Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite owners are always tempted to buy colorful Joy-Cons or limited edition consoles. But you don’t have to blow your life’s savings just to own a good-looking Switch. A reasonable $30 to $40 can score you an eye-catching replacement shell, and you can spend even less money tricking out your Switch with a custom skin.
It sounds a bit daunting, but replacing your Switch’s plastic shell is a lot easier than you’d expect. The results are endlessly satisfying, especially if you throw in a set of custom buttons. While adhesive skins won’t give you the same effect as a replacement shell, they’re a lot more affordable and easy to install. Here are some of our favorite skins, shells, and buttons for the Switch and Switch Lite.
Update, 12/11/21: Double-checked that links and content still up-to-date.
Customizing your Switch is a pretty straightforward process, especially if you opt for an adhesive skin. But if you plan to crack open your Switch for custom shells or buttons, then you should look at some guides first. That way, you’ll have a good idea of what you’re getting into.
iFixit’s tear-down guide and IGN’s Switch modification tutorial are essential reading for anyone who wants to replace their Switch or Joy-Con shells. These guides are easy to follow, and you can refer back to them at any time. I’d also suggest looking at iFixit’s button replacement guide, even if you don’t plan to replace your console’s buttons. Once you see how easy button replacement is, you may decide to take the plunge.
The Switch Lite is harder to take apart than the full-sized Switch, so I strongly suggest that Lite owners watch Speed Demon 8706’s video guide before buying any replacement parts. This guide shows you the entire tear-down and customization process and watching it should help you decide whether you’re comfortable taking apart your Lite.
Finally, I suggest checking what tools you have on hand—the Switch won’t open without a triwing screwdriver and guitar pick (a credit card will also work). Switch Lite users will also need a heat gun or a hairdryer to remove the Lite’s glass screen, which is glued to its plastic casing.
A Note on Compatibility: Amazon listings for Switch skins and shells include multiple color options. Some of these color options are fit for the HORI D-Pad Joy-Con, which has a plus-shaped rocker in place of the Switch’s default four-button directional pad. If you’re using Nintendo’s official Joy-Cons, then you should avoid color options that are sized for the HORI D-Pad controller.
And while it may be tempting to order custom shells or buttons on AliExpress, Wish, or eBay, you might not be happy with the results. The plastic for these consoles needs to be precision cut, otherwise, you’ll end up with sharp edges on your buttons or Switch body. Poorly manufactured shells can also bulk up the Switch, which may make it difficult to place in its dock.
For a modern game console, the Nintendo Switch is surprisingly easy to pull apart for repair or modification. So, it’s no surprise that custom Switch shells are such a hot item. These pieces of plastic replace the casing on your Joy-Cons and Switch to dramatic effect, and they come in a variety of colors and styles. They’re affordable, easy to put together, and a whole lot fancier looking than adhesive skins.
As I mentioned earlier, you’ll need a Triwing screwdriver and guitar pick to crack open the Switch. Switch Lite and Switch OLED Model owners also need a hairdryer or heat gun to remove the console’s screen.
Here are some of the best Nintendo Switch shells available now. These shells come in a mess of colors, styles, and configurations. Some replace the entirety of your Switch exterior, while others are just for your Joy-Cons.
- Gaming Cobra Console and Joy Con Shells: Gaming Cobra sells a mess of affordable replacement shells. The website’s metallic shells are especially unique. Gaming Cobra also sells replacement faceplates for the Switch dock.
- eXtremeRate Soft Touch Console Shells: eXtremeRate’s soft-touch shells are composed of a smooth plastic, which may feel more comfortable than the hard plastic that’s used for most controllers.
- BASSTOP Retro Clear Console Shells: If you want your Switch to look like a translucent Game Boy, then BASSTOP’s got you covered.
- MASCARRY Animal Crossing Console Shell: A full console shell that looks similar to the limited edition Animal Crossing 3DS.
- eXtremeRate SNES Console Shell: A full console shell that’s styled like an SNES.
- MASCARRY SNES Joy-Con Shell: A set of Joy-Con shells that look like the SNES gamepad.
- eXtremeBee Pastel Joy-Con Shells: eXtremeBee sells three pastel-colored Joy-Con shells with colorful replacement buttons.
A handful of these replacement shells come with replacement buttons, which are optional but easy to install. (We’ll get to that in a minute.)
