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Is this even worth trying?

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  • Is this even worth trying?

    Excuse my near total ignorance of electroplating... I have a home project and I'm considering going the diy route for copper plating, but I figure it's probably best to get some perspective first from those who have done this sort of thing before...

    My house has a ridge/soffit vent system in the roof. I started painting some of the ventilated soffit panels before I realized they were part of vent system. Now it's a mess. Paint needs to come off, and nothing matches.

    I would like to copper plate all of them... all around the house. It's a 2k square foot house, so it's a good amount of plating. I'm guessing, but I'd say each panel is made of some sort of coated metal, and has a largest dimension of a bit under 2 feet. If it's possible to copper plate them, then they'd match mailbox, doorbell, etc... unlike painting them, plating should still allow air to flow through... a few microns here and there won't make a difference in their vents, but the paint is plugging them.

    I would also, it the above works, like to copper plate maybe the switchplates, etc around the house.

    I have taken a brief look at some of the kits available, but can someone give me a rough idea what I'm looking at here? Can the soffit panels even be plated? Do I need to find out more about their composition first? What about the ones with paint on them? Just strip them and go? Something else?

    The finish doesn't need to be perfect here... no one ever sees them up close.

    If it's doable, what's the cheapest way to do it? Should I provide the container myself, and buy the chemicals... can I get the battery part locally? I realize at the least I will need specialized chemicals to get the copper, but what about the other bits? Pieces are rather large that I'm plating.

    Any help greatly appreciated.

  • #2
    Re: Is this even worth trying?

    What you are talking about is doable, but is a pretty fair sized job for a 1st time plater. Of all the metals to plate (nickel, chrome, zinc, gold, etc.) I personally believe that copper plating is the easiest and most forgiving. For the job you describe getting the parts to bare metal is going to be the biggest task. You might want to invest $15 and download Caswell's plating manual. It is very thorough and you get the money refunded if you buy one of the larger plating kits. Basically Caswell is selling you the components you can't easily buy locally. They will tell you exactly what additional materials (such as copper water pipe for your anodes) you will need to purchase.


    • #3
      Re: Is this even worth trying?

      This is why I'm trying to just get a rough perspective first... it might not be doable.

      I'm not sure I can get the soffit panels down to bare metal. If I had to guess I'd say they were coated somehow. Not painted, the finish is too perfect, but they're brown. If I have to get thatcoating off first, I probably can't do it. I could buy all new ones, but they'd all have to be custom cut, it'd be expensive, etc.

      If they are coated, but they're metal underneath, is it not doable at all if I can't strip off the finish? Also, not an electroplating question really, but if I took one down (maybe one that also had paint on it) is there a test I could do with it to see if I can get coating off? How would I do that? Would I strip paint off first then do something else for coating? It's got lots of little perforations which make it impossible to scrub.


      • #4
        Re: Is this even worth trying?

        There's lots of stuff you can try for removing the paint and surface coating. Acetone, methylene chloride, methyl ethyl ketone, etc. These are nasty chemicals but one of them is bound to work. (All available at your local Home Depot). As for the plating, I think you'd be better off (dollar wise) having someone plate them for you. You'd need a big tank to fit those in (and a big rectifier) and you'd need flash copper as well as acid copper to plate iron/steel. One of the chromers around here with big tanks would have everything needed to do this.


        • #5
          Re: Is this even worth trying?

          Sometimes I use a paint stipper from walmart in a spray can, Im not sure what its called maybe kleen strip, but look for it in the paint section and it works good but be careful cause it burns as soon as it gets on your skin. If you need to know exactly what brand I can look tonight in my shop.
          On the other other hand take one of the panels down and do a metal test on it to see what type of metal it is, or just take a magnet with you and see if it sticks. It probley is aluminum. If you need some help plating just let me know and maybe I can help.