Painting A White MacBook Case

Posted by: Waragainstsleep

Painting A White MacBook Case - 05/13/07 12:47 PM

The top case and front bezel are quite rough so look like you could just clean them up and spray straight on, but the bottom case and display housing are very smooth, but they are at least sligtly different to the late G4 iBook cases.

Any advice in painting a complete MacBook case? ModYourMac, I'm thinking of you when I ask this question. I'd like the finish to be as durable as possible.
Posted by: TCPMeta

Re: Painting A White MacBook Case - 05/15/07 04:41 PM

sand it with 600 grit sandpaper then paint then sand it with 1000grit then paint again then wet sand it with 2000grit sandpaper.
Posted by: Eulaca

Re: Painting A White MacBook Case - 05/29/07 02:45 PM

I signed up just for you!

I started my mod today, I took a small step and started work on the screen bezel.

Here is how i'm doing it:

1. rub down with 800 grade wet and dry (wet)
2. Using plastic primer apply two coats.
3. Apply a few layers of paint. (if you get imperfections in the colour coat you can sand down with 100 or 1500 fine grade wet and dry (wet). then respray.
    I cure the paint with a hair dryer to speed up the process as its cold in England at the moment (its nearly june and  it wet and nasty)
4. sand down the colour coat lightly with 1500 grade wet and dry (wet) so that it has a matt finish.
5. Apply sever layers of clear coating.


I am using automotive paint as they are harder wearing.

I'm going to start a log for this some time with pictures showing my progress and how im doing it. This is the first time i've done something like this so i'm unsure as to how it will turn out.
Posted by: Waragainstsleep

Re: Painting A White MacBook Case - 05/29/07 02:52 PM

I'd be interested to see the finished product. To be honest, I don't have a compressor or anything, and I have never gotten good results from spray cans. I might just get a quote from a bodyshop.
Posted by: Eulaca

Re: Painting A White MacBook Case - 05/30/07 12:24 AM

Just my luck, I have good weather today and i'm stuck working.
I'll try o get the insides stripped out after work.

Will also do a practice run with the battery to see what finish it gives.
Posted by: modyourmac

Re: Painting A White MacBook Case - 05/30/07 10:51 AM

Hey War, you know you can PM me or email me directly, if you have questions smile

As far as macbook painting, here's what I would do. First, figure you're gonna have to gut the entire machine in order to get down to plastics. So keep track of where everything goes, make a screw map, and keep it all organized. Do this, and you'll thank me later. I promise.

But, once you're down to bare plastics, I'd scuff them with 800-1000 grit wet/dry sandpaper. you dont want the surface all gouged up, you just want to take it down flat and get the gloss off it. Then, mask off things like the bottom feet with masking paer. Mask anything you dont want painted. Then, a good sandable primer would be next. several coats, and then a light sand (dry) with 800 grit, justy to smooth it, an pull off the dust. Wipe down with a tack cloth as well.

Once your primer is smooth, if you're using spray paint, you should be able to go straight to your color coats. However, if you're using something semi-transparent, I'd spray on a flat white automotive first. Likewise, if you want some sparkle, get one of those transparent sparkle coats and spray that over your white, and under your color coat. If you're going with just a solid opaque color, dont worry about it. When spraying, read the directions on the can, shake the can constantly, and work in even strokes. You'll want to put several coats on with appropriate flash times, so the paint can build up. Once the paint has cured for the full drying time (24-48 hours at least) I would wet sand it with 2000 grit, in order to get it super smooth. Then, clear coat your color. Same as paint, give it plenty of drying time. Then wet sand with 2k grit, and use a good rubbing compound to polish it out. 3M makes a good compound in a black bottle. You'll be amazed at the shine you get. I promise.

