So you’re looking to take on a fun do-it-yourself project like installing your own window tint. Though the idea sounds easy, there are some tedious steps you’ll need to take to ensure your tint looks like it was done by a professional. We’ve broken down these steps, including recommended tools and products, to support you in achieving that sleek window tint look you’re striving for.
First Things First: Location
It’s important to find a location removed from dust and debris. A garage is recommended for a good place to install window tint.
Tools You’ll Need
Tint Window Film – Make sure to purchase tint window film AFTER reviewing your state’s window tint laws. Installing a darker tint than the limit can result in fines. We recommend the MCBROTHER line that’s durable and affordable.
Application Solution – You can easily make this solution by filling a spray bottle with 95% water and adding a few drops of soap. Note: You’ll find yourself having to make more solution throughout the process. Make sure to shake it up!
Squeegee – This will be used to remove cleaner, dirt, and debris from windows prior to installation. You’ll be using the squeegee often so this is an important one not to miss.
Lint-Free Cleaning Cloth – Make sure to get a lint-free cloth as these will be used in conjunction with the squeegee to remove all buildup on the windows. If any piece of dirt or lint is left on the windows when the tint is applied, it can turn into tint bubbles. Read all about how to prevent tint from bubbling here.
A Razor Blade – This will be the blade you use to cut the window film to fit the size and dimensions of your windows. Make sure it’s sharp for smooth cutting.
Scraper Blade or a Hard Card – A scraper blade will be used to tighten the tint over the car windows and to push out air bubbles from underneath the film when the squeegee isn’t sufficient. Usually for corners and crevices.
Note: For convenience, you can buy a window tint kit that includes all of the essential tools you’ll need to install window tint. Check out our favorites kits below:
Heat Gun – A heat gun is usually needed for windows that are curved, like rear windows. The heat will shrink the tint to better fit these windows. Two affordable, and our recommended heat gun options are:
Patience – Yes, patience. We’re just trying to give it to you straight! If this is your first time tinting car windows, it will take practice in perfecting the film application. Don’t expect to spend less than 15 minutes a window because then you’ll end up throwing window tint rolls at your garage walls. If you know that your patience is low, you might want to consider a different DIY project.
Still with us? Great! Let’s get to prep.
Step 1: Clean the Windows
Thoroughly cleaned windows are the foundation to a good tint job.
1.1 Clean the car windows extremely well by using the soap and water solution.
1.2 Roll down the window 2-3 inches so that you can also clean the top of the window as well. Spray a good amount of the solution, then remove all dirt and grime using the squeegee. Though tint is applied to the interior of the window, it’s important to clean both the exterior and interior very well.
- Make sure to take your time to really clean the windows, as well as the crevices.
- DO NOT use Windex or any cleaner with ammonia unless you want to alter the color of your tint.
Step 2: Dry the Windows
Wipe the soap and water solution off using the squeegee, then use the lint-free cloth to thoroughly dry the glass. Similar to the cleaning step, you’ll want to make sure to dry all crevices and corners. You can do this by using your finger with the rag and wiping underneath the window seals.
Complete this same process on all windows and make sure every window is wiped until completely dry.
Step 3: Prepare the Window Film
You’ll roll your car windows up and down throughout the process, but roll them up for this next part.
Prepare your window tint film by slowly opening the film roll. It’s important to know which side of the film is the adhesive. Similar to a sticker, one side of the film has a layer that can be peeled off before application. Keep the side that can be peeled, the adhesive side, facing you until we move on to the application of the interior window.
Refill your soap and water solution for installation.
Step 4: Measure and Cut the Film to Size
4.1 Generously spray the water and soap solution onto the outside of the window. This solution will allow the tint to temporarily adhere for sizing.
4.2 Next, with the liner side facing you, unroll and place the window tint film over the entire outside of the window so that no part of the window is left visible. You’ll want to include 2-3 inches of extra tint on all sides.
DO NOT remove the liner in this step. We are not yet applying the tint, but instead making correct measurements of the film for easy application.
