Guide Spray Painting Basics


Painting Queen
Oct 27, 2016
Customizing your console can be a very enjoyable project, but involves a lot of experimentation to find what works for you. This guide is going to go over some basic knowledge of types and brands of paint in order to help you decide what to use for your project.

One of the most important things you will need to decide when customizing a console is what paint to use. There are so many different types of paint out there that it can get confusing, and no one paint is the best. Some paints are better for different things.

The first thing you need to know is that there are enamels, and there are lacquers. Usually lacquer is a clear paint that you can use as a top coat, but there are colored ones that can be used as paint. You generally don't won't to put lacquer on top of enamel as it's much harsher and can dissolve the enamel. If you have to, you can lightly mist the lacquer on a couple times before putting on your first light coat.

The second thing you need to know is that not all paints are made to stick to plastic, and not all plastic can be painted well. If you’re painting a game console, it’s extremely likely that you won’t have a problem, but there are some plastics out there that paint just doesn’t stick to. You need to choose a paint that specifically says it works on plastic, and then test it out before using it on your console to make sure it’s what you want.

Another thing to keep in mind is that if your console has deep scratches or dents, they will still be visible after painting. Paint doesn’t fill in scratches, so you want to paint a console that is in good condition.

Clear / Top Coat:
This layer is perhaps the most important of all the layers. The last thing you do before reassembling your console is to clear coat it. It’s essentially just a protective layer that slows the wear on the paint from contact with your hands, and minimizes scratching. It can also add a nice shine to your project. Clear coat is always recommended unless the paint specifically says not to (such as some metallics). If you don't use clear coat, your paint will wear down much more quickly, and any scratches in the paint are more likely to scrach through the paint instead just scratching through the clear.

Primer is used to promote adhesion to your plastic. It also provides a base coat in a neutral color, which is especially helpful if you are frankencasing. If your case has multiple colors on it, such as red Bondo on black plastic, painting it with primer will prevent that color difference from being visible through the paint.

Here are some brands of paint that have been proven to work on plastic and are commonly available.

This brand of paint can be found in Walmart for about $4 per can. It’s important that the can says “For Plastics” on it. It has a decent color selection as well as different textures, although the gloss is extremely temperamental. Rustoleum is best used on home consoles instead of handhelds, as it’s not as durable as other paints and can have a “sticky” feel at times.

Krylon Fusion:
If you’re looking at customizing your game console, you’ve probably heard of this brand. It’s similar to Rustoleum, but is more expensive and can be harder to find. It can be used for great results, but also isn’t recommended for handhelds due to the lower overall quality, unless you use a harder clear coat over it.

Testors / Tamiya:
Testors and Tamiya paints are two very similar brands that will produce very similar results. Testors can be found at Michaels or Hobby Lobby for about $5-6 per can, and Tamiya can be found in hobby shops or online for about $6-7. These brands make paint for Remote Control projects and model cars. It’s more durable than most other paints, adheres to anything, and feels extremely smooth and professional to the touch. The cans are tiny and don’t last long, but if you’re looking to paint a controller or a handheld, this is the way to go. If they don't have the color you are looking for, you can use a different paint and put this clear coat over it.

Automotive Paint:
Automotive paint comes in full size spray cans for about $6 each (depending on the brand). It can be just as hard as Testors or Tamiya when fully dry, but it can take weeks to reach that point. Because it takes so long to dry fully, it is not recommended unless you can't find the color of paint you need elsewhere. It is cheap and has many color variations, but takes too much time to be applicable in most situations.
Last edited: