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How to paint acrylic hard water cooling tubing

Make the coolant color pop in your rigid tube water cooling loop by painting spirals, lines, or ring patterns, to create some contrast.

How to paint hard acrylic water cooling tubing

In this guide, we’ll show you how to spray paint acrylic hard tubing for your water cooling system. By adding masking to your rigid tubing and spraying over it, you can easily add spirals, lines, or ring patterns, using a background color that allows your coolant to show through.

If you’re planning to water cool your PC, then using rigid tubing will look great if you’re prepared to put in all the cutting and bending work. Once you’ve sorted out your tubing, you then just need to follow the steps below to add some colored patterns. You’ll just need some edging tape, plastic primer, and color spray paint, and you can take your hardline loop to the next level.

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.

How to paint hard acrylic water cooling tubing: Measure spray areas

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.

How to paint hard acrylic water cooling tubing: Wear gloves

3. Clean tubing

The tubing 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.

How to paint hard acrylic water cooling tubing: Clean tube

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.

How to paint hard acrylic water cooling tubing: Apple edging masking tape

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.

How to paint hard acrylic water cooling tubing: Support the tube with a plastic pen

6. Spray primer on the tubing

Standard acrylic spray paint may take to your tubing, but it’s best to use a plastic primer to create a binding layer for the paint first. Spray the primer from 8 inches away and coat the area once. Allow the primer to dry for five minutes.

How to paint hard acrylic water cooling tubing: Spray primer

7. Add color layer to tubing

It’s important for your chosen paint to contrast with your coolant color, so black, gray, or white colors here are often good. Apply two coats of your chosen color, allowing each coat to dry for ten minutes.

How to paint hard acrylic water cooling tubing: Add color layer

8. Peel off masking

Peel off the masking before the paint has fully dried 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.

How to paint hard acrylic water cooling tubing: Remove masking

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.

How to paint hard acrylic water cooling tubing: Finished painted tube with purple coolant

With some brightly colored coolant contrasting against your black lines, you should now have a really attractive 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 case, as well as our tutorial on how to etch glass on your PC case.

If you’re planning 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.