Introduction: How to Cut and Install a Windshield Tint Strip
Interested in saving a little bit of money in exchange for a small amount of your time? Does your city’s tint shop charge more than you’re willing to pay? Say no more. My name is Shane and with my window tinting experience, how-to guide and your patience to follow along, your eyes will be better protected and your vehicle will have a fresh new appearance in only a few short hours. In these 10 steps you will find everything you need to install your own windshield tint strip.
Step 1: Where to Tint?
To begin, start by finding a location to install the vehicle’s tint. The best location to carry this out is usually in a garage or a shop. Don’t have access to either? That’s not a problem at all! All that’s needed is a shaded area away from wind and dust. Make sure there is enough room to fully open the vehicle’s front doors. Have tools and supplies nearby.
Step 2: Tools and Supplies
Starting with tools and supplies that may need to be purchased, make a list and buy the following:
Window Tint - I like to use the Black Magic branded tint from Walmart. Choose the vehicle’s desired tint transparency. **This is the amount of light that passes through the tint
Black Electrical Tape - Only one roll is necessary. Its use will be explained later…
Squeegee - Body filler applicators will do a good job but for the best results purchase a small rubber window squeegee
Spray Bottle - This will be used for applying the tint solution.
Razor Blades - A cheap box cutter works well for cutting the tint. An Exacto knife is preferred
And here is a list of the other supplies to have nearby:
Soap & Water - This will make the application solution. For the best results use Original Dawn dish soap and tap water
Towels - These will be used to clean the window surfaces before and after tinting. Paper towels or small hand towels work.
Step Stool/ Ladder - Not required, makes the top of the window easy to reach.
Screwdriver/ Multi-tool - Needed to remove the rear view mirror from the windshield
Tape Measure/ Ruler - Use this to measure where the bottom of your tint will be
For best results, volunteer a friend or family member to help with cutting and placement of tint
Step 3: Removing the Mirror
With the correct screwdriver remove the mounting screw at the base of the mirror. This will be where it attaches to the windshield. With the mounting screw loose, wiggle and slide mirror up off of its base. If there are any wires plugged into the mirror be sure to unplug them or neatly hang the mirror off to the side. Once the mirror is tucked away, proceed.
Step 4: Mixing the Solution
First, start this step by mixing the cleaning and application solution. Use the Dawn original dish soap and spray bottle from the list. Fill the bottle so that there is enough room to shake the solution. Then add the soap. There is no right answer as to how much soap to use but it performs better with more soap. The solution should spray foamy. Not enough foam? Add more soap!
Step 5: Cleaning the Windshield
Now that the spray bottle is prepared, spray the entire outside of the windshield and give it a light scrub to loosen any excessive dirt. Dry windshield and repeat on the inside. Pay close attention to the glass where the tint will be placed. There should be no streaks or leftover dirt.
Step 6: Making the Template
This step is a technique that I have found works very well for saving time and sparing yourself the frustration of “guessing” where you are cutting. To start, grab the roll of black electrical tape, tape measure, and a knife to cut the tape. Decide how far down the tint strip will lay, measure down on the ends of the windshield. Place a chunk of tape down to mark where the bottom of the tint sits. Now, from one side of the windshield, begin taping the border of the window. Run a strip of tape next to the border where the clear glass meets the black border of the glass. Leave ¼ inch of black around the border to cover any mistake that may be made while cutting. Lost on this step? The picture below is what the border should look like. Once the border is ready, continue to the next step.
**If the mirror mount shows through the windshield apart from the border you made, cover the mount with black electrical tape and trim to match the mount**
Step 7: Before You Cut
First, lay the roll of tint on the windshield and stretch it so there is 6-12 inches hanging over the passenger side. Cut the tint 6-12 inches past the driver’s side of the windshield. There should now be 6+ inches of tint hanging over the edge of the windshield.
**Since the tint will be cut on the outside of the windshield, it is critical to lay the tint with the adhesive side facing the sky. the adhesive side has a clear plastic wrapper used to protect the adhesive**
Now, with the body filler applicator or squeegee nearby, spray the entire top half of the windshield with solution and place the portion of tint cut a few moments ago in place. Align the factory edge with the marks for the tint strip. Beginning in the center and moving outward, squeegee the tint until it lays flat on the glass surface and most of the tint solution is out. Okay, that was a doozy. Right? Now is a good point to take a break as the next few steps take more detail.
Step 8: Cutting to Size
Now, with the tint still laying flat in its place it’s time to make the cut. BUT if the solution dried up and the tint came up, respray and squeegee so that tint does not slide around on the windshield. Now begin cutting tint at the bottom at one side. Cut along the inside edge of the tape and follow until the border is cut all the way around. Once that cut is made, make an X cut in the tint strip the size of the mount. Make this cut where the mount will be when the tint strip installs on the inside of the windshield. This X will be cut out when the tint is installed.
Step 9: Applying the Spray Solution
The tint strip should now represent the shape of the windshield on the inside of the vehicle. Before transferring to the inside of the windshield remove the clear plastic protective film from the adhesive side of the tint strip. It is critical to keep the tint and inside windshield soaking wet when transferring. This prevents the tint from collecting dirt and sticking to itself. Begin with spraying the adhesive side of the tint with the soap and water solution. Then, spray the inside of the windshield and the tint once more.
Step 10: Installing the Tint
Now it is time to transfer the tint to the inside of the windshield. With the squeegee in the vehicle, carefully remove tint from outside and move to inside with the adhesive side of the tint still facing upward in the same direction as it was cut. Place the tint on the windshield and slide into place. Once the tint is relatively close to where it will sit, beginning in the center and moving outward, squeegee the tint until it lays flat on the glass surface and most of the tint solution is out.
**Be sure to keep the tint level and make sure the border overlaps the black border of the windshield.**
Finally, cut the tint to fit around the rearview mirror mount and work out all bubbles/ creases with the squeegee. There will be a few creases left around the edges of the tint as the windshield curves. A heat gun or hair dryer can be used to get all of the creases out. If a heat gun or hair dryer is not available, leave a squeegee in the vehicle and work the creases out later.
Step 11: Congratulations!
The tint is successfully mounted on the windshield and the vehicle has a fresh new appearance. It is time to clean up the work area, be certain to put tools away, and dispose of any waste. Now, clean both sides of the windshield and enjoy!