Introduction: Fix a TV Remote With Electric Paint

About: Bare Conductive makes creative electronic tools for any designer, engineer or aspiring maker.

Electric Paint can fix circuit board breaks and repair the rubber buttons of a broken TV remote

We often get asked if Electric Paint can be used to fix key fobs or remote controls. We are happy to say it works great, so don’t throw yours out yet!

Some of the circuit boards inside a remote control are printed with a carbon material, not dissimilar to our paint. When these printed tracks wear away, the bridge the button creates in the circuit is broken and the button does not work. The same can happen with the rubber buttons which have a small carbon pill on their reverse, which bridges the traces on the circuit board. Both of these issues can be fixed with Electric Paint.

Read the instructions below and have a go at fixing yours!

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Step 1: Materials

To begin you will need:

1 x Electric Paint 10ml


1 x Remote control

1 x Mini screwdriver to remove internal screw

1 x Flat ended screwdriver

1x bottle of industrial alcohol, nail varnish remover or surgical spirit (optional)

Step 2: ​Unscrew the Remote

There will probably be one or two tiny screws holding the remote’s plastic casing together. Take out the batteries and unscrew the mini screw. Be careful not to force anything – the remote should come apart quite easily. Forcing the remote may snap off delicate plastic parts and make it hard to reassemble.

It’s also a good idea to keep the screws laid out clearly so that you know which came from where – we like to tape them to a piece of paper with notes on where they go.

Step 3: ​Locate the Eroded Buttons

Take out the rubber buttons from the remote(they often form a continuous sheet). If they are individual buttons, be sure to take a photo of their positions before taking them out, or you could end up with some very strange remote behaviour when it is reassembled!

Check the reverse of the rubber buttons to make sure the conductive pads haven’t worn down anywhere. We had a couple of chipped sections we had to work on with an Electric Paint 10ml pen.

Step 4: ​Repair the Circuit Board

Now check the circuit board itself. Some will just have tinned or gold-plated pads that match the button layout. You should check that these aren’t eroded, corroded or covered in anything that has been spilled on the remote in the past. Some (like ours) will have a carbon paint overprint.

You can use alcohol, nail varnish remover or surgical spirit to clean up any contamination, and a hard eraser to clean up any corrosion (on metal pads). Use an Electric Paint 10ml pen to fill in any eroded areas on metal or carbon sections. You will only need a small amount, and be very careful not to bridge the circuit in places it shouldn’t be bridged – this will seem the same as having a button permanently pressed to the remote.

Step 5: ​Leave It to Dry!

All repairs using the paint will need to be left to dry before the remote is reassembled. We recommend at least 1 hour of drying time in a warm place, but longer certainly doesn’t hurt. Once the drying is complete, you should check that the finished surface is clean and free from cracks which can form if the applied layer is too thick. If you have these, you can wipe them clean with water and try again.

Step 6: ​Testing

Now reassemble the remote, being careful to make sure that everything goes back in the same spot it came from, and in the same order. Put the batteries back in and test it with your device.

If you are having issues with it, disassemble the remote and look closely again. Are there cracks or breaks in your repair? Are there broken sections that you did not see the first time around? Have you left enough time for the paint to dry, or is there now wet paint smudged inside the remote? If this is the case, clean up the paint with water and start again.

Not all remotes work in the same way or are made of the same rubber so you might get varying results with adhesion of the Electric Paint to the buttons. However you can also try properly cleaning the buttons with some isopropyl alcohol or water to remove any grease build up, this might be enough to fix your remote, but it will also mean that when you apply the Electric Paint to the rubber it sticks better.

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