15 PPF Quick Tips & Tricks

Jul 30, 2010

Now that you’ve read the August 2010 Restyling article, “Defensive Beauties,” we also asked our PPF installation experts to provide any insider tips they could pass on.

Here’s what they offered.

From Larry Millen, Paint Protection Plus, Plymouth, Mich.

•    Allow for the proper amount of time to do an installation. Be careful how closely you’re booking your installations. For most vehicles, it really is a three- or four-hour process, and if you try to rush it you’re shooting yourself in the foot.

•    Always keep installation solution liberally applied. When the film starts to dry, you can find yourself in trouble quickly.

•    Don’t ever handle the adhesive side of the film with dry fingers.

•    Practice on your own car first and then on the vehicles of your friends or family. You should already be comfortable and confident the first time you install on a customer’s vehicle.

From Pierre Richard, Autobahnd North, Danvers, Mass.:

•    We only use Olfa blades. They’re the best, and they stay sharp for a long time.

•    When it comes to the water-to-alcohol mix, it’s different for every film. You can’t assume that what works on one brand will work on another. It takes time to experiment and figure out what’s best.

•    Every year there are new products released, and you have to stay educated about them to make sure you’re doing the best you can for your customers. Check with your manufacturer to be sure you’re knowledgeable about the pros and cons of each.

From Jeffrey Orlinsky, Wheel DynamiX, Natick, Mass.

•    When installing on a vehicle with new paint, you have to let it completely cure before installing film. The paint has an out-gassing process that needs to be complete. With the advent of fast-drying clear coats, it’s not so much of an issue, but all installers need to know that.

•    We use Acrysol as a final paint prep, which helps the film to get a great, clean bond and helps to keep edges down.

•    Wrap a wet piece of absorber or chamois around the squeegee as your finishing the installation. This helps the product to tack down. Keep it wet, though. If the squeegee is dry it will cause surface scratches.

•    Always deliver the car perfectly clean after the installation. It should really be pristine. A customer will enjoy the experience even more – and happy customers attract more customers.

•    Train the customer to maintain the film after the installation. Films are like teeth: If you don’t clean them, they get yellow. And the customer is going to associate yellowing film with your work, regardless.

•    Find a company that provides the most accurate patterns possible, even if it is not the least expensive on the market. This will save you time and money, and make you look better to the customer in the end.

From Barry Merlo, BT of Kentucky, Burlington, Ky.

•    There’s no substitute for great training. You need to do installations every day, continually train yourself, and follow up on formal training with watching installation videos online. What used to take me four or five hours, now takes about an hour and a half. But even now, I’m still watching videos and learning new techniques.

•    Demand perfection: If you’re going to get into this line of work, you need to commit to doing it right. If you’re doing bad installations, it not only makes you look bad, but it makes the rest of us look bad, too. That hurts the entire industry.