PPF Tools: Tricks of the Trade

Feb 28, 2010

A special Web-only article on tools and liquid solutions for PPF.

Tools of the trade

Restyling solidly covered the various tools and liquid solutions used to apply and remove paint protection films in our March 2010 article “The Tools of the Trade,” page 20. If you haven’t read this definitive article – and are or plan to be a PPF installer – you should.

While we had the ears of our PPF sources for our March 2010 article, we asked them for their favorite tips, secrets and tricks that even experienced installers can learn.

Ease the application fatique

Todd Bergman of Interwest Distribution Co., Denver, got physical: “Using ramps and rolling chairs will make your install go much easier without increasing fatigue to yourself. Good, powerful overhead lighting is always a good idea, as well as freestanding work lights that can help focus light on those low-laying application areas. The better lighting you have enables you to see installation flaws faster and correct them while the film is still workable.”

Dick Austin of Performance Tools Distributing, Plain City, Ohio also went with the physical aspect, saying, “Since much of the work is done so close to the ground, a foam kneeling pad or gel knee pads prove to be invaluable. The use of the 3-gal. pressurized sprayer also does seem to make work much easier than using smaller spray bottles that constantly require re-filling.

Patric J. Fransko of National Glass Service Group LLC, Columbus, Ohio, went for education. “The best tip that I can give anyone regarding paint protection installation is to attend a good installation training school and then do as many installations as possible,” he says. “Ask your distributor if they have any seconds material that they can give you to practice installing on different cars and shapes. There is no good fast trick to this business. It takes time, training and practice.”

Phil Novac, marketing manager for Avery Dennison Industrial and Automotive Products Division, Strongsville, Ohio says, “The secret to a good install is the material you are installing. Make sure you select material that is conformable and repositionable. It will save you time and money.”

PPF should be able to be repositioned

Tim Hartt, chief operating officer of Xpel Technologies, San Antonio, Texas says, “The most important technique any installer can learn is to ‘read’ the film. The film can tell the installers everything they need to know to make the process go smoothly, whether installing a precut kit or bulk film. For example, looking at the direction, shape, size and location of wrinkles of the newly applied film will tell the installer where the material needs to be stretched, and in what direction. The film will tell them where to place their hands during the stretch to get the best possible results and the film will even tell them where it is sticking prematurely to the surface.”

Squeegee out ‘fingers’ till they lay flat

Squeegee out “fingers” till they lay flat. Many installers begin by using the squeegee first before getting enough of the wrinkles out, which is analogous to trying to iron a shirt without getting it flat on the ironing board first. The key to quick and easy installations is when the installer allows the film to lay as naturally as possible with the fewest wrinkles while spreading out any excess installation gel or soap.

“If a kit is being used, it should already be designed in such a way that this happens automatically when it is lined up to the edges.

“The second most important thing for an installer to understand is to focus on the details of the installation while maintaining sight of the big picture. It is critically important to remember what has been squeegeed and what has not, where the installer’s hands have touched the film to stretch, what direction the squeegee is headed and at what angle to best direct the moisture away from the squeegeed areas. At the same time, the installer must anticipate the next step in the installation and how each move affects everything that happens from that point forward. If these techniques are learned, all you need is a squeegee and a spray bottle.”

As usual, your product and installation knowledge are always valuable tools.