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DIY - Install Clear Bra using bulk film
Published by msinfo_us
DIY - Install Clear Bra using bulk film

Ever since I posted this thread about clear bra here http://www.e90post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=58999 I had people PM/email me with questions on “how to” do the install using bulk film.

So, I decided to put few pictures and instructions together with hope to answer some of your questions.

I recommend starting with reading and watching video here http://www.xpel.com/support/installation/videos.asp.

I bought a bulk 3M film from EBay and installed it myself. The cost was under $150 for 18" and would be much less for standard 12” coverage. Also I covered a much bigger area than a standard kit would cover including gas cover, extended fenders cover and etc. Is it hard? Well, it is not but it takes time and patience. Fenders and hood are really easy to do. Mirrors are slightly harder and bumper is much harder. If you are planning to do it like me using bulk film my advice is to plan your install in such a way that you utilize car natural edges as much as possible. Read on for more details …

What you’ll need:

1. 3M Bulk film. I recommend to start with 18’-22'. If you choose 18” coverage it will be 18’ x $7.50 = $135
2. Squeegee. Preferably two. One soft and one plastic.
3. 2 spray bottles
4. Baby shampoo
5. 70% Isopropyl Rubbing alcohol
6. Detailing knife (you can buy one from Lowers)
7. Non Scratch Detailing Cloth Wax and Silicone Remover - 3M makes a good adhesive remover you can get at the hardware store
8. Old table cover or any other material you can use to create templates.
9. Permanent marker.

General Instructions
1. Installation should always be performed in a controlled environment with a temperature range of 60 to 90 F. Application should never be performed in windy conditions. Working area should be clean.
2. Prepare a slip solution in one of the spray bottles, filling it with water and adding 4 or 5 large drops of baby shampoo per 32 oz of water. Prepare the alcohol/water solution using 30% alcohol and 70% water.
3. Remove any wax on the surface with the 3M Adhesive Remover and a soft cloth. In a pinch straight rubbing alcohol will also work depending on surface.
4. Contamination such as road tar, grease, oil, silicon and dirt should be removed by spraying the surface to be covered with the slip solution and wiping with a soft cloth.
5. Clean hands thoroughly, even the smallest amount of dirt on your hands will transfer to the adhesive, causing an undesirable appearance. Also, always keep your fingers wet to prevent adhesive from sticking to fingers, and do not needlessly handle the adhesive side of the material. It will be necessary to handle the adhesive side of the material occasionally, but make any contact with the adhesive as brief as possible. This is important, as fingerprints will show through the material.

Note oh Solutions
Consider your soap and alcohol solutions for paint protection film installations as not being absolutes. Be aware of environmental changes, and be diligent to make alterations to your soap and alcohol solutions for the best installation success. Consider these solutions as your 'installation throttle." Use the alcohol solution as the accelerator, and the soap solution as the brake. You can modify the solutions in many ways to achieve the desired effect end efficiencies with your installs. For one, if you are having trouble with a lack of adhesion (film will not tack), use less soap in your soap solution. If after modifying the soap solution and the desired results are still not achieved, then try using a bit more alcohol in your alcohol solution. If the results are still less than satisfactory, then consider eliminating the soap solution altogether. Conversely, if you are dealing with a vehicle that has very "tacky" paint, (maybe one that has not been waxed recently), and the film has a tendency to stick quickly, or you find that bubbles are being left behind after several squeegee passes, or that you are unable to get the material to stretch without sticking under your hand ... consider using more soap solution, possibly eliminating use of the alcohol solution altogether. If the desired results are still not achieved after making this adjustment, then modify your solutions until you are comfortable with the mixtures for that particular environment. Please remember ... YOU are in total control. Mix and use the soap and alcohol solutions for each situation to make your installation easer and trouble-free. Always start with four or five (4-5) drops of soap in your water bottle as a rule of thumb, but do not hesitate to adjust this mixture accordingly. The same goes with the alcohol solution. Start with your regular base of 25% alcohol and 75% water (assuming use of 70% Isopropyl), and depending on installation performance, adjust the mixture accordingly.