War, if you want more detail, email me directly at [url=mailto:info@modyourmac.com]mailto:info@modyourmac.com[/url]
Posted by: TCPMeta

Re: Painting A White MacBook Case - 05/30/07 01:49 PM

Hey Eulaca, how's it coming?
Posted by: Eulaca

Re: Painting A White MacBook Case - 05/30/07 03:52 PM

Well i managed to destroy the keyboard today.

It was all going well until we had to remove the keyboard to double check everything. the connection didnt come off properly and destroyed half the pins.

Its 10 to 12 at night so im giving up until morning. Will try and solder the pins back on.

If i cant solder it i'm going to need a new English topcase. It's going to be very hard to find one.
Posted by: Eulaca

Re: Painting A White MacBook Case - 05/30/07 04:44 PM

ok, i need an entire top case.... bugger
Posted by: Waragainstsleep

Re: Painting A White MacBook Case - 05/31/07 08:46 AM

I have stacks of case parts for MacBooks Especially top cases. They are discoloured so have been removed, but many work just fine. PM me if you want one Eul. Won't cost you much.

As for screw diagrams, thanks for the tip MYM, but I could gut one of these in my sleep. It was your painting expertise I was after. I have never used clear coats on anything, but I have heard the term bandied about in various places and figured this would be a job where one (or more) would be required. Can I accomplish a good finish with off the shelf cans of auto paint?
Posted by: Eulaca

Re: Painting A White MacBook Case - 05/31/07 03:36 PM

Thank you for the offer Waran, i'm currently bidding on one on ebay, if that doesnt go through i'll drop you a PM.

If you take your time you can get a good finish by rattle can. You just have to remember to take a full day between doing each type of coat. I'd also leave the clear coat layer to dry for two days before attempting to put it back together, This will make sure that it is all properly dry and more scratch resistant.

You may also want to practise first on some spare plastic just to get your technique right.
Posted by: Waragainstsleep

Re: Painting A White MacBook Case - 06/01/07 12:04 AM

Yeah, thought I might try a bit of practice. Like I say, I'm not short of case parts to practice on.
Posted by: Eulaca

Re: Painting A White MacBook Case - 06/04/07 12:38 PM

I'm not too sure on how durable it is just yet, I guess I will find out when i take it travelling with me in a few weeks.
Posted by: Waragainstsleep

Re: Painting A White MacBook Case - 06/06/07 07:35 AM

I have started painting. My bezel looks about ready for its clear coat to star going on. Top case needs another coat or two of colour first, but its looking OK. I bought 1200 grit paper instead of 2k. Might head out shortly and get some if possible.
The bezel is looking good so far though......
Posted by: Eulaca

Re: Painting A White MacBook Case - 06/08/07 01:42 AM

Just a painted bezel on a white mackbook looks good.
Posted by: reLAXER564

Re: Painting A White MacBook Case - 06/08/07 04:12 AM

Did I miss it your did you mention what color your painting it? So far it sounds like it will turn out awesome!
Posted by: Waragainstsleep

Re: Painting A White MacBook Case - 06/08/07 10:55 AM

Mine is metallic dark green. Don't know about Eul's.
Posted by: Eulaca

Re: Painting A White MacBook Case - 06/08/07 12:59 PM

Mine's bright VW orange.
Posted by: Waragainstsleep

Re: Painting A White MacBook Case - 06/11/07 12:25 PM

OK, I am stuck here. I have painted my bottom case and display bezel. My rear housing is coming in tomorrow and will be started swiftly. I have also done my top case, but I removed the keys beforehand and I just can't decide what to do with them.
These are the options I have worked out so far:
Leave them as they are in white with grey text;
Swap them out for a set from a blackbook;
Paint them green too, then use stencils, transfers or stickers to put the text on in my choice of colour (I was thinking silver);
Paint them with a tinted varnish or similar leaving the grey text but changing the key colour slightly;
I do not trust myself to do the text by hand, I want it to look good when its done and the case parts I have painted look fantastic so far. Very professional for a first go.
I suspect I will struggle to find good quality stencils of the correct size and acceptable font. I would also struggle to do the specialist keys like shift, tab, apple etc, though I guess I don't have to use the Apple symbols for them.
Any advice, opinions or suggestions welcome.
Posted by: manhackman

Re: Painting A White MacBook Case - 06/11/07 02:17 PM

I've wanted to use ink jet decals to do a custom keyboard for a while... or some letraset, but it's hard to find!
Posted by: Eulaca

Re: Painting A White MacBook Case - 06/12/07 02:09 PM

I left my keys their original colour.

