After taking some time to learn about tinting from companies and people like myself, I was ready to apply window tint to my own car windows. This is how long it takes when you know what you’re doing.
How Long Does It Take to Tint Car Windows? The average tint job on a car takes about 1.5 hours, for a typical sedan, and 2 to 4 hours for an SUV. Tinting a set of front doors takes 30-45 minutes. After the tint is applied, it takes 3 to 5 days to completely dry (cure). Takes longer in cold weather.
You apply window tint on the inside of the car window, and it enhances the aesthetics, reduces glare, prevents heat build-up, and reflects UV rays.
When tinting car windows by yourself it could take up to a few hours if it’s your first time doing a tinting job. Professional window tinting is done faster, but it’s advisable that you take your time, and be patient.
How Long Does Window Tinting Take?
How long does windows tinting last depends on several factors:
- the amount of window surface area
- the number of windows
- complexity of window shape
- any prior tint/adhesive to be removed, and
- for DIY – your experience
It’s always best to tint windows in a controlled environment, such as your garage or a car shop, where you can minimize the negative effects such as dust particles being trapped underneath.
Dry time varies by tint manufacturer, type of film, and weather conditions. Generally, the more metallic the film is, the longer the dry time.
The amount of time window tint takes to dry depends mostly on the weather and the ability of the installer to do a good job. For the curing time, the more moisture is left in the windows, and the colder the weather is, the longer it will take to dry.
Tinting a set of front doors can be finished in under 45 minutes.
Depending on the tinting car service, Sedans take less time to tint than SUVs or CUVs, about 1.5 to 2 hours. They are easy to tint, and they don’t have a lot of surface area.
If there is any tint or adhesive to be removed then that will add more time, depending on how much and what kind of film needs to be removed. This can add 30 minutes to several hours to the entire tinting process.
Window Tint Cure Time in Winter
It can take from 2 to 5 weeks for the tint to cure in the winter.
This largely depends on the weather: temperature in your garage and on the outside, humidity levels, and how many sunny days you get.
Cold weather will severely slow your tint drying time.
Even though you can tint your car windows in the winter, the humidity can cause problems. If the weather is high in humidity it may not even be possible to do the job properly. Rain can be a problem too, in many areas of life.
For Glass Tint USA, on a typical car it takes about 2 to 3 hours for typical car:
Generally, window tinting in cold weather is best done indoors, in a car shop or your garage, where you can control the environment, and where no dust particles can interfere.
One negative thing that could happen during cold weather is bubbles and streaks forming. In summer, this is easily fixed by letting the car sit in the hot sun for a while, but in winter you may need to just wait it out to get some warmer days in January and February.
Don’t hesitate to take your car out in the sunlight, every chance you get.
And btw, avoid parking on gravel, if you can. Asphalt and concrete is the best place to park your car.
If you see a sunny day coming, don’t hesitate to take your car outside to bake in the sun for a minute, to have the bubbles go away. Make sure not to roll down your windows until that happens. Tape your window controls if you have to.
Taking a hairdryer and blowing over the windows is not generally recommended, but if you must do it, then use it on the outside of the glass 8″ away, and periodically check the temperature on the inside of the glass (where the tint is). When it gets hot, turn it off. This might help the curing speed, but it’s probably best to let it dry naturally.
Window Tint Cure Time in Summer
For most DIY and professional tinting jobs, window tint curing time in the summer is about 3 to 5 days.
Your skill (or the skill of the professional installer), products used, and outside temperature will play the most important roles in drying time.
Best time to tint car windows is in the spring and summer because the tint will dry more quickly in sunny weather, and low humidity.
Even asphalt dries faster when there are low levels of humidity in the air. Spring and summertime is therefore perfect, and you won’t need to wait for a long time to roll your windows down or start using your car normally.
If you see any bubbles, try to get them fixed before the tint dries, otherwise, it may only get worse over time.
Ceramic Tint Drying Time
Ceramic tints are considered the best, but they are also more expensive.
They can cost from $500-600 upwards to tint every window on the car. Huper Optik nano-ceramic films are costly, difficult to work with and replace. But, they are also much better at blocking heating from entering your vehicle than other types and keeping the interior a lot cooler in the summer.
How Long to Tint Car Windows Yourself?
For most people, tinting car windows by themselves take a bit longer than when a professional does it, around 3-4 hours for the entire car. That is if you’re patient enough.
There are pros and cons of DIY vs tinting in a professional tint shop.