1. Lay out material on the hood and trace out the general shape of your hood. Allow a l/2 inch or so overhang on both the leading edge and the sides. With a scissors cut out your pattern. Cut out BMW circle. Roll cut piece up, starting at the right side with the backing sheet inside. (When finished the left side of the hood will be your starting point with the shiny side up)
2. Wet the hood thoroughly with the slip solution. Then, with the material rolled up, keep fingers wet while pulling a small amount of the shield away from the liner on one end. With the rest of the material rolled up in one hand, use your other hand to hold the end of the material that you have pulled loose from the liner down on the appropriate end of the hood. Then, slowly begin to pull the liner towards the opposite end of the hood, spraying with soap solution as you roll out on to the hood. If you don't have a helper, you can roll out the material adhesive side up and spray with soap solution, then flip and lay out on the hood.
3. Now that you have the material laid out on the surface, it will be necessary to apply more solution between the hood and the film to allow film to move freely to be easily positioned on the hood. Lift the material from the hood one side at a time to spray the material and the hood with the slip solution. It may require a bit of gentle tugging lifting the material from the hood, but care must be taken not to excessively stretch the material. Also, spray the top of the material with the slip solution prior to positioning the material, so that the squeegee will not drag the material out of position.
4. Now that the material moves freely on the hood, you may easily position it into place. The material should be centered with about a 1/2 inch overhang at the front and sides.
5. Note: In almost all cases squeegee - pulling. i.e. The 'blade' will be behind your hand. Pushing - plowing is the opposite and is when the blade of the squeegee is in front of your hand - like a snowplow. Pushing is used when there are areas near the edge where the material may be bunched up and needs compression to lay down flat.
6. Once you have the material in place, carefully spray the alcohol solution under the center and make--- several small vertical strokes with the squeegee in the very center of the hood until you have an area 3-4" wide from top to bottom that is free of the solution. The shield is now "anchored" to the paint in the center and will not move, which means that you do not have to worry about the material sliding out of place.
7. Now that the material is anchored in the center, lift one end of the material back to the point at which the material has adhered, and spray the adhesive side of the material and the hood with the alcohol water solution. Spray enough of this solution to wash out any slip solution that was under the material. This is done to promote quick adhesion and to help prevent the material from lifting back up
around the edges after you have squeegeed an area.
8. Lay the material back down on the hood taking care to ensure that the product is lying straight and flat. Also, make sure that you keep the top surface of the material wet so that your squeegee will slide easily over the material. Please note that when using the alcohol/water solution, the material will dry very quickly, so It will be necessary to work quickly to achieve the desired appearance.
9. If the surface of your hood is contoured stretch the material 1/2 inch or so and tack at the end of the fender. Less on a flat hood, and a bit more if heavily contoured.
10. From the center of the area that is now free of slip solution make a horizontal pass with your squeegee to the edge of the hood. Make sure to keep the surface wet at all times when squeegeeing.
11. Hood should now be propped open. Start in the middle and tightly wrap edge around to the underside of the hood. Working slowly with your fingers make you way to the end of the hood and then cut a V notch out at the comer of the hood and then continue to the end of the side section. Then repeat on the other side of the hood.
12. Any areas where moisture is trapped under the material may evaporate during the curing process (30 days). If any bubbles develop they can be popped with a small pin. Poke a hole in the side of the bubble and gentle let the water air out. Pin would be almost parallel to the surface.
14. Refrain from washing the vehicle for 48 hours and don't wax over the material for 30 days.

Other Areas
You can either make a rough template and then transfer the outline to the film, or just lay out the film and trace a rough outline of the area you want to mark. Cutting the film down with a scissors before installation is the easiest solution. Once you have the piece the size and shape you want it trace outline of the piece on a piece of paper or the backing paper of the film - (if you are going to be doing
a matching piece on the other side of the vehicle - example the corner of a fender).
If you will be cutting off or trimming excess film after you have installed it on your vehicle I STRONGLY suggest you practice cutting (or should I say scoring) the material on a metal folding chair or some metal object you don't really care about. The idea is to cut part way through, not all the way through to the paint. The film is 8 mil thick including the adhesive, so think about scoring the material 4 mil deep and then pulling the excess off. It will come off quite clean and you won’t damage the paint if you do in correctly.

