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Since when I wrote this, there was not a "quick" guide to painting a case with a mirror/reflective finish I decided to make one, Furthermore at the request of a member also.

This process can be achieved by almost any paint with a clear coat and also some lacquers. From Krylon, Valspar, Rust-Oleum, to automotive paint products. The most important step is prep work and sanding. One thing worth mentioning is that paint adhesion and gloss/reflectivity are two different things. One can have a beautiful "looking" paint job and have poor adhesion, which means the paint will de-laminate, chip, and peel off, etc, etc, with the most minor abrasion or bump to the surface. This can be applied to Interior of the case also which you wont have to strip the paint just scuff it and then go to step 4.

Here is a quick cost break down for the paint job. You can use what brand you want including high quality automotive grade paint, Just make sure you get the proper primers and paints for the proper steps and quality of finish you want.

Also for clear coated surfaces try not to get single stage color/top coats not meant to be coated with clear. You would have to read the spray can or paint can to see if it is safe for clear coat , sometimes it says it sometimes not. Check on the manufacturers page for info on their paint.

1) Paint stripper - $8 - 2 cans
2) Duplicolor self-etch primer -$4-6 3 cans (only if striping paint)
3) Duplicolor sandable primer - $4-6 - 3 cans
4) Duplicolor color/base coat - $5 -6 - 3 cans
5) Duplicolor clear coat - $5-6 - 3 cans

7) Sandpaper (recommend 3M brand)
Pack of 5 - (9in x11 in sheets) 220 -320 grit - $4
Pack of 5 - (9in x11 in sheets) 400 grit - $4
Pack of 5 - (9in x11 in sheets) 600 grit - $4
Pack of 5 - (9in x11 in sheets) 1500 grit - $6
Pack of 5 - (9in x11 in sheets) 2000 grit - $7

8) wax and grease remover - $6 gallon size

9) 3m rubbing compund - $8
10) turtle wax polishing compound - $8
11) meguiars deep crystal polish - $9

12) Microfiber towels 5 pack - $8
13) Terry cloth towels - 5 pack - $5

Total cost approximately - $120

The focus on the beautiful "looking" part of the paint job, But Im also including a little durability and adhesion aspects since people are asking questions and wanting to know details beyond the "quick" aspect of it. I took the added material here from my work log, since I dont expect people to go hunting through that log to find the processes I used. So I transposed it here instead.
For members convenience.


Excellent quality paintwork is 90 percent dependent on the quality of preparation. The most labor intensive part is the sanding, its over 50% of the job the second longest part would be the masking

1) First you clean the surface -- Wax/grease remover is best



2) Sand/strip the old/original surface -- There are two ways to do it, You can strip or sand the old paint off with a chemical stripper

Or you can just sand the existing surface enough for the new paint to adhere to. You begin to sand it lightly with 80 grit to remove the bulk of the paint. Use dry sanding not wet sanding you dont want the water oxidizing the metal and it will in a matter of minutes. use the solvent to clean the panel as often as you like and blow off the dust when it builds up (you should be using a dust mask also
)After that, You sand it with 220 grit to remove the 80 grit scratches. You clean it again to remove any sanding dust and contaminants they may have gotten on the panels. For most paints, the weather affects the quality of the job and it has to be under 60% humidity and preferably 80 degress or below for proper drying. With the interior of cases you can just sand the inside with 220 to 320 grit sandpaper to scuff it up really good to create enough bite for the primer and or color coat to adhere to then clean it off with solvent.

Stripped bare metal case (sanded version)



3) Plastic parts - Here is the general procedure in the auto paint industry. For all the plastic, You clean it first with SEM Plastic/Leather Prep several times and then you wash it with warm water and scuff it with plastic cleaning paste using a gray Scothbrite™. I used SEM Scuff and Clean for the paste. Rinse it off and make sure it does not dry on the surface. You repeat the steps until it is dull and no water beads up on the surface. It is crucial to clean the surface to get good adhesion. You need to use care when sanding or scuffing plastic parts. There is a possibility the plastic parts might be damaged during the scuffing/sanding process.To prepare the surface and make the primer stick you can use an Adhesion Promoter and use one light coat, you apply it a couple mintues after cleaning the surface. You allow the adhesion promoter to dry for 25 min. You then applied the high build primer/surfacer allowed a 5 min flash time between coats and used two coats. Allow the primer to dry for 1 ½ hours, then sand it with 400 grit to start with and finished it with 600 grit to make it smooth. Or just stop at 400 grit for a decent good finsh.

