Dyeing your keycaps at home can be a fun and creative way to customize your mechanical keyboard. Whether you want to match your keycaps with your setup or simply try out a new color, this DIY project allows you to achieve unique and eye-catching results, reflecting your personality and style. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll […]
How to dye your keycaps at home? – Quick and Easy!
Dyeing your keycaps at home can be a fun and creative way to customize your mechanical keyboard. Whether you want to match your keycaps with your setup or simply try out a new color, this DIY project allows you to achieve unique and eye-catching results, reflecting your personality and style. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the process of dyeing your keycaps, from gathering the necessary tools to applying the dye and finishing touches.
Materials and tools
Before going with the craft work, you will need some ingredients on hand.
White PBT keycaps
Dying keycaps is the process of heating the ink until it becomes vapor to penetrate each gap of the plastic molecules on each keycap. Therefore, make sure the keycaps you’re about to dye are white and made from PBT so they do not melt or warp under heat like other plastics.
These are the type of keycaps that are compatible with dye sublimation, a process that fuses the ink and the surface together. You can buy blank PBT keycaps online or use the ones that came with your keyboard, as long as they are not ABS (a different type of plastic that does not work well with dye sublimation as they will melt in boiling water).
Although you can also dye ABS caps, take caution and keep the water temperature low during dying (around 75ºC).
Discover the differences between ABS and PBT keycaps in this insightful post: ABS vs PBT keycaps – Which material is better?
Dye (iDye Poly), Color Intensifier
iDye Poly is a specialized dye that is recommended when you want to dye keycaps. You can order 1 pack on Amazon for just around $10.
The iDye Poly comes with a pack of color intensifiers. Color intensifiers are semi-permanent dyes that boost the vibrancy and radiance of the dyed materials.
- Keycap Remover
- Latex Gloves
- A disposable pot (for boiling keycaps)
- A spoon/Other alternatives are disposable chopsticks or long bamboo skewers (for stirring the pot)
- Distilled water
- A disposable strainer or coffee filter (optional)
How to dye your keycaps? Step by Step Guide
Let’s go through 8 steps on how to easily dye your keycaps at home:
Step 1: Clean the keycaps and utensils
- Wash the pot: If you’ve used the pot previously, make sure it’s clean.
- Wash the keycaps: Clean your keycaps with hot soapy water if needed, then set them aside.
After that, you’ll need to carefully remove the keycaps from your mechanical keyboard using a keycap remover tool.
Check out this post: How To Remove Keycaps? Simple Guide For Beginners to make the process quicker.
Step 2: Boil the water
You should boil about 500mL (~2 cups) of distilled water to maximize concentration. Use as little distilled water as possible while still submerging all of the keys.
You should boil for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep the water as hot as possible. Since PBT melts at 223 °C (433 °F), you won’t be afraid of your keycaps melting.
Step 3: Add the dye and Intensifier into the boiling water
Blend the dye pack in the boiling water and use the spoon to stir. You can stir for around 1 to 2 minutes until the dye is entirely dissolved.
- Follow the instructions on the dye package for the correct water-to-dye ratio.
- Stir slowly and be careful to avoid getting the dye on the clothes or splashing the boiling water and causing burns.
After the dye totally dissolved, add the color intensifier.
Step 4: Submerge for the first 10-15 minutes
Gently place the keycaps into the dye bath, making sure they are fully submerged. Then, wait 10-15 minutes for the keycaps to soak up the color.
Note: The dyeing time will vary depending on the intensity of color you desire. Check the keycaps regularly to achieve your preferred shade. Keep in mind that different materials may absorb dye differently.
Remember not to stir the keycaps since the mental strainer may scratch them.
Step 5: Re-boil the dye and continue dying for the next 10-15 minutes
The process of dying can be split into two 10-15 minute sessions. This helps you to avoid making a mess in the kitchen while also assessing the dying color and uniformity.
It’s okay if some people want to keep the pot on the burner for 30 minutes. However, the fumes may cause color marks in the exhaustion. If you’re doing this way, use a lid to keep the damage to a minimum.
After the first 15-minute sessions, put the keys out of the dye and wash them with cold water till the water is crystal clear while waiting for the boiling of the dye.
Re-boil the dye for around 1-2 minutes, continue to soak the keycaps for 10-15 minutes. Once the desired color is achieved, remove the keycaps from the dye bath and rinse them under cold running water until the water runs clear (again).
Step 6: Wash the keys with soap to remove the dye residue
To remove dye residue or some little black things from keycaps, wash them in soapy water.
Don’t skip this step because the dye residue is hard to remove and causes your keycaps to be less smooth and uniform.
Cleaning your keycaps also needs certain skills. Read on How to deep clean your keycaps and mechanical keyboard safely and easily? to gain those skills and keep your keycaps a good look always.
Step 7: Let keycaps dry overnight!
Don’t be in a hurry! Allow time for the keycaps to dry completely. If you’re truly worried about water still remaining in the keycaps, use some q-tips to remove them.
