DIY vs Professional Installation for Windshield Protection Film: Which One is Better?
Whether it’s a major upgrade or general maintenance, if you need some work done on your vehicle you pretty much have two options: take it to a shop, or do it yourself.
But when it comes to installing any kind of automotive film on your vehicle, whether it’s tint, PPF or windshield protection film, the typical guidance is to always have a reputable shop do the work if you want it done right.
With the rise of DIY kits for windshield protection film, it’s left many enthusiasts wondering if it’s really worth it to take it to a shop, or if they’re better off just tackling it themselves.
Luckily, we’re here to clear up any myths or misconceptions about the DIY vs Pro installer debate, and offer you all the facts so that you can make the best choice for you!
Benefits of Windshield Protection
Before we dive into your options for installation, let’s start with answering the what and why of windshield protection film.
Windshield protection film (WPF) is typically a thin, transparent film that is installed on the outside of your windshield. Unlike tint or vinyl which will change the look of your car, WPF is a highly functional product - it’s designed to protect your existing windshield glass from damage or pitting that leads to you having to shell out the money to replace your windshield.
The added benefits you get will depend highly on the film you choose, but with ExoShield windshield protection film for example you also get hydrophobicity (which means that you’ll need to use your wipers less often and make it easier to clean) and UV resistance to prevent excess UV from entering your vehicle.
DIY Installation for Windshield Protection Film
If you’re a seasoned DIY-er, the thought of being able to install your own protective products on your vehicle is probably pretty enticing. Luckily, in 2023, that can be a reality! Maybe.
If you’re interested in installing your own windshield protection film, this will likely require you to
purchase a windshield protection film kit which will come with a single piece of film that has already been cut and molded perfectly to fit the windshield of your vehicle’s make and model. This can be a great option for many car owners, but not all.
Pros of DIY windshield protection film:
- Cost effective
- Can be completed at your own pace on your own time
- No need to schedule an appointment
Cons of DIY windshield protection film:
- Requires precision and attention to detail
- Higher risk of air bubbles or contamination
- Only available for select models (e.g. Jeeps and Broncos)
Tips for having success with DIY products:
If you do opt for the DIY route with your windshield protection film, there are a few things you should do to maximize the chance of success. First, make sure you’re reading the instructions carefully, and if possible, watch any support videos that walk through the process from start to finish. We even recommend doing this step before even purchasing a kit so that you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into!
For DIY installs, the biggest points of failure are (i) contamination or (ii) failing to remove enough moisture from underneath the film. To help with the first one, being extremely thorough in the cleaning stage is likely to reduce the hassle later on in the installation. Installing in a clean space, with clean tools and a clean vehicle will minimize the chance of contamination during the installation.
Because you’ll likely end up with a lot of water underneath the film (which is normal) it’s important to squeegee the heck out of it before you let the film cure. This one is not difficult, but requires a certain amount of patience to get it right. Make sure you watch any tips & tricks from the manufacturer before getting to this stage so you can do it right the first time!
Going into the installation yourself if you choose the DIY route is a great option for many of us, but making sure you know what to expect ahead of time is key.
Professional Installation for Windshield Protection Film
Alternatively, you can have a professional install your windshield protection film for you. Professional installers are often specifically trained in windshield protection film application and have a lot of experience installing other types of film as well so will be able to provide your vehicle with the utmost care and precision.
Once you find a local installer (or a few) in your area, it’s best to give them a call or email to get more information on pricing and when you can book an appointment. Some installers may ask you to bring your vehicle in before giving you an accurate quote - this is just so that they can get a sense of how much attention and time they’ll need to give your windshield may affect the rate they charge.
Unlike DIY kits, professional installers will probably need to cut and mold the film on your specific windshield, which means that while it takes more time, it also allows them to install the film on virtually any windshield out there.
While this option can be more expensive, there are plenty of reasons why you might choose this option over DIY:
Pros of a professional installation:
- Trained to give you the highest-quality work
- Available for any vehicle
- Requires less of your time (as the vehicle owner)
Cons of a professional installation:
- More expensive than DIY
- Requires scheduling an appointment (less flexibility in terms of timing)
- May be without your vehicle for 24 hours or more
Cost Comparison: DIY vs Professionally Installed
One of the biggest differences between DIY and professional installation is the cost. Regardless of the component, having a pro install it for you is almost always going to cost more since you need to account for their hard work (and experience) that goes into that installation.
Professional installers will also have access to the highest quality tools and equipment, not to mention insurance for if anything happens to your vehicle during the installation process itself.
DIY kits are typically $180-199 depending on the kit you purchase. Make sure to check that your kit comes with tools if you aren’t experienced with installing film!
Professional installs on the other hand are more likely $350-1000 (or more) depending on your vehicle. The typical rule of thumb is that the more curved and larged your windshield is, the more it will cost. If you have an extremely expensive supercar or rare vehicle the price tag may also be a little bit higher since the installer will have to take extra precautions to ensure your vehicle is safe (and that it looks nearly perfect).
Keep in mind that while DIY installations may be less expensive up front, if you’re not confident doing it yourself, you may end up needing to install it multiple times which will drive your total cost up significantly.
Which one is right for you?
First things first, consider whether or not there are high-quality DIY kits available for your vehicle. Not all DIY kits are created equal, so make sure you find something that is professional-quality. Be wary of any manufacturer selling kits for large, highly curved windshields like Teslas. These are likely extremely difficult to install if you are not comfortable with automotive film, and you’re much better off going to a professional.
Kits from ExoShield are available for flat glass windshields like Jeeps or Broncos since these tend to be much more manageable for the average DIY enthusiast to work on.
Generally, if you’re a handy person and like working on your Jeep, DIY kits are probably a great option for you! Just make sure you’re aware of the process ahead of time so that you’re going into it prepared.
If you aren’t experienced with other DIY projects and have a curved windshield, or simply want the level of quality and attention to detail that comes from years of experience - we suggest leaving it to the professionals. Their skill and experience will give you a better outcome that is well worth the cost!
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