How to mod your laptop

Have you ever wanted to liven up your laptop's looks? Here's how to spruce up your portable PC with stickers, paint, fabric, and more.

Paint Your Laptop Like a Pro

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On the other hand, if you want something more hands-on, try doing your own customized laptop paint job. However, you're going to need to disassemble your laptop so that you're left with just the parts of the system you want to paint--no electronics attached.

This is harder for some systems than others; if you're lucky, you'll be able to find a repair guide or series of maintenance steps on your manufacturer's Website that will allow you to deconstruct every bit of your laptop without too much of a headache.

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If you just start unscrewing bits and pieces left and right, at least keep a running record of exactly in what order you unscrewed which parts (and the place of each of those screws) to help ensure a disaster-free rebuilding later. Also, if you have a digital camera handy, take pictures--it helps.

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Once you're left with just the shell, give it a thorough sanding to prep the surface for priming. Don't bust out the belt sander--a gentle rubbing with 400-grit sandpaper should do the trick, although you can go all the way down to 220-grit if you need a bit of extra oomph.

You're aiming to create a rough surface for the primer to adhere to, but it's up to your judgment (based on the finish of your laptop's cover) as to when you're ready to proceed to the next step.

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Be sure to tape off any areas you don't want to paint over (like, say, the ports, or your Windows product key sticker) with painter's tape before you begin. Then grab your best can of plastic primer and gently apply a coat to the sanded parts of your laptop cover.

Let the case dry before you inspect your handiwork to see if you covered all possible areas. Repeat this process three to six times, depending on your skill level and primer coverage; then let the laptop case dry out for a day or so.

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Now you're ready to begin applying the actual spray paint (typically an automotive spray paint). Make sure that you're delivering only a very light, even spray per coat.

You'll achieve better results through a steady application of multiple coats versus a one-shot, blast-all-the-paint-I-can approach.

Once that's done (and is dry), apply a final series of one to three coatings of gloss finish. You can even grab some super-fine 1600-grit sandpaper to really smooth out your laptop's new finish, if you so desire.

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David Murphy

PC World (US online)
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