Truly painting your Joy-Con controllers will require taking them completely apart. The process looks gnarly but the people who have done it say it’s not that bad.
Take Imgur user Retaihec for instance. Not satisfied with the neon-colored Joy-Con that arrived with the Switch they took to disassembling them so they could spray paint both mini-controllers a shade of deep, forest green. Doing this required unscrewing everything and gently removing the circuit board and battery with all the wires and ribbons still attached.
It results in a lot of little pieces and the Joy-Con’s innards being completely exposed. It’s a bold proposition considering the controllers come bundled for $80 if they ever need to be replaced. But Retaihec says they didn’t have much problem taking all of the pieces out or putting them back in after the plastic had been painted. The left Joy-Con, being full of more stuff, like the IR sensor, was a bit hairier.
Retaihec was patient though and succeeded in slowly removing everything while also keeping it in once piece and all oriented in the right direction to make everything easier to put correctly back in place.
Spray painting the empty plastic was the easiest part, although some commenters chided Retaihec for not sanding the pieces down before hand. They used a no sanding, no priming required gloss paint, however, followed by a matte finish sealant for wood, metal, and “more,” leaving the Joy-Con with a texture that find to them.
Retaihec, who decided to share the project to help “inspire people to have fun with doing custom work,” isn’t the only one taking his expensive Nintendo hardware apart to give it a unique finish. Reddit user Malambroski decided to refinish their grey Joy-Con with a deep, eggplant purple. Their process is mostly similar, although they scrubbed the plastic down with a scotch pad first to remove the proactive coating the controllers come with.
And the key to a good paint job? “Less is more.”
“Light coats. Let dry, if needed, add another,” writes Malambroski. “You can always add, but you can’t extract.”
Of course, with any modification to purchased hardware, the user runs the risk of voiding the warranty. Fortunately, the Joy-Con are easier to replace than the rest of the console, so it’s not entirely impractical, even if doing so requires cautiously removing some fragile circuitry.
I for one would love to get play with some color schemes besides the neon-colors Nintendo has offered to star with. Some of these speculative illustrations would be awesome to start with. If Nintendo was willing to make a Bowser-themed Wii remote, surely they’ll have something planned for the Switch. Then again, whatever it is is sure to cost more than a couple cans of spray paint and a weekend afternoon.
And if you like your Joy-Con just the way they are though, you can always find something else to paint, like the Nintendo Switch pro controller.