Painting Steps to Achieve That Perfect Finish

Creativity drives us to be different. Or does it? Does our mind realize that we are being creative, or is this just normality, outside the norm of what people consider normal? Is creativity just inherent in some, but abnormal for others that cannot fathom these concepts? This could explain why some see things differently than others, and why some believe they could do what the creative types accomplish if given the “tools” they have.

See creativity by definition is “the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.” (google.com) When we look at the modding world today, it is a creative accumulation of works by the modders. But how do they do this work? That is what brings us here today, and I want to discuss painting steps. It is very widespread as the easiest and most common thing to do, to alter, or modify the computer case that you own. You can paint parts of the case, or the entire thing. You can paint components, just portions or the entirety. This makes it something that is done very often, even by the novice modder.

Let’s take a look at the painting steps to achieve that perfect finish. These are steps that I use when painting, and some of the products I use to help achieve that perfect finish.

Step 1. Sanding – The first thing we need to do is scuff the surface that we are going to paint. Now it is not necessary to sand down to bare metal, but just to remove the shine. For this I generally use 400 grit sandpaper, and for difficult areas of the case I use my sandblaster and a media equivalent to 400 grit sandpaper. Generally you end up with a surface as seen below:

Sanded Surface

This was the first sanding stage, so do not fret if it looks uneven, basically we just need the surface scuffed to have good adherence for the paint.

Step 2. Cleaning – After you have your surface sanded, you must ensure that all the dirt is removed in order to achieve a quality paint job. I use dawn dish soap, a bucket of water, and a wash mit. The dawn soap also acts as a grease remover. So just as you would your car, I ensure to thoroughly wash the object in which we are painting, and rinse it thoroughly. I then let the piece air dry, and use my air compressor to blow off any residual water, especially from corners and over lapping areas that may hold the moisture in. (Please note, if you are painting your motherboard for example, please do not wash it, skip this step and proceed to the next.)

Step 3. Gloves – Before moving any further, grab a pair of your favorite dust free gloves, nylon, latex, nitrile etc… and put them on, from here forward we do not want to touch the surface to be painted, as the oils in your hands can affect paint adhesion.

Nitrile Gloves

Step 4. Surface Solvent Prep – After your surface is dry, and you are 100% sure there is not any water hiding in corners (paint won’t adhere to water) grab a lint free cloth, and grab some prep sol, or better known as Grease and Wax Remover.

Grease and Wax Remover

Wipe down the entire surface to be painted, and follow with a clean lint free rag to wipe off the excess.

Step 5. Mix Your Paint – Next we want to prepare our paint that is to be sprayed. Most auto grade paints can stay in their mixed state for a few hours before becoming unusable (please reference the information on your paint label). I always use a measuring cup for this, they are cheap, you can grab them at Wal-Mart for about 85 cents, and most the time I do not attempt to reuse them, I just properly dispose of them. Your paint will have the correct mixing ratio on the label, for mixing the paint with the hardener and reducer (if required).

Mixing Cup for Paint

After your paint is mixed into your measuring cup, grab your strainer and paint gun and move on to the next step.

Step 6. Tools to Paint – Grab your spray gun, your ventilator/respirator mask, pour your paint into your gun and put on your respirator.


Painting Mask

I have a cradle that my spray gun sits in, so that way I can have my paint in my gun, my gun connected to my compressor, with the appropriate air pressure set, put on my respirator, and be all ready to spray before the next step, which is the last step for the prep work.

Step 7. Tack Cloth – I already showed us the value of a tack cloth in this article entitled “Tack Cloth“. At this point I give the entire piece one final wipe down with the tack cloth, to help remove any final dust or dirt particles that may have settled when my back was turned, (pesky little pests).

Tack Cloth

Step 8. Lay Down Some Paint – Yes after all that prep work it is finally time to paint! Painting is 75% preparation, 25% painting. The details are what helps us to ensure a great finish on our project. The first coat of paint we lay down should be what is called the “Tack Coat”. This is a very light coat of paint, to just give a mist of paint over the surface, and is the last step to help adhesion of the paint to the surface. After the Tack Coat sets, you want to lay two “Wet Coats” of paint. After this let the paint setup according to the specifications of your paint.

Step 9. Clear Coat – After you have laid down sufficient coats of paint, and you are pleased with the outcome, we must wet sand the surface, and lay down the clear coat. Yes we start all over, but this time we don’t dry sand, we wet sand, to help ensure a smooth final surface. Lay down your clear coat as specified by your paint, and if you follow these painting steps your end results should look something like this!

Final
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final3

What happens if after all your prep work, and following these painting steps you still end up with some dirt in your paint? Stay tuned next time as we discuss wet sanding and buffing your final finish for the ultimate shine!

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