Sunday, September 16, 2007

Speaker Grills Should Match!

How To Paint Your In-Wall Speaker Grills

One of the projects I had completed when we moved into our house, was installing a home theater that could be experienced, but not seen - you know, in wall speakers, all of the components in the basement, flat panel TV - the whole nine yards. Apart from a few problems with the plasma (which were handled nicely by NEC BTW), the home theater has been amazing. Great video and outstanding sound, easily controlled with a Logitech Harmony 880 Universal remote.

The speakers I chose for my in-walls are from the Triad line of speakers (InWall Silver line). While they don't sound quite as good as a non-in-wall speaker, they do sound pretty darn good. Unfortunately, at the time I bought the speakers, the grills and brackets came in white, and it cost extra to match the paint of the room. They have since changed their policy and now include the cost of custom grills in the cost of the speakers - smart move if you ask me. Unfortunately, my speakers still stood out with their white faces on my desert tan walls. Triad offered to send me new matching grills - at $100 each! $600 for grills... I did consider it, but figured I'd see if I could paint them myself before spending any real dough.

I started by pulling the grills off the speakers, leaving the brackets/frames in place. I taped up the outside edge of the frames to keep my walls clean and proceeded to put 2 coats of Benjamin Moore Desert Tan paint on all of the frames. I did this with a 1" paint brush and 2 pretty thin coats of paint. The results were excellent - the frames blended right into the wall - ok, easy part done.

Now for the hard part. Painting the grills with a brush would just look like complete crap! The little holes in the grills that let the sound pass through would clog with paint, making them look and sound MUCH worse. However, I did find that if i painted the grill with a thin coat of paint, then used a compressed air can to spray the grill, the holes all opened up nicely and they started to look good. However, I then thought of a better way to paint these - using an air-brush. Since I didn't own an air-brush, I needed to find an inexpensive model (less than $50 for sure) that could do the job, otherwise, the time & expense of the project would be more than just ordering the grills from Triad.

I called around to a few arts & crafts stores and found that Michaels Arts & Crafts had just what I was looking for. They carry a basic Badger air-brush for $24.99. Add in a can of "propel" (compressed air) for $12.99 and it was well within my budget. After a quick trip to Michaels, I was armed with my new tool.

After assembling the air-brush (2 minutes), I experimented with the paint flow a bit. I ended up mixing water into the latex based paint to thin it down to the consistency of milk. This proved to spray very nicely and evenly. I experimented on one of the grills and voila! perfect. The paint coated the grill without clogging any of the holes.

I then spent the next hour spraying a thin layer of paint on all of my grills, trying to be as even as possible in the coverage (did one pass horizontally and one pass vertically). I did use a bit too much paint in spots, which resulted in clogged pours. This was easily remedied by wiping the excess paint from the back of the grills, then using my compressed air can to blow out the clogged holes.

I let all of the grills dry for an hour or so, then sprayed a second coat on, repeating exactly as I did with the first pass. After letting them dry for about an hour, the results were outstanding!!!
I reinstalled the grills and they look like they came from the factory painted to match my walls. Of course due to the nature of a grill cover, they appear a bit darker than the wall, but now they are MUCH less visible and no longer attract any attention when you enter the room.

Here is a picture:


Dave said...

Good job with the air-brush; I agree that they came out well.

JDCipher said...

thanks Dave. I wish i had another picture showing the big hole in the wall to the right of the left front speaker. All the wiring to/from the tv goes through the brick, through the wall, then down into the basement... I repaired the cut-out a couple of weeks ago... can't even tell!