Building my PC: custom painting the case

In addition to its rugged good looks and charm, the Cooler Master HAF XB case supports a full ATX motherboard, ample room for components and cabling, hot swap drive bays, and easy in/out access. Although the XB was designed as a test bench case for frequent part swapping. I really just liked it’s overall form factor and carrying handles.


Cooler Master HAF XB case
Cooler Master HAF XB case fresh out of the box


My goal for the paint treatment: create an “offroad” theme punctuated by motorcycle tire tracks across the case. I’ll be using Krylon spray paint with adhesive promoter on the base, and use blue painters tape for masking off patterns and holes.


First: Remove and seal off any air gaps so that the paint would not get into the case and inhibit the future build process. The “HAF” part of the case name stands for “high air flow”, which means a lot of holes to seal. Remove the top, front, and two side panels. Blocked off all the vents from the inside, as well as the entire back panel from the outside. Then I put all the panels back on the case, as I would be spraying the entire unit together. I also masked off the On/Off and Reset buttons, so that paint wouldn’t get into the ignition switches.


HAF XB base masking
View of the side and back panels masked off


In my favorite clean and well lit place (AKA the garage bay opening), I sprayed the case with adhesive promoter, and then a base layer of brown, which would be the layer for the tread marks.


Brown base layer applied to case
Brown base layer applied to the case. This view also shows the masking of the ignition switches on the front panel.


Apply painters tape as the tire tracks. The tread pattern comes from a TKC80 tire, which I carved out with a xacto blade and placed on the case with the right sizing. I specifically kept some edges of the tape off the case to create an organic pattern so that the paint would not create a crisp edge, just as a real tire would do in mud.


tire tracks masking
View of top panel with tire tracks masked off – notice some edges are deliberately not flat.


After the tire tracks were done, I incrementally applied different mask layers for rocks and color to build up the all terrain feel.


Green layer on the case
Green layer


Gray layer
Gray layer


Rock layer
Rock layer – looks soft beige silt


For the finishing touches, I sprayed different colors onto a paint brush, and use the ‘splatter’ technique to give the case organic texture and depth. The technique is to simply snap a brush at the base while the brushes are full of paint, creating splash effect on the case. When everything dried, I sprayed clear coat around the base to protect the exterior from the sun and random scratches.


Front panel view of completed painting
Front panel view of completed painting


Finished tire tracks
Top panel view of completed tire tracks and splash marks




I let everything dry for 24 hours before starting the build process. Typically, it takes 2-3 hours for paint to dry before you can touch it, but it really takes 4-5 days for the paint to fully cure.



  1. Eugene says:

    Did you sand the case or did you just wipe it clean and spray?

    Also, may I know what spray paint did you use? Model/Make?

    Cheers and keep up the good work!

  2. No need to sand on the case, the original texture is fine. Do give it a good cleaning to remove dust and leftover manufacturing particles, and make sure it’s all dry before proceeding with the paint. I used Krylon Fusion paint, available in most of the big box stores.

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