4) Spray your primer - You can use a high build primer or you can use a sandable primer (dupli-color makes one). I recommend a sandable one if you use duplicolor or kylon other wise use high-build if your getting automotive quality primer (like SEM) since you need the smoothest surface possible on all layers. Sanding is the key! Without sanding you will never get the mirror/reflective finish you desire. If you stripped the old paint off, You apply the self-etching primer and allow it a 5 min flash time between coats and use two coats. Sand the etch primer with 400 grit. Use high-build primer-surfacer next if you used self etch or primer/sealer if you are just primering over old paint and you didnt go down to bare metal, to fill in scratches and prepare for color coat. After you apply the build primer and it is dry and cured mostly (usually a hour and a half), sand it with 400 grit to start with and finished it with 600 grit to make it a smooth shiny finish. Or you can stop at the 400 grit for a decent good finish. If your going for the gold, pay close attention to detail on the whole sanding part of the paint job, because the better you sand it, the better it looks. As far as the interior of the case you dont have to sand/scuff it unless you let the primer dry for 24 hours. For the exterior and Interior If you let the primer dry longer then 24 hrs then you should lightly sand it (400-600) if your going to put on additional coats. Just let the primer flash for the recommended time before you put on additional coats and let the primer cure for a hour or two before you put on color or resand it as far as the interior and exterior goes.

Touch up any spots with a extra coat of primer if you broke though the primer with your sanding and YES you do have to repeat the area over again with sanding if you touch it up with more primer
. You can use 2-3 coats of primer.

Self-etch Primer example



Primer/surfacer example (high build 2nd primer layer)



5) Spray your base coat - Your surface should be smooth as can be with the 400 grit or 600 grit sanding that you did on the primer but with enough bite for the base coat to adhere to. The base/color coat is and should be a matte finish out of the can. Do not use a gloss base/color coat if you using a clear coat. After you solvent clean it from the primer stage, You proceed to apply the basecoat or color coat, You apply two coats that which should be enough to hide the primer achieve the color match. If you are going to clear coat remember to use a matte finish paint for your basecoat. You allow it to flash 5 min between coats with no sanding required if you are going to use a clear coat because it dries to a smooth matte finish. You wait for 30 min until the basecoat was dry to apply the clear coat. Other wise unless your using lacquer paint which most can be colorsanded, Acrylic Enamel is a paint which is basicly a what you see is what you get. In other terms depending on your technique what the surface looks like after you paint it is what you get. It should not be colorsanded. Just polished after the cure time. I would plan on doing the base coat and clear coat in the same day. So if you got enough time to do only one panel with base /clear then just do that one panel. I would not start the next one if I couldnt finish it completly.

The base coat should never be sanded you have to try your best and have perfect or near perfect technique on the color coat so as to minimize orange peel and runs and sags. The color/base coat will be deep and rich in color when the clear coat is sprayed if you did not sand the base coat.

You wait 30 min for the base coat to flash/dry then you spray the clear coat , Dont let the color/base coat dry over 24 hours. Plan on spraying your color coat and clear in the same session or day.

Base coat example (notice how its a smooth matte finsh and vivid, deep color)



6) Spray your clear coat -- After you base coat is dry/flashed, spray your clear coat. You use two-three medium wet coats, 5-7 min flash time between coats. Spray about 8-10 in away from the surface. Let your clear coat dry for about 48 hours depending on the environmental conditions and temperature.

After drying time, You colorsand the clear coat lightly with 1500 grit Wet/dry paper and a small amount of dish soap and water to knock down the unevenness, then you finish it off with 2000 grit until smooth being careful not to break through the clear coat.

