How to Restore Rusty Chrome

Vintage-style furnishings are popular and add such a custom and unique style to your home. But… not all the vintage finds around town are in pristine shape. And those that are in amazing shape are usually much more pricy! But with some TLC and elbow grease, many older worn pieces of furniture can be cleaned up to look like new, and updated to fit perfectly in a modern eclectic space. Heather, our newest contributor (remember her easy wire rolling baskets?), found a great-shaped vintage chair, but the metal frame needed some attention. Read below to see how to restore rusty chrome back to its original glory!

So easy! Quickly remove rust from chrome to restore a chair (or anything else) |

And you can also restore leather:

Restore a Leather Chair - Before and After, The Project Addict featured on Remodelaholic
The Project Addict, featured on Remodelaholic


and refinish wood furniture too —

How to Strip and Restore Wood Furniture - Beckwith's Treasures featured on @Remodelaholic
Beckwith’s Treasures, featured on Remodelaholic



so watch for those bargains on great, sturdy vintage pieces because you can love them back to beauty. Here’s Heather… and Margaret! 🙂


We Must, We Must, We Must Decrease Our Rust
a.k.a How to Remove Rust from Chrome
by Heather of The Heathered Nest

Top of the morning to all you lovely Remodelaholic readers.  I’m Heather.  My husband Dave and I blog at The Heathered Nest.  A couple weeks back, I wrote a post about the rehabilitation of a sweet, elderly little chrome chair I found curbside.

This ol’ girl right here.  We’ll call her “Margaret”.  And Margaret wasn’t doing or looking so hot.

How to update a rusty chair by The Heathered Nest featured on @Remodelaholic
Pretty decrepit.  She was a whole lotta age, and hardly any beauty.
How to repair a rusty chair by The Heathered Nest featured on @Remodelaholic
Wood rot…
Repair and Refinish a Rusty Chrome Chair by The Heathered Nest featured on @Remodelaholic
And the worst part was the rust.
How to repair rusty chrome by The Heathered Nest featured on @Remodelaholic
It was everywhere…
How to repair and refinish a rusty chrome chair by The Heathered Nest featured on @Remodelaholic
Did you read the Judy Blume book, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.  A Classic.  The epitomy of an awkward, coming of age story, am I right?
This chair makeover was a little like that book.  Awkward, because I didn’t quite know what I was doing.  I fumbled my way through much of this process, just praying that it would all turn out ok for Margaret.
In Margaret the chair’s case, we aren’t really talking about a coming of age story, but more of a reversal of age story.  And at this particular “phase” in my own life, which I will NOT be calling middle age, but rather “above average” age, I love age deniers.  There are all kinds of “deniers” out there in this world…and this is one I kind of denial I aim to embrace wholeheartedly.  Anyone else wanna join me and Margaret in our club?  We’ll call it the ADA.  Age Deniers Anonymous.
So, in the spirit of Judy Blume, and our protagonist, Margaret, I’m going to share with you how to get rid of the rust, and polish up old, banged up chrome.  Altogether now… “WE MUST, WE MUST, WE MUST DECREASE OUR RUST”…that still sounds awkward, even with the wording-change-up.  Thank God puberty is behind me.


  • Tin Foil
  • Water


  1. Grab a small wad of clean tin foil.  Dip it in some clean water.
How to repair and refinish a rusty chrome by The Heathered Nest featured on @Remodelaholic
2. Rub the wet tin foil all over the rusted chrome.
How to repair and refinish a rusty chrome 02 by The Heathered Nest featured on @Remodelaholic
3. THERE IS NO #3!  YOU’RE DONE!  Can one of my ADA members up here in da club pop a bottle full of bub?  Because this is a flipping miracle, I’ll tell you.  Seriously, that’s all you do.
Below is a shot of the same section of chair, after the tin foil/water treatment.
How to repair and refinish a rusty chrome 03 by The Heathered Nest featured on @Remodelaholic
I scrubbed a tiny, itsy bitsy amount…not hard, just went over each section a couple times with the tin foil/water treatment.  This procedure alone removed 85% of the rust.  Now, truth be told, this little chair will never again be completely rust-free, but considering where we started, I’d call this a serious victory!
How to repair and refinish a rusty chrome 04 by The Heathered Nest featured on @Remodelaholic
Just to help out a little more, after the tin foil/water, I rubbed the frame down with chrome polish/rust remover.  Same kind that people use on their cars (we don’t use it too often for that purpose, which is why this bottle looks like it’s from 1985).  I can’t say this step really improved the chrome’s condition more than the water/tin foil alone, but I think it *may* help protect the finish a bit moving forward.  So it’s an optional step, but probably a good one.  I have heard others swear by using Coca-Cola on their chrome to restore it.  I haven’t tried it, but would love to know if someone else has and how that worked out for them.

