I’ve Grown “Attached” to this Industry
First, let me apologize for the large gap of time between now and my last blog. Fortunately, and unfortunately, I have been so busy working six to seven days a week I couldn’t find the time to sit down and write. I only hope things are as good for your business as they are for mine right now. My little film dealership in Sedona, Ariz., has already purchased more film this year than all of last year, which makes my film suppliers very happy … especially those who have stuck by me.
The reason I have some time right now is I am sitting in San Antonio Airport on the 4th of July and have a three-hour layover. I’ve been on a business trip and trying to get home … no BBQ or fireworks for me.
My last blog solicited some requests for education on the different types of security film attachment systems and products. So in an effort to please my readers I’ve been doing research and plan to discuss the in, outs and oops of attachments. I am in the fortunate position to have experience with installing many types of attachment systems. While I haven’t installed every type that exists, I try to keep abreast of what’s on the market. So if I miss something in the next couple of blogs I will count on my readers to bring it to my attention so we can add it to the mix.
In this first installment I will address the most common and the old standard … caulk, commonly referred to as Dow, black goo, 995 and “oh no, not that stuff.” In the coming blogs we will discuss flexible, mechanical and hybrid attachments.
While Dow 995 set the standard for bomb-blast mitigation attachment, 3M also has its own version called IPA (Impact Protection Adhesive). 3M claims it is easier to work with than Dow 995 … but manufacturers always make lots of claims. In the real world, it’s still a pain in the tush for most installers.
Caulk is probably the most used and misused attachment, as well as the messiest and most difficult product to install properly in all of window tinting. I know there are a few of you who have mastered the “sausage” and might argue that point…but you are a rare bread indeed.
Speaking of sausages, caulk comes in two different-sized containers: a regular-size silicon tube and a much larger “sausage.” The sausage takes a larger gun, has a much larger dispensing nozzle and allows for a larger bead with one application. I have seen installers who can lay a bead without tape and have a great finished look. My only concern is it’s not going all the way in to fill the gasket void. Both manufacturers offer the caulk in black and white. If you have a large job, consider a powered cordless caulking gun … it’s well worth the $300 investment.
When I was trained on Dow, umpteen years ago, there were guidelines and installation procedures that had to be done properly to ensure the protection it is designed to provide. That included pulling the window gaskets and cutting the film a little larger to tuck it under the frame. It also consisted of taping the window film and frame to form a ¾-inch gap on both, then laying in a whole lot of caulk to fill that cavernous gap and fill in where the old gasket used to reside. You’d have to immediately press the caulk in and shape the triangular bead (see diagram below) with a smoothing tool. I have seen dealers use a wide variety of modified tools for this step, from a small gardening shovel to paint scrapers. I used a white teflon card. Regardless of the tool, the trick is smoothing the bead to make it look good and uniformed. The corners are especially fun … NOT.
The chart below is from 3M and is used to calculate how much of their caulk is required. Dow has an online free calculator and here is the link: http://www.dowcorning.com/content/construction/construction_calculators_flexible.aspx.
I have seen some great jobs and many, many lousy ones. This is where I am disappointed in our industry. Some dealers don’t have a clue, don’t care or are just chasing the almighty dollar without regard for a “job well done.” I also blame the manufacturers … design a caulk that is easier to work with … for real. (See some bad examples in the pictures)
One company, Film Fastener LLC in Odessa, Fla., has invented a product called BondKap Anchoring System to make caulking have the “finished look” of a molding. Quite simply, it’s a PVC piece specifically designed to go over the bead of caulk to give it a finished look. It sounds really simple, but like anything, it takes some acquired skills to do properly and quickly. To their credit, they have training videos.
Next blog we will explore the world of flexible attachments … they are my favorite.
Looks like I’m off to Nigeria again in a week or two. We have a large security film project going on and I have to train the crew on Hanita’s No-Bar Mechanical and Pentagon’s Z-Lok attachments. You might remember my first visit to Nigeria as I wrote about it here. I actually was back in Nigeria in January doing security film on the governor’s motorcade (13 cars and 2 buses). We were actually doing multiple layers of Hanita 12-mil and 4-mil on the doors and rear windshields … I’ll explain that in a future blog. Luckily, I had taken Chris DeLuca of All Pro Window Tinting to be the lead installer as he is far better at doing autos than I am. We made a great team and got it done in half the time originally planned. This experience in Nigeria was much more pleasant. We had a guide who actually took us out into the city where we could interact with the people. It was great … we enjoyed the local cuisine and the people were extremely friendly and courteous.
This month’s survey asks:
Quote of the Month
“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”
– Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)