Example of fresh applied clear coat after 48 hrs without colorsanding or polishing/Buffing. Notice how the clarity and reflectiveness is good but not as exemplary as the large panel at the bottom of the post.



Example on how the whole paint looks when you do it from bare metal.



Example of a painted interior of the case. With primer and satin-black paint/coating. No buffing or polishing just professional technique and proper preparation.



7) Polish and buff your paint --- Use mild rubbing compound to buff out the 2000 grit scratches, Unless you have a machine buffer, get a rubbing compound that you can use by hand.

Reason being is that machine compound is designed for a machine, the particles are heated up by the rpm's of the buffer and then melted and worn down by friction thus polishing the surface. Your hand cant move at 1000-1200 rpm's a second thus the compound doesnt polish as it should and causes more scratches in the surface and a dull shine. Compound that is hand friendly has smaller particles and is designed differently for that reason.

You want to rub out the surface more than once, you do your first pass with the compound until it dries and then you buff it out until clean and do it again. Be careful you dont rub too hard and cut through the clear coat and to the base coat or worse to the primer. Keep a eye out on the towel if you see ANY color on the towel stop immediately you have gone too far and move on to the next spot on the panel.

After rubbing it out you want to polish it, with a polishing compound to take out the fine swirls that rubbing compound leaves behind. There are many machine buffer formulations but like I mentioned before unless you have a machine buffer dont get them.

One that is in a modders budget is Turtle wax polishing compound NOT the one in shallow plastic tub but the new one. The old version leaves scratches and is more aggressive than you need. This one below in fact is the right one! It is also found at Wal-Mart, Pep Boys, Auto-Zone and other places very affordable.

The polish will buff out the swirls and give the clear coat is luster and gloss back with just enough polishing agents to smooth out the surface but not cause deeper swirls. You polish out the surface twice and buff it off.

After that you can polish the surface with a clear coat safe polish to make it mirror/shiny smooth with not even a trace of swirls from the buffing process. Here is a excellent choice , can be found at Pep Boys and Wal-mart, auto-zone. Do not Wax or polish with silicone or non- breathable sealents for 60- 90 days after painting. Below is a sealent/polish that is safe for freshly painted surfaces. When it is safe to wax/polish with conventional products it will add more gloss/shine to the finish.



Buff the surface with a microfiber towel and its ready to go with a mirror finish. Here is what it should look like when your done after colorsanding and polishing.

Thank you every one for taking the time to view the guide and I hope it helps you get the paint finish you want. Let me know if it needs anything else now I updated it or any feed back on improving it I. Happy painting
 

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Discussion Starter #5
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Originally Posted by prosser13 View Post
Excellent guide, and a great finish

Thank you prosser !

Quote:

Originally Posted by Danylu View Post
Looks awesome!
Thank you very much.

Quote:

Originally Posted by nategr8ns View Post
Awesome! Thanks a lot!
+rep

So for the base coat, how many coats did you use?
Thank you, I hope it helps you out.

I used 2 coats on my case but I used a HVLP gun which uses less paint anyway with more coverage .

You could put 2 coats at first to see how the color turns out and if it covers and hides the primer well then move on to the next step, put a additional coat on it if need be or also to achive the color that it supposed to be. You shouldnt put more than 3 coats. There not heavy coats either, just medium wet coats.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you to the people that gave rep for my work , that did not leave comments . Much appricated
.
 
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Nice guide


You should include how much it cost you to do all of that as well
 

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I do a little auto detailing on the side and understand that a mirror finish on a good paintjob is very achievable. Be sure to mention how long you let the paint cure before trying to polish, etc. Also, if you use a good quality wax or sealant, it will add even more gloss/wetness to the paint.

Nice job on the guide. + Rep
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Quote:

Originally Posted by mega_option101 View Post
Nice guide


You should include how much it cost you to do all of that as well

Thank you Mega. Good idea you have there
. It is done and edited, Cost breakdown included in post above
.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Inuzukakiba2 View Post
Awesome guide. This is sure to help many modders out.

