Do it yourself car window tinting is so tempting because it appears that it can save a lot of money compared to hiring a pro. Some online tinting kits claim to cost about 10 bucks plus the $15 to $25 cost of the half a dozen tools you may need. The idea that you might be able to reduce glare, increase privacy, decrease theft potential, keep cooler in the hot times and maybe add a nice looking touch to your favorite ride for less than $35 can be a tempting proposition.
Well that’s the up side. The question is how difficult is it to actually apply the tint, have it look great and last like the professional jobs?
It starts with the prep. Obviously when you apply the tint to the inside of your auto windows you will need it to be absolutely spotless. Any dust or dirt particles will need to be completely removed with the proper cleaning chemicals and a razor blade. You will need to be careful to not scratch the glass while cleaning because any scratch will be apparent under the tint.
If you own a dog its hair can be a royal pain to control. You not only have to remove the hair stuck to the window surface but as you move around the car you will be stirring up hair that is resting on the floor and seats. You may have to continually re-wipe the glass prior to applying the tint. Sometimes this can be such a big problem that you may even need to first have your car detailed professionally which will add quite a bit to the final cost.
Another nuisance occurs with the hairy felt-like spacer bars that are often found at the bottom of any roll-up windows. The felt needs to be tediously covered with something like masking tape in order to prevent the little tiny hairs from landing on the window and getting pressed under the tint film during the preparation and application processes.
The rubber door window seals often get in the way of cleaning and installing. They need to be pried away from the glass with expensive duct tape. Sometimes it is best to remove them altogether. It’s even necessary to remove the door panels of some car models in order to get it just right.
One of the most challenging parts is fitting the tint to the back window of just about any car. Sometimes the 3rd brake light makes it difficult or nearly impossible to work and will need to be removed and reinstalled after the job is complete. It can be necessary to actually remove the entire deck at the top of the back seat.
The windows usually bend vertically as well as horizontally and require very careful piecing and fitting so that the seams become invisible and that there is no crinkling. Some professional installers will practice under the coaching of a master, experienced installer on 6 or 8 cars for free or at a greatly reduced price in order to begin to get enough experience to do a competent job. It can really be that challenging.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the problems that can occur to make your first tinting job a nightmare. Like any craft it takes time to efficiently solve the many challenges that inevitably will come your way. Unless you are a very patient, mechanically inclined and experienced do-it-yourselfer you may find that the complexity and craftsmanship requirements of this type of project is well worth leaving it to the experienced professionals.