Window films have many benefits—in addition to privacy, they reduce electricity consumption and provide UV protection. However, with time, they go bad, resulting in a peeling and unattractive film that isn’t as effective anymore.
You can remove the window film in several ways. You can use heat (from a steamer, heat gun, or dryer), a blade to make a tab in the corner and peel it off, an ammonia-based cleaner, or soap and newspaper. Then you can use solvents or sprays or scrape the adhesive with a blade.
How long your window film lasts depends on a number of things, like the installation, exposure to elements, and the quality of the film. But once you start to see signs of wear, you must replace it. And now, let’s see how.
How to Remove Window Film
When removing a window film, you don’t need to remove just the film—you also need to get rid of the adhesive. If done right, the film is pretty easy to peel. But if not, you’ll likely end up with small pieces of film that you’ll have to scrape and peel. Ideally, you want to pull the film in large pieces to make things easier.
On the other hand, removing the adhesive requires a lot of effort and time. So, you want to remove as much adhesive as possible from the film. This way, you’ll only have a little left to clean up with solvents and elbow grease.
Once you remove the adhesive and film, you’ll have to clean the window thoroughly before you install another film. This is important since any adhesive or dirt left behind can lead to problems like bubbles.
Method One: Heat
Most people prefer using heat to break down the film adhesive, so peeling off the remaining tint is easy. You can use many tools for this purpose, and it’s considered the easiest way to do so. Here are the different tools you can use for this purpose:
The quickest and easiest way to remove window tint using heat is with the help of a steamer. If you don’t own one, you can easily rent it.
Use the steamer on the interior and, if possible, the exterior to loosen the film. Then you can easily peel it away. The heat from the steamer will soften the adhesive, making it easier to remove, too.
You can use a heat gun instead if you can’t get your hands on a steamer. In this case, use the heat gun on both the exterior and interior. In addition to making the film easier to pull, it’ll also make it easy to scrape away the adhesive left behind.
Another tool you can use for this purpose is your trusted hair dryer. But be careful; the correct temperature is vital to prevent breaking the window. Just take your hair dryer and heat the window exterior. Make sure you stay at least 4 inches away from the glass, and once it gets warm, peel the tint.
Ideally, you should start from the corner so you can peel the tint off in one large bit. Also, ensure you alternate between using the hair dryer and peeling the tint to prevent it from sticking to the window.
Method Two: A Blade
Even though using a blade is the most effective way of removing window tint, it’s often hectic, time-consuming, and pretty strenuous. So, if you’ve never done something like this, it’s best to skip this method. But if you decide to go ahead, here’s what you need to do.
For this method, you need a glass cleaner, a paper towel, a spray bottle, soapy water, and a razor knife.
- Start by cutting a little bit of the film in one corner.
- Next, use the knife to make a tab, so it’s easy to peel.
- Then, gently peel the tint while holding onto the tab you created.
- Continue the same process until you get rid of most of the tint.
- Then, spray some soapy water and use the knife to remove the glue left behind.
Method Three: Ammonia
Another way to remove the film is by using ammonia. When using ammonia, you typically don’t need a tint remover, and it even makes your glass sparkle!
However, you must be careful when using an ammonia-based cleaner and follow some precautions. Such cleaners produce toxic fumes that you should never inhale, so wear a face mask. Also, cover your furniture with cotton sheets to avoid damaging it.
With the necessary precautions in place, you can then get to work.
- First, make a soapy solution and add it to a spray bottle.
- Then, cut some black trash bags into big pieces and use those to cover both sides of the window.
- Once you properly fix the pieces, spray the ammonia cleaner on the interior. Let it sit under the sun for about an hour, so the trash bag heats up and weakens the adhesive.
- Finally, pry the window tint from the corner with your knife and peel it off.
Method Four: Soap and Newspaper
If you’re unsure about using ammonia and heat, this is another method you can try. For this method, you need a bucket, newspapers, soapy water, paper towels, a glass cleaner, and a razor knife.
- First, fill up the bucket with soapy water, pour a good amount of it onto the window, and cover it with newspaper. Let it sit for around an hour, so the newspaper is well-soaked and dries out.
- Then, use the knife to peel the tint and newspaper together in strips.
- Get rid of the remaining tint with a sponge and glass cleaner. If it’s too stubborn, use the razor knife to scrape it. Repeat the process as needed.
How to Remove Adhesive Residue
Just like the window tint, there are a number of ways to get rid of the adhesive residue. Let’s take a look.
Once you remove the film by using any of the methods given above, use a solvent to get rid of the adhesive. Things like window film adhesive removers, isopropyl alcohol, Goo Gone, and acetone are all effective in softening and breaking down the adhesive, so you can then wipe or scrape it off.
If you’re using an adhesive remover, let it sit for around 10 minutes before using a razor blade or steel wool to remove it. In the end, use a window cleaner to remove the residue from your window.
Another thing you can use to remove glue is a specially formulated tint removal spray. You can find these at auto parts and home improvement stores.
If there’s stubborn adhesive left behind, use a blade or some other sharp object to deal with it. But make sure you’re very careful—it’s easy to scratch your window, especially if this is your first time. And once you scratch your window, you have no option but to replace it.
Also, keep the adhesive damp by constantly spraying soapy water on it. When you’re done, clean up the whole thing with glass cleaner and paper towels.
What are the Reasons for Removing Window Film?
You might want to remove the window film for several reasons, such as:
Bubbling often occurs because of poor installation or failing adhesive; peeling it and reapplying it on the bubbled area can worsen things. Unfortunately, once a film bubbles, the only thing you can do is replace it.
With time, the dyes in the film can break down, resulting in a very unappealing, purplish color. And once the film gets discolored, it loses its effectiveness and can no longer block UV rays that well, making it essential to replace it.
In some cases, you might also find the film has become very dirty and your window could do well with a new film. However, removing it, in this case, will be very tricky since the adhesive will be intact.