Since we’ve launched the do-it-yourself PPF kits for the Model 3 and Model Y, we’ve had a lot of great feedback, but we see a lot of the same problems over and over again. These 5 common mistakes that people make while installing PPF are things professional installers and DIYers alike have struggled with, including me when first starting out.
1. Slip Solution Is Your Friend
You have to be generous with your slip solution. You really want to douse every single square inch of the panel. The PPF should ‘slip’ around easily. If you don’t have enough slip, you’ll actually hear the PPF stick in areas when trying to move it around.
You also want to spray on top of the PPF, otherwise, you could damage the film with your squeegee since it won’t be gliding correctly. If you squeegee too hard, you could create lines on the film. Spray often, and fill up your slip bottles before each panel so you don’t run out in the middle of install.
2. Keep An Eye Out For Debris
One of the most common ways that we actually introduce dirt is through the squeegee. It falls on the ground, you set it down, you might put it in your pocket – everything can pick up dirt. To combat that, get a small, clean bucket of water and put your PPF squeegee in it when not in use. That way it’s always clean. If you drop it on the ground, throw it in the water – good to go.
If you do have dirt or some debris underneath your film, though, let’s go over how would I get rid of that. If it’s been a day since install, then that’s probably going to be too late, but if it’s within an hour of installing, you should be good to try to get it out.
Ji does a good demo in the video to show how he gets it out.
Spray a lot of slip solution to get you started – underneath the film and on top as you pull the film up. Make sure your hands are clean. Try not to hold onto corners or edges too long, so you don’t stretch it. As you lift it, keep spraying that slip solution until you get to the debris. Make sure you work with gravity and come from the bottom if possible. That way the debris naturally slides down.
It’s tempting to stick your finger up there and grab it, but don’t! Instead, once you get to that point, spray into that to agitate it. Hopefully, it’ll come down with the liquid. If it doesn’t, use the edge or tip of your clean squeegee to agitate it. It should dislodge from the adhesive, and then spray into again and see it go down and out of the film.
3. You Don’t Need Heat
A lot of people have this idea that you need to use a heat gun and they treat PPF like vinyl. Vinyl wraps are a very different install.
The only times you would want to heat is if you’re doing a massive stretch or if you need to dry the edges so you can wrap around.
On the other hand, if you do need to use heat for stretching, I like using hot water in my slip and tack solutions. Or a steamer is nice because it’s moisture. You have to be very careful with a heat gun since it’s just pointed dry heat that can easily burn or distort the film.
4. Bubbles Bubbles Bubbles
Why do we get bubbles in the first place? A lot of people forget to overlap squeegee strokes, or they squeegee too soft. Another way is when you squeegee back towards your tack point. That can trap bubbles there since there’s no exit point.
There are two kinds of bubbles: moisture bubbles and air bubbles. Moisture bubbles are when slip solution is trapped in the bubble. Those will dissipate over a couple weeks if they are smaller than a nickel.
Air bubbles typically happen when you don’t have enough slip solution, and air gets trapped. These will not go away, since there’s nothing to evaporate. You would need to peel that up with lots of slip solution and try again if it hasn’t been more than a couple hours. Some people also use a thin syringe and suck the air out, but you have to be really careful with that method. DIYers are more likely to damage the paint that way.
Lastly, sometimes you get bubbles if you have debris under there, or a paint chip that’s raised.
5. How To Tackle Fingers
The last issue that we’re going to talk about are fingers, aka wrinkles. The reason why that happens essentially is because there’s too much material bunching up in that area. It usually happens along edges. Typically you want to stretch the material across the panels to prevent the fingers, but sometimes you can’t because it’s already set.
Ji does a demo of how to get wrinkles out in the video above.
You’ll douse that area with slip solution and then tack solution. Work your way down with the squeegee until some fingers go away. Sometimes you have to hold it down a bit longer. One other way you could do this is wrap your squeegee in a microfiber and hold it there on the edge to soak up that moisture.
If you have large fingers, make sure to split them down the middle and make them smaller and easier to work with. Divide and conquer. Don’t go too fast when working on these either or you could permanently damage the film with creases.
That sums up the big issues we see. Just a reminder to make sure you’re installing indoors in a clean and room temp environment. Half the battle is prepping your car and installing in a clean area. Having a bright light – such as a headlamp – is also a good thing to have. It can help you catch issues early.
Our DIY PPF kits are made a little different. They are designed with beginners in mind, and if you follow the step by step video guides, you’ll be golden.