Thanks for the topcase War, it's helped me loads.
Posted by: jmelt217

Re: Painting A White MacBook Case - 07/04/07 08:33 PM

So, I am completely new to this whole mod thing, but I have realized this is my niche.  My 13 inch broke on me the otherday(harddrive and superdrive) So, i disassembled the whole entire thing and decided to paint it. My problem is that I don't know how to remove the keyboard/trackpad from the top case.  Any suggestions?  thanks in advance
Jamison
Posted by: Waragainstsleep

Re: Painting A White MacBook Case - 07/04/07 11:53 PM

Can't speak for Eul, but I just masked over my trackpad.
Posted by: Eulaca

Re: Painting A White MacBook Case - 08/02/07 06:39 AM

Was masking tape + xacto knife for me.

make sure you don't splash anything like isopropyl around the paint, I accidentally got a drop on the paint when cleaning grease, it starts to melt the paint slightly.
Posted by: modyourmac

Re: Painting A White MacBook Case - 08/02/07 11:28 AM

for the top case, the easiest thing is masking. Check with sign shops, custom paint places, etc. Kustomshop.com is good too. You can get rolls of medium tack masking tape that are ten inches wide, by about 50 feet long (its what I use) which means you can get a good coverage, without tons of overlapping tape, which sucks.

As far as painting itself goes, heed eulaca's warning. Always keep your cleaners, solvents, chemicals, etc, AWAY from your surface, or your painting area, unless you are using specifically THAT product for a specific reason. Likewise, clearcoat your work when done. That way you can wet sand it to a mirror finish, and the clear will protect the paint from blemishes, etc.
Posted by: Waragainstsleep

Re: Painting A White MacBook Case - 08/02/07 11:54 AM

I'll add another warning. Using ordinary auto paint and clear coat, my colleague removed the sleep magnet from his display (so he could use it headless). It overheated in his bag and the paint stuck the lid to the topcase. He'll need a new top case and bezel.
Posted by: modyourmac

Re: Painting A White MacBook Case - 08/02/07 12:00 PM

this is typically why I usually only paint the bottom case and the display housing. When you start painting the top case and display bezel, you get into the possibility of so many secondary problems.
Posted by: bacton

Re: Painting A White MacBook Case - 08/21/07 11:19 PM

so, i joined just because of this post... well besides that, when i was a kid we used to take white peices of plastic and (sounds funny) put hot glue in random designs all over, and then hang them in a tub of a choice of RIT dye... when you take them out and rinse them the original white plastic would change colours, but after peeling off the hot glue, those spots would stay white... where am i going with this? well if your macbook is already apart and you want to do something trick, then take your hot glue and "mask" the underside of all the buttons, and dip them... im not sure if it would work, but i think the lighting would still shine through... now im not sure what you could do about the mousepad, except getting a black macbooks mousepad... i guess im done now... if you have any questions... i may still have a few peices laying around i could take a picture of... just e-mail me.
Posted by: qwertyuiop

Re: Painting A White MacBook Case - 09/13/07 05:24 PM

Originally Posted By: "Waragainstsleep "

