THE RED PEPPER PAINT JOB
By wipeout. Do It Yourself Paint job on a laptop Compaq presario V2000 - Krylon Fusion


If you wish to have more information on other hardware mods performed on the laptop, click here


Context
My motivations for painting the laptop was that the laptop was in an unattractive two-tone grey. While it was neither really ugly nor deteriorated (the laptop was 6 months old, only), I still felt that it could draw a little more attention than it currently does. A red color would attract attention and be an excellent source of conversation.

I started with the inside only, and after seeing how well the paint was, I finished with the rest, including the lid.


The laptop before performing the modifications


Precautions
Before you start doing anything, you should check your hardware store for a color you like. Check more than one store, since they generally have a limited selection of colors. On Krylon's website, they have quite a few colors, but I found only some of the at my local Canadian Tire store. If you choose to go with another brand, you should pick a paint that bonds to plastics. Many people recommended Krylon Fusion; it is indeed very good for plastic. I've seen recommendations on vinyl-based paint. While I didn't use this type, I don't think it's a bad choice either, based on recommendations and results I've seen elsewhere.

I highly recommend that you consider and choose something else to paint than your valuable laptop before you begin. By doing so, you will have a good idea of the finish, and you will be improving you painting skills as well.

While color is an important decision, final finish is very important as well. Would you like to have a mirror-like finish that looks killer, that shows finger marks and dust easily? Would you like to have something that forgives these realities better? The first option is probably the best, but the most time consuming. It requires sanding on the final layer of paint (or clear, if applied), and finishing with compound buffer. Nonetheless, I opted for the second option at first, but I decided to finally sand the whole thing and go with buffer. While the easier option that doesn't require sanding doesn't look bad at all, I found that orange peeling was a bit terrible.

You should also start gathering the tools you will need.

I used the following:
The tools I used for the work
The tools I used for the work


I picked a cordless phone as the test device, because the plastic looked the same. The plastic was kind of porous, just like the plastic Compaq used. The phone was black, the computer was silver. While I was a little worried that this might have changed something, don't worry, it will not. If you apply a sufficient amount of layers, it won't. I painted 4 layers of paint, with 2 layers of clear coat. When looking closely, I noticed my mistakes. I didn't apply enough layers, and on each layer, there was too few paint. Some areas were darker; thus telling me that these areas lacked paint. The finish wasn't glossy at all. Clear coat requires many layers to look good; two were clearly not enough. I opted to go ahead and paint the laptop, with these warnings in mind. After finishing the phone, I noted that the finished color didn't exactly match the color of Krylon's cap. It was better in fact. But you're never sure. Try before you regret. It is also a good idea to test the resistance of the paint on your test device. Use some water, sharp objects, friction with your hands. The paint was however very resistant to all in my case, despite the lack of paint I noted a bit earlier.

I tested the paint on this phone before doing the real thing
I tested the paint on this phone before doing the real thing


Removing the parts
You should start by removing the parts to be painted. Some people cover only the parts that shouldn't be painted. While this isn't a bad idea, I do not recommend it. If you have the time and the skills to remove the parts completely, you will rest assured that the other parts won't be ruined by some human mistakes while painting. I suggest you follow the service guide of your laptop to be sure you don't break anything. If you need the service guide (also called service manual)for the HP Compaq v2000 and dv1000, it can be downloaded here. This will assist you with the steps of disassembling your notebook. Most HP and Compaq notebooks have a service manual or a service guide available on HP's website, but they are hard to find. Google will be able to help you (hint: search on the hp.com domain with with google!). For other make/models, if your researches aren’t successful, you can generally buy the manual for a couple of bucks on eBay.

The laptop disassembled
The laptop disassembled


Tape the area
Clean carefully all the areas to be painted with a degreaser (your hands are full of grease!), and wash again with plain water. Dry well. Then proceed to cover the edges of everything you don't want to be painted with masking tape. Use paper to cover large areas (DO NOT use newspaper, the ink will leave crap on the surface), along with the masking tape. I suggest you cover the bottom as well, if possible. It doesn't really matter in fact; it will only look cleaner if you or somebody else removes that part later.

Masking tape applied to the laptop Masking tape applied to the edges
Masking tape applied all over the parts not to be painted


Use the X-acto to make sure the tape sticks to the edges. Cut the tape to round the corners. It is important to have this step performed nicely, because if you get paint where it isn't supposed to, it will look messy in the end. Take your time. Draw straight lines with the tape. It is easier to apply the tape correctly the first time than to try to remove the paint with some buffer. Do not forget to cover the other side of buttons and LEDs. Cover holes/ports on both sides to avoid surprises.

