Water Marbled Phone Glass Back Tutorial

Our most recent video is full of firsts: it was Xyla’s first time taking apart a phone and her first time water marbling in years, as well as our first giveaway!

If you didn’t know, we love Disney… and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge recently opened in Disneyland (while the one in Disney’s Hollywood Studios will open on August 29. We’re excited!). What better way to celebrate than to make a Star-Wars-galaxy inspired design on our phones? I’d consider it the tech nerd version of Disneybounding. :)  

In our video, we attempted to make an awesome custom Samsung Galaxy S8+ back mod. Our pattern was on the inside of the phone’s glass back. To get to the interior of the phone’s back, Xyla took apart the phone using an iFixit Pro Tech Toolkit which was generously sent to us. We took advantage of the rather large collection of nail polish in our office to splatter paint and water marble a beautiful design! (Spoiler alert: We think it turned out great, but watch the video to see for yourself.) It was easy enough that *you* could do this project at home — read ahead to learn how!

A massive Jedi thank-you to iFixit for sponsoring our video. If you want to learn how to fix and repair anything, get your own iFixit kits HERE!


Xyla’s steps for a galaxy inspired phone mod

1. Remove the back of your phone by heating it slowly. A heat gun will work, and a really good hairdryer might do the trick as well, but only if it gets pretty hot. Be careful not to overheat the phone! To see iFixit’s guide to removing and replacing the back of a Samsung Galaxy S8+, click here.

Xyla applying a heat gun to the back of her Samsung Galaxy S8+.

Xyla applying a heat gun to the back of her Samsung Galaxy S8+.

2. On your new glass back, carefully peel off the inside adhesive and store it in a safe place so that you can put it back on afterwards.

3. Apply the same heat gun to the inside paint. The paint will slowly shrivel, and if you maintain the correct heat, you can peel it back. However, if the heat is too hot, it leaves a sticky residue that’s difficult to get off, so be careful! If you do end up with this sticky residue, try using acetone or nail polish to remove it.

4. Prep the thin glass back by masking-taping off the outside face. You can use an Exacto knife to cut off excess tape and be more precise with this. I also used masking tape to make a small handle so I could easily dip the glass into the nail polish.

5. Prepare a phone-sized bucket for the water marbling process. I used a small storage container, but any Tupperware/takeout container would probably do.

From left to right: the phone-sized bucket used for water marbling, the phone glass back with a handle made of masking tape, and the Exacto knife Xyla used when covering the glass back with masking tape.

From left to right: the phone-sized bucket used for water marbling, the phone glass back with a handle made of masking tape, and the Exacto knife Xyla used when covering the glass back with masking tape.

6. Line up the nail polish colors that you want! I picked a galaxy theme, but you do you!

The colors Xyla picked for her galaxy inspired design.

The colors Xyla picked for her galaxy inspired design.

7. Time to water marble the nail polish! This part is time sensitive. Quickly pour a few drops of one nail polish color into the water, giving it a split second to spread across the surface of the water. Repeat this with all your colors on top of one another. Then, take a toothpick and drag it through the colors. This is what causes the marbling effect.

8. Before the nail polish dries, dip the glass face down into the surface of paint. I found it easier to hold the glass back at a very slight angle for more control.

9. While the glass back is submerged, use the toothpick to clean up and collect any remaining nail polish floating on the water to ensure a clean removal of the back.

10. Remove the glass back from the water, and set it out to dry.

This is what the inside of Xyla’s glass back looked like immediately after removing it from the water.

This is what the inside of Xyla’s glass back looked like immediately after removing it from the water.

11. Once the glass back interior is completely dry, you can go in with additional nail polish colors in any area that didn’t get full coverage. This is optional. I painted on a few more galaxy colors, then hit it with some black spray paint to give it a base color.

12. Reattach the adhesive that you previously stored to the inside of the phone’s glass back. We are now back on track with the iFixit tutorial — check it out for more guidance on how to replace the back!

13. Place the camera, flash, and fingerprint sensor back in place, and adhere the back down to the phone.

14. Peel your masking tape off for the big reveal!

And you’re done!


Watch our video below to follow along with the tutorial and for more galaxy goodness. :)