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Basic Tint 101

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One of the most dramatic things you can do to change the looks of a car is tinting the windows. In this guild I will briefly explain the techniques that I personally use when applying tint. In these steps I have removed the windows for tinting. This is not necessary to do but is simply the way I like to do them. The order of steps still apply with the windows still installed in the car.

Start by cleaning both sides of the window throughly. Most tint manufacturers recommend using a mix of light detergent and water for this. Windex or other window cleaning fluids are not recommended because they can affect the adhesion of the tint. If the window has been removed lay it so the outside of the glass is facing up.

Check which is the film side and adhesive backing (clear) side of the tint. This adhesive backing (clear) is usually to the outside of the roll but this is not always the case.

Spray the OUTSIDE of the window with tint application fluid, available at any auto parts store that carries tint. You may also use a mixture of distilled water and a few drops of baby wash. Lay the tint adhesive backing side UP on the window and loosely trim around it leaving about an inch overhang on each side. DO NOT remove the adhesive backing at this step. The reason you are laying the tint backing side up is because you are using the outside of the window to trim the tint to size therefore you need a mirror image of the finished tint. Why not just place the tint on the inside of the window to trim it? This is because the backing will not properly adhere to the glass, making trimming difficult.

With the tint centered on the window spray a light mist of fluid over it and smooth the tint with a squeegee. Make sure all air and fluid is removed so that the tint is temporally adhered to the window. DO NOT remove the backing at this point.

Once the tint is temporarily secured to the outside of the window use a razor blade to trim the film to the edge of the window. On the bottom, or anywhere there is a mounting point in the glass that will not be seen, leave at least 1/2" of clearance in the tint.

For this step I used a mirror, but a large piece of glass of any type will work. Start with a clean piece of glass and spray application fluid on it. Lay the tint down film side up and use a squeegee to remove all the air. After this step make sure the window (that you are applying the tint to) is flipped over, cleaned and sprayed with application fluid. Do these next steps fast so that no dust settles on any surface.

Once all the air is removed and the tint is firmly on the glass start to carefully remove the backing. This is best done by using two pieces of scotch tape on either side and pulling them apart at a corner. The reason glass is used is because it holds the tint in place while the backing is removed. If you have an extra set of hands that can hold the tint while the backing it removed then this step is not needed. I prefer to work alone :)

Continually spray the tint to keep the adhesive wet with application fluid.

Once the backing is removed, carefully lift the tint from the glass and and place it on the inside of the window to be tinted, adhesive side DOWN of course. While wet the tint will be able to slide over the window, make sure you get it into place. Spray the tint lightly and use the squeegee to remove all air and liquid from under the tint. It make take a while to remove all the fluid so the tint adheres to the window correctly. Once the tint is in place and has no wrinkles or humps lay the window in the sun for 20 - 30 minutes. This will remove all moisture from behind the tint and make it permanently adhere to the glass.

When the tint is dry and firmly attached to the window use a razor to remove a 1/8 - 1/4" border of tint around the window. This will keep the tint from peeling at the edges. Try to leave no sharp corners of tint as these will quickly start to peel. To do this step I use a slide (a ruler works good for this) and 2 coins. Stack the coins on the slide and firmly hold a razor blade to them. Use the slide against the edge of the window and the blade on the tint. This will create a perfect border. Remove the edge of the tint that has been cut.