For DIY you can tint your car windows by applying a pre-cut film from a window tint kit for all windows plus the back windshield. You need a heat gun and just take your time. Choose the one that fits your car model, and tint your car windows by yourself. Here is the one for all side and back windows.
They’re fairly cheap compared to professional tinting, and some of them have the option to select your car model so they can send you a tint kit that fits your windows nicely.
If you want a job properly done, with high-quality tint, which fits perfectly, then you’ll turn it over to a good tinting service company to do it.
Is It Hard to Tint Your Own Car Windows?
It’s not hard to do, but it is difficult and requires some skill.
It takes some skill to do it well, but mostly patience. Professional tinting can be done sometimes very fast, but if it’s your first time it may take you longer than 4 hours to properly do it.
So, if you have some patience, that’s the first step to do a good job.
The next thing to know is that some research needs to be done, on how to do it properly (as you are doing), how to get the film to conform to the glass, how to get the high quality film, how to prevent small bubbles accumulating, etc.
Step-by-Step Guides on Installing Car Windows Tint (and dry times)
Check out these great resources on window tint installation:
- from axleaddict, on how to tint your car windows,
- then here’s a complete guide on how to tint windows from The Drive,
- and finally this article on how to spot a bad tint job.
Usually, when the haziness disappears is a good sign that the tint is drying up, but give it a one more day.
Hazy and foggy windows during tinting is normal, because the water is evaporating between the tint and the window. It lasts for a day or two and then it clears up, as the water evaporates through the window.
If you’re using a metallic film, it will take much longer to dry.
General advice is to wait until the bubbles are gone, just to be on the safe side.
To learn how to do it here is a very useful video from THE DRIVE on how a professional windows tint installer does it – highly recommended.
How to Know If Window Tint is Dry?
How Long After Tint to Roll Down Windows?
This time is slightly less than the tint fully cure time, about 2 to 4 days in sunny weather, and up to a few weeks in winter. General advice is, that when the bubbles are gone, you can roll down your window.
I got my car done in the summer, and I waited 4 days to roll down my window until bubbles and streaks went away.
Days were hot and sunny, and the car spent most of the time in the sun.
Rolling tinted windows down too early before the water evaporated between the tint and the windowpane, you risk bubbling and folding over the tint. If you’re not sure, then it’s better to be safe than sorry and wait a bit longer for the tint to completely cure.
A quick tip: To make sure you don’t trick yourself into rolling down the windows by mistake (or have someone else do it in the passenger seat), put down window locks. Or you can put tape over the controls. It saved me a few times.
How to Speed Up Window Tint Drying?
Here are a few things you can do to shorten the tint drying time:
- Use a handled squeegee to remove as much water as possible during the installation process. Less water = shorter drying time.
- If you’re tinting your windows in winter, keep your car in the garage in a warmer temperature and take it outside every warm and sunny day you get.
- If it’s mostly cloudy weather, have your windows face the sun as much as possible, and/or keep them out of the shade
- Reduce the car washing time. It’s safe to wash, as the window tint is applied on the inside, not on the outside, but you should keep it at a minimum. Water can create additional humidity and increase the drying time.
- Choose a good installer that is long in the business and uses quality materials. Check Yelp and Google reviews to make sure they are not shady. A good installer will do a good job, the tint will dry normally, and won’t need to replace soon.
Can You Tint Over Tint?
Yes, you can tint over tint, if it’s being done with a good film on both layers. It’s generally advisable to do it only over factory tint. To be on the safe side, the aftermarket tint should be stripped off before applying a new tint, but it can still turn out ok. There are a few other things to keep in mind.
First, keep it legal. Know the tint laws for your state. Second, you never know the quality of the first tint, hence it may force you to change the new tint sooner than you expected. If a professional installer does this for you, you won’t get any warranty on it.
How to Darken Existing Window Tint?
To darken the existing window tint, you can apply a new layer on top of it. It’s possible to apply a new tint over the old one, but it’s generally not advised for the reasons stated in the previous answer.
The general advice is to remove the existing tint and get a darker film, but many people have applied double layers on their cars without any issues. Make sure to follow the tint laws for your state.
How Much Does It Cost to Tint Car Windows?
For professional installation on the entire car, on average it costs from $100 for a lower quality tint, up to $600 for a higher quality such as ceramic tint.
For DIY (do-it-yourself) it costs $35 to $70 to get a complete window kit and do the job yourself. On Amazon, it’s around $35-50 for an average car, and from $80 for an SUV up to $120 for ceramic tints on SUVs.
Image #2 – Corsa tinted windows, under Create Commons, no changes made.