Introduction: How to Modify a PlayStation 4 Controller: Paint and Thumb Sticks

The PlayStation 4 (PS4) controller is a great step up from previous generations, but there is always room for a little modification. The stock analog stick are a bit too smooth for me causing my fingers to slip off at times, and the stock black is great but why not decorate it up a bit. In this tutorial you will learn how to take apart your PS4 controller, swap out the thumb sticks for XBOX One thumb sticks, and remove the face plate so you can paint it however you chose, followed by reassembly and troubleshooting.

Step 1: Warnings, Risks, and Ethical Considerations

  • As a forewarning any modification to your controller does risk violating any warranty you may have.
  • Taking apart your controller will expose sensitive electronics that could be easily damage so avoid dropping or otherwise breaking or losing any parts and avoid static electricity build up by working on a hard surface.
  • If swapping out thumb sticks make sure the new ones will fit appropriately and not damage anything in the controller.
  • Read all instructions before executing each step to avoid damaging the controller.

Step 2: Tools and Equipment Overview

Things you'll need:

Step 3: Remove Screws

  • Using the 1.7mm screw driver remove the 4 screws from the underside of the controller as shown above.

NOTE: Screws are very small, place them somewhere you wont lose them.

Step 4: Open Casing

  • Grabbing the textured underside of the casing with your palm and the face plate with your other hand pull apart the two halves like a clam. The two halves are snapped together and will require some force to separate and make a loud snapping noise but don't worry about breaking it. Simply alternate between sides pulling them apart until the case opens as shown above.

ALERT: Be careful not to pull the two halves away from each other once opened as there is a ribbon cable that will need to be unplugged first..

  • Once apart, using the tweezers or needle nose pliers, pull the ribbon cable from its plug in the controller circuit board (not from the LED within the casing).
  • Lastly gently unplug the battery cable from the circuit board pulling from the plug and not the cable.

NOTE: There is a small rubber reset button that sits on the circuit board and is likely to fall out so be careful to not loose this piece and don't forget to replace it when reassembling the controller.

  • Set these parts aside and move on to the next step.

Step 5: Separate Circuit Board

  • To separate the circuit board you will need to remove a single screw circled in the image above.
  • Before pulling the circuit board off be sure to use your tweezers or pliers to unplug the ribbon cable than connects to the touch pad out from the circuit board.
  • Finally, gently pull the circuit board out flip it over to gain access to the thumb sticks.

Step 6: Replace Thumb Sticks

At this point you may chose to skip this step or simply replace damaged sticks with new ones. In my case, I chose to swap them out with the thumb sticks from an XBOX One controller.

  • Securing the circuit board with one hand, grip the thumb stick and pull it straight up and off the board. There is nothing securing them on so they should come off easily.
  • Grab your replacement thumb sticks and take note of the rectangular shape of the post and hole and align them appropriately. Simply press the new sticks onto the posts ensuring they are all the way seated.

Step 7: Remove Buttons From Face Plate

  • First pull out the entire circuit board including rumble motors and triggers and set it aside. The whole thing should come out relatively easy at this point.

NOTE: There will be a lot of small parts at this point so I suggest keeping them organized and together.

  • Remove the touch pad by pushing it in and pivoting it around the top post.
  • Remove the rubber membranes from the D-pad, face buttons, and PlayStation button.

The image above shows you all the buttons and membranes once removed

1- D-Pad

2- O,X,◻, /\

3- PS

4- Touch Pad

5- Options and Share

  • Move these buttons to the side for reassembly later

Step 8: Paint Face Plate

  • Ensure nothing is left attached to the face plate that you don't want painted.
  • Wash the plastic face plate with soap and water

NOTE: Fair warning painting will cover up and decals on the controller such at the D-pad arrows ans the option and share labels.

  • Grab your choice of paint and follow the instructions on the can. If using spray paint be sure to spray in short sweeping applications in several light coats with time to dry in between coats.
  • There will be a lot of personal preference at this point but try not to apply too much paint as it might clog up the holes for button.
  • If you chose to as I did you may apply a clear coat for an added touch

NOTE: Plasti Dip may or may not be too thick for application so do a test before using if you so chose.

Step 9: Replace Face Buttons

  • Once your controller is completely dry begin to reassembling the controller in reverse order starting with the buttons.
  • Make note of your face buttons, they each have unique notchings that ensure they will only fit in the correct location and the correct alignment. Note: reference the image above to for reference to button locations.
  • When reinserting the touch pad be careful to not get the ribbon cable caught under the front post, refer to image above.
  • Finally replace the rubber membrane being careful not to place them upside down.

Step 10: Replace Circuit Board

  • Replace the screw securing the circuit board to the faceplate
  • Replace reset button
  • Plug the LED ribbon cable back in being careful to align the pins on the correct side (facing inwards).
  • Lastly plug the battery back in and set it back into its housing.

NOTE: Additionally you may chose to replace the battery at this time with a new or better battery (the PS3 controller battery does fit and it larger and longer lasting)

Step 11: Reassemble Controller

  • Ensure everything is in the correct position and all parts accounted for before snapping the two housings back together.
  • Replace all 4 screws.

Step 12: Functions Test and Troubleshooting

  • Once everything is back together plug it in and test out all the controls
  • The most common issue it the LED cable disconnecting, the reset button falling out, and the triggers misaligned.

LED Cable

Check both ends of the cable making sure they are all the way plugged in and aligned correctly.

Reset Button

Make sure the button is in place and not sitting on the table or the floor.


If your triggers pop off during the process they will easily snap back into place. Be careful not to lose the spring that will fit on the inside post and set into the slits on the trigger and controller. Also check the rubber membrane to make sure it is set in correctly as shown in the images above.

Step 13: Final Product

There you have it new and improved, custom to you, controller!

Please leave comments if you find a mistake or have a questions that I should address in the guide. Also post some pictures of your own results!