Auto Improvement: All About Window Tinting

If you're bound and determined to tint your own car windows, you'll need patience, the proper tools and a little luck.

Many people who have tried to tint vehicle windows would tell you to hire a professional to do the job for you. It's difficult, to say the least, to reach perfection the first time you try this challenge. But, if you're considering this line of work to earn a living, you'll have to start somewhere, so why not begin with your own car? And, even if you don't want to follow this profession, you'll still want to do the best job possible on your current project. Each car's windows are different in shape, size and glass surroundings, but there are some basic techniques to follow in order to learn this art.

Clean the car and windows, inside and out. Pay particular attention to detailing the inside of the windows, where the tint sheets will be applied. It's imperative to tint the windows in a dust and wind-free area. Some experts suggest spraying the window first with soapy water, then scraping the water off with a new razor blade. A few drops of dishwashing detergent in a bottle of warm water works great, but don't shake the bottle, tip it up and down to mix. Make sure the razor blade is new and has no nicks or you could scratch the glass.

If you're tinting all of the windows in the vehicle, it might be necessary to remove the rearview brake light and possibly the rear deck, depending upon the build of the car. You also need to remove or tape back, any rubber seals which lean against the glass. If this isn't possible, you might have to remove the door panels. Cover any felt around the windows with tape to prevent fibers from dropping onto the glass. Be sure you have the right tools, which include a squeegee, spray bottles, and a cutting table. You'll also need hard cards (or a credit card), a razor blade knife and blades, dish soap, paper towels and additional tools.



One of the easiest ways to cut the film is to trim a piece off of the roll, the approximate size of the window, but a little larger. Another way is to use waxed paper or freezer paper to make a pattern. Cut the paper a couple of inches larger than the side window, then lay the paper against the window and crease the edges of the paper against the edges of the glass. You will have to roll the window down slightly when starting, then up slightly to get the bottom crease. After getting a distinctive pattern, remove from glass and draw around the perimeter of the pattern with marker or pencil. Use the pattern to cut two pieces of film, one for each side window. Spray a little water between the two sheets of film to keep them still during cutting. Be sure to have the film sheets laying back-to-back, or right sides together, while cutting. Cut the 2 pieces. Start with the glass rolled down about an inch. Make sure no dust has gathered on the window. Squirt the window down with soapy water. Slide the film into position then squeegee from the center, out. Hold the film still and do not allow it to slide around on the window. Continue with the squeegee until all bubbles are out and the film is in place. Roll the window back up and squeegee the bottom part of the window. Wrap paper towels around a hard card and use it in the same manner as the squeegee, soaking up water as it leaks out. Even after the film is attached, continue to squeegee until no more liquid is present. If it appears that some liquid remains between the film and the glass, spray the outside of the tint again and repeat the squeegee process.

Many rear windows have curves which make applying the tint a little more difficult. In addition, it's quite a performance getting the long strip of tinting into the car without letting it touch anything whatsoever. The best way to tint the back window is to piece it together, hiding the seams at the rear defroster elements. The piecing method isn't recommended if your car is an older model with no back defroster. Prepare the first strip by spraying it and the window with soapy water. Stick film to the glass, smoothing it down with the squeegee. After the first strip is affixed, lay the next strip, cutting and butting the edges closely together at the defroster line. Smooth seam well. Continue until the window is covered. Use the razor blade to remove any excess film from around the edges.

Unfortunately, the windshield film must be cut in one giant piece. Take caution not to let the film touch any part of the car while placing it in the car. Have a helper sitting on the passenger side to assist in maneuvering the film up to the windshield. As with any regulated procedure, check your city codes to see how much tinting is allowed in the vehicle before beginning the project. It's also extremely important when learning this task to be methodical, move carefully and take your time.

© High Speed Ventures 2011