4.3 Next, cut along the perimeter of the film so that you have a film piece disconnected from the film roll. Keep the 2-3 inches on each side. Use the razor blade to cut the tint into a usable square.
4.4 The square should adhere to the solution easily now that it’s cut down. Go ahead and spray the tint film as well so that the entire thing is covered in the soap and water solution.
4.5 Keeping the film adhered via solution, use the razor blade to cut only the straight lines (the bottom and either the left or right side – whichever one is straight in your position). Do not cut the rounded part of the window yet (the top and opposite side of what you just cut).
- While cutting, you’ll want to use your free hand or a squeegee to make sure the film stays in place.
- You’ll want to cut the film using the edge of the window as support since you want the film to fit the window.
4.6 Next, pull the film over the straight edge you just cut, whether it’s the left or right, about 1 in. This will ensure that you’ll have extra film to cover all edges.
4.7 You’ll then want to cut the opposite side that you just cut, the side that transitions into the top of the window. Pull the tint towards the newly cut side about half of the 1-2 in excess that we left. You should now have 3 sides cut, all but the top, with about 1/2-1 in. of excess window tint over the sides.
4.8 Pull down the tint about 1 inch so that the bottom part of the film is lower than the window. This is important because this piece will go into the door. Use the squeegee to flatten again.
4.9 Next, lower the window about half an inch and then cut along the top of the window using the window as a guide. Remove the excess film. Once this is done, pull the tint back towards the center. You should have half an inch of excess film on all sides.
4.10 Clean up all corners that have excess film.
Leave the film applied to the exterior window while you prep the interior. You might need more solution to keep it adhered.
Step 5: Apply the Window Tint
5.1 First, you’ll want to clean the interior window, again, to confirm that it is squeaky clean. You can use a card or the corner of a squeegee to get under the window edges. Use the squeegee to remove excess water, then spray the window with the solution again.
5.2 With the film still adhered to the outside of the window, remove the top half of the tint liner – this will make it easier to work with.
5.3 The window should still be open about half an inch. Spray the exposed film that you just peeled with more solution to prepare it for adhering. Line up the film to the interior of the window. The solution will make the film slippery and easy to move around so that you can perfectly align all edges.
5.4 Once the top of the film is aligned with the window, you’ll want to use your fingers to push the film into the left and right sides underneath the seal.
5.5 Next, spray the film with the soap and water then squeegee all excess water toward the sides or upward, not downward since this part of the window still needs to adhere.
5.6 Lift the bottom part of the film away from the window then spray the window with soap and water again. You can now remove the remaining part of the liner and spray this newly exposed film with the solution.
5.7 Use a card of edge of the squeegee again to tuck in the film under the bottom seal. Smooth out the liner completely still using the card and/or squeegee working the water outward or downward. You’ll want to continue using the solution to prevent ripping as you work to remove air bubbles. Take your time in this step to make the film flush with the window and without flaws.
5.8 Lastly, wrap the lint-free cloth around the squeegee and dry the film carefully.
When You’ll Need a Heat Gun
A heat gun is not always necessary but is extremely helpful when tinting curved windows. It’s also helpful in removing air bubbles. If you need to use a heat gun, during step 4 when the tint is being sized to the outside of the window and has excess film on each side, you’ll want to heat the film (not too close and not too long in one place as this can ruin the film) and use a card to work out air bubbles and excess water. Begin at the top and work your way down to the bottom of the window. The heat will begin to stretch and smooth the tint so that it fits a curved window properly.
Make Sure it Cures
You’ll need to repeat the above steps for each window of your car. Once complete, you will not want to roll your windows down for 7-10 days and mess up all the hard work you put into tinting your car windows.
How Much Does it Cost?
Interested in having a professional tint your vehicle. Find out how much it cost to tint your car here.
There you have it. A step-by-step DIY guide on window tinting. We know it’s a tedious process but after you do it a couple of times, you’ll feel much more confident and will be able to get the job done much quicker.