Tools: What’s in that Junk Drawer? And What’s Really Needed
By Jamie Werner
Tools, tools, tools! We all have something to say about which ones we use, prefer, and even hate. Love them or hate them, they pave the way in making our life easier when it comes to the installation of PPF. In the constant pursuit of a flawless install, there are a number of ways to improve the quality of the installation and also improve the experience. Let’s face it, this business takes a toll on the installer’s body and the less frustration created, the happier he is. So let’s dive into the junk drawer you have your tools in. Heck, you might need to go out and get something you didn’t realize could help.
Prep Like a Pro
So starting with the order of the installation process, car prep should be mentioned right off the bat. If you aren’t clay-baring the areas you are installing, frankly you are setting yourself up for failure. Anyone can wash the car and then rinse with some alcohol, but you need to get the fine grit that is stuck on the clear coat off the paint. If this is not removed, you’ll still see it once the install is done. Whether it be an actual clay bar, clay towel, or even a clay mitt, it’s by far going to improve the look and stick of the install from start to finish. Also, try to use some type of compressed air to get the nooks and crannies that you can’t get to so easily like underneath the headlights or emblems on the hood/fenders. These spots can hold debris without blinking an eye and can truly mess up a huge chunk of film just from dirt being flushed out from your install solution.
I find squeegees are a personal preference for installation. The color typically indicates the hardness of the material which, in turn, could either get tons of moisture out but be rough on the film or be soft on the film but leave moisture behind. There are different shapes and sizes of squeegees which allow you to do larger areas like full hoods or small areas like accent fins in the bumper area. I always tell installers there is a squeegee for every situation, which is why I have two main ones I use. I then have four more that are used in certain situations. Along with my squeegees I have my snap-off blade holder, to which I only apply black carbon blades. These have become the norm for the PPF world. Yes, they are sharp, but they require less pressure when scoring the urethane and also allow for more accurate cuts. I also carry a pair of small Olfa scissors, which are made with titanium for a smoother cut through urethane.
Let’s Talk Tanks
I’ll admit it, I’m now addicted to using a tank. Yes, there is more water used and it can get all over the floor, but the pros outweigh the cons. The consistent pressure, increased capacity of solution so I don’t have to refill, and the distance and width it can spray speed up larger coverage installs like full front ends or full cars. Now, there are two ways to look at it when it comes to the tanks. You can purchase one already set up for you with water filter, hose, nozzle and fitment to help pressurize the tank itself. The other option is build it yourself, and the pieces to put it together are readily available. Your local brewery or any home brew store will have a lot of what you would need. Both are solid options. I still have spray bottles for smaller stuff, so don’t abandon them as they do have their uses.
Lessening Body Brutality
Last but not least are the tools that make the installation less brutal on our bodies. Race ramps are awesome if you have space for them. Along with race ramps comes a roller stool which will save your back for a few years. Also, I recommend replacing the wheels on the roller stool since the ones they come with are just plastic casters that will destroy your floor. Get the rubber ones at your local hardware store. If you have the space and can spare the expense, lifts will add years to your body.
There are plenty of other cool tools and I am always excited to hear about our favorites, so please send examples my way.
Jamie Werner is the national sales manager and head trainer for PremiumShield.
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