Tint My Ride March/April 2023

March 30th, 2023 by Nathan Hobbs

My Dirty, Dusty Road

By Joe Doyle


Aperfectly cut and installed piece of film will be tainted if dirt and dust are trapped under the tint. Not to mention, it’s trapped there permanently for everyone to see.

Lesson #1

When I first started tinting cars in the 1980s, I learned that dust was everywhere. My first lesson was basic, and it didn’t take long to figure it out. Looking at the piece I had just installed, I saw two globs of debris near the top, on the left and right. Yes, it was my own dirty hands contaminating the film.

This was lesson #1. Since that day, I always rinse my hands before grabbing the tint to install it. And when I say rinse, I mean a whole underwater plunge of hands into a bucket of warm water, rubbing them together to dislodge the dirt.

My 3½ gallon bucket came from the local paint store and is just the right size. This time of year, I fill the bucket with warm water from the sink every morning because my fingers don’t work well when cold. I keep a coffee maker nearby to add hot water during the day when needed.

Lesson #2

Lesson #2 came when I was at home and wanted to tint four small lites of glass on the top of my wooden front door (I was still seeing dust in my tint jobs at work and was trying to figure out where it was coming from). When I put the first piece on the door, there was dust.

On the second attempt, I went to the extreme of submerging the small piece of tint in the kitchen sink with the proper soap mixture and removed the clear liner underwater and installed it within seconds. The result? Dust. I made a cocktail to help me think. I wondered if my tap water had dust in it, but that didn’t make sense. I sat and reviewed how I installed every piece and considered that maybe the dust was airborne. Maybe the dust I saw attached itself to the wet tint as I carried it to the window. I tried again and this time I turned the tint so the wet and glue side faced me, flipping it around just before placing it on the glass.

Bingo! The result was perfect—no dust. Not only did I figure it out, but I also made another cocktail. So, when you transfer a piece of film to the window, have the wet-glue side face you so you don’t push it through the dusty, contaminated air and embed dust onto the wet film. In my shop, I will even hold the tint and walk backward if the window is close, turning it around at the last second.

Lesson #3

Lesson #3 is based on lesson #2. The air in your shop is dusty. Spraying a window before an installation will grab dust from the air and put it on the glass. My solution is to keep spraying. The initial sprays will grab airborne dust and transfer it onto the glass but will also clear the dust out of that area. The next sprays should be clean.

I flood every window from the top to the bottom, using gravity to carry all dust downwards. Also, by keeping your sprayer close to the window versus spraying from 12 inches away you will engage less dust particles. I probably use more water flushing a piece of glass than anyone you’ve ever seen, but my tint jobs prove it works. There is one exception—do not use this flush method on front windshields.

There are two more sources of dirt, both on car door windows. The left and right side weather strips can be large or small, and they may or may not overlap or touch the glass. These can be a huge source of debris, especially on older cars. I used to avoid getting them wet because I knew that they contained dust and dirt and the water would dissolve the dirt and it would get into my tint. But now I’m getting them super wet, drenching them from top to bottom and using gravity to take the debris down into the door away from my tint.

Joe Doyle is the owner of Tint My Ride in Florissant, Mo.

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