Laptop Paint Job

Introduction: Laptop Paint Job

Basically, this all came about when I bought a laptop off of a co-worker for $13. The more I looked at it the more its appearance displeased me. After dredging the interweb, the only option that would truly suit my needs would be to paint the whole computer.

I was hesitant to do this because I live in an apartment and I have very little experience with spray painting. However, my curiosity over came any of my hesitations and this is the result. I will also be telling a little bit of the adventure that I went through, but I will try to keep those parts separate from the instructions so you don't have to read them.

**Obvious warnings**
This will most likely void your warranty Most companies like to find ways around a warranty and this will be a big one.
This will hurt the resale value Remember cool for you is not cool for other people, unless you are truly awesome.
There is no turning back! Once you start it's hard to just say "Well this is taking took long, I'm just going to stop" when you have one layer of paint not even covering the primer.
This will take a long time! If everything worked perfectly it would have taken me about a week and a half if I had nothing else to do for that time and most of that is waiting!
Things will go wrong! At least for me, this is a fact of being alive.

This is my first time writing an instructable and spray painting project larger then a model car, so if you have any tips to make either of them better please let me know.

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Step 1: Supplies!

" Primer (1 large Can)
" Color paint (3 large cans; 2 primary color and 1 secondary color)
" Clear coat (1 large Can)
" 220, 320, 400 Wet Sand paper
" Painter's tape (a lot of people say the blue kind works better, but I only had the white kind laying around.)
" old newspaper (to cover the larger sections you don't want to paint.)

Optional, but makes thinks easier.
" Sanding block
" Spray paint handle/gun thing
" Removable sticker paper (I used it so I could print off my stencil and cut it out from there.)

For safety
" Goggles or safety glasses of some type.
" Face mask (look for the one recommended for painting so you can breath.)
" A well vented painting place (also so you can breath.)

Step 2: Take It Apart.

Now comes both the easiest and hardest part of the project. You need to separate everything in order to identify the parts needed to be painted.

I found the black base was complementary to the color combination I was planing, so I left it alone.

Also, taking pictures or making notes of how you took the laptop apart is a good idea for the rebuilding process.

Step 3: Sand 'er Down.

Now that all of the parts that are going to be painted have been separated from the others, you now want to prepare all the parts for the primer. This part of the process could be skipped depending on what brand of primer you are using, but in the long run it is not a bad idea to sand down any object to get a proper roughness to hold the primer.

This is also the time you would make any other major alterations, like making cuts in the case or filling groves or missing sections with an epoxy, like Bondo. Since I didn't have any other major alterations I cannot explain this step.

Depending on how many and how deep of scratches you have in your case will determine what grit sandpaper you will need use here. You may be able to just run some 400 grit sandpaper over a clean case and be down with this step.

I started with the 220 grit and worked up to my 400 to make sure it was clean.

Step 4: Priming

I think this ends up being the most important part of the project because this is where the true color and strength of the paint job will be determined.

I ended up going with six coats of primer. If you do not already have a preferred process of spray painting, I suggest applying one light coat, then letting it dry for the recommended "dry to the touch" time before applying the next coat.

After the sixth coat is applied, allow it to dry for a day or the recommended "dry to wet-sand" time frame and then sand the primer smooth again. I tried to sand again after the 3rd coat by 320 and 400, but that ended up removing too much the primer.

If you remove too much primer during the sanding, re-apply three coats making sure to hit the weak areas before trying to sand the primer smooth.

Step 5: The Paint.

This step is much like the primer step, you want to lay down a thin/light coat, then letting it dry for the recommended time before laying down the next coat. However there are a few differences.

First, you want to lay down about 9 coats of the primary color.

Second, you will want to sand between the 6th and 7th coat. Do not sand the 9th coat unless you are planning on giving the laptop a mirrored finish (note: if you do wish to add a mirror finish, I would not sand farther then 400 until after the stencil has been painted).

For more information on a mirrored surface, you can read through this page:

**If you end up with a really bad orange peel texture like I did and wish to make it look cleaner, just sand down the paint smooth again. Then, re-apply two or three more layers to see if these coats dry nicer then the last ones.

