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Old 10-31-2011, 05:57 PM   #1
drtyjrsy
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Window Tinting Thread

I’ve been wanted to start an information thread here for tinting. Unfortunately there’s a lot of misleading/conflicting info out there about different brands, types and pricing that goes along with it. First and foremost I'm a auto/vw enthusiast looking to gain nothing more then to help out other enthusiasts. I’ve been fortunate to make a successful career doing something I enjoy doing on some of the most expensive cars in San Diego. I’ve been tinting for 14 years and paint protection (clearbra) and vinyl decals and full wraps for about 5. If you can stick it on a car I specialize in it. A few guys on here are customers and hopefully they’ll chime in. This will be a work in progress and I hope to answer anyone’s questions.

Types of tint:

Dyed-Traditionally these films were on the low end. This is not the case any more. Manufacturers used to put a layer of dye between the raw material (polyester) and the top scratch coat layer. Some still do and these are offered at a 3-5 year warranty and will over time turn purple or fade to clear. The newer technology is called an extruded dye. This process they actually dye the raw material and call it color stable. With this you get a lifetime guarantee. If you looking to tint for cosmetics dyed films are you best bet. Dyed films have a low exterior reflectivity like factory tint. Dyed films block 99% UVA/UVB and an average amount of heat (20-50%)

Metallic-Metalized films were originally manufactured for better heat rejection and are often called HP (high performance) films. Just about all metalized come with a lifetime guarantee. The sputtered aluminum rejects harmful rays before it has a chance to degrade the dyes in the film. For years metal films were the bees knees. When auto manufactures started building radio antennas in the rear glass of cars metal films became a POTENTIAL issue. This is something ive seen first hand maybe a couple times over the years but every tint manufacturer and auto manufacturer recommends against it. If you tinting for heat rejection and cost is a factor this films your best bet. Metal films have a higher exterior reflectivity. Metal films block 99% UVA/UVB and between 40-70% heat.

Ceramic-These films are the solution for a high heat rejection film without the potential antenna interference. The term “ceramic” is thrown around to loosely. Some tint companies call this line ceramic, some call it a spectrally selective or IR (inferred) rejection film. To keep it simple were going to put them under the same category. Heat rejection number are most impressive with the lighter shades. As the shades get darker solar absorption becomes a factor and the heat rejection to shade darkness ration narrows. Ceramic films are the most expensive to manufacturer and from an instillation point of view more difficult to work with. Ceramic films vary in the exterior reflectivity some look like dyed tint and some look more like a metal tint. Ceramic films are right for you if: 1. You want to avoid potential interference issues. 2. You want high heat rejection without picking a dark shade of tint. 3. You want to give your car the newest technology and cost isn’t as much of a factor. Ceramic films block 99+% UVA/UVB, up to 97% IR rejection and between 45-70% heat.


Price:

I want to leave price off this because it pisses me off.
E.g. I put 3M on my GTI and it cost me $150. This says nothing!! 3M starts with a 3-year warranty film FX-ST where a roll costs xxx dollars. The mid grade line is 50% more expensive then the cost of the standard (and doesn’t cover when the films turns purple but that another section). The color stable costs more then double the standard. Their premium product Crystalline costs, no joke, 6x’s their standard. 2 cars both with 3M- one pays 150 and one pays 600+.
Cost around the country varies so much. In San Diego County alone the same sedan prices can range between 120 up to 600-700+ depending on who you call, the companies reputation and what kind of product your expecting. Same thing nationwide, the same product and quality service in two different states will be totally different. This doesn’t always mean that a deal cant leave you satisfied but its still apples and oranges. Tint specific shops are usually a bit more expensive because this is their specialty and passion. My experience is that your all-in-one shop isn’t usually a master in any one area but their more often then not trying to benefit from any and all things auto related. This isn’t always the case but it’s my 2 cents so deal.
Bottom line if your looking to see what to pay for the service do some research on reviews through yelp or Google and find a reputable local shop. If their reputable chances are they carry a quality product. Get their price and then call their competitors and see where they fall in the range of prices. My best advise is you leave your car with who you feel comfortable with and don’t make the decision based on what someone else paid a thousand miles away. Comments like “did they give you Vaseline with that” or “if their charging that much then their just making money off you” are ridiculous. It’s a business of course their making money off you or else they would just close up shop. If you can’t afford to tint your car correctly…don’t. If you want it cheap don’t bash someone else for understanding that the finer things in life cost money.


