The Day I Tried to Tint

April 16th, 2014 by Editor

Last week I was fortunate enough to spend a few days traveling around the country meeting with window film suppliers, distributors and dealers. One of my stops was at Interwest Distribution Co.’s Anaheim, Calif., office where Dennis McMullin was kind enough to teach me a little bit about installing film. To start, the guy trusted me enough to let me learn on his personal car. Clearly, he had more faith in my abilities than I did.

I have my apron on and I'm ready to start cutting.

I have my apron on and I’m ready to start cutting.

Now, before I go any further, I should let you know that I am an expert at installing paint protection film (read: I once tried to install paint protection film on the hood of a BWM at a trade show, so obviously I am now an expert). Therefore, I assumed window film would be no problem (yeah, right).

Since I already had a 101-level knowledge of film and installation, Dennis spared me the small talk and went straight to action, hand-cutting a pattern on the glass to show me how it’s done. After watching him cut the shape of a sidelite (and trying to copy the position of his blade and arm, asking him 20 different times if “that was right?”) he then began installing the film.

Another note, Dennis (a kind soul) took pity on me and went ahead and removed the old film on his car then cleaned and scraped all of the old adhesive off of his windows before we started. What a nice guy.

Since I am a master paint protection film installer I knew what to do when it came time to position and squeegee the film. After he walked me through those final steps, carefully squeegeeing out any fingers that popped up, it was time for me to cut and install on my own window film. Here’s how it went:

  1. Spray the glass with solution (no problemo).
  2. Position the film on the glass (got it; I was good at that part).
  3. Squeegee it into place before cutting (yup, good at that step).
  4. Cut out that little corner edge (clearly, I’ve got the lingo down).
  5. Cut along the side and bottom edges of the window (following a line, this is cake).
  6. Roll down the window and cut along the top (oh God am I going to cut the glass? Whoops, that was jagged. Grab a new piece of film and repeat steps 1 through 6. Got it this time.)
  7. Cut the edge along the mirror (can I… okay I did it.)
  8. Remove the film, lay it back on the glass and finish the pattern by connecting the cuts (oh dear Lord I’m going to cut this glass why is he trusting me to do this?)
  9. I HAVE A PATTERN! (Also, small miracle, I didn’t cut any glass).
  10. Spray that film and the inside of the lite then remove the top portion of the liner and stick the film to the inside of the lite (also basically an expert here). Please note: I was able to remove the liner with my fingernail which Dennis said was a talent, so do with that what you will.
  11. Position the film along the top edge of the rolled down window and squeegee into place (done deal).
  12. Start squeegeeing the top half (have I told you how good I am at squeegeeing?).
  13. Make sure film doesn’t get too dry before you finish squeegeeing, so mist again with solution (I am pretty skilled at misting).
  14. After securing the top portion, roll up the window (also an A+ pupil here).
  15. Mist underneath the film again then, using a hard card, pull back the rubber stripping along the bottom of the lite and tuck under the bottom portion of the film (yup, I got this).
  16. Begin squeegeeing out all of the moisture underneath the film until finished (I am not too shabby at squeegeeing, if I do say so myself).
  17. Squeegee out any fingers that may come up and once all moisture is gone you’re done (sweet success)!
Just look at me go.

Just look at me go.

Okay, obviously I’m not quoting Dennis and his steps verbatim here, but after completing two windows like this, I’d say I have a pretty good handle on what it feels like to tint. In all fairness, I did attempt to cut and heat-shrink the film for the rear windshield (backlite). As a true professional and master of my trade, I couldn’t cut a straight line to save my life and melted the film while shrinking. I generously allowed Dennis to take over from there.

No, I’m not an expert yet (I won’t be taking home the $10,000 for this year’s Automotive Tint-Off Competition™) but I’ve gotten my hands on some film. Plus, after quizzing Dennis on every tool in the Interwest stockroom (obnoxiously, I pulled out each container and asked what they were and did until we made it through a whole wall) I have a handle on the tools of the trade. And did I mention I didn’t cut any of the glass on Dennis’ car?

So, which one of you wants to let me come over and tint in your shop next?

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  1. Casey,
    When I watch the guys here in the shop they make it look so easy. I commend you for diving in and ‘getting your hands dirty’, especially with auto film. You have inspired me to give it a try – at least on flat glass first.
    Here’s to a job well done!


  2. Hi Beth!
    Thanks! I’m always surprised there aren’t more female tinters. Glad to hear it and best of luck. Since I’m clearly a master installer now (joking) feel free to ask any questions (serious). If I can’t answer it myself, I’ll find someone for you who can.

    Thanks again!


  3. Happy to have you our for a visit Casey! Stop back at Interwest anytime or sign up for one of our 3 day courses. Then you would really be an expert! 🙂 In all seriousness, I do commend you for getting out into the field and learning about the installation techniques and tools utilized.

  4. Thanks Patric!

    I’ll definitely have to sign up for one of the three-day courses! I’ll keep an eye on dates and see when I can fit a trip into my schedule.


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