How to Apply a Screen Protector: 3 Methods

Screen protectors are must-haves for many of us. You shell out several hundred dollars for a smartphone with a modern display, so it’s only wise to protect your investment. But, if you don’t apply them correctly, screen protectors can get annoying bubbles that ruin the very experience they’re supposed to be protecting.

To help you achieve a flawless finish, here’s how to apply a screen protector without bubbles.

What You Need to Apply a Screen Protector

The materials you need depend on the method you choose to apply your screen protector, and there are a few. Some people just slap the screen protector on. However, usually, that’s what causes the bubbles. Regardless of what you decide to do, there are a few things you’ll always need for applying a screen protector, especially if you want to apply the screen protector without bubbles!

  • Caseless phone/tablet
  • Clean, flat, non-dusty area
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Patience

Depending on your preference, you can use your fingers or a plastic card like a credit card or even your driver’s license. Some companies send a card for this purpose along with your screen protector.

So, what’s the best way to put on a screen protector?

The Best Way Is the “Tape Method”

First, line up the screen protector. Be sure that the correct side is down (usually indicated with blue lettering) and that the screen protector size and shape match your phone. If you can’t find a screen protector for your phone, jump to the next section for advice on making a custom screen protector for any device.

Once you’ve positioned it correctly, add a piece of tape to the side with the tag facing the phone. Next, add three pieces of tape: one on each end and one in the middle.

There’s a pretty neat method of folding this tape under the phone. You want to do this to each piece individually and be sure that the tape is already partially stuck to the side of the phone. Hold the phone horizontally and flat on the surface, then quickly pull it towards you. The tape will fold under and stick to the underside of the phone.

Next, flip the screen protector and wipe both the phone and the screen protector surfaces once more. Then, begin the installation.

When you pull the screen protector away, don’t rip it all the way off at once. Instead, only remove it slightly and for the whole length of the screen protector. As you remove it, pull equally across and push, either with a card or your fingers, the adhesive side against the screen.

This is where the patience comes in—you don’t want to be too anxious to get it done. Take your time, but once you’ve started the process, don’t stop.

Using a plastic card to chase bubbles out from under a screen protector.

Now, you will have bubbles at first, but you can push those out with your fingers or a card—again, depending on your preference. To me, a card seemed to work much better. However, there’s a technique to this.

  • Push at an angle to the nearest outside edge
  • Start in the middle – those are the most difficult to remove

Now all you do is grab the second tag and pull the top layer of the screen protector back. Then look for and remove any last bubbles. There really shouldn’t be any except for the occasional one along the edge.

Two Alternative Screen Protector Installation Methods

These two screen protector installation methods, and hopefully, you’ll apply your screen protector without bubbles. However, one is easier but might result in a crooked screen protector, while the other is more complicated but might result in a better product and work better with thicker screen protectors.

The End-to-End Method

The idea and technique here are very similar to the tape method. The only difference is that with this screen protector option, you start either at the top or bottom of the phone (depending on your preference) and peel the bottom layer off slightly—just enough to stick the screen protector to the phone.

nothing phone with screen protector on table

Once the screen protector is stuck securely, continue pulling the bottom layer down, revealing more of the sticky side of the screen protector as you simultaneously push with your finger or a credit card. Just like the tape method, it is important that you do both at the same time. Then the rest is the same—push out the bubbles, peel off the top layer, and you’re good.

The downside to this one is you don’t have the assurance that the screen protector is secure on the phone or that it is perfectly aligned with your screen. With three pieces of tape, it’s not likely to move, but with only a small section of the screen protector stuck to the phone, it may slip if it isn’t pressed down firmly.

The Water Method

This one is a bit different, but it seems to work. Using a dropper or another applicator, apply a few drops of water to your phone screen, then apply the screen protector. The water spreads between the screen and the protector, so you don’t get any bubbles.

How to Make Your Own Screen Protector

So far, we’ve been looking at ways to apply a screen protector purchased for your phone. However, you can also buy screen protector film in large sheets and size it yourself.

Cutting a custom-shape screen protector from a sheet.

Pros and Cons of Making Your Own Screen Protector

Making your own screen protector is more work. However, if you don’t have a flagship model phone, you might not be able to find an out-of-the-box screen protector that exactly matches your screen size and shape. Furthermore, you might be able to find special-purpose films, like anti-blue light films, that aren’t usually available in factory screen protectors.

Making your own screen protector is also more cost-effective, particularly if you have more than one device that you want to protect. For example, three sheets might cost just a few dollars, but each might be big enough for a tablet and two phones, or even a small laptop.

Getting the Right Fit

First off, how do you get the right size and shape for your screen protector?

One way is a sort of altered version of the tape method above. First, you need stickier tape, like electrical tape. Apply it to the borders of your screen—not necessarily all the way around; just on the top and bottom is fine. Apply some pressure and then peel it off.

The tape should have left some sticky residue on your phone screen. Lay the film on top of this, and that residue should hold it in place while you trace your screen onto the film. Then, use scissors or a hobby knife to cut the pattern—don’t forget to clean the tape residue from your screen. Then, use one of the methods described above to apply the screen protector.


  • There are three layers to the screen protector
  • Wipe down everything on your phone (can’t get it too clean for this)
  • Remove any exterior protective phone case
  • Line up the screen protector to the phone before installing

Installing a Screen Protector Doesn’t Have to Be a Challenge

Applying a screen protector is simple in principle, but doing it just right can be tricky, and the instructions that come with kits are often vague. It’s no wonder so many of us struggle with what should be a relatively simple task.

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