Process and Expectations:

To tint a car the basics are cut the tint to the shape of the window, shrink it to the curve of the window, clean the window and install to the inside of the glass.
There are two ways to get the tint cut to the windows: hand cutting and plotter cutting.
Plotter cutting is arguably the quickest and risk free way to get it done. The problem with plotter cutting is that the patterns are simplified. The top corners are rounded off for ease of installation and the top edge of the glass on your GTI is not exactly like every other GTI out there so is normally has a bigger gap on top of the roll up windows. The trade off is that if the installer is not as experienced your at least getting a super clean cup top edge of the tint because it was machine cut. Also you don’t have the risk of some guy that doesn’t know what he’s doing making cuts all over your car. For me companies that plotter cut are either not employing experienced installers or they are more interested in volume with the “get the customer in and out as fast as possible” mentality.

Hand cutting only comes with risk if the installer doesn’t know what he’s doing. I’ve never used a plotter for cutting tint and have never cut a cars windows or rubber trim….but to be honest it does happen. For a reputable shop that employees experienced installers hand cutting SHOULD guarantee a tighter top edge and guaranteed no light gaps. The installer also has the ability to factor in differences in the edge of the glass, window that shift around and how much the tint gets tucked below the gasket on the door panel.

Shrinking the tint to the shape of the windows is something you need to do on just about every car. The side windows on VW’s are nothing worth mentioning but the back window on the golfs and GTI’s are more difficult the your average car like a jetta or passat. When the film is shrunk to its limit it burns and causes creases. They are most often in the corners of the back window so the tint wont be flat and will look white or silvery because its not laying on the glass.
Installing tint is what makes or breaks a job. Its expected to look as close a possible to a factory tinted window. There are two main ways to install roll up and down windows, the half peel and the better way of removing the window gasket. The half peel the installer will roll the window down a bit. On the tint he peels the liner off half way (exposing half the adhesive) and places the top part of the tint on the top half on the window. Then he rolls the window up, peels the rest of the liner and either the tint ends right before the door panel rubber gasket or he tucks it into the gasket. If the film kinks at all when its getting tucked there’s more of a risk of it peeling down the road. I’ve worked with guys before that have this method down but is, hand down, not as consistent. At the peel points where the liner is only half peeled it’s rubbing against the sides of the windows which are lined with a soft felt. The felt gets into the tint and it’s always at the halfway mark of the window. The installer also often will just grab the top corners of the tint with his fingers and that will leave a nice little group of dust/dirt or fingerprints in the adhesive. More experienced shops will either remove panels or just remove the gasket to open up the area above the door panel. This way the tint is slid in to place in one swift motion and tucked low enough that you never have to worry about the window peeling down the road. Contamination between the glass and tint is less also because theres less steps and it’s a quicker process.
It is realistic and an industry standard that there is going to be a couple specs of random dust or lint in every window. No matter how much a window is cleaned, cars are dirty and there is always dust in the air and on the installer. There is no reason to eye phuck a job and complain about one pinhead dot in the glass. If its redone its just going to be in another area. With that said most work that ive seen is not up to my standards. I can find flaws in any tint job, not because im special its more that there’s no such thing as a perfect job. I usually see excessive dirt around the “half peel” points and around the bottom edge of the window from trying to tuck it below the gasket. The top edge or the glass is not tight and uneven or there are light gaps around the window because the tint wasn’t cut properly. If you see none of these problems they that’s what makes a good job.

