Whether you want to upgrade the look of your car, protect your upholstery from harmful UV rays while upping the level of privacy when you’re driving, tinting your windows is a great idea.
Types of Window Tint
Tinted windows come in a range of styles to suit your tastes as well as budget. From basic dyed window tinting film to high tech ceramic-impregnated limousine tint, there is a huge range of films to choose from.
Dyed Window Tint Film
At the budget end of the window tinting spectrum, dyed window tint film is widely available, affordable and easy to use. You can find dyed tinting film in plenty of colours as well, but charcoal, grey and black are the most common.
Dyed window tint film is great because it reduces glare when you’re driving from things like headlights and bright reflections from the road. You can get hold of seriously dark limousine-style tints that look nearly black from the outside but are still perfectly easy to see through when driving.
What we like about this type of window tint the best is that it offers the darkest effect for the least price. If you want to totally black out your windows, then dyed film is the way to go. It might not block out as much heat or UV, but for the price it’s a great option.
The other issues that DIY window tint fitters find with dyed film is that it’s easy to apply but difficult to perfect. Layers of film can scratch, delaminate or bubble over time and the dye itself can fade out and leave patchy marks on your windows, so be warned.
Metallised Window Tint Film
Containing thin layers of metal, this type of window tint is much more durable than basic dyed film. The metal is thin enough to let you see out of the windows but works as an effective thermal barrier to block out excess heat and harmful UV rays.
Not only will the metallised windows look great from the outside, but it won’t fade over time like dyed tints. If you’re looking for a scratch-resistant and long-lasting window tint, it’s worth looking into metallised films.
The only problem with metallised films is that they interfere with electronic signals. This can cause quite a few issues with your radio signal, phone reception and even some in-car monitoring systems and satellite navigation.
Carbon Window Tint Film
If you’re prepared to pay a bit more for your window tinting, then carbon film is only way to go. It uses carbon particles to block out light, heat and UV rays inside your car, and won’t block any signals because there’s no metal in the tinting film.
Our favourite feature of carbon window tint film must be the unique matt finish it leaves on car windows. It might not be to everyone’s tastes, but it’s a real head-turner and could be just the thing to give your car the facelift it deserves.
Ceramic Window Tint Film
At the top end of the window tinting spectrum is ceramic film. It offers the stunning finish of dyed film and the durability of metallised films without any of their drawbacks. It’s reasonably new on the market and not available everywhere yet, but it’s the choice of window tint for the true petrol head.
The ceramic layer in this film has excellent insulating and UV blocking properties. This will mean a cool car in the summer and less damage to your carpets and upholstery than cheaper tints. The multi-layered film also offers unrivalled durability and window strength.
The only problem with it is the cost. Ceramic tint costs considerably more than dyed or metallised window tint, so it might put off even the bravest DIYer.
In the UK, there are strict rules governing the amount of tint you’re allowed to apply to your windscreen and other windows in your car. Your windscreen must be able to let in 75% of light, and the front side windows must be able to let in 70%. You can black out your rear side windows and rear windscreen as much as you like though.
Materials and Tools Required
There are two main choices when it comes to tinting your own windows. You can choose either pre-cut films that fit your car windows or cut the films out yourself from a roll. Cutting it out yourself is cheaper to do, and if you have a less common car, you might not be able to get hold of pre-cuts anyway.
Once you have your roll of tint or set of films, you’ll need a few tools to get the job done. Kits are widely available online that contain everything you need, but you might have a few of these things lying around already:
- Glass cleaning solution, or soapy water to clean the glass thoroughly
- Microfibre cloths, to clean off the glass and dust particles left over
- Razor blade scraper, for a final clean across the surface of the glass
- Craft knife or Stanley-type knife, for cutting the film to shape
- Spray bottle with water in, to hold the film in place while you position the film
- Rubber squeegee, for pushing any bubbles or wrinkles out of the film
- Heat gun or hair dryer, to set the adhesive and make your tint permanent
Good window preparation is vital to giving your car the best finish possible. We can’t stress enough how important it is to clean your windows and the surrounding bodywork as well as you can before applying any window tint film.
Use soapy water or a decent glass cleaner with microfibre cloths to remove any dirt or dust, then carefully scrape the window surface inside and out with the razor scraper for a professional finish. Try to work indoors in a garage if you can, or outside on a dry and still day to minimise the chance of dust particles sticking to the clean glass.
- Spray the outside of your target window with your spray bottle. This will let you stick the film temporarily to the glass for easy positioning
- If you’re using pre-cut films, make sure they fit properly to the window shape, otherwise
- Hang the roll of film in front of the wet glass so it sticks and press the corners into the edges of the windows, then spray the outside of the film again
- Slide the film on the wet glass until the position is straight and covers the whole glass
- Carefully trace the edge of the window with your craft knife, cutting it to shape slowly and following the contours of the window
- Make sure there aren’t any ragged edges or sharp corners, round them off with your knife
- Once you are happy with your cuts, take the film off the exterior of the window and flip it round so it fits the interior
- Making sure the inside of the window is still wet, carefully remove the clear protective layer from your film
- Position the tinted film on the inside of the target window and slide it around until it fits the shape precisely
- Using your squeegee, smooth out the film until the wrinkles or bubbles are pushed to the edges
- Using your heat gun and squeegee, heat up the film until the adhesive sticks to the glass, using the squeegee to push any bubbles off the edge of the glass