Adding tint film to your car’s windows can offer your car much-needed protection from sun and heat damage. But before you start applying the film, you’ll need to understand the difference between the different types of car tint, like dyed and metalized window tints.
If you live in a hot, sunny climate, one of the most common issues that you will face as a car owner is keeping your vehicle’s interior cool during the summer months.
Types of car window tint
When it comes to tinting your car’s windows, there are more than 1,000 specially formulated blends of window tint to choose from—so how do you know where to start? Generally speaking, all window tint formulas can be broken down into six major categories.
Because each type of window tint features different lists of pros and cons, there are a few things you’ll need to consider before moving forward. Let’s break down the benefits of the six major types of tint:
Dyed window tint
If you’re looking for an affordable and adjustable method of tinting, dyed window tint might be a great fit for you and your car. Dyed window tint features a series of dyed film layers designed to absorb sunlight as it tries to penetrate your car’s windows. By absorbing the solar heat, dyed window tint can help to reduce temperature increases in your car’s cabin.
One drawback of dyed window tint is that it doesn’t offer much protection in terms of UV exposure. Additionally, this type of tint has a tendency to fade, making it less effective over time.
You can, however, make decisions as to the opacity level of this particular kind of tint, making it a more versatile option as you can fit it to your own personal aesthetic preferences.
Metalized window tint
For drivers looking for more protection from UV rays as well as increased heat protection, metalized window tint is the next step up in window tinting technology. Replacing the dyed films of dyed window tints, metalized window tint features a film that is infused with small metal particles that block sunlight.
The addition of metal particles to the tint can help to make your windows stronger and less likely to shatter, as well as offer an aesthetically pleasing luster to your vehicle.
Similarly, metalized window tint is particularly effective at reducing cabin temperature, reducing glare, and reflecting sunlight as opposed to absorbing it. However, a major drawback of metalized window tint is that it can interfere with your car’s radio and GPS signal, making it somewhat of an inconvenience when compared to other tinting methods.
Hybrid window tint
Hybrid window tint combines the best of both dyed and metalized window tinting methods. Typically, hybrid window tint features a film that is both dyed gray and infused with titanium metallic flakes. As a result, this tinting method is neither too dark, nor too reflective, when compared to the use of individual components.
When it comes to blocking UV rays and reducing sun exposure inside your car’s cabin, hybrid window tint does a better job than both dyed and metalized window tints, while reducing the levels of radio interference in the latter.
While more expensive than dyed tinting methods, hybrid tints will be more affordable than metalized tints.
Carbon window tint
Carbon window tint is the first option for non-entry-level tinting. This particular tint is infused with carbon particles rather than metal, creating a comfortable cabin experience in addition to its heat-protecting capabilities.
Offering a matte finish that reduces infrared radiation by nearly 40%, carbon window tint is particularly effective at keeping your cabin’s internal temperature cool, even on the hottest and sunniest summer days.
Additionally, by blocking the infiltration of harmful UV rays, carbon window tinting can help to protect and maintain your car’s interior by reducing fading and aging of leather seats, plastic trims, and other interior materials.
Unlike its entry-level predecessors, carbon window tinting also tends to last longer, upwards of several years, making it an investment worthy of its elevated price point.
While some drivers appreciate the privacy and security that darker window tinting options offer, others would rather benefit from the protective qualities without the obvious looks of tinted windows. For the latter sect, crystalline tinting is a great option.
Crystalline tinting offers the protection from UV and infrared radiation that other tinting offers, but does so with a completely transparent finish, negating the darkening effects of more common methods of window tinting.
Ceramic window tinting
The last major type of window tinting is ceramic tint. Ceramic window tint is the holy grail of tinting options, offering all the benefits of other options with none of the drawbacks. Featuring a ceramic-particle-infused film, ceramic tinting offers 99% protection for UV and infrared radiation with no dyes or metals, meaning that your tint won’t fade over time or interfere with radio and GPS signals.
Additionally, because ceramic does not conduct heat, it offers increased insulation over other tinting options. This method also helps to enhance the shatter-proof qualities of your car’s windows while reducing glare and minimizing darkness. However, because ceramic tinting is considered the gold standard in window tinting technology, it is also the most expensive option available.
Key Takeaway There are six main types of window tints available: dyed, metalized, hybrid, carbon, crystalline, and ceramic, with ceramic being the most effective (and most expensive) option, blocking 99% of UV radiation.
How to apply tint to your car’s windows
Installing window tint onto your car’s windows is a process best performed at a professional auto salon. However, whether you choose to get your window tinting done professionally or take a DIY approach, there are four main steps to applying tinting to your car’s windows.
How to tint car windows
Once you’ve made a decision about what type of tinting method you want to go with, installers will have to begin prepping your vehicle. Prep work for installing window tint involves an inspection of the condition of your car’s windows.
Older windows that have a build-up of grime will need to be thoroughly cleaned before tint can be applied. Similarly, if your car already has tinted windows, the original tint must first be removed, which can be a tedious process in and of itself.
In order for your new window tint to be as effective and long-lasting as possible, installers will need to be working on a perfectly clean canvas, which they can achieve through the use of special cleaning and prep solutions to remove oil, grease, and previously applied films.
Measuring and fitting
Next, your installer will need to make sure that the application of your tint is as seamless as possible. This will require precise measuring, fitting, and cutting of the window tinting film using the outside of your car’s windows as a template.
In some cases, window tints will be pre-cut based on the manufacturer’s specifications, but most of the time, films will have to be custom cut by hand. Either method will result in the same effectiveness, especially if you’re having your installation performed by a certified window tint installer.
Applying your car’s window tint is, generally speaking, the quickest part of the process, as the film has already been measured and cut. Window tint will always be applied to the interior side of your car’s windows, meaning that installers may have to remove certain parts of your car’s interior, such as trim pieces, in order to make the application as smooth and seamless as possible.
Depending on the ease of access to your car’s windows, application times can vary.
If you’re opting for a professional auto salon, they will likely take into consideration the amount of time they think the application will take based on the make and model of your car and factor that into the estimated cost of the application prior to beginning the tinting process.
Curing & clean up
Before you drive off in your newly tinted car, you’ll want to make sure that you’re aware of any post-application restrictions that might affect the curing process. As a general rule, drivers are instructed to not roll down their windows for at least two days after the installation of their window tint to be sure that the adhesive has fully cured and bonded to the window.
How to save money on car insurance
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What type of car window tint is best?
The type of tinting that is best for you is going to depend on how much money you want to spend and the aesthetic value that you want your tinting to reflect. Generally speaking, ceramic window tint is the most effective option, but it is also the most expensive.
What type of window tints are legal?
Each U.S. state has its own laws and regulations when it comes to window tinting, so you’ll need to determine what is legal in your state before getting your windows tinted.
Generally speaking, however, the legality of window tinting hinges upon the Visible Light Transmission percentage (VLT%), a measurement of the amount of visible light that penetrates the film on your car’s tinted windows. In most states, the legal VLT% range is between 65 and 70%. It should be noted that it is illegal in all U.S. states to tint your front windshield.
How long does window tint last?
Most window tints will last between three and five years depending on the type of tint. Ceramic tinting will last the longest, while dyed tinting will need to be replaced more often than other tinting methods.