Customizing Your Truck: How To Tint Your Own Windows

There are a lot of reasons to tint the glass in your truck. In addition to the obvious sun glare and heat reduction, tinting also reduces the sun's effect on your upholstery, plastic components, paint and other finishes. The less obvious advantages can honestly be the most compelling ones. Glass tinting improves the strength of the glass, enabling it to withstand much more force before cracking or shattering, and increasing its scratch resistance. The tint coating can prevent bits of glass from flying in the air in the event of a collision. It is much more difficult for outsiders to see into your vehicle when the tint of your windows is dark and/or reflective. Although there are some varying limits on the types and degrees of tints which may legally be used, it would appear that some level of tinting is a desirable addition to your valued truck. A professional tinting job can be extremely expensive, but the good news is, this is a project that can be successfully completed on your own with just a little preparation, and some care. While it might cost you as much as $150-$200 to tint the average vehicle, you can do this yourself for a cost of about $25-$50 depending on your choice of materials. The most important component of this project is your patience and diligence. You can do a professional job easily if you are willing to follow directions carefully, and take your time.

STATE AND LOCAL LAWS VARY

First you should thoroughly investigate the laws which apply to your state. Many states restrict the type or reflective characteristics of your tinting. Some forbid metallic or reflective films, some restrict the color choices and many define the density of the film. Check with your local law enforcement office for a copy of the written statute or contact professional tinting companies for information about the local law.

PREPARING TO INSTALL WINDOW TINT

Once you have determined the color and type of tint you would like to apply, the next step will be to identify the source of the film and supplies needed. While the internet is a wonderful tool, unless you can see and handle a sample before buying, it may be better to make this purchase from a local business where you are able to compare various choices. At the least, a visit to a supplier will allow you to inspect the many products, and determine which you prefer. You may well wish to order from some source on the internet, or may discover that the savings is insignificant. These things will be very specific to your location. Ultimately, a list of components and supplies will need to be collected:

-Razor blades or a utility knife with extra blades

-Spray bottle-approx. capacity 1 quart

-Shampoo or light liquid soap

-Clean, lint free cloths

-Distilled Water

-Rubber Squeegee

-Check the instructions for your product choice, to see what may be needed to remove the backing from the film. Some companies suggest using transparent tape.

If you can't work inside a garage, try to position your truck in the shade, but in good light. You should try to work on a day when you have plenty of time, and no outside distractions. The more dust-free your environment can be, the better. In fact, if it is not possible to use your own, using a friend's garage would be a very good idea. You will need a friend to help with larger pieces of glass anyway, and this is a job that will be much easier with a spare pair of hands. These films are easily creased, and the creases are not reversible. You should take great care to avoid folding or creasing the material. For optimum results, try to work during a three day period in which temperatures will stay moderate, at least 50º but not over 95º.

THE PROCESS

-Choose the smallest and flattest piece of glass to begin with.

-Put ¼ tsp of soap into a full spray bottle of distilled water.

-Clean the glass thoroughly. Use the razor blades to scrape any hard spots, soak if needed, the cleaner the glass to begin with, the more successful your installation will be.

-Cut a piece of film slightly larger (about ¾") than the glass piece. Use the glass as a pattern. One possibility is to make a pattern of newspaper which can then be used as a template. Remember, this film is applied to the inside of the glass. The film has an adhesive side, protected by a liner or backing layer. You must identify which side is which. Most products have clear marking to enable you to easily see the backing.

-Spray the outside surface of the glass to accomplish a thoroughly wet surface.

-Identify the adhesive side of the film. Spray the other side completely and stick the film to the outer surface of the glass for ease of handling.



-Spray the adhesive side generously, this should be the side facing you.

-The method of removing the protective backing will depend on the brand of film you use. Read the manufacturers instructions for that portion of this process very carefully. Most will be similar to this process, but may differ slightly. Remove the backing in a diagonal motion, being very careful not to allow the adhesive surfaces to touch. You may want to peel just a corner, and stick it to the glass, and then remove the rest of the backing.

-Soak the film adhesive surface completely and then apply it to the wet glass.

-Soak the outer surface of the film.

-Wet your fingers with the spray bottle and position the film on the glass by sliding it into place. If it isn't sliding easily, lift the film edge and spray more solution under the film. Use your fingers to smooth and ease the film into position.

-Use the squeegee to remove air and adhere the film to the glass. Be gentle with the film during this step, it is very delicate when wet, and separated from its backing. Only squeegee downward, on flat glass surfaces.

-Use firm strokes, and wipe excess water with cloths. Be sure that all water and air bubbles are removed, and film is smooth.

-For roll up windows, leave a ½" on the bottom of the film piece, spray adhesive side, and tuck past the rubber gasket. Use a ruler or credit card to do this if needed.

-Using a fresh blade, carefully trim the edges of the film to the exact edges of the glass.

-Let the film stand without rolling down glass for three days.

-Repeat for each section of glass.

The application of these films to a curved, or larger piece of glass will require using strips of film, cut to just slightly overlap. As you apply each strip, you will be trimming the excess so that strips butt cleanly. Keeping all film and glass surfaces thoroughly wet will make this process much easier. Changing blades often will insure clean cuts when trimming. In small spots where a squeegee won't fit, use a credit card or the end of a ruler, covered with a layer of cloth. Be sure to remove all bubbles of air or water before stopping.

SOME FINAL NOTES

One more word of caution: Never use vinegar, ammonia, paper toweling or household cleaners on window films. Use only slightly soapy water and clean cloths to clean the surfaces. Otherwise, the adhesive may be compromised, and the film surface may be scratched. Be sure to allow your new tinted windows to "cure" for three days undisturbed. Following the directions carefully should give you a professional-looking result that will last for years.

© High Speed Ventures 2010