Before drying them, you can also rinse them with distilled water to leave all mineral deposits.
Step 8: Put the keycaps back on your keyboard and enjoy
A stunning keycap set is coming. Just reattach the keycaps to your keyboard and enjoy its fresh look.
The process is just that and if you follow each step correctly, the keycaps will certainly be colorful and eye-catching. Don’t be confused! See, dying keycaps is simpler than you think.
Note: Remember that dyeing keycaps is a DIY process, and results may vary based on the materials used and individual techniques.
After all, you will get your art without spending too much money. Watch this video to get everything about the process of dying your keycaps at home.
10+ Tips for Dyeing Keycaps
- Safety First: Use gloves and protective gear when handling hot keycaps and avoid touching them with bare hands as they might burn you.
- Test on Spare Keycaps: Before dyeing your main keycaps, experiment with spare, extra or less valuable keycaps to get the desired color and effect.
- Test for Compatibility: Ensure the dye is compatible with your keycap material before proceeding with the dyeing process.
- Get Creative: Mix different dye colors to create custom shades and patterns for a truly unique look.
- Practice Patience: Achieving the perfect color may require multiple dyeing sessions, so be patient throughout the process. The longer you let your keycaps soak in the dye solution, the darker they will be.
- Don’t overheat or underheat: Be careful not to overheat or underheat your keycaps as this might cause unevenness, fading or cracking of the color.
- Start Light: It’s easier to darken the color than to lighten it, so start with a lighter dye bath and adjust as needed.
- Use a Timer: Set a timer to keep track of dyeing time and prevent over-saturation of color.
- Dry Completely: Allow the keycaps to dry fully before reassembling to prevent any potential damage to your keyboard.
- Avoid direct sunlight: Store your dyed keycaps in a cool and dry place away from direct sunlight as this might affect their color over time.
- Consider applying a sealant or clear coat: If you want to protect the color and add a glossy finish, apply a sealant or clear coat to the dyed keycaps. Allow them to dry completely before reassembling your keyboard.
- Document the Process: Take pictures of each step to track your progress and share your DIY journey with others.
FAQs on dyeing keycaps
Can black keycaps be dyed?
No. Keycaps can be only dyed a darker color. Our advice is to start with white PBT keycaps and dye them whatever color you choose.
Can you paint keys with acrylic paint?
Yes. Keycaps can be painted using acrylic paints. You can simply paint your keycaps the way you like thanks to its fast-drying features, durable and thick coating on metal items, and long-lasting coating.
Should you dye ABS keycaps?
It’s not recommended. However, you can still dye ABS keycaps in a low-temperature condition with caution. There are several users who successfully dyed their ABS keycaps.
What paint do you use for keycaps?
If you would like to paint the entire surface of your keyboard, we highly recommend acrylic paint. You can simply cover the entire area with a paintbrush.
Does dyeing affect key feel?
Dyeing may slightly impact key feel, especially with porous materials like ABS. Dyeing can alter the surface texture, making it smoother or rougher depending on the dye used. However, if you use high-quality dye and follow proper dyeing techniques, the impact on the keycap feel should be minimal.
Does the dye come off after a while?
If the dyeing process is done correctly and the keycaps are properly sealed with a clear coat or sealant, the dye should not come off or fade easily. However, without proper sealing, there is a possibility that the dye may wear off over time, particularly with heavy use. To ensure the longevity of the dye, it’s essential to use a high-quality dye and follow the recommended sealing process.
Can I dye backlit keycaps?
Dyeing backlit keycaps can be challenging due to potential obstruction. While some dyes are translucent and allow light to pass through, others may block the light entirely. It’s best to use dye specifically designed for backlit keycaps or consider using a two-tone dyeing technique for a creative backlighting effect.
Can I dye artisan keycaps?
Dyeing artisan keycaps can be more complicated than standard keycaps due to their unique shapes and materials. Artisan keycaps are often made of resin or other specialty materials, which may require different dyeing techniques. It’s essential to research and test the dyeing process on a spare or inexpensive artisan keycap before attempting it on valuable ones.
How to remove dye stains?
To remove dye stains from your hands, wash them immediately with soap and warm water. For surfaces, use a mixture of water and mild detergent to gently clean the stains. It’s best to wear gloves and work on a protected surface to minimize potential stains.
Can I dye keycaps with legends?
Dyeing keycaps with legends can be challenging. It’s best to use blank keycaps or keycaps with minimal printing for the dyeing process to achieve the best results.
Are there risks to dyeing keycaps?
Dyeing keycaps involves working with hot water and dyes, which can be hazardous if proper safety precautions are not taken. Always wear gloves and protective eyewear, work in a well-ventilated area, and follow the instructions provided with the dye.
Have you already got all steps on how to dye your keycaps at home? It was pretty much simple, right? With some simple tools and techniques, you can create your own unique keycaps that match your taste and style. We hope this post has inspired you to try dyeing your keycaps at home and share your results with us. Happy dyeing!