Thank you kind sir.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Run N. Gun View Post
I do a little auto detailing on the side and understand that a mirror finish on a good paintjob is very achievable. Be sure to mention how long you let the paint cure before trying to polish, etc. Also, if you use a good quality wax or sealant, it will add even more gloss/wetness to the paint.

Nice job on the guide. + Rep
Thank you Run N. Gun for the suggestions , I added them to the guide above.
I appreciated the positive feedback. Thank you for the rep


If anyone sees anything that needs to be added let me know. Im pleased people find it helpful
.
 
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Discussion Starter #12
I updated this guide, with fresh info and more techniques, also a few pictures for illustration purposes. I have been seeing more and more questions of painting, I felt the need to
and tweak this to the needs of the community here. I hope new members and old find the new revision info helpful.

and happy modding.
 

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+ rep dude. nice guide. Already started work on one for my gf.

Quick question. Her case has metal sides and a plastic front piece (CM Elite 335). I sanded down the paint on the metal and its just down to bare metal now. What do I do with the plastic parts? Do I need to sand them too or can I just prime and paint directly? The plastic is black the whole way through but I'm not sure if the primer will stick. Can I do a light surface sand and then prime?

Thanks again for your great guide.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Quote:

Originally Posted by nategr8ns View Post


Quote:

Originally Posted by coffeejunky View Post
Nice guide mate. Definately a great starting point for anyone wanting to paint their case


Quote:

Originally Posted by CattleRustler View Post
A great guide just got better
Thank you very much Guys , Im glad you had time to check out the revision, and give me your feedback.


Quote:

Originally Posted by NoodleGTS View Post
+ rep dude. nice guide. Already started work on one for my gf.

Quick question. Her case has metal sides and a plastic front piece (CM Elite 335). I sanded down the paint on the metal and its just down to bare metal now. What do I do with the plastic parts? Do I need to sand them too or can I just prime and paint directly? The plastic is black the whole way through but I'm not sure if the primer will stick. Can I do a light surface sand and then prime?

Thanks again for your great guide.
Thank you Noodle ! Im glad it helped you.


Here is the procedure for the plastic parts . its not as time consuming as it seems, you'll be done in no time with the prep. it is much easier to do plastic than metal cause there is less prep and a smoother surface. Alos there are a numerous plastic scuff/cleaning paste's . You dont have to go crazy on the sanding of the primer if ya dont want to just make sure you do a good job with the cleaning aspect, the solvent clean and the scuffing part cause that's the most important.

3) Plastic parts - Here is the general procedure in the auto paint industry. For all the plastic, You clean it first with SEM Plastic/Leather Prep several times and then you wash it with warm water and scuff it with plastic cleaning paste using a gray Scothbrite™. I used SEM Scuff and Clean for the paste. Rinse it off and make sure it does not dry on the surface. You repeat the steps until it is dull and no water beads up on the surface. It is crucial to clean the surface to get good adhesion. You need to use care when sanding or scuffing plastic parts. There is a possibility the plastic parts might be damaged during the scuffing/sanding process.To prepare the surface and make the primer stick you can use an Adhesion Promoter and use one coat, you dont sand it at all and you apply it it right after cleaning a couple mintues afterward. you allow the adhesion promoter to dry for 25 min. You then applied the high build primer/surfacer allowed a 5 min flash time between coats and used two coats. Allow the primer to dry for 1 ½ hours, then sand it with 400 grit to start with and finished it with 600 grit to make it smooth. Or just stop at 400 grit for a decent good finsh.
 

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Awesome guide, you have got a nice finish on that! Rep+
 

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Discussion Starter #19
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Originally Posted by Swiftes View Post
Awesome guide, you have got a nice finish on that! Rep+
Thank you. Glad you find it helpful.
 

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I painted the inside of my thermaltake armor case and used a semi-flat paint for a cool look. One question I had is do i have to do anything for the motherboard support pegs? Is there going to be any problem with the paint.

I know its a dumb question but i figured I ask it.
 
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