OK, I am stuck here. I have painted my bottom case and display bezel. My rear housing is coming in tomorrow and will be started swiftly. I have also done my top case, but I removed the keys beforehand and I just can't decide what to do with them.
These are the options I have worked out so far:
Leave them as they are in white with grey text;
Swap them out for a set from a blackbook;
Paint them green too, then use stencils, transfers or stickers to put the text on in my choice of colour (I was thinking silver);
Paint them with a tinted varnish or similar leaving the grey text but changing the key colour slightly;
I do not trust myself to do the text by hand, I want it to look good when its done and the case parts I have painted look fantastic so far. Very professional for a first go.
I suspect I will struggle to find good quality stencils of the correct size and acceptable font. I would also struggle to do the specialist keys like shift, tab, apple etc, though I guess I don't have to use the Apple symbols for them.
Any advice, opinions or suggestions welcome.


This is my first post.
I painted my g3 a nice blue purple (from the inside, of course)  I dyed the keys the same color with RIT, if you would like a pic just ask for it in a post, but the result was great.
Posted by: Waragainstsleep

Re: Painting A White MacBook Case - 09/19/07 03:07 PM

Dying the keys is sounding pretty good to me.Though I still have to pick a colour. Does anyone know a chain that stocks Krylon paint in the UK? and can I get metallic Krylon?
My auto paint stuck together just leaving the laptop powered off on a shelf. I still don't have a good screen for it so its not in use yet. I might need to start again......
Posted by: modyourmac

Re: Painting A White MacBook Case - 09/19/07 03:12 PM

If you want first class spray paint in the UK, you might look into Belton Molotow. If I remember, its a german manufacture, but its true artists color. Bout the best there is in the can world. I've sprayed with their colors in the past, and they're definitely pretty smile
Posted by: whitlock

Re: Painting A White MacBook Case - 09/19/07 03:20 PM

Originally Posted By: "Waragainstsleep "

Does anyone know a chain that stocks Krylon paint in the UK? and can I get metallic Krylon?


Try this site: http://www.krylon.co.uk/stockists/index.jsp

I don't think this is right...
Posted by: maestro

Re: Painting A White MacBook Case - 09/19/07 05:07 PM

Whitlock, its good to see you in the forums!  Dying plastic is way cool, I used to do that when I was a kid and built R/C cars.  Its a great way to get custom parts that no one else has and they are durable.  Krylon is a good spray, but may I suggest you try the dying first.
Posted by: Waragainstsleep

Re: Painting A White MacBook Case - 09/20/07 12:59 AM

I'm after durability over colour to be honest. I need something that isn't going to scratch, chip or stick to itself. Some heat resistance too. Dye does sound a good option. Is there any preparation necessary.
Posted by: flippy10

Re: Painting A White MacBook Case - 02/19/08 03:03 PM

You're doing exactly what I've been pondering for a long while. A first gen MacBook is something around 700 bucks (for bare minimum) which is relatively cheap considering the re-sell value of Apple laptops that age. I wanted to buy one and dye it, backlight the keys (single SMT LED per key would work. I'd just need a MacBookAir keyset I'd imagine, but I digress..) max the RAM and HD, and wa-lah! Ultimate MacBook.
I ordered 15 boxes of RIT Black and 10 boxes of RIT Red from eBay, plus a shiny (2 year old) MacBook White (2.0Ghz Gen 1.5), 3GB DDR2 and a 200GB 7200RPM SATA drive today! If I end up dying it before you do, I'll post the pictures. laugh
Posted by: oojacoboo

Re: Painting A White MacBook Case - 02/19/08 04:15 PM

we need a killer guide for this, who wants to be the next interweb star? This is a hugely popular topic of interest for laptop modding with the new casings...
Posted by: flippy10

Re: Painting A White MacBook Case - 02/19/08 04:46 PM

I am incredibly willing to take pictures/write a guide. smile
Posted by: oojacoboo

Re: Painting A White MacBook Case - 02/19/08 08:05 PM

well, please do. Take PLENTY of pics and document it well. We'll post up a guide. Just email me when you get it ready.
Posted by: ~Antonio

Re: Painting A White MacBook Case - 02/19/08 08:29 PM

I have a white MacBook, dyed mahogany... I have the pictures, too...

