How to Tint Camper Van Windows

August 13, 2010 · 10 comments

To kick off a new series of posts of living in a campervan, I’m going to detail instructions for tinting your windows. It’s quite a simple procedure although skill and experience get it right, it is easy to mess up.

The benefits of tinting windows is numerous and those benefits are amplified in a campervan for a trip across a hot country.

mystery machine tinted

Tinting Complete

Tint blocks UV rays (protecting interior contents including humans) reduces heat transmitted in, blocks light going out (reducing visibility looking in from the outside i.e. more privacy) and it generally makes every vehicle look better from the outside too.

Tint is not the same as curtains; it is much more advanced in nature. One thing it does not do it block light coming in (despite being black) so you can still see out from the inside (not so handy if you are trying to sleep in a well lit area), so there is still benefit to having curtains fitted too.

I got a quote in Australia to get the mystery machine tinted (it came tinted but had to be removed to pass vehicle inspection as it was cracked and peeling) and it came to $300. An expensive investment but it does help sell your van afterwards. There is an auto shop brand called ‘Super Cheap Auto’ where I picked up a roll of tint for $33 (I needed 2 rolls to include the rear window and front sunroof in the tinting action), each roll is 3 metres in length.

Note: Most countries (including Australia) it is against the law to have tint in front of the B pillar (between the driver and front passenger seats including the windscreen), due to the need to identify people (speed cameras for example) so you shouldn’t be tinting there.

I came across a few people on the road who were a bit afraid of tinting windows themselves, it really isn’t a difficult process although there is a nack to getting it looking correctly, but for a vehicle you’re only going to keep 6-9months (and the owner after you) perfection needed be strived for (by perfection I mean no bubbles and all straight edges in the tint).

Enough with the introduction! Here is the what you will need to do the tint:

  • A roll of tint
  • Window cleaner (dishwasher soap and water works)
  • Cloth for cleaning window
  • Sharp knife/razor
  • Squeegee / bit of card

Here is what you need to do:

1. Clean the windows as throughly as you can, every bit that isn’t clean is a bit the tint isn’t going to stick too.

2. (Optional) Make a template out of paper to roughly get the right size of window to cut the tint, if it is a non-square/rectangle window then make sure you cut it the correct way to the template.

paper template on window

Window template

3. Cut the tint out slightly bigger then the size of the window, you can trim down overlap much easier (and get a better looking result) than it is adding tint.

4. Spray water/window cleaner onto the window. Peel back the clear side of the tint revealing the adhesive side of the tint, and spray this with water as you do it as well.

Tint sitting on a water bed above the glass

5. Place the tint on the window, as it is wet both sides it can slide around so you can position it correctly, get it in as good position as you can.

overlapped window tint

Window tint overlap

6. From the center of the film, push with the squeegee the water underneath to the nearest outer edge, when you’ve done a bit and the centre is sticking, you can trim the edge of the tint with a razor to match the glass surface.

Window tint edge

Trimmed window tint

7. Continue with squeegeeing the tint down and drawing the water out, a hairdrier helps this process if you have one, you are trying to get rid of all of the moisture and air so no bubbles arise.

8. That’s about it, you may need to trim around the edge once again if the tint has been pushed out. A curved window (such as the rear one) is much harder to do and it may be easier to get a nicer result by doing it in strips.

9. Anything not tinted can be gone over by scraps trimmed.

That’s about it! You might not have a professional finish (in fact you almost certainly won’t if you’ve never done it before) but that $267 saving will come in handy I’m sure.


mystery machined tinted


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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

SHABL August 17, 2010 at 9:20 AM

Often times I have wondered what it would be like to travel in one of those isntead of using public transport. That said, if you live in it, good call on tinting the windows, indeed.
SHABL´s latest blogpost – Hanging Out in Helsinki – Literally


AdventureRob August 17, 2010 at 11:11 PM

It certainly gives more freedom, no need to follow someone elses time schedule for a start.

You could always rent one too, rented ones are nearly always tinted.


Alex August 24, 2010 at 3:13 AM

That tint was great, we would have fried if we hadn’t done it. It was great for security reasons, it puts baddies off if they can’t see something easily stealable in the back!

Plus it looked cool too 8-)


AdventureRob August 24, 2010 at 10:12 PM

It was money well spent, that’s for sure.


Camper Ed April 21, 2011 at 3:41 PM

Bad news about that peeling tint job. I would have lost the plot. Anyway, the van looks pretty wicked with the new tint job. Thanks for the tips :)


AdventureRob April 24, 2011 at 2:49 PM

Yeah, looks good but more importantly it does reduce the heat inside the van down a lot.


Dean November 19, 2015 at 5:34 PM

Nice job. This is similar to what we do in our business. Thanks

Reply March 23, 2018 at 11:58 AM

Thx 4 sharing. Loved it.


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