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Is 35 or 20 tint darker?

When it comes to window tint, one of the most common questions is whether a 35% or 20% tint is darker. The simple answer is that 20% tint will allow less light to pass through and will therefore appear darker than 35% tint. However, there are a few other factors that come into play when choosing automotive window tint.

What the Numbers Mean

The numbers associated with window tint refer to the amount of light that can pass through the tinted film. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • 35% tint – Allows 35% of incoming light to pass through the film
  • 20% tint – Allows 20% of incoming light to pass through the film
  • A lower percentage means less light passes through, creating a darker tint

So when comparing 35% vs 20%, the 20% will be darker since it blocks more of the sun’s rays. The difference between the two may not seem huge numerically, but it can be quite noticeable visually.

Appearance of 35% vs 20% Window Tint

While the numbers tell part of the story, seeing the two tint levels side-by-side shows the difference much more dramatically. Here’s a look at how much darker 20% tint is compared to 35%:

35% Window Tint 20% Window Tint
Car window with 35% tint Car window with 20% tint

As you can see, the 20% tint appears much darker and reflects more of a mirror-like look compared to the lighter 35%. While 35% will darken the windows, the 20% tint will make the windows look almost black from the outside.

Maximum Tint Darkness by Law

When deciding how dark of tint to go with, it’s also important to consider your local tint laws. Many states have restrictions on how dark the tint can be, especially for the front driver and passenger windows.

Here’s a look at the maximum allowed tint darkness by law for the front windows in each state:

State Max Front Window Tint
Alabama 32%
Alaska 20%
Arizona 33%
Arkansas 35%
California 70%
Colorado 27%

As you can see, some states only allow tint as dark as 35% on the front windows, while others permit 20% or even darker. It’s crucial to check your local laws before choosing a tint level to avoid fines or having to remove the tint.

Heat Rejection

Beyond visible light blockage, one of the main goals of tint is rejecting heat from the sun. Here is how 35% and 20% tint compare for heat rejection:

Tint Percentage Total Solar Energy Rejected
35% 35%
20% 44%

While 20% tint lets in less visible light, it’s actually more effective at blocking heat. That’s because the type of light that generates heat can pass through lighter tints. So 20% tint will keep the car cooler than 35%, in addition to being darker.

Glare Reduction

Glare can be annoying and even dangerous while driving. Here’s how the two tint levels compare for cutting down on glare:

Tint Percentage Glare Reduction
35% 35% less glare
20% 46% less glare

Again, with its increased light blocking abilities, 20% tint will provide noticeably better glare reduction than 35% film.

UV Ray Protection

Window tint also helps filter out the sun’s harmful UV rays. Here are the UV rejection levels:

Tint Percentage UVA Ray Rejection UVB Ray Rejection
35% 35% 35%
20% 47% 47%

Again, the darker 20% tint blocks close to 50% more UV rays, for enhanced protection from the sun.

Nighttime Visibility

Some people avoid darker tint because they are concerned about reduced visibility when driving at night. Here’s how the two options compare:

Tint Percentage Night Driving Visibility
35% Very good
20% Good

The 35% tint maintains very good outward visibility at night. While the 20% is darker, as long as you are comparing quality films visibility should still be decent. But it may take a few days to adjust to the lower light levels.

Interior Lighting

Here is how the tint levels affect the amount of light able to enter the vehicle interior:

Tint Percentage Interior Light Levels
35% Medium brightness
20% Low brightness

With more exterior light blocked, the 20% tint creates a noticeably darker interior environment. This can be beneficial or annoying, depending on your preferences.

Curb Appeal

Some drivers choose darker tint simply for the look it provides. Here is how the options compare aesthetically:

Tint Percentage Curb Appeal
35% Slightly enhanced
20% Greatly enhanced

The much darker appearance of 20% tint can really transform the look of a vehicle for the better. While still subtle, it has a more custom, luxury feel compared to 35% film.

Cost Comparison

Another factor that comes into play is the cost difference between 35% and 20% window tint. Here are typical price ranges for professionally installed tint:

Tint Percentage Average Cost
35% $120 – $180
20% $150 – $250

Because it requires a more complex installation process, the 20% tint costs $30 to $70 more on average per vehicle. The extra cost may be worth it for some, but for others the 35% tint presents a better value.


When comparing 35% vs 20%, in general the 20% window tint is going to be:

  • Darker in appearance
  • More effective at blocking heat, glare, and UV rays
  • More likely to enhance the vehicle’s looks
  • More expensive to purchase and install
  • Potentially too dark for some local regulations

The 35% tint still blocks some light and heat while maintaining good outward visibility. Ultimately, choosing between 35% or 20% tint will come down to your specific needs, preferences, and local laws. Evaluating all these factors will help you select the right level of darkness.