Foam Mod Your Keyboard With PE Foam Sheets

July 26, 2023

Do you want to enhance the sound and feel of your mechanical keyboard? Then use polyethylene (PE) foam for modding your keyboard. Inspired by Owlabs and the Jelly Epoch TKL, this simple but game-changing solution can give your keyboard a whole new sound profile.

The PE Foam mod involves placing a thin layer of PE Foam between the PCB and the plate of your keyboard. Doing so alters the sound signature of your keyboard.

This mod is recommended for hot-swap boards or before soldering switches. The PE Foam mod can also help secure switches to the PCB, ensuring a stable typing experience.

Let's dive into how to mod your keyboard with PE Foam.

How to mod your keyboard with PE foam?

PE foam can be used to mod your keyboard. PE foam is a sound-altering solution that can give your keyboard a unique sound profile.

Using PE foam in keyboard modding can provide several benefits. However, there are some things you need to consider---or to be careful with---when doing modifications. Erroneous modding can interfere with your keyboard's functionality.

What is PE foam and why should you use it for keyboard modding?

PE foam, or polyethylene foam, is a durable and lightweight closed-cell material. It is often used for packaging industrial and agricultural goods because of its superior vibration-dampening and insulation properties. The material is also resistant to moisture and chemicals. 

Because of its properties, it’s an ideal material to use for keyboard modding. It can transform the sound profile of your keyboard. PE foam is a popular choice among mechanical keyboard enthusiasts.

Usually, a foam cutout is placed between the PCB and the plate of your keyboard, providing the sound-dampening benefit. By absorbing sound waves, PE foam can help eliminate unwanted vibrations and create a more enjoyable board sound.

Those indulging in keyboard hobby will definitely consider this humble packing material.

Where can you buy PE foam sheets for keyboard modding?

You can easily find sheets of PE foam for sale online at low prices. PE foam sheets are also available for purchase at home-improvement stores or at hardware stores. PE foam may also be found in craft stores that advertise and sell them. Of course, you can check specialty stores like KBDfans as well; KBD is quite popular for those in the keyboard hobby.

Some of those in the keyboard hobby also use 0.5mm rubber pads or sheets for sound-dampening. While rubber pads also work, PE foam still remains a popular choice.

When buying PE foam. you might encounter these terms: EVA and PORON. EVA is a closed-cell foam while PORON is an open-cell foam. Choose PORON because it's better at absorbing and reducing sound.

Without the foam, typing may sound noisy and clunky. Because the keycaps and switches are usually made of plastic, they make a loud sound with every press. So, if you're ready to elevate your keyboard's sound and feel, check out online retailers for PE foam sheets and get started on creating your ultimate customized keyboard.

Finally, if you want to do away with all the hassles, you can check out DIY IxPE PE foam sheets. These are already precut and ready to install on your keyboard.

Step-by-step guide to modding your keyboard with PE foam

PE foam sheets may be the solution you are looking for to address your issue of reducing your sound signature! Let's dive into a step-by-step guide for improving your typing experience using PE foam sheets.

  1. Start by disassembling your keyboard. Remove all keycaps, switches, and stabilizers. Be careful not to damage the switch pins.
  2. Measure and cut the PE foam to fit the plate and PCB, ensuring it covers the entire area. Note that some keyboards are plateless. As a rule of thumb, use a thin 0.55mm thick PE foam sheet. Thicker pads would 
  3. Using a hobby knife, pierce the foam to create holes for the switches, stabilizers, and LEDs. Be careful when poking holes; you might injure yourself.
  4. Attach PCB-mount stabilizers to the PCB to ensure proper stability.
  5. Prepare the plate by attaching standoffs or switches.
  6. Carefully install the switches, starting with the corners, ensuring they're securely in place. Be extra careful not to bend or damage metal pins.
  7. Trim the foam if necessary to ensure a proper fit.
  8. Assemble the keyboard. including the case and keycaps.
  9. Test your keyboard's sound signature and typing feel.

Follow these steps, and you'll be on your way to transforming your keyboard with the incredible PE foam mod. 

What are the benefits of using PE foam in keyboard modding?

By incorporating PE foam into your keyboard modification to alter your keyboard's sound signature, you actually enhance your typing experience. 

Using PE foam in your keyboard modding process offers several benefits. First, it helps mute the loud sound and reduces the vibration produced by your keyboard when typing. This creates a more enjoyable and quieter typing experience.

Second, PE foam secures switches to the top of the PCB, preventing them from becoming loose over time.

Lastly, customizing computer peripherals, including your keyboard, is an enjoyable hobby. It allows you to create a setup that is truly unique. 

Common mistakes to avoid when modding your keyboard with PE foam

While there are several benefits to using PE foam in keyboard modding, it's important to be aware of some common mistakes to avoid so you could enjoy those benefits.

