Anti-Glare Screen Glaze Removal

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Issue & Scope

All MacBook Pros released from 2009 to current with glass layers over their display panels (sold as "glossy" as opposed to the true matte screens which have exposed display panel surfaces without a glass cover) were coated with an anti-reflective glaze that will break down over time through physical abrasion and UV exposure. This degradation is commonly referred to as "Staingate" and looks reeeeal bad.

Apple has a repair and replacement program in place for models sold in the past four years, but any older MacBooks will not be covered. Source.


Solution

You will find reports online that folks were able to remove degraded anti-glare coatings from screens using common cleaners like isopropyl alcohol and 409 Multi-Surface cleaner as well as common household products like toothpaste and mouthwash.

Those are all solutions for noobs.

If you want to REALLY deglaze the screen - completely, perfectly, and in a way that takes a reasonable amount of time - your best bet is a product called Armour Etch.

BEFORE ORDERING ARMOUR ETCH OR ATTEMPTING TO DEGLAZE ANYTHING, PLEASE READ THIS ENTIRE ARTICLE AND TAKE ALL PROPER PRECAUTIONS.

If you do not you may really damage the screen you're working on as well as yourself and the other living things and inanimate objects around you.

WARNING

Armour Etch, from a chemical and biological perspective, is absolutely fucking terrifying. The warning - and this is just the text of the partial warning printed on the FRONT of the bottle - reads as follows:

DANGER: 
MAY BE FATAL OR CAUSE PERMANENT DAMAGE TO SKIN, EYES, OR RESPIRATORY TRACT.  
VAPOR HARMFUL.  
CAUSES SEVERE BURNS WHICH MAY NOT BE IMMEDIATELY PAINFUL OR VISIBLE.  
(See additional labeling on back panel.)

This goes without saying, but if you choose to follow these suggestions, you will be doing so AT YOUR OWN RISK and will be personally responsible for ensuring your own safety and the safety of those around you.

Furthermore, Armour Etch WILL cause visible oxidation damage the aluminum finish of any surfaces it comes into contact with, so ensuring that you've protected ALL aluminum surfaces is critical.

As with any new-to-you or experimental process, you should definitely familiarize yourself with this process using DONOR EQUIPMENT. Screen assemblies with damaged panels but intact glass with a degraded glaze would be ideal.


Required Supplies

For the process outlined below, you will need the following supplies:

  • Armour Etch
  • Paper towels - a lot of them
  • Cotton swabs
  • Wide blue painter's tape
  • 99% isopropyl alcohol
  • 70% isopropyl alcohol
  • Windex or similar glass cleaner
  • A medium-to-large, synthetic soft-bristled paintbrush

You will also need, at minimum, the following safety equipment:

  • Nitrile gloves
  • Safety goggles
  • Long sleeves, pants, closed toe-shoes, etc.

The bottom line here is that Armour Etch is a VERY dangerous substance and you need to be sure you have NO exposed skin when working with Armour Etch and that you're doing so in a place with substantial airflow.


Step-by-Step Deglaze Instructions!

  1. First, get your personal protective equipment game in order.
    • ALWAYS WEAR GLOVES, SAFETY GOGGLES, LONG SLEEVES, PANTS, AND CLOSED SHOES.
    • ALWAYS WORK WITH ARMOUR ETCH IN A WELL-VENTILATED LOCATION WITH CONSISTENT AIRFLOW.
    • Armour Etch is extremely hazardous and WILL injure you if you do not protect yourself and those around you properly.
  2. Second, get your work space in order.
    • Be sure the area where you'll be working is free of clutter and that it's not holding anything that isn't going to be actively used for the deglazing process
    • The idea is to avoid accidental cross-contamination and surprise exposure after the fact.
    • In my experience, Armour Etch tends to sneak onto your gloves and then get deposited on anything you might have to touch to move out of the way.
  3. Remove the screen assembly from the MacBook.
    • This isn't TECHNICALLY necessary, but it makes the task as well as the cleanup MUCH easier, and there's just SO MUCH more that could go wrong if you do this with the screen attached.
  4. Clean the screen's surface thoroughly first, finishing it off with 99% isopropyl alcohol.
  5. Cover ALL exposed aluminum with residue-free tape like blue painter's tape.
    • This includes not only the aluminum bezel but the back of the screen as well, so having thicker tape for that is convenient.
    • Also cover the black plastic antenna bar, doing your best to make a seal between the rubber surround and the antenna bar so that NO Armour Etch or other solvent is able to get into the area with the LCD panel circuitry and the antenna bar.
    • Armour Etch has not seemed - in my experience - to damage the rubber bezel or plastic, but it's better safe than sorry and keeping it covered means fewer things to clean.
  6. Apply the scary AF Armour Etch with your paintbrush, in a swirling motions, covering the entirety of the exposed glass surface.
  7. Continue to occasionally swirl the Armour Etch in place with the paintbrush over the course of approximately five minutes.
    • If the screen's glaze is almost entirely disintegrated you may get away with keep it on for less time.
    • If the screen has a few deglazed spots but otherwise it's mostly intact, you may need to keep the Armour Etch in place for more like 7-10 minutes.
  8. Remove ALL of the Armour Etch you are capable of removing with a series of dry paper towel, using the paper towels and the Armour Etch to abrase the remaining glaze off of the screen glass with the slowly-drying, semi-abrasive Armor Etch.
    • You do not need to apply much pressure at all here - just the friction of the paper towel on the Armour Etch on the glass should do the trick. Remember that you're working on a fragile piece of glass above a fragile LCD panel.
    • DO NOT FREAK OUT if you see swirls develop in the glass. It can look like you may have etched the glass permanently, but unless you left the stuff on for ten or more minutes you have not.
  9. Once ALL of the Armour Etch is removed from the glass, use new paper towels to remove any of the stuff that got on any blue taped areas as well.
  10. Clean the display glass and all blue-taped surfaces with ~70% isopropyl alcohol, clean your gloves with 70% isopropyl alcohol as well to be sure to avoid cross-contamination, and set the display assembly aside on a totally clean surface.
    • After the 70% cleaning, the streaks and swirls left over from the Armour Etch should vanish pretty effectively.
  11. Clean your working area and gloves again to avoid cross-contamination.
  12. Remove all blue tape from your screen assembly and clean your gloves... again.
  13. Use paper towels and cotton swabs to clean around the rubber bezel, being sure to get EVERYTHING up - do so with the paper towels and cotton swaps dry at first, and then get it again with swabs wetted with 70% isopropyl alcohol.
  14. Once the screen is totally clean and looks almost perfect - there should at least be no remaining Armour Etch anywhere on it at this point - clean the glass with Windex or an equivalent streak-free glass cleaner.
  15. Congratulations! You've deglazed a screen! Now install it back in the system and admire your excellent work!