Dots: The dots that border the rear windows are a common complaint. The truth is that they were there when you bought your car; they were there when you brought it in to get tinted and they will be there after its tinted. The dots are raised off the glass so the issue is that if the tint isn’t lying directly on the glass it wont give the dark tint look. There’s other cars made where you’ll read that an installer painted, glued or vinyled the “dots”. This is referring to a larger area of dots that are on the tops of back windows of coupes like the accord, altima, 3 series and corvette. The dots that border the windows are on just about every car made except Subaru I think. The expectations for the dots are that they are consistent all around the window. I’m not talking about consistency within each individual dot; it’s about the border as a whole. If the back window wasn’t shrunk properly you may see creases along the dots. Or if the window wasn’t stunk enough the install will manually heat up the window from the outside and force any excess to stick. This will also make the dots look inconstant. The only flawless solution for dots is if they weren’t there.


Drying and curing:

Tint is applied with water and usually Johnsons baby soap to create some slip to position the pattern into place. Tint take anywhere from 1-30 days to dry. This will be determined by the type of film, where it’s kept after its tinted and how hot it is. In the blazing heat of summer dyed films can dry in an afternoon of sun. Metal films can take up to 30+ days if it’s over the winter and the car isn’t getting much sun. Ceramic and metal films are designed to reject heat so they will take longer to dry. An average we see here in San Diego it 3-7 days for just about all products. After its tinted there’s always water left behind. The dots around will look solid on some areas but its just because the water hasn’t dried out of the space yet. The rest of the glass will look blotchy and streaky. As it dried the water will group up into what looks like water pockets. Leave them alone they will dry. Do yourself a favor. Be patient with it and leave it alone and let it go through the full curing process. After that if something looks funny you can always, then, bring it back to your installer. If they are a shop with a good reputation they should stand behind their work.


Brands and lines of film:

There are many different brands of quality of tint out there. Chances are if you call shop ABC and they carry brand XYZ they’re going to say that’s the best product out there. To them it might be but it’s not true. Each brand makes many different lines of film from cheap to premium, dyed to ceramic. I’m starting this list with only the premium products that I would recommend to my customers with solid warranties and company reputations. always make sure you get a manufacturer warranty card.

American Standard
Llumar
3M
Suntek
Solargard
Madico
Wincos
Huper Optik

Last edited by drtyjrsy; 03-30-2012 at 10:18 PM.
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Old 10-31-2011, 06:08 PM   #2
maxtdi
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That's a seriously long post... I read it all actually.

You should ask to have it be a sticky .
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Old 10-31-2011, 06:19 PM   #3
drtyjrsy
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Yea it became a book real quick. I have alot to say about tint i guess. We'll see what it turns into. I want to list all the good companies and lines of tint just so its all in one place so there no more incorrect info getting thrown around.
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Old 10-31-2011, 09:05 PM   #4
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Great post. Looking forward to the rest. Sdtint did my car and did a great job. I went with a 50% Huper Optik.
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Old 10-31-2011, 10:25 PM   #5
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Thanks man, glad you wrote it up. I was waiting for it. Much appreciated for your time!
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Old 10-31-2011, 11:47 PM   #6
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Nice work, thank you for the thread. I can't agree more about your comments on price. Sadly, it's a Wal-Mart world, if you're satisfied with Wal-Mart "quality" then you can pay Wal-Mart prices. If you want better, then expect to pay for it.