The major problem I had with this paint was that it was too "rubbery", that is the best description I can come up with. It did not sand as nicely as the primer did. That made me think I choose a latex type paint instead of an enamel.

Also this paint had a bad over-spray issue and the color went everywhere!

Step 6: Stencils

This step tends to both easy and a bit temperamental.

First, you need to find a way to attach your stencil to the laptop. The most important part of this is that you do not want to leave a residue when it is removed. I used a removable sticker paper, but I think painter's tape would work just fine too.

Next few steps are a bit predictable and self-explanatory, so I will just list them quickly in order: Cut out the design, place the stencils where you want to paint, make sure the edges are firmly attached, and cover the areas you do not wish to be painted.

Also, like all the other steps where I talk about painting, you want to use light spray, but for this step I only used only used 4 coats and did not sand it at any time.

Finally, when the paint has completely dried, carefully remove the stencils. Depending on the paint used, it will be a very good idea to gently run a sharp or ridged object around the edges of the stencils, so they come away smoothly.

**I only did a one tone emblem which is simple; for more detailed instructions on painting a multi-toned design go to

Another reason I found not to used the paint I did for this project is that when I was removing the stencil, even after running a ridged object around the edges, chips of paint still stuck to the paper more then the laptop.

If you do run into this problem there is really only 3 things you can do:
1) Sand down the whole stencil and start again from the primary color;
2) Use a paint brush to touch up the area's by hand;
3) Try to ignore the small mistakes and replace the larger spots in their correct place and allow the clear coat to hold them in place.

Step 7: The Coat No One Knows It Is Wearing.

There are two reasons a clear coat is a good idea; to give it a slight shine and to lessen the wear and tear on the paint itself.

This step is basically a repetition of all the other painting steps applying 4 coats and should not be sanded except on a mirrored finish.

Also, it is not a bad idea to let the clear coat dry a day or two to just have a peace of mind that it is completely cured. This mostly because of the amount of manhandling in the final step.

There are a few important facts to be aware of when it comes to a clear coat:
It is harder to tell how the clear coat is settling on the laptop until it dries.
Scratches, bumps, finger prints, and other defects will most likely appear more noticeable with the addition of a clear coat.
If you do make any horrible mistakes at this stage of the process, then you will have to all the way down to the primary color step or to end of the stencil step and do the more detailed mirror finish.

Step 8: Completion!

Congratulations!! You have finished all of the tedious and repetitive painting. However, there are now 6 nicely painted pieces that need to become one beautifully painted and working laptop again.

If you took good notes or pictures during the dismantlement phase, then reassembling your laptop should be as easy as just reversing the process. You should will want to be very careful when you are snapping some areas together because the force may cause the painted areas to chip.

**I did not keep as good as notes as I should have, because I had to readjust and replace the hinges 4 times before they where aligned properly and I could close my laptop's lid.

Step 9: The Flaws and Problems.

This page is to show you some pictures of the problems and flaws that cropped up during this whole process. Thankfully most of the flaws that occurred are not very visible unless you are sitting next to it. The worse flaw that happened to my laptop is that whole fiasco with the stencils.

**Just remember, the only person who needs to be pleased with this project is the owner(s) of the laptop. And for me I was just pleased to have it back together and colored handsomely.

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    6 Discussions


    10 years ago on Introduction

    lol. my friend has the exact same laptop... er... well had the same laptop. (yours is blue, his isn't) yours definitely looks a lot better than the original colors.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Ok, I had to ask. Is this "Bad Wolf" as in Rose Tyler's calling card through time and space? Nice paint job though. How is the front of the key board holding up where your palms rest while typing?

    Road Kill
    Road Kill

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Yep, that's where I got it from. I was watching the episode in season 4 where Bad Wolf reappeared again while I was planning out the project. I don't use this laptop as my main computer, but it has been about 5 months and I haven't noticed any difference.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I'm gonna go ahead and give you 5 starts for 4 reasons: 1. You did a good job. 2. I was just thinking about doing something like this earlier today. 3. Your hair 4. Doctor Who