For now, I’ll show you how things turned out for our friend, Margaret.

Update an old rusty chair by The Heathered Nest featured on @Remodelaholic

She’s a beaut.  I’ll tell ya, it makes me feel like breaking into song.

Great update an old rusty chair by The Heathered Nest featured on @Remodelaholic

Possibly a little Sinatra… “You make me feel so young…”

How to update an old chrome chair by The Heathered Nest featured on @Remodelaholic

Or perhaps a rousing rendition of “Forever Young” by my man Rod Stewart?

How to update and repair a chrome chair by The Heathered Nest featured on @Remodelaholic

Maybe a little MKTO “Out of my league, old school chic, like a movie star, from the silver screen…baby you’re so classic”…

Chrome chair update and repair by The Heathered Nest featured on @Remodelaholic

Regardless of the tune, bottom line is Margaret may be an oldie, but she’s definitely a goodie.  And since age is “just a number”, I’m gonna say hers is a PERFECT 10.

Chrome chair repair and refinish by The Heathered Nest featured on @Remodelaholic

But since we’re not mentioning age here in the ADA club, we’ll just leave it like this…

How to Restore Chrome Furniture by The Heathered Nest featured on @Remodelaholic

You’re only as old as you feel, and if this chica is “acting her age”, she’s got a long, spunky, fun-filled life in front of her.  No more elderly or awkward here.  In fact, now I’m SUCH a believer, that perhaps I’ll go and try that other “must, must” thing again…you ladies know what I’m talking about (wink, wink).

Nice to meet you all, and don’t be strangers now, ya hear?


Thanks, Heather! Remodelaholics, watch for more from Heather in upcoming months since she’s now part of our contributor team — and be sure to visit her over at The Heathered Nest to see more of her beautiful home (and why she loves throw pillows)!

Want to be featured? Submit your best project here!

Website | + posts

Former doctor of physical therapy, Heather, and her engineer hubby, Dave, blog at the colorful, slightly off-kilter DIY and home decor blog, The Heathered Nest. Definitely a contrast to the mostly neutral world of home decor that currently abounds, Heather and Dave's home is full of pattern, punchy colors, and tons of DIY, all done on the cheap, though it may not appear it. Their work has been featured in magazines to include This Old House, USA Today Home Magazine, Reloved, GreenCraft and Cottages & Bungalows. They've made appearances on several DIY network TV shows, including "I Hate my Bath" and "I Want That". And their work has been featured all over the www in spots such as Better Homes & Gardens, House Beautiful, Country Living, Good Housekeeping, The Today Show, Washington Post, Huffington Post, USA Today, Apartment Therapy and more.

We love hearing from fellow Remodelaholics, so let us know what you like about this and leave any questions below in the comments. If you've followed a tutorial or been inspired by something you've seen here, we'd love to see pictures! Submit pictures here or by messaging us over on Facebook.

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  1. I noticed that you specify “tin” foil, rather than “aluminum” foil…was that intentional? Is this some kind of chemical reaction specific to tin?

    1. Great question! Regular aluminum foil is what I meant to say. Having a minor in Chem, I should have thought more about my wording πŸ˜‰ Appreciate you pointing this out!

  2. I was wondering if this takes minutes or hours? I have some chrome retro kitchen chairs and it seems like I tried this with no luck. Maybe needs more elbow grease? Any tips would be appreciated as re-chroming is crazy expensive!

    1. Hi Anne, in the case of this chair, it probably took me an hour to two hours total, I think (although this was now years ago). It TOTALLY will depend on the condition that you’re starting with, obviously. You can see how ours was for a gauge. Hope yours isn’t too far gone! I don’t think that I needed to scrub really hard, however.

  3. I just found this tip — a few years after you posted it — and the tinfoil + water strategy has worked beautifully on our vintage chrome Bertoia chairs. Thank you! Onward.

  4. Can’t wait to try it on some chrome legs of a chair!! This just seems too good to be true. I will report back and include photos.

  5. I came across this post as I was searching for a rechroming service. You may have just saved me a boatload of money! Your chair looks great, and I love what you used for reupholstery. Super chic!