I Can’t Live Without It!
Window Film Installers Reveal Trusted
by Katie Hodge
Everyone has had one of “those days.” The kind of day where
nothing seems to go right and every task takes twice as long. Thankfully,
most of us have a few items or trusted sources on which we can always
rely to help get the job done. The world of window film is no different.
While jobs vary and environmental factors are uncontrollable, most installers
have a few helpful tools that make the process quicker and easier.
The typical technician carries his tools with him all day and juggling
them can be a challenge. Joel Marler, president of Architectural Window
Film in Salt Lake City, is grateful for his vest and his caddy.
“I like a tool vest instead of a tool belt because your shoulders support
the vest instead of your hips. Also, I use a film caddy, a canvas film
tote. It enables quick and easy handling of materials, supplies and tools.”
When it comes to installers’ favorite sidekick tools some say the “chizler,”
the “bulldozer,” “tail fins,” and the “E-Z reach” are among the top tools.
Nick Lowery, a master installer of automotive window film for Quality
Glass Tinting Inc. in St. Louis praises his bulldozer.
“It can get into places that most other tools can’t get into with a lot
of pressure. It has a nice wide bill on it that is angled so you can shove
it behind brake lights. It has a nice long handle so that if it’s hard
to reach you don’t have to work very hard to get to it,” says Lowery.
“It’s allowed us to quit removing back decks out of cars or having to
remove a lot of stuff out of the car and just use that tool to get the
film back behind places. It’s definitely made [the job] a lot easier.”
Gordon Watson, owner of Gordon Watson Window Tinting that installs commercial
and residential film in Santa Cruz, Calif., agrees with Lowery about bulldozers.
“The bulldozer is one of those tools that I consider mandatory,” says
Lowery is also a big fan of chizlers, but tweaked with his own personal
“It’s a nice, hard composite so you can get into tight spaces and get
the pressure that you need. What we have done with the chizler is cut
them in half and make this little spock ear out of it. We essentially
cut it in half so we have a nice, long, sharp point and we can get behind
gaskets and stuff like that as well as really tiny windows,” says Lowery.
The EZ reach is also an installer favorite across the board. Mark Killmer,
manager/owner of Jazz It Up in Centennial, Colo., has benefited from making
the EZ reach a part of his automotive tinting tool kit.
“We use the EZ reach, which comes in gold and silver. The gold one is
a medium strength tool and it reaches in a lot of corners. You can almost
use it like a chizler,” says Killmer. “For some cars where the front corners
are very hard to reach or to get into the EZ reach works very well for
Watson agrees, “A platinum EZ reach tool can also be used as a five-way
tool to give you the gap on residential or commercial applications.”
In addition to specific tools, there are components of window film installation
that installers say are mandatory.
“These are things you have to use to keep warranties valid such as distilled
water, X-100, stainless steel razor blades, and white nylon scrub pads,”
explains Watson, who also uses Plexus on every single installation. “That
is an incredible plastic polish and sealant and it is also anti-static.
Every singe piece of film that we install gets coated with Plexus and
micro fiber towels.”
One thing that many installers agree on is that without a pressure system
the job just can’t be done properly. Watson has created his own system,
which he considers one of his most valuable tools.
“It’s a three-gallon tank just like everybody else has and
I have mounted a motorized pump on it,” says Watson. “In addition, in
our tank I use chainsaw filters and those can be coupled to the pick-up
tube inside the tank with a small piece of gasoline line and the chainsaw
filter, which you can pick up at any small motorized tool company or online,”
Watson says his system, which runs 80-100 PSI, was hand-made for a fraction
of what a similar system would cost. “The pump was $89 and I probably
spent another 10 bucks on Ts and fittings and stuff like that. I probably
was out the door for $130 and it is the best tool I have ever used. The
pressure tank with the hoses and the nozzles blasts everything off the
glass and the edges. It saves time because you don’t have to pump it at
all. If you are on a ladder you don’t have to get down. It saves me more
time than anything,” Watson adds.
Other companies have also bought pressure systems or have tweaked their
“We have a pressure system which enables an installer to have 80 pounds
of constant water pressure using carbon dioxide paint ball containers
and the standard Cornelius tanks,” says Marler.
While the world of tools is constantly evolving, installers are also thinking
about what they could do to make a tool work better or tools they wish
would be manufactured.
“Over the course of the past five years I have seen a lot of tools being
developed that are really good for the installer,” says Lowery. “These
are mainly a lot of long tools that will help you get behind and down
into back decks and behind brake lights.”
Killmer made a few modifications to the tail fins in his shop to create
a better tool for his team.
“We drill two holes at the top edge and you can stick your finger in one
of those tools and drag it across the window a lot better,” says Killmer.
“Those things are so hard to hold onto when they are wet so I drilled
two holes into it and that helps.”
When installers look back just ten years ago to the tools available to
them, they say it’s obvious that the industry has changed quite a bit.
Ten years from now what kind of tools will installers be raving about
and what will they say about the tools that are so loved now?
Katie Hodge is an assistant editor for Window Film
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