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Window Tinting: Do It Yourself or Hire a Professional?

Window Tinting: Do It Yourself or Hire a Professional?

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Thinking of tinting the windows on your car? Like any other car customization, tinting can either be done at home or by a professional. And like any other customization, it’s easy to get a wide variety of advice from friends and on forums.

Here’s a quick look at the two different options to help you make your decision.

The Do It Yourself Experience

The most common reason to tint your windows yourself? Cost. Even the more expensive pre-cut film packages are usually still a couple hundred dollars cheaper than a professional installation. That being said, there’s no room for error. If you don’t install the tint correctly, getting it removed is extremely difficult, so here are some things to consider:

  • Make sure your windows are completely spotless. Anything that’s on there when you apply tint will stay there for the life of the tint.
  • Be very, very patient, especially on curved glass. It’s really easy to get bubbles and stripes, and it can peel if you don’t apply it perfectly.
  • Look into pre-cut films. Available for many popular cars, these have tint sheets pre-cut to fit the windows. They cost more than cutting it yourself, but they tend to give you better results.
  • Brand matters, so does your research. The roll of $15 tint might seem like a steal, but odds are good it’s going to turn purple on you. The better the brand and higher the quality, the longer the tint will last.
  • Check local tinting regulations. Different states, counties, and cities will allow different levels of tint on your windows. Make sure that you know the law before you start tinting yours.
  • It can be very frustrating. The tint film is very fiddly, and a crease in the wrong place has made plenty of people throw their tint across the room.

Expect your DIY tinting project to last anywhere from a couple hours to a whole afternoon. While it can be tricky, if you can pull off a pro-looking job, then you’ll get the dual satisfaction of a job well done and having saved a good chunk of money.

What to Expect From a Pro

Like anything else, you’re simply going to have an easier time when you go to a pro. You drop off your car, hang out, and then you’ve got tinted windows. It usually takes less than an hour for a standard car. Of course, that convenience does come with a higher price tag.

  • Expect to pay anywhere from $150-$400+. The cost depends on where you live, the size of the windows, then number of them, and the quality of the tint you want. There have been $100 specials for lower quality tints in some areas, while a high quality tint on a large van can cost quite a lot.
  • The pros have the right tools and the right chemicals. The pros have the right gear to custom fit the tint perfectly to your windows. They also have the right chemicals to make your window spotless and remove the tint if things go wrong.
  • Pros often go the extra mile. It’s not uncommon for pros to do things like take the door panel off to extend the tint below the window line.
  • You’ll usually get a guarantee. Depending on the tint, these can be anywhere from a few years to the life of the car. If nothing else, pros will reapply the tint if there are flaws or problems.
  • Pros keep on top of tinting regulations. It might seem silly, but tinting regulations do change, and professional tinters make sure to know all applicable tinting level codes to make sure you won’t get a ticket.

Most people choose to use a professional to avoid the hassle and get the guarantee on the work. While it may cost more, it also means less stress and more time spent doing what you want instead of swearing at the window tint.

Is it worth it? That depends on whom you ask.

See also:

Guide to Window Tint Percentages

Types of Car Window Tint

Car Window Tinting: Keep It Legal

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