There aren’t a lot of Switch Lite shells to choose from, probably because the console is still new and has a unibody design. As far as I can tell, there are only a few companies that manufacture Switch Lite shells, but eXtremeRate is your best bet for a wide selection of both transparent and solid shells. However, there are also a few nice options from BASSTOP, U Core, and KIWIHOME.
And for those looking for shell options for the Switch OLED Model, there aren’t many big options out there. You’ve got a few to choose from on sites like Etsy, but it’ll probably be another minute before eXtremeRate and other third-party sources release their shells.
While you’re replacing your Switch’s shell, you might as well throw in a couple of custom buttons. It’s a pretty intuitive process, but I still suggest reading iFixit’s button replacement guide to see how everything is assembled. Some buttons, like the ZL and ZR triggers, are a little wonkier than you’d expect.
- eXtremeRate Full Button Sets: eXtremeRate sells a wide variety of Switch buttons, including some cool metallic and clear options.
- Deal4GO Multi-Color Buttons: An affordable set of multi-colored buttons.
- PartEGG Red/Yellow Buttons: Affordable sets of yellow or red buttons.
Just to be clear, these buttons are sized for the regular Nintendo Switch. They can fit in the Switch Lite, but it’ll be a tight fit, and you’ll have difficulty pressing them down all the way. Switch Lite and OLED Model owners should avoid buying these custom buttons.
Adhesive skins allow you to customize your Switch without cracking open your console. They’re cheap, accessible, and stylish. What more could you ask for? You can find adhesive skins with all sorts of colors and designs, and you can even mix and match a pair of different skins.
That said, I want to encourage you to look at some replacement shells before you pull the trigger on an adhesive skin. Shells look (slightly) better than skins, and they’re a lot easier to install than you might expect. In my own experience, taking apart the Switch takes less effort than lining up a floppy adhesive skin. Take that for what it’s worth—maybe I just suck at using stickers.
- dbrand Nintendo Switch: dbrand sells incredibly high-quality skins that are customizable and easy to use. If you’re looking for textured skins, carbon-fiber skins, camo skins, or pastel skins, then this is the place to look. dbrand is also the only company to sell skins that wrap around your Joy-Cons—other brands just cover the front.
- dbrand (Not) Animal Crossing: dbrand’s exclusive (Not) Animal Crossing skin is a copyright lawsuit waiting to happen. It’s a limited edition item that’s designed to look like the official Animal Crossing Switch.
- dbrand Teardown Skin: If you want to see the inside of your console without installing a transparent replacement shell, then dbrand’s Teardown skin is your best bet.
- Controller Gear Skins: Controller Gear sells officially licensed Animal Crossing, Mario, Zelda, and Splatoon skins for the Switch and Switch dock. They’re affordable and come in a mess of neat styles.
- DecalGirl: The DecalGirl website gives you the option to design your own skins or buy a skin from the extensive DecalGirl catalog.
- dbrand Switch Lite: dbrand’s Switch Lite skins sell in a variety of colors and patterns. They’re the only skins that wrap around the edges of your Switch Lite for full coverage, and you can mix and match two different skins for a two-tone effect.
- Controller Gear Animal Crossing Skin: Controller Gear’s licensed Animal Crossing skins are cute and stylish. They’re very popular and routinely go out of stock.
- DecalGirl: The DecalGirl website allows you to design a custom Switch Lite skin or buy a skin from the DecalGirl catalog.
- Kustom Creations: Kustom Creations provides affordable colorful skins in shiny, matte, or carbon finishes.
- dbrand Switch OLED Model: dbrand has a decent variety of high-quality skins here for either Joy-Con, the console body, and the dock. Naturally, you’ve got a variety of solid colors, textures, finishes, and patterns to choose from; feel free to mix and match, too.
- MightySkins: Now here’s a great resource for creative skin designs. Choose from rainbows, nebulae, flowers, wood, animals, sports, and SO much more for the console, dock, and Joy-Con controllers.
- DecalGirl: You have over 1,000 options to choose from, like classic gaming consoles, cats, space, ombre colors, solid colors, animals, trippy patterns, a toaster, and more. Skin options include both Joy-Cons, the dock, and the console.
And, that’s all there is to it. Customizing your Switch is a fun and easy process, and it can serve as an introductory point to console modification and repair. Even if you’re just installing a skin on the Switch, you should think of it as the first step toward more invasive projects, like shell or button replacements. Console customization is easy and rewarding, and you can learn a lot about electronics after going through the process.