How to tint your own windows

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im copying a post i made in another forum- gives step by step details on how to tint

first things first- unless the glass is perfectly flat, in order to get the film to lay properly and look nice you need to heat shrink the film! otheriwise you'll have a hell of a time getting it to stick and look right. if youve never tinted a window before just take it to a tint shop and have the rear glass done. window tinting is more of an art than a science. one piece heat shrunk window film is the only way it will ever look realy nice- no gay looking stripes or wrinkles in the film, properly done it looks factory. besides most tint shops offer a lifetime warranty. the side windows and door windows you can probably do yourself with decent results. they really still need to be heat shrunk but you can get away without doing that if you take your time. be prepared to waste LOTS of film.
use an Olfa knife with a new blade- otheriwse you WILL scratch the hell out of your windows. take a flat edge razor blade, spray the glass down with baby shampoo mixed with water ( one big queeze of soap and fill the rest with water in a typical spray bottle) NEVER SCRAPE GLASS DRY! scrape it, squeegy it , spray it down and squeegy it again. do not use a blade to clean the rear glass if you have a rear defroster- you'll take the grid right off the glass. use a plastic pot scrubber pad and scrub horizontally. clean clean and clean some more. take lightly spray down the interior around the glass you are working with and wipe it clean- cuts down on the dust that will get trapped under the film.
clean clean clean and take your time!
like i said above its more of an art than a science- it took me a while to learn how and im still not top notch at it, and ive been doing it for a while at the shop i used to work at.
you heat shrink it after you've done a rough cut- out to the very edge of the glass. after you finish shrinking you have an assistant hold a shop light and trim around the edges- about a 1/8th overlap all the way around where the clear glass stops and the painted portion of the glass stops.
you can only shrink film on one direction- from the edge of the roll to the other edge- not the end that you are unrolling. think like unrolling a paper towel roll across the window horizontally. you can only shrink it up or down.
use baby powder- dump a small amount on a paper towel, then use the towel to smear it around the glass- should look like a car covered in pollen durring the spring- not big piles of it but a thin dusting. this helps the tint to slide while shrinking. then spray the glass down with soap solution, but dont spray so much on that it washes your baby powder away.
lay the film on the glass - clear backing side facing out
rough cut the film to the outside edges of the glass.
then make whats called an anchor line with a 4 in wide body putty spreader
the anchor line is basically an "H" the center goes sided to side all the way across the glass to the edge, and the 2 sides go top to bottom to the edges as well, while making the sides stick to the glass up to where the glass begins to curve (on a shadow make the sides of the anchor line about the same thickness as where the painted part of the glass stops)
once you have established the anchor line you will have wrinkles in the film- called "fingers"
these should extend from the center where the horizontal anchor line is to the top of the glass and the bottom. move them so they are in the flatter area of the glass, not the center, but fairly evenly dispersed from side to side
divide the fingers so that they are as thin as possible, you can use the body filler spreader, or you can just use your fingers to divide them, which i find is a lil easier, cause you dont crease the film as easily.

