Success (iPad 2 screen scratch removal)!

Discussion in 'iPad' started by kfscoll, Apr 8, 2011.

  1. macrumors 6502a

    Nov 3, 2009
    Let me preface this by saying that I know this is waaaay over the top. Still, it might help folks who are as obsessive-compulsive as me.

    Anyway, this evening I found a few minor scratches and "nicks" on the screen of my iPad. These blemishes were only visible under direct fluorescent lighting, but they bugged me, so I set out to remove them.

    As has been discussed in this forum and elsewhere, most iPad/iPhone screen scratches are actually in the oleophobic coating layer, not the glass itself. So, I figured, what if I just remove the oleophobic layer? Then all I'll have left is nice, smooth, hard, scratch-resistant glass.

    Knowing enough about car detailing to be dangerous, I busted out my Porter-Cable random-orbit polisher, 3M swirl mark remover, cheapo Windex, two foam pads (one polishing, one finishing), synthetic paint sealant, two microfiber towels, and a microfiber sponge.

    First, I cleaned my screen with the Windex and a microfiber towel. Simple enough.

    Next, I attached the foam polishing pad to my P-C polisher, set it on speed setting 4, plopped a nickel-sized drop of 3M compound on the pad, and polished the screen. It took about 5 minutes of polishing with very light pressure to completely remove the oleophobic coating. The only way to tell that the coating is gone is to exhale on the screen such that it fogs...this makes it pretty clear where the coating is and isn't. It's also possible to tell by feel where the coating is, but that's not as reliable as actually seeing it. However, without breathing on the glass, you absolutely can't visually tell where the coating ends -- the bare glass is exactly as shiny as the coated glass.

    Third, I polished the glass again with the 3M stuff, but this time I used the finishing pad. This probably wasn't necessary but it's a force of habit from working with auto paint.

    Honestly, at this point, the hard work was done. I cleaned the screen again with Windex, then I used the microfiber sponge to apply my synthetic sealant (basically it's a chemical "wax") and let it dry for about 5 minutes. I then buffed off the sealant with a clean microfiber towel and, voila, done!

    I gotta tell you, I was SHOCKED as to how nicely this turned out. There are absolutely no scratches in the glass (even under very close inspection using fluorescent and LED spotlights) and the sealant makes the coating-free glass significantly slicker and less prone to fingerprints that the coating did. Clean up is even easier than it was before I removed the coating -- just wipe the screen with a dry microfiber towel. The screen is so slick that dust and lint just don't stick. I'm extremely happy with the results.

    Bottom line -- it is possible to remove fine scratches from your iPad's screen. It takes a little bit of work, but it's easy and the results are fantastic.


  2. macrumors 6502

    Dec 22, 2008
    Wow. You are a ballsy dude.

    How did you get the scratches in the first place?
  3. macrumors 65816


    Apr 8, 2011
    Western Hemisphere
  4. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Nov 3, 2009
    I have absolutely no idea how I got the scratches. The iPad is always in a fully-enclosed case. If the damned PS screen protectors had been available when I bought the iPad I'd have had one installed, but it wasn't to be. What's funny is that now I'm not really worried about scratches since I know I can fix 'em and I just got an email this evening saying that my PS screen protectors have shipped.
  5. macrumors 6502

    Dec 22, 2008
    Thats strange. The reason I didn't like front screens is because I used zagg and it kills the whole experience. Too much friction. But I have seen screens used by friends which don't affect the experience at all. Very smooth.

    The whole iPad world is really messed up. The smart cover doesn't cover the back and no cushioning. I think a lot of people are spending money on multiple accessories to keep their iPad safe. The is no perfect solution. Yet :)
  6. macrumors 68020


    May 21, 2010
    You are out of your mind taking a power tool to an iPad.
  7. macrumors 6502a

    Jan 15, 2011
    isn't there some sort of protection over the glass?

    you buffing that off... is not a great idea.
  8. macrumors 6502

    Dec 22, 2008
    FYI this case works best for me. It's cheap looks cheap and smells cheap. But has good cushioning and a handle which makes the iPad more secure when I hold it in my hand primarily because of the handle. Think it reduces the chances of it being snatched straight outta my

  9. kfscoll, Apr 8, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2011

    thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Nov 3, 2009
    No protection, just the oleophobic coating. Since it's what usually get scratched up, I don't think keeping its integrity is critical for the iPad's survival. No matter, I'm gonna put a screen protector on my iPad anyway.

