Let’s face it – great tint doesn’t come for free and unless you’re planning on installing your own tint (bad idea), chances are you’ll pay to have your tint professionally installed. Depending on what you ultimately want, you could find yourself paying top dollar for high-end tint or end up with a great value in a more economical line of window film.
How Much Should You Pay?
When it comes to paying for tint, there’s really no concrete yardstick to rely on. You can find discount window tinting at some lesser-known tint shops for as low as $100, but you’ll end up getting exactly what you’ve paid for in most cases. If you’re planning to go all-out on your window tint, you might end up paying upwards to $450 or even more for a luxury tint job. But in the Midwest, high end tint isn't usually needed. In the end, it really depends on the kind of tint you want and the options you want to go with. As with any other type of car customization, there are plenty of factors that can affect how much you pay for window tinting:
1. Car Type
Some cars are easier to apply tint to, while others can be a pain to tint. For instance, cars with curved or steep rear windows demand a lot of work and as a result, demand a steeper price. Cars with complex window shapes take a lot of work to cover and cars with lots of window surface area need more film to cover. Both can easily raise the price of an average tint job and it’s why sedans are usually cheaper to tint than SUVs and CUVs.
A reputable tint shop will ask about the type of vehicle you want tinted and give you an estimate of how long it’ll take and how much you can expect to pay. Don’t be afraid to shop around for the best prices, but make sure you know exactly what you are getting, and maybe more importantly, how reputable is the shop you are dealing with
2. Film Type
Quality and pricing usually go together when it comes to window tinting. Polyester dye-infused tints are common for entry-level use and they’re pretty inexpensive to boot, but you’ll end up with a basic aftermarket look. Higher-end tints use a variety of materials, including carbon and ceramic, to give off more of a factory-installed look. Fully-metallized films like SolarGard HP are ideal for anyone looking at high-quality tint.
Keep in mind that low-cost tint usually looks good for the first few years, but it’s prone to becoming discolored and bubbles may also form as it ages. Mid-level and high-end window tinting may seem like a fortune to some, but it’ll last much longer and you won’t have to worry about having it redone years later.
Another thing to consider is the type of heat protection that window tint offers, especially in regions with warm weather. You might need a greater amount of protection from heat and UV rays in warm weather climates than you’d need in more temperate regions. Experts recommend at least 30% heat protection for tints in moderate climates and at least 45 to 50% heat protection in areas where temperatures reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit on a regular basis. Entry-level tints offer 10 to 20% protection from heat while high-end films offer 80% or more.
In most cases, you’ll have the option of going with two types of warranties:
Manufacturer’s warranty – This warranty allows the manufacturer to take care of tint defects such as discoloration, but it won’t cover defects that are the installer’s fault (bubbling, peeling, etc.). The warranty on window tint usually covers the film for 1, 3 and 5-year periods, although it’s not uncommon for manufacturers to offer lifetime warranty coverage.
Installer’s warranty – The installer is responsible for taking care of bubbling, peeling and other tint defects that come from the installation process. Usually available at additional cost and only covers the installation. The installer’s warranty should be combined with window tint that offers a lifetime warranty for the best benefit.
The best window tinting shops are capable of performing high-quality work that meets and exceeds customer expectations, but these shops don’t come cheap. Likewise, lesser known shops that offer bargain prices for window tint aren’t always known for their quality work or for using quality tint. It's always safer to do business with a shop who’s been in business continually for 10 years or more. Many shops have installers with 10 years of experience, but most businesses fail in the first 5 years. Make sure that the actual business has been around for a while, and not just the installer.
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, it’s all about how much you’re willing to pay for a job well done. Budget window tinting with a basic lifetime warranty and done by a reputable tint shop usually costs between $150 and $180 for a compact, 2 door car. Mid-range tint jobs usually cost from $180 to $255, while high-end window tinting can run anywhere from $250 to $450 and beyond. Some shops offer specials on tint for as low as $80, but it’s “buyer beware” when it comes to cheap tint. Remember, you get what you pay for! In short, do your homework and seek out the best tint shop your budget can handle.
Let’s not forget what two famous American’s have taught us previously, “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get” (Warren Buffet). And Benjamin Franklin was quoted as saying, “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten”. These quotes hold true especially when it comes to buying something that is mostly about the skill of the installer and the reputation and commitment of the company providing the service.
By: Chris Ripper