The Art of Precision: How to Install Paint Protection Film Like a Pro

Professional application of Paint Protection Film at Med City Detail.

The Art of Precision: How to Install Paint Protection Film Like a Pro

Paint Protection Film (PPF) is the secret weapon in the battle to keep your car’s paint looking showroom fresh.

 While professional installation is recommended for the best results, some automotive enthusiasts choose the DIY route. If you’re one of them, we’ve got you covered. In this guide, we’ll take you through the steps to install PPF like a pro.

Before you start, make sure you have the following tools and materials ready:


  1. Paint Protection Film


 Choose a high-quality, transparent PPF designed for automotive use. Many top-grade Paint Protection Films are only available to certified installers but there are brands that will sell Film to you. Be sure to look for reviews regarding those brands and their warranty claims process against defective film at the time of installation and the 10 years it will be on the vehicle. If you buy a bulk roll you can expect to spend about $500-$1500 depending on Film and Size. You can opt to purchase pre cut kits but ensure that the options for sensors or trim level match your specific vehicle. These can cost from $500-$3500


  1. Spray Bottle and Slip Solution


You can pick up a decent quality 32 fl oz. spray bottle from your local hardware store. Professionals will use a Paint Protection Film / Window Tint Keg but it is a hefty investment averaging $400. 


Slip solution will help you manipulate the film on the vehicle without it sticking to the surface immediately. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendation for slip solutions and mix with distilled water for a cleaner, mineral free finish.


  1. Squeegee(s)


Search Amazon or other Window Tint/PPF tool websites for a couple of squeegees. Preferably a large one and a small one. If you want to be extra safe you can pick up a professional grade kit that will include 5-6 squeegees varying in size, hardness and angles. This will help you get maximum squeegee effectiveness with moisture removal on complex pieces and coverages. 


  1. Microfiber Towels


Use these to dry the surface and remove excess water. You do not need very plush towels that will produce excessive lint. Glass specific towels will work best to decrease lint contamination in your Film. 


  1. Heat Gun


You will need a heat gun to seal edges of the film to prevent dirt and contamination collection post install. You can find an entry level one for about $30 or opt for a professional grade, high flow one made specifically for Paint Protection Film and Window Tint with hot tip protection for about $250.


  1. Carbon or Stainless-Steel Blade


For trimming excess film, you want to get a good quality blade and blade holder. These vary in hardness, wear and angles. Be very careful with Carbon tip blades as they can cut into the paint very easily. 

Professional application of Paint Protection Film at Med City Detail.

Installation Steps

Step 1: Prepare Your Workspace


Ensure your car is clean and parked in a dust-free environment. A well-lit garage is ideal. Thoroughly wash and dry your vehicle to remove any dirt, debris, or wax. You can achieve this with these products in order. 


  1. Wash Detergent
  2. Clay Bar
  3. Machine Polish Surfaces
  4. Wax and Grease Remover


Step 2: Measure and Cut


Measure the area you want to cover with PPF. Leave an extra few inches on each side for trimming. Cut the film to the desired size and shape using a sharp razor blade. If you have opted for the pre-cut kits. Then weed out the film, or remove the excess film away from the template. Be careful around sharp edges so you do not tear into the film. If the templates haven’t been cut deep enough then trace the shallow cut lines with your razor. 


Step 3: Apply the Soapy Water Solution


Spray the manufacturer’s recommended soapy water solution onto the surface of your car where you’ll be applying the PPF. This will allow you to reposition the film as needed.


Step 4: Peel and Stick


Peel the backing off the PPF, exposing the adhesive side. While pulling spray soapy water onto the piece to reduct static bringing contaminates into the film. Carefully align the film with the area you want to protect. The soapy water will help you slide the film into the correct position. Some stretching may be necessary to align your sensor holes and other components. 


Step 5: Squeegee Out the Water


Once the film is in place, use the squeegee to press out any trapped water and air bubbles. Use different squeegee angles and ensure the area hasn’t dried before squeegeeing the solution out. 


Step 6: Final Squeegee


Go over the entire surface with the squeegee one more time to ensure a secure bond and remove any remaining water or air bubbles. Wipe the surface and inspect your work. 


Step 7: Trim Excess Film


Once the film is smooth and bubble-free, use the razor blade to trim away the excess. Take your time and follow the car’s contours and body lines for a clean finish. This part can make or break all of your hard work. If your gaps are too large or wavy it can look off. If they are too close it may fail after the first wash or later down the road from an unsealed edge.


Once you have trimmed to your liking, heat up the edges of the film with a heat gun and press over them with your finger to ensure a nice seal.


Step 8: Let It Cure


Allow the PPF to cure for at least 24 hours. During this time, avoid exposing it to rain or heavy moisture. Do not wash the vehicle for at least a week until it is fully cured. 


Step 9: Admire Your Work!


Stand back and admire your handiwork. Your car now has an invisible shield protecting it from chips, scratches, and more.

Professional application of Paint Protection Film at Med City Detail.

DIY vs. Professional 


DIY Paint Protection Film is possible.  It requires patience, precision, and practice. If you’re not confident in your skills, it’s best to leave this job to the professionals. A well-installed PPF is a wise investment in your car’s appearance and resale value.


When making the decision to DIY or hire a Professional installer make sure you run all of the numbers and factor in time as well. 


Let’s take a Full Front Installation on the 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander Max Platinum from the video listed


Do-It-Yourself Breakdown


Film Kit and Tools: Pre Cut Templates (Xpel), Squeegees, Blades, Heat Gun, and Bottles. $1900. 

Time: Your first go around. I would set aside 2-3 full days to get a decent outcome with no redos.

The dollars and time adds up quickly. If this is no problem for you then go the DIY path! 


Professional installation


Med City Detail has been installing Paint Protection Film since 2019. We offer a Product with a 10-year warranty and a Lifetime Workmanship Warranty. We offer top grade professional only Film and have a Plotter to cut Bulk rolls in house. Having a plotter on hand is not cheap but worth it to never rely on template manufacturers to print the correct template. It also allows us to make modifications and improvements before an installation. This Grand Highlander installation took 2 business days with curing and is guaranteed to have the best fitment and finish. 


While we are a little more than the DIY route. Give us a call and I think you’ll be very surprised to find that the value is definitely there. On average we are only 20% more than DIY considering, and you get a much better outcome, preparation, warranty and support.

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