Introduction: TV Screen Protector

This tutorial will show you how to build an inexpensive and effective screen protector for your expensive TV.

The Story:

While talking on the phone one day my sister-in-law shared the sad news that they're new flat-screen TV had been broken by an errant toy truck. Only a week later a friend down the street told about his exercise in self-restraint when his son threw a toy car at their large-screen TV and shattered the entire screen. The very next day my wife and I watched in slow-motion horror when a toy car flew across the family room right at our new 42" LCD. Luckily our TV came out unscathed, but I knew I had to do something to protect my investment.

I searched the internet and found expensive screen protectors, but being a cheapsk- ...uh, I mean frugal person I just couldn't cough up $200 for a piece of plastic. So I decided to make my own.

About the Protector:

My goals were to cheaply make a protector that could withstand a hefty toy at high velocity, using common household tools, with readily available materials. You can make one in a typical evening if you just want to get supplies from the big box store. What I'm sharing is the concept, and just one example of how this could be done. Read through, adapt to your situation, and go make your own.

Step 1: Materials and Prep

Materials I Used:

  • Acrylic Sheet, 1/4" Thick
  • 2' - 3' of Nylon Webbing, 1" Wide
  • 2x D-Rings, 1" Wide
  • 2x Grommets, 1/4" Inner Diameter
  • 2x Machine Bolts
  • 2x Small Rubber Corks
  • Super Glue

Tools I Used:

  • Straight Edge
  • Acrylic Cutter
  • Drill with ~1/4" drill bit
  • Sandpaper
  • Hole Punch / Crimper
  • Scissors
  • Matches
  • Screwdriver
  • Sewing Machine

Notes:

  • The Acrylic Sheet must be big enough to cover the entire TV (just in case that wasn't obvious). You can substitute any clear plastic and any thickness. My choice of 1/4" acrylic was based on cost, strength and availability.
  • My Machine Bolts came with the TV to be used for mounting the TV. I had some extra bolts so I didn't need to purchase anything. The protector is screwed into the back of the TV, so make sure you use the correct size.
  • The Grommet size must match the bolt size.

Step 2: Cut, Drill and Sand the Protector

Cut to Size

Luckily for me the acrylic sheet was a perfect match for my TV, so I didn't have to do any cutting. But yours will probably will need to be trimmed.

  • Measure your TV width and height.
  • Mark the sizes on the acrylic sheet, add about a half inch of overhang (for aesthetics).
  • Use the straight-edge and scoring tool to score a DEEP line into the acrylic.
  • Snap off the excess.

Drill Mounting Slots

You need a way to attach the protector to the TV. I used nylon straps passed through slots in the acrylic that are screwed into the back of the TV.

  • Measure the location of the screw mounts on the back of the TV.
  • Mark the locations on the acrylic sheet.
  • Drill multiple holes to create a slot at each location just wider than the nylon straps.

Sand all the Edges

  • Use coarse-grain paper to shape the slots, round the four corners, and bevel all the edges.
  • Use fine-grit paper to smooth and polish all the edges.

Step 3: Make TV Mounts From Nylon Webbing

Add Grommets

  • Punch holes into each end of the nylon webbing.
  • Crimp the grommets into the holes.
  • Use matches to burn the edges of the nylon to prevent fraying.

Measure and Cut the Strips

I wanted the mounting hardware to hide behind the TV.

  • Put the bolts through the grommets and screw into the back of the TV.
  • Measure the straps about an inch past the front of the TV and cut.
  • Burn the edges to prevent fraying.

Sew D-Rings to Strips

  • Slide the D-Rings 2 to 3 inches onto the nylon webbing, opposite of the grommets.
  • Fold the strap around the rings and sew back to itself.
  • For safety's sake do a sturdy, quality job on the sewing.

Step 4: Cut Straps for the Protector and Test Fit

Attach the TV Mounts

For this whole section I had my wife hold the TV upright on the floor. That was fastest. You could lay the protector on the floor and put the TV on top. Or if you have a fancy wall mount then you can just leave it mounted and pull it out.

  • Screw the TV Mounts (that you created in the last step) into the back of the TV.

Cut Remaining Nylon

  • Cut and seal the remaining nylon into two strips.
  • Thread one end of the strip through the slot in the protector.
  • Pull the other end over the top of the protector.
  • Repeat on both slots.

Fasten the Protector Straps

Securing the protector to the mounts is like securing a motorcycle helmet, only you're going to thread both ends together.