One common mistake is using the wrong type of foam. Make sure to use the recommended PE foam and avoid using black foam that contains carbon, which damages your PCB and plate. 

Don't use PE foam that is too thick. It's best to use 0.5mm thick foam to avoid interfering with the PCB's hot-swap abilities.

Be careful when cutting the foam. Cutting it improperly can lead to poor sound-dampening performance. It could also hamper your keyboard's performance and functionality.

Finally, every board comes with an instruction manual with do's, don't's, tips, and diagrams. Make sure to follow all the recommended steps and precautions during the modding process. Read the manual's disclaimer and warranty. If you're unsure of your skills, have a professional do the modding. 

What tools do you need to PE foam mod your keyboard?

To mod your keyboard with PE foam, there are several tools you'll need. These include:

  • a pair of scissors
  • hobby knife
  • hole poker
  • screwdriver
  • keycap puller
  • switch puller
  • desoldering pump/gun
  • soldering iron
  • solder
  • flux
  • brass wool

Having these tools on hand will ensure that you have everything you need to successfully complete the mod. A pair of scissors is useful for cutting the PE foam to the appropriate size. A hobby knife or a hole poker will be necessary to create holes in the PE foam for the switches, stabilizers, and LEDs.

A screwdriver will be needed to disassemble and reassemble the keyboard. A keycap puller and switch puller will make removing the keycaps and switches easier.

A desoldering pump/gun, soldering iron, solder, flux, and brass wool are used if you are performing the mod on a soldered PCB and need to desolder and resolder the switches.

When you disassemble and/or reassemble your keyboard, it's important to have a lamp nearby. It offers illumination, allowing you to see your work better.

Cutting the PE foam effectively is important for successful keyboard modding, and this can be achieved by using a measuring tape or ruler.

Lastly, to deal with static electricity while modding, consider using anti-static foam or grounding yourself before working on your keyboard.

Having all of these tools readily available will make the modding process a breeze.

How to disassemble and reassemble your keyboard

People talk about how difficult it is to disassemble and reassemble keyboards. They think it takes way too many processes. It's actually not. 

Most of the difficulties can be alleviated if you allocate enough time to the task. Avoid rushing to avoid potential mistakes. Work in a well-lighted place to improve visibility and prevent accidental damage or component loss.

Avoid losing way too many screws by putting them in a small container.

When you disassemble, be gentle and handle the components with care to prevent any unnecessary damage. A good tip we found on Reddit: take a video of the process. You can view the video when you reassemble the keyboard to see what part goes where.

When you reassemble the keyboard, make sure all the parts fit properly and align correctly. Take care not to damage center pins and metal pins. If there's resistance during the process, remove and trim the foam if necessary.

After the keyboard is reassembled, test it to ensure that everything is working properly. Please note if there are strange noises and weird functionalities.

How to effectively cut PE foam for your keyboard mod?

Achieving precise cuts on the PE foam to fit your keyboard's layout and dimension is crucial to maximizing the impact of sound-dampening and retaining its functionality.

To cut the PE foam effectively, start by measuring and marking the desired dimensions on the foam. Then, using a sharp pair of scissors or a hobby knife, carefully cut along the marked lines. Take your time and make clean, straight cuts to ensure the foam fits perfectly on your keyboard. Please note: be careful to avoid injuring yourself.

If necessary, you can trim the foam further to make it fit snugly. Pierce the foam for switches, stabilizers, and LEDs, ensuring they align properly with the PCB. Taking care and precision during the cutting process will help you achieve the best results with your PE foam mod.

You can also use precut IxPE switch foam sheets. Just make sure it fits your keyboard, from row to column.

Using tape mod in combination with PE foam for better results

For better results, try combining the tape mod with PE foam to enhance the sound profile of your keyboard. The tape mod involves placing adhesive tape strips on the PCB to further dampen sound and vibrations. By using this mod in combination with PE foam, you can achieve a more pronounced reduction in noise and a smoother typing experience.

The tape mod helps to minimize any residual sound that may not be completely eliminated by the foam alone. It adds an extra layer of sound dampening to further enhance the overall sound signature of your keyboard. This combination is especially effective for those who're looking to achieve a quiet and satisfying typing experience.

Give it a try and take your keyboard modding to the next level!

How to deal with static electricity while modding your keyboard?

To ensure a safe and static-free modding experience, remember to take precautions and protect your membrane or mechanical keyboard. Static electricity can be a concern when working with electronics.

Reduce static electricity by stepping on an anti-static mat or wearing an anti-static wrist strap.

Discharge any static electricity from your body by touching a grounded object before handling the keyboard or its components. When handling PE foam or any other materials, avoid rubbing them against fabrics that can generate static electricity.

