The Lowdown on Window Tinting (Dos and Don’ts)

Bradley Jando | Wednesday 31st March 2021 4:08pm

Window Tint Close Up

Tinting windows can be one of the most fun, early modifications that people try their hand at when it comes to car modding. Usually, that’s because it’s one of the cheapest options. But, you need to be aware of some things first - like legality, and some helpful tips and tricks if you’re planning to do it yourself.

Is window tinting legal?

Window tinting is legal - to a certain extent. It’s worth checking with your national law, but in the UK it’s currently legal to have window tints on the front windscreen, so long as they let at least 75% of light in, and on the front side windows, so long as they let at least 70% of light in. There aren’t any rules concerning the back window and the rear side windows.

The reasoning here is that, for crime prevention reasons, the driver of a vehicle needs to be identifiable, however, it’s not as important that the identity of passengers is immediately available. It’s crucial to be careful here as if your car gets pulled over, on suspicion of having a too-dark tint, it can be measured using light-measuring equipment and, if found to be too dark, could land you with a penalty or court summons.

If you get your windows tinted at a professional tint shop, they’ll use film that already meets the legal criteria so you don’t need to worry. However, if you’re intending to tint your windows yourself, be sure to check that the film you’re getting falls within the legal limits.

Tinting Windows Yourself

Tinting windows yourself can save you a good amount of money, but it’s also a process that can take a lot of time and effort without the proper tools, space, and knowledge.

The fundamental process with film-tinting windows is that you clean the window, spray a lot of soapy water onto it to hold the film in place, cut the film to size, then stick it onto the window. The film does have an adhesive side that glues the vinyl to the window, but you need to scrape out any air bubbles to create a secure vacuum between the film and the window.

Here are some tips to help save some stress:

Clean the area well

You’re going to need to really clean your windows because, when doing a film tint, you’re going to essentially be sticking a vinyl sticker to your windows. If you’ve ever tried sticking something to glass, like screen protectors on your phone, you’ll know how much of a nightmare specks of dust can be.

When it comes to vinyl stickers, it’s no different as specks of dust create large bubbles in the vinyl that ends up ruining the finish. Good preparation goes a long way here, so use a good squeegee and a lot of soapy water.

Use a good spray bottle

You’re going to need to be spraying a lot to sufficiently clean the windscreen and to get the film to stick, so make sure you have a spray bottle that’s really clean to begin with, and one that makes a good fine-mist spray. You need to avoid spray bottles that previously had harsh chemicals in them as these may degrade the vinyl film and ruin your hard work. So it’s usually a good idea to buy a new, dedicated “soapy water” spray bottle.

Use a really sharp, fresh craft knife

Use a fresh, sharp craft knife - or order yourself an “Olfa Knife” with a stainless steel blade. You need to make a lot of accurate cuts and a blunt blade will cause the film to bunch up and ruin your work.

Use high-quality film

Many cheap films can tear when overheated or overstretched. Of course, any film will tear or burn if treated improperly – but the tolerances of high quality films are much higher, as they are much more durable.

If you’re going to spend time doing a job well, you may as well spend an extra few pounds to make sure that it’s not going to come apart in a year’s time.

Always leave yourself wiggle room

It’s common practice to cut the film into ‘patterns’ to size directly on the car. Doing so for the first time, however, leaves you possibly scratching your car. Professionals cut tint film so often that they usually know just how much pressure to apply.

Aside from being aware of how much pressure you apply, make sure to cut the film a little larger than the final product when you cut it from the roll as that way, you allow yourself a margin for error. Then simply ‘anchor’ the film in place by spraying water on the window and secure a section of the film with the squeegee while you cut it to the exact size on the window.

Need help with your car?

While we don’t offer window tinting at Kwik Fit, we’re able to look after any of the mechanicals in your car, so get in touch with your local Kwik Fit if you need any car help.

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Any facts, figures and prices shown in our blog articles are correct at time of publication.

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