Tint My Ride January/February 2023January 27th, 2023 by Nathan Hobbs
Back Window Basics
By Joe Doyle
Welcome to 2023!
It’s just a guess, but I believe I’ve heat shrunken around 10,000 windows, rear windshields (backlites), hatches and front windshields. That’s what I’m writing about today. Not the process of heat shrinking itself—that’s pretty hard to describe with just words and needs to be experienced hands-on in real life.
Since you are reading this fine publication, I’m presuming you already know how to heat shrink.
However, I want to walk you through the basic techniques I use every day. Maybe you can pick up something that helps you in your shop.
The Tape Trick
I start by placing moving blankets in the trunk to protect anything that might get wet. Harbor Freight is a great place for these.
To create the perfect edge to cut the film after heat-shrinking, I use 3M’s blue 1/8-inch FineLine tape to border the edge—usually 1/16 to 1/8 onto the factory black. A roll costs around $8 at the auto body supply store and, at 108 feet, it can outline about 15 windshields. But you will use it for much more.
It will make super sharp curves, is not affected by water and leaves no residue.
After heat-shrinking, I use a single-edged razor blade to glide along the inside edge of the FineLine, cutting the film. Don’t cut on the glass but slide the blade perpendicular so that your blade is not pressing onto the windshield but gliding on the inside edge of the tape. It does take practice and patience, but what else is new?
Place the perfectly cut and formed piece of tint (longwise) on your cutting board and prepare it for installation. I give it a bath since I’ve found that baby powder clings to the film even after rinsing and needs a gentle wipe to release it. So I brush it with a soft car wash brush.
First, spray the film with your soapy water (mounting solution you already have). Then lightly brush, rinse and turn the piece over. While holding it in your hand, rinse the board, put it back on the board and do it again so that you have washed both sides.
Give it a Bath
Now flip and rinse both sides again with just water, and you’re ready to install. If you plan and place it correctly, the clear will be facing out. Now it’s time to wet the rear windshield (backlite) and eliminate all the dust and lint. Wet everything and squeegee just the top three to five inches left to right twice or so, then drench the whole glass starting at the top and let gravity take the water down, bringing the dust and lint with it.
Give the left and right edges a good drenching—if water gets in the trunk, the blankets will soak it up, but in most cases, it stays dry. When I install a windshield tint, front or back, I roll it, so I use 50 percent more soap in my spray bottle than for door glass.
On your cutting board, start the clear from the top and wet the film as you peel it down, using lots of spray solution as you go. Now quickly roll the film— starting at the top—into a one-inch cylinder or tube. The whole windshield piece will be about 30 inches long by one inch wide.
Immediately jump in the backseat and unroll it onto the glass (good luck, it’s harder than it sounds). Since you have washed the film on your board and flooded the inside windshield just prior to the installation—and hopefully rinsed your hands every time you touched anything—you should expect a tint job free of dust, lint and any debris.
Joe Doyle is the owner of Tint My Ride in Florissant, Mo.
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