bill Taylor

      Chrome trim is not inherently bad, but doesn’t work well on every vehicle. A full blackout treatment may not always work, either. That’s why I presented this third option. For my vehicle, the solution here works for me. The beauty is that mods like this are doable for anybody.

      Reply

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