Prevent any damage to your keyboard and ensure a successful and static-free modding experience by following the steps above.

Which types of keyboards are suitable for PE foam modding?

If you're considering modding your keyboard with PE foam, it's important to know which types of keyboards are suitable for this modification. Mechanical keyboards with hotswap PCBs or those that haven't been soldered yet are ideal for PE foam modding.

To identify the type of switch in your keyboard, you can refer to the specifications provided by the manufacturer. Alternatively, you can remove a keycap to visually inspect the color of the switch.

When it comes to modifying keyboard stabilizers with PE foam, you can cut small pieces of foam and place them underneath the stabilizers. Please note that you should check the fitment.

Using switch pads such as the GMMK Pros swappable gasket kits along with PE foam can further enhance your typing experience by providing additional sound dampening and cushioning.

Lastly, after foam modding your keyboard, you have various keycap options to choose from, including different materials, profiles, and colors, which can further personalize your keyboard.

Characteristics of mechanical keyboards suitable for foam modding

Mechanical keyboards that are perfect for foam modding have unique sound profiles that can be altered with the addition of PE foam. These keyboards often have a more pronounced and distinctive sound when compared to other keyboards, depending on the switches they're using.

By applying PE foam, you can mute or change the sound signature of your keyboard, creating a more pleasant and enjoyable typing experience. The modding process helps to dampen the sound and vibrations produced by the keyboard, resulting in a quieter and more satisfying typing feel. This is quite useful if you're working with colleagues in a quiet environment.

Additionally, the addition of PE foam can help to secure the switches in place, preventing any unwanted movement or wobble.

Overall, if you have a mechanical keyboard with a distinct sound profile that you'd like to modify, foam modding with PE foam is a great option to consider.

How to identify the type of switch on your keyboard?

Identifying the type of switch in your keyboard is as simple as examining the stem color or looking for any markings on the switch housing.

Different switch types have distinct characteristics that can help you determine which type you have. For example, Cherry MX switches are often color-coded, with red switches having a light red stem, blue switches having a blue stem, and so on. Other switches, like Gateron and Kailh, may also have color-coded stems.

Some switches may have markings on the switch housing that indicate the switch type. These markings can be in the form of letters or numbers.

By carefully inspecting your switches, you can easily identify the type and proceed with your PE foam modding process.

Modifying keyboard stabilizers with PE foam

To enhance the stability and sound profile of your keyboard, add thin PE foam sheets on your keyboard's stabilizers.

This simple modification can make a significant difference in the overall performance and feel of your keyboard. By placing a thin layer of PE foam underneath the stabilizers, you can reduce any potential rattling or wobbling, resulting in a more stable typing experience. The PE foam will also help dampen any noise produced by the stabilizers themselves.

The process of modifying your stabilizers with PE foam is relatively straightforward. Simply cut the foam to size. Create holes in the foam for the stabilizer stems. Then, carefully place the foam underneath the stabilizers before reassembling your keyboard.

Give it a try and experience the improved stability and sound that the PE foam mod can bring to your keyboard.

Using switch pads with PE foam for an improved typing experience

Enhance your typing experience by combining switch pads with PE foam for a keyboard that feels and sounds amazing to type on.

Switch pads are a great addition to the PE foam mod as they offer even more material options and acoustic profiles. By placing switch pads on the bottom of your switches, you can further dampen the sound and vibrations.

Modded correctly, the combination of switch pads and PE foam creates a synergistic effect that enhances your keyboard. Whether you prefer a deeper or higher sound profile, switch pads allow you to customize the acoustics of your keyboard to suit your preferences.

So why settle for a standard typing experience when you can elevate it with the winning combination of switch pads and the PE foam mod? Give it a try and experience the difference for yourself.

What are the keycap options for foam-modded keyboards?

Now that you've learned about using switch pads with PE foam for an improved typing experience, let's move on to another topic: keycap options for foam-modded keyboards.

When it comes to keycaps, there are a variety of options available to enhance your foam-modded keyboard. The choice of keycaps can greatly impact the overall aesthetics and feel of your keyboard.

You can opt for keycaps made from different materials, such as ABS or PBT. Each offers its own unique characteristics. ABS keycaps are known for their smooth and shiny finish, while PBT keycaps are more durable and have a textured feel. You can choose from various profiles like OEM, Cherry, or SA.

It's important to consider the compatibility of the keycaps with your keyboard layout. Make sure to check the keycap set's compatibility before making a purchase. Always be on the lookout for disclaimers in reviews about the keycaps.

With the right keycaps, you can further customize and elevate the look and feel of your foam-modded keyboard to suit your individual style and typing experience.

