Alternative Keyboard Finishes

You know I’ve been thinking about keyboard finishes lately.

Normally OEM boards are all plastic and injection molded from whatever black, grey, and white pellets they have available to make their products.

Custom keyboards are usually all aluminum which is normally anodized or e-coated.

Some not as common finishes are cerakote, plastidip, and hydrodip. They’re all been done on keyboards with varying levels of success.

So I have this handy dandy RF87u Guillotine case and I’ve bene wondering if I should change it up. (Don’t mind the old picture from 2016)

The brushed aluminum look pretty awesome, but I’m thinking that huge surface leaves so many options available and worth thinking about.

Have any of you done your own custom finishes on your keyboards or taken them to a shop? Spray paint? Plastidip? Hydrodip? Cerakote? Powdercoat? Lacquer?

Just curious what you all think about more “alternative” keyboard finishes and your experiences with them


Knee always does some interesting patina finishes, which I enjoy looking at.


With that much surface you could do some seriously beautiful etching. Either by laser or via a chemical etching process. This is just an example of what is possible on metal surfaces:


I have been considering sending a plastic case to get hydrodipped. Since I am a nerd this is the neatest thing I have seen dipped.

Pricing | All Things Fun Hydrographics, LLC (


I ordered a few cases to be CNCd with powder coat for the top part, I will tell you if I’m satisfied with the finish.

Powder coating is not very commonly used on a keeb, maybe because the coating thickness is quite big compared to other techniques like anodizing or cerakote.
Coating thickness can vary greatly depending on the powder used and the talent of the applicator.
Too thick and you have the ‘orange peel’ problem.
Normally for a standard powder type with uniform color you’d expect between 2 to 4 mils of thickness, and your case dimensions must take that thickness into account to be able to assemble it.

But the finish is very durable and when you see what @norbauer is able to achieve with specialty powders it is definitely worth it and adds originality.

Another finish that I am interested with is the anodizing type III (called hard coat anodizing).
This finish is VERY durable and the coating thickness is also quite big (0.05mm on average).
But it is still less than powder coat as the oxyde layer grows equally under and on top of the piece so that it only adds 0.025mm thickess in reality.
As for coloring you have not much choice though, it is black brown or grey dye, or no dye at all (depending on aluminium, type III already gives a medium and/or brownish color to the metal).


I love this topic. It’s one I’ve delved into a little bit, but am interested to really explore further. What I’ve tried so far:

  • Powder Coating:

    On the positive side, it’s very durable and generally can be cleaned with just about anything. There are lots of finishes available, though there are some limitations compared to things like paint when it comes to certain kinds of finishes like very glossy or smooth, special color effects, etc. It can be quite expensive or surprisingly cheap, and it depends totally on who does it in your area. In my old home town, a local bike shop guy had his own home-built setup and charged peanuts, whereas here in the state Capitol city, I’d be very lucky to find a place that would do a case for less than a hundred bucks.

    Here’s a closeup photo of a GMMK I had powder coated satin white:

    You might be able to see some small bubble imperfections in the surface; I’d call this a “so-so” job, and I’ve definitely seen better - but the finish will definitely last.

  • Lacquer:

    Not so much as an aftermarket thing, but as an option on a stock keeb. I have one of Filco’s Kobo cases and am a big fan of the finish; it’s glossy, smooth, and can have all kinds of neat effects like sparkles, an almost woodgrain sheen, splatter designs, etc. From what I understand, the case underneath is a standard plastic Filco case, though I don’t know exactly what plastic that is. Here’s a closeup of the Kobo “classic brown” finish:

    The graininess is actually the old phone camera this was taken with; the finish itself is done with dripping pigment, so you won’t see any pixels there like you might on a faux-wood desk.

  • Laminated Vinyl Wrap:

    Really only suitable for cases with flat plates, or at least ones that only bend in one axis - unless you’re an industry wrap expert, then go HAAM. While the range of finishes is small (gloss, semi gloss, not gloss), the possibilities for design are totally endless.

    You can use a camo pattern. You can use wood grain. Paisley. Whatever pattern you want - but it doesn’t have to be a pattern, either. You can use photos, custom graphics, anything that can be printed can be put on vinyl. Here’s a shot of a Hexgears Impulse with a wrapped top plate I did for a friend:

    The lamination layer makes it a little thicker and harder to work with, but it will make the print last much, much longer and stand up to scuffing and basic cleaning.

    As for the type of vinyl to use: you’ll want “air-channel release” auto wrap vinyl, or a similar product - the adhesive layer has air-channels to let out air and prevent bubbles; the difference this makes compared with standard adhesive is huge, and makes application much easier.

Things I haven’t tried yet but want to:

  • Cerakoting
  • Truck bed-liner
  • Auto paint, specifically the color changing “chameleon” stuff
  • Engraved steel (probably a pipe-dream in terms of cost but it’s so coooool)
  • Flame-treated steel

This was actually an option in the Southpaw Fullsize GB, you could get 7075 alu with hard anodization (black) instead of 6063 with standard. I’m pretty sure the one @Manofinterests got is actually hard ano.

Personally, I’ve seen a few people breathe new life into some cheap old boards with spray paint. Taekeyboards has several videos about painting boards as well.


Spray paint is always an option :wink:

You could also cover it in anime stickers @Manofinterests :upside_down_face:


I’m using this shop to re-anodize a keyboard case and they have some some very interesting processes including electroless nickel


That electroless nickel finish looks pretty interesting. I’d love to have a metal colored colored keeb that doesn’t need any maintenance to stay sharp looking. Then that midnight black electroless nickel coating looks great also, but that seems to be super cost prohibitive for a black finish.

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What about those colors that aren’t real colors like Black 3.0 and Disney’s Go Away Green. Has anyone seen them in-use? I bet it makes the keycaps pop!

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Hydro Dip

  • Leopold FC980m case
  • Dipped by Liquid Print (USA-TX) w/high gloss clear coat.
  • Topre internals & keycaps

Dipping Video

Overall very happy. The clear coat is soo smooth and gives the stock case more heft.

Russ @ Liquid Print was a pleasure to work with. Cost for the dip was $135 plus shipping. Glad I did the service rather than DIY, there is a lot of prep and technique to the dipping process angle and speed to prevent bubbles.

(I am NOT affiliated with Liquid Print)

More Project photos


THIS IS AWESOME! Looks sooo good.

This looks like my KOBO finished board on my leopold. I know how good it feels, too.

I was just thinking like TWO DAYS ago how I wonder if I might get someone to dip my CSMT80 top.


Thank you! The filco look very similar big fan. Surprised that isn’t offered more after market. Maybe with more plastic offerings from companies like NK or Omnitype

I have been trying to convince @norbauer for a heavy 9 wood edition one day… :deciduous_tree:

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Well… you could always get a PC heavy 9 dipped :crazy_face:


That part of the video where he changes his grip while holding the part above the liquid seems a bit anxiety inducing. What would happen if he had slipped and just dropped it into the water?

Do you mean iridescence? I think that would be really cool to see on a keyboard, and I wonder why there does not seem to be any product that offers this aesthetic.

I would also love to see more quality wooden cases. So far, availability of wood cases seems very limited, and virtually all are just tray mount.

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Maybe? It’s different colors at different angles, which gets more interesting when there’s curves.

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