For me, I knew I'd been recommended to the right place, when I saw the detail he put into the compound curves on the rear window. In the end, it took much longer than expected but the price didn't change even though he put a lot more work in to it.
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Old 10-31-2011, 11:50 PM   #7
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Old 11-01-2011, 12:39 AM   #8
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Awesome post. In for more info.
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Old 11-01-2011, 06:56 AM   #9
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i ahve the ceramic 3M tint....i liked the looks of it more than the other brand because it doesn't have that high glossy look that most other films have.
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Old 11-01-2011, 11:21 AM   #10
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post pics of what kinda of tint you have. that way we can get a comparison. if i want 35% should is that a lighter shade for ceramic or no?
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Old 11-01-2011, 11:27 AM   #11
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25% 3M Ceramic....
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Old 11-01-2011, 11:38 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lowerthanzimmy View Post


25% 3M Ceramic....
this is a perfect example of why im doing this. if you have 3M film the only 25% they make in any of their lines is the FX Premium series and it is not a ceramic, its a dyed film. The darkest 3M ceramic is a 40%. Did the tint shop tell you it was ceramic? good looking car btw

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Old 11-01-2011, 11:49 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vdub_lover View Post
post pics of what kinda of tint you have. that way we can get a comparison. if i want 35% should is that a lighter shade for ceramic or no?
i plan on posting pics of all the different shades on different cars.

a 35% for me is a perfect mid range shade.

dyed film blocks 35-40% heat

ceramic film blocks 50-60% heat

i see you live in maryland were heat isnt as big of an issue so its a bit of fine line if youd need to pay the extra money for a ceramic film. if you lived in texas id say its worth it. this come down to that you dont need to spend the extra money to get a quality product but you need to ask your self why your tinting you windows. is it for more looks or to really keep your car cooler for the few months that its hot in you area.
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Old 11-01-2011, 04:46 PM   #14
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I just had my windows tinted with FormulaOne Pinnacle Serries (ceramic). The tint is really nice, but I'm disappointed with the install job. I see some dust bubbles that really bug me. Now I understand one or two is acceptable (which is the case on the drivers side), but I have two windows on the passenger side with 6 bubbles on each pane. One of the bubbles on the side has a piece of lint or dirt just a tad larger than the tip of a standard cheap ball point pen. Also, My back window has a 1/4 inch hair. I want to give it a couple more weeks to dry up, but I'm thinking about taking it back to fix.

Crappy iPhone photos... 33% on the side and 18% on the back. Looks darker that it is because of the shade.




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Old 11-01-2011, 04:48 PM   #15
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Come to think of it, what does the stock GTI glass measure at? I heard most windows register around 75-80% without tint.
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Old 11-01-2011, 05:01 PM   #16
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Come to think of it, what does the stock GTI glass measure at? I heard most windows register around 75-80% without tint.
i think its closer to 85%, thats what ive always used. in california, for example, the glass has to be above 70% VLT on the front doors to be legal. to figure the math with trying to keep at legal limits you can only put an 80% tint on.

.85x.80=.68 so youd be .02% to dark but you get the idea.
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Old 11-01-2011, 08:44 PM   #17
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Here's my 50% Huper Optik. I don't think this one is ceramic. I think Travis showed me the heat rejection properties were pretty close to each other at the 50% level.

Are any of the tints with a blue-ish shade ceramic? Or otherwise have really high heat rejection? I like to look of the factory blue tint that was on the early Mk5 GTI's.

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Old 11-01-2011, 09:07 PM   #18
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Llumar Air blue 80 is the only one that i think has a bit of a bluish hue to it.



oh and 3M crystalline 70% is blue

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Old 11-02-2011, 05:42 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drtyjrsy View Post
this is a perfect example of why im doing this. if you have 3M film the only 25% they make in any of their lines is the FX Premium series and it is not a ceramic, its a dyed film. The darkest 3M ceramic is a 40%. Did the tint shop tell you it was ceramic? good looking car btw
yep! they advertized it as a 3m ceramic tint and i chose that, than they gave me a different chart to choose percentage from

D&L Window Tinting in Whitemarsh, MD
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Old 11-02-2011, 06:43 AM   #20
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SunTek 18% Carbon Series



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