now its time to heat shrink. you'll need a decent heat gun. doesnt have to be really nice, but if its at least a 750-1000 watt it will be fine. it is possible to use a hair dryer, but it doesnt work as well and takes a lot longer
working from the horizontal anchor line in the center of the glass, heat the beginning of a finger from about 2 inches or so away. you'll see the film shrink, when it begins to shrink move along the length of the finger shrinking the whole way, to the edge. after you have shrunk that finger, smooth it over with your body spreader, or you can use your fingers in a wiping motion, kinda like waving bye, but up or down depending on which way you started shrinking the film. if you see the soap solution bubble like its boiling beneath the film when you are shrinking you're getting it too hot- either back away a lil bit with the heat gun or move the gun faster. you can cool down the film by spraying it with the soap solution. continue shrinking the fingers working from the center of the glass to the sides. do all the fingers on the top part or bottom part, depending on which half of the glass you started shrinking- it doesnt matter which one you do first, just do all of them before moving on to the other half. once you have the fingers shrunk, smooth them over with the spreader-the film should form to the glass and not have any fingers remaining. if you have any, just shrink them and smooth over with the spreader. if the solution drys out under the film while you're shrinking just peel a corner off the glass and spray some more on, and re- establish your anchor line.
once you feel you have shrank all the fingers, lift the film up and re-apply the soap solution. then take the spreader and smooth the film against the glass- this is called a wet check if al the wrinkles are totally gone you are ready to do your final trim
its easier to do the trim if you have an assistant hold a shop light- the small florescent shop lights work best. have him hold the lightflat against the glass while you trim the film with about a 1/8 in overlap of the painted part of the glass. do NOT get it too close to the edge of the paint surface, otherwise you'll end up with light gaps which look bad. if your car has a rear defroster, when you get to the part of the glass where the defroster wires plug into the terminal on the glass itself - ] trim around that, but keep your 1/8 overlap.
now you have to decide if you want to cut the film out around the 3rd brake light or not. some states require it some dont. check local laws. i prefer it not cut around the 3rd brake light, it looks nicer and the light will show thru even the darkest film very very well. but if you decide to , have an assistant or a stick to push down the brake pedal so the light is on. trim around the light where the housing meets up with the glass, but this time keep about a 1/2 in overlap, the housing doesnt seat right against the glass so you'll need more of an overlap to prevent light gaps.
by now you should have a perfectly trimmed and shrunk piece of film that is trimmed smoothly on the edges and conforms perfectly to the glass all the way to the edges of the film.
now for the fun part
take out the 3rd brake light housing. scrub the window again and squeegie it clean. wipe the interior panels around the glass with a damp cloth to remove any dust , you wont get it all but it will greatly reduce the amount that ends up under the film. spray the inside of the window really good with the soap solution, and spray the interior panels lightly with it as well- dont worry the baby shampoo wont harm anything, doesnt need to be soaking wet, just dampening it so dust isnt flying around in the air.
now get back outside, and with the film still on the glass, peel off the backing, spraying the exposed film down with soap soloution as you go. once the backing is off, lay the film on your arms (pull your shirt sleeves up) kinda like you're carrying a person to lay them on a bed. carefully get inside the car, being very carefull not to let the glue side of the film touch anything! if you do, spray it off where it touched, and wipe it with your fingers and spray it some more.
place the film on the glass about an inch or so from the bottom, and lightly stick it to the glass. dont use the spreader for this. you just want the film to hang on the glass unassisted, not stuck down like you did with the spreader. now slide the film down till the bottom edge overlaps the painted part of the the same for the sides and top. once you have the film placed into position, lightly spray the film with soap soloution, and use the spreader to stick the film to the glass, working horizontally center to the top and bottom. spraying the film with solution prevents the spreader from dragging the film with it and getting it out of position or creasing it. once you have the film mostly stuck down, use a squeegie and work horizontally again , working as much of the water out as you can. you dont have to get every last little drop out, but you dont want big bags of water between the glass and film either. from here you will take the spreader, and work out any misc. air bubbles- those ALL have to go otherwise the film wont stick there. if you have any edges that wont stay down , have an assistant take the heat gun outside the car and carefully heat the area where its not sticking while you smooth the film against the glass. dont overheat it, otherwise you'll ghost the film- leaves grayish looking spots because you burnt the glue. heat for maybe a few seconds at a time, and cool the glass with solution from the outside. continue working all the little edges that may not have stuck down with the heat gun.
after that get out and admire your work.
doing the quarter windows is exactly the same process, but very little shrinking will be reqired if any at all.

to do the doors requires a different technique for trimming and shrinking, but they are easier than doing a back glass

