Applying Window Tint

This project, while not difficult, requires a lot of patience.
Knowing my own limitations, I spread the work over two days.
This kept me from getting frustrated, rushing through the work, and not getting the results I wanted.

   I started this project by doing a little research on line to see how much window tint was legal here in San Antonio.  Now I know that it will probably never be checked, but I figured that I'd be the one guy that's pulled over for having my windows too dark.  It turns out that an SUV in Texas must have a VLT of at least 25%.  VLT is the Visible Light Transmission and is the percentage of light that will travel through the tint.
   I went to Walmart and looked at the various window tints they had available.  Most of what they had in stock had a VLT of 5% or 10%.  Those would make your windows very dark, but really aren't legal here in Texas.  The only one they sold that was legal was a 35% VLT.  To tell you the truth, it's dark enough for anyone and I think it will do a fine job of keeping the Cherokee cooler. 
   I bought a brand called Axius Window Tint.  It comes in a roll that is 2 X 6.5 feet.  Turns out I needed three rolls to finish the tinting (actually, I needed four, but that's because I ruined the first roll and then started over).
   The only other thing I bought was a new box-cutter.  Of course I have a lot of them lying around my workroom, but I went to the dollar store to get some new blades and found one of those cutters where you can break off the end and have a new blade ready to go.  YOU HAVE TO HAVE A SHARP RAZOR BLADE TO DO THE WORK AND YOU'LL NEED TO CHANGE IT FREQUENTLY.

You'll also need:

  • Scotch tape
  • Clean shop towels
  • A spray bottle filled with soapy water
  • A tape measure

The first thing to do is clean the windows.  Not a little bit, they have to be spotless inside and out.  Don't use windex or other alcohol based cleaners, use the

soapy water in your spray bottle.  Wash them, let them completely dry, then wash them again.  Keep washing if you have to.  You don't want any dirt or streaks left on the window, because once you've put the tint on, you can't wash under it.  After you've got them as clean as you can, take a break for a little bit.  When you come back, look at the windows again.  If there's even a hint of a streak, wash them again.
   After you've got the windows as clean as you possibly can, it's time to cut the tint for the first window you're going to do.  I recommend you start with one of the small, non-moving windows.  First measure the window.  Don't forget, measure twice, cut once.  You'll want to cut one-half to one inches bigger than what you measured.  It's better to have too much than to not have enough.

   After you've cut to the dimensions you measured, and BEFORE you make the final cut, you need to determine which side of the window tint film has the clear, peel-off film to protect the sticky side of the film.  It's not as easy as it would seem.  While I found the clear film to be on the outside of the roll, you should test for yourself.
   Put a piece of scotch tape on one of the corners.  Press it onto the tint film very firmly.  Now, when you pull the tape away, it will begin to peel the clear film off.  BE VERY CLEAR ON WHICH SIDE IS THE TINT AND WHICH SIDE IS THE CLEAR FILM. 

   Using the spray bottle of soapy water, thoroughly soak the window that you're going to attach the tint to.  The soapy water will hold the window tint to the window while you're making the final cuts, although the tint will still slide.
   Place the tint on the OUTSIDE of the window with the side that has the clear film facing you.  Make sure it completely covers the window, then hold firmly in place while you trim the edges with a sharp razor blade.  Check frequently to ensure the film hasn't moved while you're cutting.  When you're done cutting, dry off the outside of the window and the film.
   The next step is to remove the clear film from the window tint and apply the tint to the INSIDE of the window.  This can be a little tricky and once you start, you really can't set things down to do something else.  While the instructions said this step should be done by two people, I didn't have help and had to improvise.
   First, soak the inside of the window with your soapy water solution.
   Second, you need to remove the clear film from the window tint.  This really would help to have two people to keep the film from sticking to itself.  What I did instead, was to start removing the clear film (using the tape method described above, then used the tape to hold down that clear film while I peeled

There's a little bit more.  The next page discusses how to deal with the windows that roll down and the rear window.

away the tint.  I was constantly spraying soapy water on the sticky side of the film to keep it from sticking to itself.  I learned this lesson the hard way and had to throw out a large piece of tint before I knew how to do it.
   Carefully carry the tint to the window to be treated, and if you can, spray that window again with soapy water.  Gently place the window tint onto the inside of the window and slide it into place so that it correctly covers the window.
   The final step in applying the window tint is to squeegee out all the bubbles.  You can buy a squeegee made for this, but I just used an old plastic gift card.  At first, you have to hold the tint in place as you squeegee, but as you go along, it will begin to adhere.  You always want to squeegee downward.  When you squeegee, you're moving all that soapy water out and if you squeegee upward, a lot of that water will go right back under the film.  This part really requires patience.  Some bubbles seem to just keep coming back and you need to just keep squeegeeing them out.  Eventually, it will dry enough under the film that it will stick.  After you've squeegeed out everythign you can see, look at the outside of the window.  I guarantee you'll see more bubbles.