How to Paint an Xbox One Controller

Learn how to properly paint a custom Xbox One controller with XboxDIYs step by step and easy-to-follow tutorial.
Written By: Colin @XboxDIY
Published: January 20, 2018
Updated: February 25, 2024
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Home 9 Tutorials 9 How to Paint an Xbox One Controller

If you’ve ever wondered how to paint your Xbox One controller or create a custom Xbox One controller, you’ve come to the right place.

What’s the best way to paint an Xbox controller?

While painting an Xbox One controller is not that difficult, learning how to properly paint the controller so the finish looks professional and lasts for years to come takes some additional time and care.

We’ll walk you through the ins and outs of how to paint an Xbox controller, including prepping, painting, and properly finishing your controller shell.

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

Here is a list of supplies you’ll need to gather before painting the controller:

*Before getting started you’ll want to put down a canvas drop cloth, put your nitrile gloves on, and make sure you’re in a well-ventilated area.

Step 2: Clean the Controller with Soap and Water

The first part of this tutorial on how to paint your Xbox One controller is pretty straightforward: wash your controller.

You’ll want to wash your controller with hot water and dish soap (recommended) in order to remove any large imperfections, dirt, oil, and other contaminants.

Why is washing your controller important? Throughout this tutorial, you’ll realize that the painting step is actually the least important: it’s the cleaning, prep, and finish.

If you don’t prep your controller properly, the paint will come off as soon as your hands get hot and/or sweaty – we don’t want that to happen.

Step 3: Scuff Your Controller

The next step in properly prepping your Xbox One controller is to scuff the surface of the controller with a  Scotch-Brite pad.

The purpose of the scuff pad is to remove any of the previous finishes on the controller and prep the plastic so we can start painting.

Before scuffing your controller, you may want to put nitrile gloves on to prevent any dust, debris, oil, or other contaminants on the controller.

If the controller feels rough to the touch, you’re doing it right.

Next, we’ll do one more round of cleaning before applying a plastic adhesion promoter to the controller.

Step 3: Clean the Controller with an Alcohol Pad or Rubbing Alcohol

As part of a final clean, you’ll want to take an alcohol pad or a paper towel and rubbing alcohol to do a final once-over on the controller.

This is important to remove any dust, oil, debris, or other contaminants that may have gotten onto the controller during the previous step.

Next, we’ll break out the spray paint cans.

Step 4: Apply Plastic Adhesion Promoter

If you were able to get your hands on a can of plastic adhesion promoter (we recommend it, but it’s not 100% necessary), the next step is to apply it to the clean controller.

In short, controlled bursts, while holding the can 8-10 inches away from the surface, start to apply the plastic adhesion promoter.

Once you’ve finished covering the entire controller, let it sit for about 10-15 minutes, or until the controller appears to be dry.

Next, we’ll apply the primer.

Step 5: Apply Plastic Primer

After applying the plastic adhesion promoter and letting the controller sit for 10-15 minutes, the next thing we’ll be doing is applying the plastic primer.

The primer serves two purposes:

  • Helps cover old paint
  • Helps prep the controller for paint

I recommend white primer as it gives you a variety of options for covering up old paint as well as making it easy for any color of new paint to go on.

Much like the plastic adhesion promoter, apply the plastic primer in short, controlled bursts.

Keep it limited to one layer, and make sure all areas of the controller are covered (you don’t have to do the inside).

After you apply the primer, let it sit for 10-15 minutes, or until the controller appears to be dry.

Now, we actually get to paint the controller!

Step 6: Apply Plastic Paint

After applying the plastic primer and letting the controller sit for 10-15 minutes, the next thing we’ll be doing is applying the plastic paint.

You can pick any type of paint, or paint color that you want. However, I recommend plastic paint, just to be safe, and a darker color to prevent any potential discoloration.

It’s really important to start your paint stream away from the controller – thanks to a friendly reader, they pointed out it will prevent some of the dripping you see in our video and lead to a better end product.

Keep it limited to one or two layers, and make sure all areas of the controller are covered (you don’t have to do the inside).

After you apply the plastic paint, let it sit for 25-30 minutes, or until the controller appears to be dry.

Last but not least, we’ll apply a clear enamel (or clear coat) to make sure the paint is protected, and the finish lasts a long time.

Step 7: Apply Clear Enamel or Clear Coat

The final step in properly and professionally painting your Xbox One controller is to apply a clear enamel – better known as a clear coat.

I would recommend buying a specific automotive clear coat, or going to your local AutoZone, Napa, etc. to purchase.

You’ll still want to use short, controlled bursts to cover all areas of the controller. However, you’ll want to apply 3-4 thin layers, and wait about 5 minutes in between each layer.

It’s important to note: You need to apply a second, third, and fourth coat within 5 minutes of each other, or wait 24 hours for the enamel to completely dry.

The enamel will take 5-7 days to completely harden. Although you can use it before this, I would recommend waiting so you have the best possible finish.

You Painted your Xbox One controller!

Congratulations! You painted your very own custom Xbox One controller.

Although it can seem overwhelming at first, a little planning, proper cleaning and prep, and the right tools will help you get a professional-looking custom Xbox One controller in just a few hours.

Have any ideas for cool gaming accessories you painted? What about pictures of your own custom-painted Xbox One controller?

Drop a comment in the comments below – we would love to hear from you!

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