lay your film across the window and cut it so its about 2 inches wider than the glass, and the bottom edge of the film extends past the window seal about an inch or so
for a door where the frame goes around the glass, like a shadow or an L-body, take your Olfa knife, and extend the blade so it sticks out of the holder about a 1/16 of an inch- roughly one click. along the back edge of the window trim the film using the weatherstrip seal as a guide so you get a nice edge that matches the contour of the seal from the very top edge all the way down to the bottom. now pull the back edge up, and slide the film back about 1/4 of an inch. now trim the front edge- not the top of the glass but the very front edge where its straight up and down. use the weatherstrip as a guide here like you did on the back edge, going all the way down to the bottom.reposition the film so its centered front to back with an equal amount of overlap and the bottom edge is relatively straight with the window seal but still overlaps it by an inch or so. pull the bottom edge of the film away from the glass and roll the window down about one inch or so, so that the top edge of the film is overhanging the glass. make sure that your front and back edges are still straight! now take your Olfa knife and extend the blade about an inch or so, and trim the top edge of the film using the part of the blade that is right next to the holder and use the window as a guide. try and do this in one cut, if you need to cut forward and then come back and cut the back part of the top edge thats fine, just try to hold the knife at the same angle so you dont have a crooked wobbly looking trim line. follow the rounded corner on the back part of the top edge as close as you can. do the same for the front.
now roll the window back up, being careful not to crease the film. smooth the film against the glass, but dont try to get all the way to the front and back edges, as you'll crease the film. you should see a few small fingers along the bottom edge of the glass. take your heat gun and shrink those smoothing out with your spreader. its not necessary to get all the way to the edges with the shrinking, but you want to reduce any fingers that show up otherwise it'll make it a pain to stick the film on the glass.
once you've got your top, front, and back edges cut , take the film off the glass, and spray down a large piece of glass- a large flat window works great for this or even better a one piece patio door glass. lay the film on it and use the spreader to stick it to the glass. a ruler as a guide and finish triming the front and back edges where you couldnt get them trimmed on the car. where there are sharp corners at the front and back top edges, use your finger as a guide and round them over- you dont have to do this but it makes the finished job look a lot nicer.
now inside the car, stick your fingers between the window belt on the door panel and pop the top edge of the door panel out. you can remove your door panels if you want but its not necessary. with the window rolled down about an inch, spray the glass down with solution, go over to your film and peel the backing off , spraying the film as you go like you did on the back glass. now take the film and begin to position it on the glass, try to slide the front edge under the seal first , then the rear- push the film together a little bit so you can slide the back edge under the seal, then tuck the bottom edge under the door panel. now position the film front to back so that there are no light gaps on either edges. now you need to position the top edge so it is about 1/8 of an inch below the top edge of the glass. if you try to make it match right up to the edge the film wil peel off after you open and close the window a few times because the seal will peel it way from the glass after a few times. now take your spreader and work all the bubbles and wrinkles out of the film. then squeegie out the remaining water. if any fingers appear at the bottom edge of the window use a heat gun from the outside and a spreader to stick them down. once you have most of the water worked out of the film pop the door panel back on. if any fingers came up when you pop the door panel on, take a spreader and push them down underneath the window seal.
for a door glass that does not have a frame surounding it, basically same procedure, except you just use the front edge of the window where it meets up with the side mirror, cut that, then without sliding the film trim the top and back edge in one cut, working from front to back. installation is the same except its a lil easier since you dont have a back seal to work the film under so you just slide it forward and down the same amount to get an even 1/8 in gap all the way around the top and back edge of the glass.
to do a sun strip on the windshield is very easy. take a sharpie and mark at each side near the edge of the windshield how far down you want the strip to extend.lay your film across the top of the windshield, the bottom edge of the film will be your bottom edge of the sun strip - do not try to cut this- you'l never get it straight and the roll already has a perfectly straight edge for you. most states will only allow a sun strip to the ANSI line marked on the windshield but your local laws may differ. but use a tape measure and get each side the exact same- dont eye it up- it'll stick out like a sore thumb if its crooked even a lil bit.
take off the rear view mirror but leave the button on the windshield. with an assistant holding a light directly over hte button, trim around the button, keeping as close as possible to it, but remeber the film has to go over that button. after that trim the top and sides with a 1/8 in overlap. if the windshield has been replaced and they got sloppy with the adhesive you may have to trim the excess adhesive away so the film can lay down properly
spray the windshield and peel off the film and slide it into place- no shrinking will be required, squeegie out the water and youre done.
if you want to tint the entire windshield , which is legal in some states, its the same as doing a back glass. i would not recommend using film darker than 50% for that- you must keep in mind that 50% film will reduce your night vision by 50% eg; if you could see clearly 1/4 of a mile in front of you at night you will now be able to see only 1/8 of a mile with 50% on the windshield.

ok thats about it, if you look around on youtube theres a couple vids on there that show the heat shrinking and trimming the door glass etc if you dont fully understand what i explained here

as far as removing old tint- theres one easy way, but its still labor intensive
using a trash bag to steam off the glue is the best way to remove the old tint.
spray window down with a 1/2 mix of household ammonia (one part ammonia to 2 parts water) take trash bag and place it over window, kinda squeegie in in there, should stick to the glass. leave car out in the sun for about an hour. old tint should pretty much fall off.
to remove remaining glue, spray window down with ammonia soloution, and use a plastic pot scrubber scrub with a side to side motion on the defroster grid, till you get all the glue off.
i used to work in a tint shop and thats the best way to remove film.
dont waste your time with cheap wally world or parts store tint- it is usually too small to cover in one piece, super cheap and thin, fades badly and wont heat shrink.
good write up but fuuuuuuuuuk that i'll pay someone to do it hehe. :)