Picture of the bottom of the laptop
Picture of the bottom of the laptop


Paint area
Built yourself a paint area in a well-ventilated area. The area should not have high humidity, and should be around 20c. Use garbage bags to limit the spray of the paint. Suspend your parts with the metallic wires. Why suspend the parts? Less dust will stick to the surface. Be careful to not pass ON the area to be painted with the wire. It is a good idea to have the area cleaned before you proceed, as dust is very attracted by any surface that shouldn't contain dust.

The plastic to be painted, suspended in the paint area
The plastic to be painted, suspended in the paint area


Start painting. Always move from side to side when painting. Never stay in position; as drips are very easy to encounter. I suggest you begin a coat with the hard-to-reach edges, and then proceed with the easier and larger area. Start with a thin coat, and spray more paint gradually as you gain experience. Do not put excess paint, as it will probably drip. If this happens, you should wait until the paint has dried somehow, and sand that area until it is flat again. You should wait at least 5 minutes between each layers. Did I mention that you needed to paint in a well ventilated area? If you did not, then you probably noticed by now why you shouldn't have a cheap nurse mask. I am not a doctor, but fumes are very bad. Don't inhale them.

First layer of red paint
First layer of red paint


Apply about 6 coats (6x3=~20), or until satisfied result, whatever comes first. It should start to look like a almost-finished result. At this stage, you should look for spots missing paint, or edges you missed. Apply more coats if you did miss something. Better more coats than too few.

Last layer of red paint Closeup of the last layer of red paint
Last layer of red paint


Scan the surface for defect with the flashlight. If you find defects, such as dust, bumps, holes, anything not smooth, you should sand with 1000-grit sandpaper before re-applying paint over it. You may also use your X-acto to carefully remove superficial dust that sticks to the surface. Apply the clear coat exactly the same way. You never have enough coats of clear, so use plenty. That will protect your paint. If you scratch the surface later, it's easier to re-sand the area, and re-apply clear over it, than re-painting the whole thing again.

Last layer of clear coat applied
Last layer of clear coat applied


When you're done with this, start removing the tape. Do it slowly, as you do not want to remove paint around the tape. If needed, cut around the tape to make sure it doesn't happen. If you find areas that have paint and shouldn't, use paint thinner and a q-tip to remove the excess. While the paint can be manipulated within 1 hour, it is better to wait 7 days, so the paint will be completely chip-proof.

Only after that, you can start sanding. I decided to not sand the color, because I didn't notice any difference; it only saves you much time, and keeps the paint thick! Sand with 400 until you don't any more "ripples" in the paint. Apply some water over the surface to remove the "crap" you've sanded regularly. Don't be too rough, because you don't want to go thru the clear coat and rub the paint. If you see whitish water, it's all good. If you see reddish water, STOP! You've been way too far. When the paint is completely smooth, switch with the 2000 sandpaper, mainly for smoothing the scratches the 400 sandpaper has done. Be very light this time. One thing worth noting, I filled the Compaq logo with drywall compound on the back of the LCD. I learned that is it very important that the job is very well leveled with the rest of the cover. Mistakes are easily noticed. I think I did a pretty job, despite the fact that someone that knows there was a badge there will notice that it is not perfectly even. If it was to be redone, I would use Bondo instead. After you're done with that, start applying compound with a cloth. This is the key of getting a shiny finish! You should not rub too much, but enough so that you get your shiny finish.

Notice the right side sanded, rubbing buffer applied. Left side was left un-compounded. What a difference!
Notice the right side sanded, rubbing buffer applied. Left side was left un-compounded. What a difference!


Final words
I highly suggest you do not reassemble back the laptop right away, because you will damage the paint; it has not hardened yet. In the first days, you should be careful manipulating the laptop. Since the paint takes forever to completely harden, I was able to spot fingermarks embedded in the clear coat. I had to buffer these because they were literally printed IN the surface! I've waited about 1 month, and I applied some Turtle Wax super hard shell on the lid. It added some gloss. At this point, the paint has mostly hardened I guess, but whenever I put the laptop in my bag, there seems to be some marks visible from the tissue, but they disappear by themselves after a while.

Photo of the laptop finished, in the sun Photo of the reflecting cover
Photo of the laptop finished, in the sun


With the excellent help of www.notebookreview.com and www.v2kusers.com