SIGH, yeah, I really need to get on that mod guide.
How are we doing the mod guides these days?
Text document with references to the photo names, or can I go ahead and send you an html document which you can open in FF, complete with loading images?
Posted by: flippy10

Re: Painting A White MacBook Case - 02/20/08 06:39 AM

Sweet.. Mahogany sounds like it would be quite nice with the white keyboard/trackpad and white apple.

I've got all of the colors mapped to the areas I'm going to put them, plus I'm going to backlight the ports with red LEDs. I just ordered the SMT LEDs for the keys and the ports smile

I'm going to be testing all these theories on my iBG4 later today hopefully.
Posted by: ~Antonio

Re: Painting A White MacBook Case - 02/20/08 12:03 PM

Originally Posted By: "flippy10"
Sweet.. Mahogany sounds like it would be quite nice with the white keyboard/trackpad and white apple.


It does, however, the cheap plastics they used are a pretty big turnoff for me.

When I have time to get back to it, I'm going to finish fabricating my aluminum palmrest and screen bezel. I've already done rough versions, using a spare keyboard assembly I have lying around, so I know how to make it work and roughly what it will look like. The rough version also helped me refine my measurements, and I already have the final drafted onto a sheet of thin gauge aluminum (roughly the same thickness as the stock plastic). This time around, I'll probably have a machine shop cut it. I can do a clean job with what I have at home, but it takes a while, so having someone else do it gives me time for other things.
Posted by: oojacoboo

Re: Painting A White MacBook Case - 02/20/08 02:57 PM

I wanna see someone do a two part stain. Stain it one color kinda quickly, then stain it another, so there is a sorta tie-dyed effect...

Who knows, might not work out so well, depends on how the stain absorbs and applies to the plastic...
Posted by: flippy10

Re: Painting A White MacBook Case - 02/20/08 04:01 PM

@Antonio
I haven't analyzed the MacBook too much. This'll be my first venture into one.
Honestly, I don't like the new keyboard design very much. The floating key layout appeals to me more. But I have heard of the keys/palm-rests cracking very easily. Thats disappointing.

@Jacob
When my dye comes in, I'll test it with an old iBG3 case I've got knocking around. I'm interested to see if that'll work myself.

Question that I'm not sure anybody has the answer to:
Do you think that an SMT LED below the white keys on the MacBook will show through correctly? I doubt it will but I figured I'd ask anyway.
I haven't been able to find any MacBook Air keyboards on eBay, and direct from Apple will probably be incredibly expensive.
Posted by: ROMSY

Re: Painting A White MacBook Case - 02/21/08 05:40 PM

hi, i read the whole thread and everybody say use sandpaper...
i read that this guy

http://geektechnique.org/projectlab/203/giving-my-ibook-a-nice-colour

used alcohol on his ibook to remove the color.
would this work on a macbook too?

and would somebody upload some pictures of his new painted macbook?

greets fom germany and sry for my worse english

ROMSY
Posted by: oojacoboo

Re: Painting A White MacBook Case - 02/21/08 06:27 PM

@ROMSY,
The alcohol doesn't work on the new macbooks. They are stained plastic, not clear and painted from beneath like the ibooks.

@filppy10,
I don't think the led will work unless you put one directly under each key. But, then you might have issues with the keys pressing down correctly.
Posted by: flippy10

Re: Painting A White MacBook Case - 02/22/08 11:18 AM

Yeah thats what I was thinking as well. I don't like messing with the keys because I've got a thing about my laptops keys being perfectly smooth when I type and such.
I might drop the backlight keyboard idea until MacBook Air keyboards start popping up around. But I'm still planning the LED lit port mod. I went to Radioshack and splooged in preparation yesterday. So I'm ready for when this thing arrives.