In this guide, we’ll show you how to spray paint acrylic tubing for your water-cooling system. By adding masking to your tubing and spraying over it, you can easily add spirals, lines, or ring patterns to your tubing, using a background color that allows your coolant to show through. All you need is some edging tape, some plastic primer, and some color spray paint, and you can take your rigid tubing loop to the next level.
At Custom PC, we’ve been modding PC cases and components since 2003, giving us loads of experience in the art of customizing your system to make it your own. We know exactly what tools you need and which methods work best.
1. Measure up spray areas
With the tubing cut to size, measure and mark up the positions where the locking rings of your fittings end. You don’t want the paint touching the internal fitting, but you do need to make sure the area sitting just inside the outer locking ring is painted.
2. Use gloves
To protect the paint surface from further muck, use clean gloves to prevent your fingers from touching the surface again, and to protect your hands from being irritated by the paint.
3. Clean tubing
The tubing will is likely to have residue from the manufacturing process on it, as well as your own fingerprints, so use washing-up liquid to clean it, then rinse it thoroughly afterward.
4. Apply masking
To obtain clean edges and create curves or spirals, you’ll need to use edging tape. This tape is flexible and can be easily manipulated. In our example, we’re wrapping it around the tube in a spiral to create a coil-like finish.
5. Support the tubing
Hold the tubing using a length of material such as a pen or straw. Avoid using metal here, as it can scratch the acrylic.
6. Spray the tubing
Standard acrylic spray paint may take to your tubing, but it’s best to use a plastic primer in order to create a binding layer for the paint. Spray from 8 inches away and coat the area once. Allow the primer to dry for five minutes.
7. Add color layer
It’s important for your chosen paint to contrast with your coolant color, so black, grey or white colors here are often good. Apply two coats of your chosen color, allowing each coat to dry for ten minutes.
8. Peel off masking
Peel off the masking before the paint has fully dried, in order to prevent it from cracking. Do this gently and try to pull the masking tape upwards, rather than at an angle. At this stage, you can also add an optional clear coat, but do this after you’ve removed the masking, so you create an even layer.
9. Install tubing
Take care when handling the tubing and try not to touch the painted areas. Pastel coolants with a solid color look best with painted tubing, but any color will work well as long as it contrasts well with the spray color.
With some brightly colored coolant contrasting against your black lines, you should now have a really good-looking water-cooling loop. For further PC case customization ideas, you’ll also want to check out our full guide that shows you how to paint your PC case, and for more water-cooling ideas, take a look at our guide on how to fit a fill port, and how to clean a water-cooling loop.
If you’re new to the world of water-cooling, then make sure you also read our full guide on how to water-cool your PC. If you’re planning a new paint job as part of a new build, then you’ll also want to read our full guide on how to build a gaming PC, which covers every step of the process.