How does PE foam modding affect the sound signature of your mechanical keyboard?

If you're curious about how foam modding affects your keyboard's sound signature, you'll want to know a few key points.

Using black PE foam versus white PE foam can make a difference in sound dampening.

Additionally, poking holes in the foam can further reduce sound. Please note: be sure to follow tips for piercing the foam correctly without damaging your keyboard or injuring yourself. This is pretty important if you're working on thicker foam.

Comparing the sound differences with and without the foam mod will give you an actual "ears-on" in determining how the keyboard sounds. 

Understanding the impact of foam modding on the keyboard's sound

To fully grasp the impact of foam modding on your board sound signature, you need to understand how different factors can influence the mod's effects.

The mounting style or type of your keyboard can affect the way the foam interacts with the switches and plate, ultimately affecting the sound. Whether it's top mount, gasket mount, or tray mount, each style can have its own effect.

The type of switches installed can also have an impact on the board sound being produced. Whether you prefer linear, tactile, or clicky switches, each type has a different overall sound profile.

Lastly, the material of the plate can further modify the sound signature. Whether it's aluminum, brass, or polycarbonate, the plate material can play a role in shaping the sound of your keyboard.

Consider these factors when applying foam to your keyboard to achieve the desired sound profile.

Using black PE foam vs. white PE foam for sound dampening

Using black PE foam can create a rich and deep sound profile while white PE foam offers a clean and crisp sound experience that will leave you in awe. The choice between black and white PE foam for sound dampening in your keyboard mod depends on your preferences and the desired sound outcome.

Black PE foam, made of carbon, absorbs sound waves and can add depth to your keyboard's sound signature. It enhances the low frequencies and creates a warm and full-bodied sound that many enthusiasts love.

White PE foam provides a more neutral and transparent sound. It absorbs less sound compared to black foam, allowing the natural characteristics of your switches and keycaps to shine through. This results in a clean and crisp sound experience.

EVA and PORON foam, as discussed, earlier also have their own effects on your keyboard sound. 

How to create holes in the foam to reduce sound even further?

By carefully puncturing the foam with a hole poker, hobby knife, or sharp object, you can create cutout holes to further enhance the sound reduction properties of your keyboard mod. These holes will allow the sound waves to pass through the foam more easily, resulting in an even quieter typing experience.

When creating the holes, it's important to consider the placement and size. You can experiment with different hole patterns and configurations to find the best combination for your specific keyboard and desired sound profile. Keep in mind that the placement of the holes should align with the switches, stabilizers, and LEDs on your PCB.

By taking the time to create these holes, you can optimize the sound-dampening effect of the PE foam mod and achieve the best possible sound reduction for your keyboard.

Tips for piercing the foam correctly without damaging your keyboard

When you pierce the foam, approach with caution and precision to avoid any injury or potential damage to your board. 

Use a sharp tool such as a hole poker, a pair of scissors, or the tip of a hobby knife, to create the holes in the foam. Start by gently pressing the tool into the foam, making small and controlled movements. Avoid applying excessive force to prevent any accidental punctures or tearing.

It's advisable to practice on a scrap piece of foam before working on your actual keyboard. This way, you can refine your technique and gain confidence before modding your keyboard.

Remember, patience and accuracy are key to ensuring a smooth and damage-free modding experience.

Comparing sound differences of your keyboard with and without PE foam

There is indeed a noticeable contrast in sound profiles when incorporating the PE foam mod into your keyboard setup.

Without the foam modding, your keyboard may have a more hollow and metallic sound. However, once you install the PE foam, you'll notice a significant reduction in high-pitched noises and a smoother, more mellow sound.

The mod adds a layer of depth and richness to your typing experience, making it more pleasant and enjoyable. The sound becomes more balanced, with a pleasing mix of lows, mids, and highs.

Please note that for every 3 years, you should check your PE foam mod if it needs replacing.

Overall, the PE foam mod enhances the sound quality of your keyboard, elevating it to a whole new level of auditory satisfaction.

Foam Mod Your Keyboard Today

Modding your keyboard with PE foam can be a game-changer for its sound profile. By simply placing a thin layer of PE foam between the PCB and plate, you can achieve a poppy, marbled sound signature.

This mod is recommended for hotswap boards or before soldering switches. The foam helps secure switches to the PCB and can be trimmed if needed.

Overall, the PE foam mod enhances the sound and feel of mechanical keyboards, giving you a more enjoyable typing experience.

Erickson, a certified Interior Designer and Ergonomist, has cultivated a unique career blending aesthetics, functionality, and well-being. Holding a Bachelor's degree in Interior Designfrom a prestigious institution, Erickson is well-versed in creating spaces that are both visually pleasing and conducive to human comfort and health.
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