How To Customize Your PC Case & Achieve Professional Results

THG's Exclusive Interview With Steve Horch, Continued

THG - As you well know, case manufacturers are starting to get into the act by offering painted computer cases. Of course, the level of customization and painting design complexity are not even close to what you are doing, but that said, when compared to the cases you paint, why do these other painted cases look so amateurish?

SH - The answer is in the paint! - Most case manufacturers are using alkaloid enamel base paints with a matte finish. All of my painting is done with PPG automobile finish products that are the same type of paint that are used for automobiles. By using this type of paint, you can clear coat the finish to get the highly glossed finish that most people find so attractive. Case manufacturers are in the business of making cases, not painting them, so the quality of the workmanship and their choice of paint products can be described as functional, but fairly unattractive. Some high-end PC resellers claim that they are using automobile paint to paint their cases, and while this may be so, their end results aren't even close to the quality grade of the paint used for your car.

My advice to readers who are considering purchasing a custom painted case over the Internet is to make sure that you are looking at high-resolution pictures and do some research on your own by asking a lot of questions before you buy. I don't even think that the pictures that we took for this article do justice to the paint job. This is due to the limits of digital photography, nothing more. A good example of this has been seen for years in custom car magazines: you will see some impressive paint work in such magazines, but the truth is, it always looks ten times better in person. Much of this is because neither digital cameras nor film can capture the gloss, texture, and true color of the paint used.

A good tip when looking at the finish of a case is to look at the reflection in the clear topcoat. The clearer the reflection, the higher the gloss. I always like to point out to people that my paint and clear coat on PC cases are so reflective that you can hold a newspaper 12 inches away from my cases and still read the print. Of course, this also is a good way to judge any paint job that has a glossy finish. In my experience, the work of painters who don't take pride in their work will not pass this test.

The design of this case was a very simple design for a Harley Davidson lover who wanted to extend the love of his Harley motorcycle on to his computer. The logos were official, purchased logos that were placed on the case prior to finishing the case. This picture captures the incredible glossy finish that can only be achieved by using professional materials.

THG - Do you recommend that folks go to their local auto body supply store and purchase automotive style paints and attempt to paint their case themselves?

SH - NEVER! And here is why. Modern urethane finishes contain iso cyanate, which is a byproduct of cyanide, and exposure to these products can damage your central nervous system and your liver. Only professionals who have the proper training and protective gear should apply these type of products. Please take my advice. I have been painting with this stuff for 17 years. I know most people like to save money, but you will not achieve the results that you are looking for by using this stuff without the proper experience and training. Besides that, the chemicals can be hazardous if not handled correctly.