    IIRC the oleophobic coating didn't get introduced until the iPhone 3GS, so I imagine the screen will be okay without it. I guess we'll see!
  10. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Nov 3, 2009
    Although that buffer looks like a pretty aggressive tool, in reality the pads And polishes I used are very, very mild. You could do the same thing by hand as I did with the buffer and it probably wouldn't take much longer, but the buffer makes it easy to get the finish perfectly smooth and even.
  11. macrumors 6502a


    Mar 16, 2011
    Love it. I don't think I have the beans to do it to a screen but I'v done something similar on the bezels of tvs.
  12. macrumors 68000


    Jul 2, 2009
    Congrats! You just completely voided your warranty.
  13. macrumors G3


    Oct 1, 2005
    Colorado Springs, CO
    Like an Apple genius would be able to tell.
  14. macrumors member

    Feb 27, 2011
    Just like know when you've jailbroken your idevice :rolleyes:
  15. macrumors 68030


    Jun 23, 2010
  16. macrumors 65816


    Apr 8, 2011
    Western Hemisphere
    I don't think you realize that he has experience, and from the photos you can see the result was excellent. Perhaps your jealous?
  17. macrumors 603


    Feb 15, 2009
    Toronto, Canada
  18. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Nov 3, 2009
    That was the idea. The scratches were in the oleophobic coating, so if you get rid of the coating, you get rid of the scratches.

    I know I'm going to put a screen protector (oh, the irony) on the screen once my PS ones arrive, so I figured I'd give this a shot. As it turns out it worked out really, really well. In fact, I bet it'll actually help in getting the screen protector on without dust/lint because dust & lint don't stick to the newly-slick screen any longer.

    As for the warranty, it's absolutely impossible to tell that the screen has been altered in any way. That's a good point though since my screen has the standard light bleed issue that I was planning to get repaired/swapped in a few months.
  19. macrumors 6502


    Jun 17, 2010
    Great Job!!

    Can't believe the sarcasm and haterz! this guy has some balls and creative problem solving skills. You could learn a lesson from this...

    I have same orbital btw... Lol
  20. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Nov 3, 2009
    Thanks! Ya know, it's worked out so well that I might not even bother putting a screen protector on it now. Before I removed the oleophobic coating, I found that whenever I'd wipe down the screen with a microfiber towel, little, tiny strands of lint would stick to the screen. It was always a hassle to completely remove these. Now that I've put the sealant on the screen, I don't have microfiber lint problems at all any longer.
  21. macrumors regular

    Mar 27, 2011
    You must have some guts ... I would be worried now the screen might be able to scratch easier and also once the coating is gone there won't be anything to buff off.
  22. macrumors demi-god


    Feb 9, 2011
    southerner trapped 'up north' (UK)
    i gotta say - really impressed with what the OP has done -

    wonder if the OP would do this for my iphone 4......:p
  23. kfscoll, Apr 9, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2011

    thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Nov 3, 2009
    Well, think about that. If the screen is easier to scratch without the oleophobic coating, then that means the coating is tougher than the glass. Therefore, if the coating is tougher than the glass, then whatever scratched my coating would've also scratched my glass. But that wasn't the case, because when I removed the coating, the scratch was gone. So I seriously doubt the screen is now easier to scratch.

    And what do you mean there's nothing left to buff out? You can easily buff scratches out of bare glass, it just takes different polishing pads and perhaps more aggressive polish. No sweat.

    I actually have an automotive glass-specific polishing kit, and the polish/pads included in that kit are way more aggressive than what I used to remove the oleophobic coating. Since the iPad almost certainly uses Corning Gorilla Glass (or something similar) which is tougher than run-of-the-mill auto glass, I think it's safe to say that the coating is the weakest link in the scratch-resistance of the iPad's screen.
  24. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Nov 3, 2009
    Easily! ;)
  25. macrumors 68000

    Jun 13, 2008
    Brings new meaning to the term "It'll buff right out!"

    Nicely done, and gutsy!

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