How to Customise Android using Substratum theme engine

Android is currently the best mobile operating system if we talk about customization. You can pretty much do anything on your Android device if you have the right tools. Being an open-source operating system, there are a lot of community-driven custom Android ROM’s online which users can install on their phones. While some were successful at doing these DIY processes, most of them result in a disaster.

One of the many reasons for installing a custom ROM is to change the device’s UI with a better-looking and much more efficient theme than what we officially have on stock.

If you’re familiar with CyanogenMod, one, of its most exceptional feature was its built-in theme engine. Unfortunately, the project has since been discontinued in replacement of the LineageOS. To make matter worse for users, the team have confirmed that they won’t be continuing the theme engine, so users need to find a way to do it manually.

Enter Substratum, a popular theme engine that replaced the famous “Layers” theme engine. Unlike Layers, Substratum doesn’t overlap existing themes. Instead, it’s better and fixes the underlying issues found in the Layers theme engine.

It also works on LineageOS, as well as most of the AOSP-based custom ROMs. And users of phones with vanilla Android like the Android One devices from Nokia HMD can also take advantage of Substratum. Well, as long as it has root access.

Unfortunately, users that have installed Substratum have been facing an issue lately. After applying a new theme successfully, their devices seem to stuck in a boot loop. I faced a similar situation a few days ago. I got agitated and frustrated because I couldn’t access my phone. I certainly couldn’t wipe my device and move on since I had important files in it.

How To Fix Bootloop after applying Substratum theme

Theme Stock Android using Substratum

Step 1. Turn off your device & boot into TWRP recovery.

Step 2. Go to Advanced and open File manager.

Step 3. In the file manager, navigate to the main storage of your device and locate a folder named “Substratum”. Open it.

How To Fix Bootloop after applying Substratum theme

Step 4. Inside “Substratum” folder, there are two more folders. One is a “temp” folder that is used when building themes and the other contains two zip files for uninstalling substratum. You may find only the zip files in the substratum folder instead of two folders.

Step 5. Find the “” & note the location.

Step 6. Now go to the Install zip in recovery and install the zip file “”.

Step 7. After installing just reboot your device and now you have completely removed substratum overlays which caused conflicts within the OS.

This is the best method to recover your device from Substratum bootloop. If in case, this method doesn’t work, you can try removing the App through TWRP File manager by navigating to system>app>Long press the overlay theme app & click on delete.


Substratum is a theming tool that can be applied system-wide on an Android smartphone, with or without root access. It is a feature once found on the now discontinued CyanogenMod until the team eventually scraped the custom ROM in favor of the newer LineageOS. The team announced that it would no longer continue working with its theming engine for LineageOS.

Boot loop is when your phone fails to boot to its system, and keeps showing your manufacturer’s boot-up animation. Happens when there is some kind of damage in the hardware or software (e.g., failed attempt to install custom ROM). Bootloop occurs because the device can’t complete its boot sequence, hence it keeps rebooting itself until it drains all the power.

Substratum will work with Android Nougat. However, it should require root-access. Check online on the proper way to root your handset based on its specific model.

Substratum will work with Android Oreo. At first, the app requires root access to install and use Substratum, but Android Oreo later made it possible to use the app without root access.

With Android Pie, Google intentionally blocks the use of third-party overlays. That means, Substratum will not work unless there is root access, which will enable the users to bypass this Android Pie restriction.

Substratum is a replacement for Layers. Substratum tries to merge both the functionality from Layers theming engine with that of CyanogenMod’s Theme Engine. Unlike Layers, Substratum doesn’t overlap existing themes. Instead, it’s better and fixes the underlying issues found in the Layers theme engine.

You no longer require soft or hard reboots when applying themes or, when using a new font. It also allows system sounds from a theme, such as lock/unlock/effect tick sounds to match the new look.
Take it this way, Substratum is an improvement of Layers and CyanogenMod Theme Engine.

Step 1: Download and install the Substratum Theme Engine in your Android device from the Google Play Store.
Step 2: Open the application and grant root permission for Substratum. Now, open Play Store and search for the themes by entering “Substratum Themes.”
Step 3: Download any themes and open Substratum. The theme you downloaded will be installed on your phone.
Step 4: Tap on the theme, and you’ll find an option to “Toggle Overlays.” Turn it on.
Step 5: Now, swipe down and click on “Apply Now” button and click on “Install Selected” and the theme will be installed on your phone.

If you haven’t successfully installed a new Theme in your Android device, you can find the tutorial here

Step 1: First, download Substratum AA Wallpaper, and Substratum Theme Engine. Make sure you have Android Auto installed on your phone.
Step 2: Launch “Substratum Manager” and tap on the “Android Auto Background.”
Step 3: Tap on the checkbox on its right side, and tap on “Select Background” to launch a drop-down menu.
Step 4: At this point, the app drop-down should show a list of Wallpapers that you can choose. Choose the one that is best for you.
Step 5: Tap on “Install Selected.”
Step 6: After the installation, you should see the changes in your Android Auto app upon launch.

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  1. flashing rescue zip did not work for me but deleting the theme worked.anybody trying this method with systemless platform like magisk the theme app is in Data>App>theme name
    thank you

  2. I too get this legacy thingy on my oneplus 2 running official lineage os. However, when caught in a bootloop the above mentioned method did help me recover my device.

  3. I don’t know why, but i got told by substratum that i have something with legacy things. I didn’t really understanded the thing.