How To Screw Up Your Brand New $70 Case with only $5 of Spray Foam


I got a new ATX case and added a big old heatsink with two fans to my CPU.

Sure was loud.

I couldn’t sleep with that racket so I decided to do something about it.

I went down to my friendly Home Depot where I couldn’t find anyone, so I wandered around the 2.5 square mile store looking for something to insulate my case. Foam, rubber, cardboard, anything!

I finally stumbled upon spray foam. I was thinking like “Sweet! This will be perfect!

So I get it home and rip my case sides and front panel off. Time to go to work.

I laid my case sides on the ground and began making back-and-forth motions with the foam. Of course, it left big gaps and didn’t always meet up. So I finished the first side, put the foam down, and grabbed a piece of metal to smooth some of this stuff out.

I go to flatten the stuff out and it just disappears on me. The stuff is thick, thick sticky soap foam when it’s wet; but it just dissolves beneath what ever you touch it with. So now I end up with big sections that are connected, but really flat.

I thought, “Aww, screw it. I’ll just flatten this whole section and go over it again with more foam.”

So I did that side and the other. I also filled up all the gaps in my front panel.

After that I went to wash my hands. Holy cow, is this stuff sticky! I tried using soap, dish soap, shampoo, and gasoline; this stuff would not come off. Not only that but I ended up with it covering both my hands because I was rubbing them as I washed them.

On the other hand, I played a really good game of Quake3 because my hand was stuck to my mouse.

I checked on the panels about 1 hour later. The stuff was partially dry, so I flattened some of it out more. This works much better than trying to do it when it’s wet.

I waited a little longer then I decided to try it. Well, getting the front cover on was pretty tough because the foam expanded. I figured it would all expand upwards, not outwards, which is defiantly not true.

I ended up cutting chunks out and found that the inside was rather gooey. Once again, I ended up with sticky stuff all over my hands, but I finally got the front cover on.

I had to take a break after that ordeal, and my GF ended up coming over and started to play the Sims.

I decided to put the panels back on my case. I grab a side and start putting it on when the PC locks up. I figured it was just acting like it always does, so get the side on (with some more work) and reboot. No Windows.

“Aww, crap!” so I take the side off, fearing that I would never play Q3 again. Windows boots right up. What the heck?

I take a pencil and scribble the lead all over the high points of the inside of my case and put the side back on again. I take it off and I see two marks where it is touching.

So once again I whip out my handy Swiss Army knife and begin cutting, except that the part where they’re touching is the part that I dissolved and re-foamed. I find out that the dissolved part becomes extremely hard when dried and that I must remove a large patch of it.

So after 30mins of struggling and leaving tiny pieces of foam all over my room as battle evidence (they’re still living here, damnit!), I finally get all of it off and put it on.

Now for the other side. I begin to put it on and once again Windows locks up. I look at that side, and I have to flatten a small bump, no problem. So I flatten it and try to attach the side to my PC.

I can’t get it on. What the heck. I fought with this side, too. Guess I bent it. Finally, after 20 mins of swearing and struggling I get the side on. Windows won’t boot. @#$%&*#@$%*.

So I pull the side off and say “Time for bed.”

(Big mistake).

I wake up the next day and to remove the stuff and find that it has hardened quite a bit. * sigh * Forty five minutes, more foam bits everywhere but on the case. Finally get the side on only to notice I made a nice wrinkle in the sheet metal. More time. Finally, my PC is whole again.

I run the thing for a day or two, then I need to change a drive. I take the case sides off and I notice that I have to yank to get the side with the foam off. * sigh*

I also have to pull the front of the case off. I add the HD and I try and put the PC back together only to find out that the front will wont fit back on because the plastic is narrower than my CD-Rom drive. So after 20 mins of hacking the front goes back on, in much worse condition.

I grab the side and it does not fit at all. I bend it this way and that to no avail. Finally a brief flash of non-stupidity hits me, and I realize that the foam has expanded sideways slightly stretching the metal.

Once again I grab the trusty knife. Once again the foam is even harder because it has been cooked by the heat of my system. I cut a big cross out of the foam, allowing for the metal to flex and to be stretched.

Finally my PC is whole. Then I notice something

Remember why I started this in the first place? The noise? It’s barely decreased.

I now have one side so warped it looks like a sine wave where it meets the other piece, one side covered with foam residue and remaining crap, and a front piece that is a tight fit, but is very solid. Very, very solid. Maybe I can sell this as modern art.

Spray foam is a bad idea for case customizing. It holds static electricity. It expands whether you want it to or not. Spray foam, bad.

Email David Craig

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