  • Thread both ends of the strap through the middle of both D-rings.
  • Curl the ends back over the top of the back ring.
  • Pull the ends down and forward though the middle of the front ring.
  • Check the fit to make sure you can align the protector as desired.

Step 5: Add Spacers

Why Spacers?

  • If the protector is mounted flush to the screen then most of the impact is transferred into the screen.
  • If the protector has room to flex then it can absorb most of the impact and spare the TV screen!
  • Spacers also prevent the protector from rubbing against the screen.

Cut Spacers

I used rubber stoppers because they were cheap and would absorb the impact. You could use anything you want. Felt, cork, washers, sticky pads, springs?

  • Cut the corks into 3 sections for 6 total pieces.
  • Try to make the cuts as uniform as possible.

Glue Spacers

I put one spacer on each corner, one on top-middle and one on bottom-middle. I recommend putting one spacer under each slot at the top because these points bear the weight of the protector and need extra support.

  • Take the protector off the TV and lay it face down (inside / TV side up).
  • Determine and mark the location for spacers.
  • Use coarse sandpaper to roughen the surface of the protector (on the inside / TV side).
  • Glue the spacers onto the protector.

Step 6: Finishing Up

Mount and Align

  • Wait for the glue on the spacers to dry.
  • Reattach the protector to the TV.
  • Center and align the protector over the TV.
  • Pull hard on the straps to secure.

Make It Better

This design should work for any TV that can be wall-mounted. It's not a perfect design, or the prettiest design, but it met my design goals.

You can probably do better, and I'd like to see it. As with any creator, I'm just happy to know you found it useful. Let me know either way.

Comments

author
rsmaudsley (author)2016-10-02

I was just joking with a friend that I couldn't watch this election's presidential debates for fear of throwing something at the TV.
So I thought to make a TV screen protector similar to yours.

author
billbucket (author)2014-07-08

Maybe a seal all the way around to act as the spacer, otherwise it'll be a pain to clean when dust gets between the TV and the protector. Black foam weather stripping comes to mind.

author
rsmaudsley (author)billbucket2016-10-02

This is what I was thinking to use too.

author
danjferg (author)billbucket2014-07-09

Interesting thought. I've had my protector for a few years now and dust hasn't been a problem. I live next to a farmer's field and we get so much dust that it actually builds up in my sliding door tracks. It's also arid here, so that might be a contributing factor. Maybe there would be more problems in a humid climate? My first thought for a seal would be some very narrow weather stripping.

author
jessyratfink (author)2014-07-08

Genius! Now my TV doesn't have to fear game controllers anymore :D

author
rsmaudsley (author)jessyratfink2016-10-02

I was thinking similarly about remote control or beer bottle....while watching presidential debates.

author
TonyL119 (author)2016-08-06

How does this protector affect glare? Has that been an issue at all?

author
danjferg (author)TonyL1192016-08-09

The extra pane adds another surface for light to reflect, so glare could be an issue depending on your setup. Glare is already an issue with my TV, so I have it on an inside wall that does not reflect any strong daylight.

author
smbcuet (author)2016-02-24

i am worried about the picture quality. could anybody please share about the picture quality.

author
danjferg (author)smbcuet2016-08-09

Picture quality has been fine. There is a tiny amount of brightness lost, but you can't tell. No one even notices it's there until it's pointed out to them.

author
charlesm6 (author)2014-11-25

I made this for a 55" LCD TV that I have in my living room. Instead of the nylon straps, I bought two elastic velcro straps from Lowes $5). I bought a large piece of acrylic from Lowes where they will cut it for you for free. I had to slightly adjust mine when I got home as I wanted it about an 1" smaller in width so I cut it with a circular saw, which worked fine. The only thing about use a circular saw is that the edges will not be as clean as Lowes. Additional I used a dremel too make the holes for the straps, they will not be clean as using an acrylic tool, but I could care less. You could fill it with a grommet of some sort if you're truly concerned. Also I would recommend using velcro ton 4 edges of the sheet as they will stick out instead of the rubber stoppers mentioned in this article. I used black velcro, which blended right in with the TV so it's barely noticely. The will provide a bit of a gap from the screen and hold the sheet to the TV even better.

author
ranh316 (author)2014-10-01

You Mormon, bro? I see the BYU game on ;)

author
spaceraver (author)2014-08-11

just another reason not to have kids.

author
skepticaljay (author)2014-07-04

Wonderful, great job.

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