As much as I love the NUC (and you know I do), I’ve never been a fan of the high-gloss plastic on the lids. Yes, I know it’s attractive, and fits nicely with the aluminum case. I admit I do like the look of it. For the average consumer it’s a nice design. But for someone like me, durability becomes an issue. I’m constantly working on my NUCs; taking them apart, swapping out components, and tinkering. That means the NUCs spend a lot of time upside-down on my workbench. I learned early on the toll that takes on the shiny black plastic:
So I got into the habit of leaving the protective plastic covering on my NUCs. It wasn’t a great solution, but the choice was either let my sexy little computers get scratched up, or have an ugly piece of plastic covering their beauty.
Fast-forward a bit to when Intel released their “Thin Canyon” NUC. It’s marketed toward businesses rather than consumers, and it’s designed to be an inexpensive, durable solution for things like digital signage. It’s a complete change of pace from the other NUC models; different shape, differenet lid finish. It was the lid that grabbed me. It’s a hard, rough plastic. I got one, and immediately knew this was what I needed. The plastic was tough-as-nails and more or less scratch-proof. It was perfect. So I waited for other NUCs to come out with this finish…and I waited…and kept waiting.
Turns out, Thin Canyon was a “one-and-done” when it came to the lid. No other NUC model since has offered that same durable finish. Bummer.
Fast-forward again to a random day when I’m looking through the DIY section of Reddit. I hang out there regularly…so many cool projects, so many great ideas. I came across a post about someone “Plasti Dipping” their car. Huh? What the heck did that mean? So I read through it and learned all about Plasti Dip. It’s this spray-on rubber coating that’s all the rage with car enthusiasts. It comes in multiple colors, sprays on like paint, and dries into a tough rubber with a matte finish. Best of all, it’s “idiot-proof” because if you make a mistake (or change your mind) it peels right off. No harm, no foul.
It was an interesting read, but I didn’t think much more about it. Until a few days ago when I was finishing up a post about the awesome new TV tuner lid from GoRite. I got to thinking about my scratched up lids again, and that’s when it hit me…Plasti Dip! Why not? Worth a try, right?
So off I went to my favorite home improvement store, Lowe’s, to pick up a can.
They had a few colors, but I decided to go with black to match the current look of the NUCs.
The next thing I needed was a lid to try this on, and thanks to GoRite I had a few extra lids hanging around. They’d sent me samples of their color replacement lids. I liked most of them: the white one was awesome because it allowed me to skin my daughter’s NUC, blue was attractive, pink was…pink, and red was understandable. But then there was that green one. Really, guys? Lime green? So I decided to use the green lid for my experiment:
Fortunately, I have a healthy addiction to home improvement, so I had these little painting triangles handy:
So I was all set up and ready to paint.
I started by spraying just a little on an empty piece of cardboard. It was one of the tips I’d picked up from the car project. This isn’t actually paint, it’s rubber, so the first spray can sometimes be a little clumpy. Best to get that out before hitting the lid.
Another thing I’d read was that it was better to apply multiple light layers as opposed to going heavy on the first one, so I did my best to spray a light, even coat:
Now all I had to do was wait for my perfect lid to dry. I waited a while, then came back to check on my handiwork:
Unfortunately some dust had drifted onto the lid. It’s pretty hot here on the U.S. West coast, so I have fans blowing in my garage, and I didn’t think to block the breeze from hitting my project. The result was lots of little bumps. Not attractive at all.
I decided to start over. Luckily, this stuff was easy remove:
Not as easy as I’d thought, but with a little work, I got the lid back to square one:
So back to spraying I went, after blocking the fans and blasting the lid with compressed air. I sprayed a couple of light, even coats, waited, and:
Now THAT is a nice finish. I was extremely happy with the results this time. It was matte black with a nice, slightly rough finish; exactly what I was going for. But the real test was what it looked like installed on a NUC. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
I couldn’t be happier with the look. It’s just the right finish, looks great against the silver, and has a nice feel. Plus it’s durable. I tried sliding it around on the workbench (something I’d never do with the gloss black lid) and it came out without a scratch.
Now, would I recommend everyone go out and do this? Not so much. It’s a bit of work getting the finish just right, and not everyone’s going to go for the rubberized look. Still, if you work on your NUC a lot (and maybe have an extra lid lying around) this might be worth a look. Plus, there are multiple color options, so you can scratch-proof your NUC and customize it at the same time.