I used an old table cover and a perm marker to create a template. I also allowed an extra inch or so along one site to allow easer installation and I would cut it after installation with detailing knife that you can buy at Lowers. The site I would choose for cut was always along the edge. Please look at the pictures above where red line represents precut film and white line show where I did my cut after installation. For example: for fenders this would be site along the hood and another over the well, along the bumper as well easy to cut on a car -- so the only edge I'd have to pay extra attention to and make sure it is properly aligned would be the edge running from the well to the door. I hope you are getting the idea -- I did not want to make a cut over the paint and always tried to use the edge were film will be in the air whenever possible. There are a couple places on a bumper were your template will have to be perfect or you will have to cut over the paint.

These instructions might sound to you complicated but it is not really that hard if you practice first. On a bright site this actually allows for some what easer install were you don’t run a risk of overstretching the film which happened all the time with Xpel computer cuts and people who are not pros.

Hope this helps.

07 e90 335Xi, SB/Black, ZSP, ZCW, PDC
06 e91 325XiT, TS/Black, ZSP - Sold
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By mosport70 on 05-17-2007, 02:05 AM
Holy crap... that might the the most detailed DIY I've ever read...

Great job with the post and the install.
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By gary328xi on 05-17-2007, 03:10 AM
Thanks for the DIY
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By canucklion on 05-17-2007, 08:23 AM
you're my hero, this is ONE KICKASS DIY!
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By txusa03 on 05-17-2007, 11:15 AM
I can see the line for the bra. But overall, looks very nice for a DIY.

I am not built to do this sort of things. I have no patient with these type of work.
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By msinfo_us on 05-17-2007, 11:27 AM
Originally Posted by txusa03 View Post
I can see the line for the bra. But overall, looks very nice for a DIY.
Thank you. The line on the hood is a price we pay for protection. It is not that noticeable but it is there. DIY or pay a pro to do it -- it will be there. I used a heat gun to soften the edge and to help me with installation -- I probably should've added heat gun to DIY.
Heat gun is not a must have item but it helps. If you are planning to use heat gun one word of caution; be careful not to overheat and burn the film, don't put heat gun very close to film and move it constantly so you heat the area evenly. Heat gun is helpful when you are doing curvy areas and need to stretch the film. It is also helpful when you need to speed up drying or need to soften a film to make it easer to work with.
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By ase2dais on 05-17-2007, 11:30 AM
here the videos DIY I posted on the same subject matter
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By ejazbmw on 05-17-2007, 11:34 AM
awesome write up...... but i dont think i could do this looks like it'll take all day thats why i left it up to the pros to do
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By msinfo_us on 05-17-2007, 01:18 PM
Originally Posted by ejazbmw View Post
awesome write up...... but i dont think i could do this looks like it'll take all day thats why i left it up to the pros to do
You make a very good point. For most ppl I agree that going to a pro is the best option and might be even cheaper at the end. I know a number of ppl who wanted to do it themselves and bought xpel kit to only take it off after unsuccessful install and still go to the pros. This DIY is for ppl who decided to DIY to provide and alternative and possibly even safer as well as cheaper option. If you are not a detailed oriented and patient person - do yourself a favor, save some $$$ and let pros handle it for you
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By E90330iS on 05-17-2007, 01:52 PM
Cool! Kinda pricy for a DIY though...
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By msinfo_us on 05-17-2007, 02:08 PM
Actually it is a very chip DIY. You will be saving like $400-$500 compared to pros
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By msinfo_us on 05-17-2007, 02:48 PM
Originally Posted by mosport70 View Post
Holy crap... that might the the most detailed DIY I've ever read...

Great job with the post and the install.
Thank you!!! I tried ...
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By Soni on 05-17-2007, 09:15 PM
nice DIY!!
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By D-Rock on 05-17-2007, 09:55 PM
How does that work with waxing and all that ?

Do you do it before ? Can you do it on top ?
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By msinfo_us on 05-17-2007, 10:02 PM
Originally Posted by D-Rock View Post
How does that work with waxing and all that ?

Do you do it before ? Can you do it on top ?
Any wax has to be removed before installation. After installation and curing time is over (about 30 days or so) you wax film the same way you do the rest of your car. It is actually recommended to do so.
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By pierre_wei on 05-18-2007, 03:32 AM
Great details....but i don't think i am that good to try this at home....
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By gary328xi on 05-18-2007, 05:42 AM
Maybe Mark could add this to the DIY section.
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By bmwpk on 01-02-2011, 11:58 PM
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thank you for the detailed diy. i will try this the coming weekend.
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