What is window film?
Window film is a polyester film generally made of PET, Polyethylene Terephthalate, the same polymer used to manufacture water bottles, for example. Most films are applied to the interior surface of a glass window in a home, commercial building, or car. They have a scratch resistant coating on the outer surface to protect the film.
There are many types of window films. Some are clear and feature multiple layers of PET to offer protection from shattering glass; others are tinted with metals, dyes, or pigments to reduce the visible light transmitted through the glass, and block heat coming through from the sun. There are even decorative window films that can replicate the look of frosted glass or etched patterns.
What are the benefits of window film?
Window films have many benefits depending on your choice of film.
Safety films can hold shattered glass in place to offer protection from threats like:
- Burglary attempts
- Wind-born debris
- Natural disasters
- Bomb blasts
Tinted window films, also called solar control films, can do the following:
- Significantly reduce solar heat gain and temperature inside a building
- Reduce air conditioning costs
- Extend life of HVAC systems by reducing maintenance and strain on the system
- Decrease a building’s environmental emissions
- Increase occupant comfort
- Reduce glare to improve visibility inside, especially for computer and TV screens
- Provide daytime privacy
- Block up to 99% of UV radiation
- Offer significant fade protection for furniture, carpets, woodwork, and other interior furnishings
- Improve building aesthetics and accent windows
How is window film installed?
For architectural applications: The professional installation process starts with a dealer thoroughly cleaning your windows to remove even the smallest pieces of dirt. A piece of film is cut roughly to the size of your window, its release liner is removed, and an application solution is sprayed on the film’s adhesive to activate it. The application solution is also sprayed on the window. Then the film is installed on the glass, and the dealer squeegees all the application solution out from between the glass and film. The dealer will also do some final edge trimming to ensure the film fits perfectly.
For automotive applications: The glass is first thoroughly cleaned. The installing dealer will then wet the film and apply it to the outside of the window. Using a heat gun, the dealer will form the film to the exact curvature of the window. After this, the film is carefully removed from the outside of the window and applied with a squeegee to the inside of the glass. The installing dealer will trim any excess film and will complete the installation by making sure the film is firmly in place.
How long does the film take to fully cure?
When the dealer squeegees out the application solution during installation, it is nearly impossible to get every drop of solution out. Thus, there is a drying time (cure time) for the film, during which the remaining application solution between the film and glass evaporates. During this time, the film is still performing to its full solar control and safety capabilities. However, it is common to see bubbles, haze, streaks, and other visual defects in the film as it cures. This is completely normal, and these will disappear as the film dries out. The amount of time for the film to fully cure can vary drastically depending on the type of film and climate.
How do I clean my windows once film has been applied?
The cleaning process for a filmed window is very similar to unfilmed glass. Before cleaning though, make sure that the film has fully cured. Generally, the recommended waiting period is 30 days.
When cleaning, follow the following procedure:
- Use a soft clean cloth, soft paper towel, or clean synthetic sponge. Normal scrubbing with these materials is fine, but make sure not to scrub aggressively with anything abrasive.
- Use any normal glass cleaning solution which contains no abrasive materials. Typical off-the-shelf glass cleaners are acceptable.
- Use a soft cloth or squeegee for drying the window.
How long will the film last?
This depends on the film type, glass type, window construction, orientation, and geographical location of the building. Most residential and automotive applications are covered by a lifetime warranty as long as you own the house or car. Most commercial installations receive either a 10 or 15 year warranty. There are some specialty films that have different terms.
Can I install window film myself?
A trained installer will need to professionally fit window film to the inside of your existing windows. Professional installation will help ensure your satisfaction and provide you with the warranty protection you deserve.
What energy savings can I expect from installing solar control film?
Installing solar control film reduces the amount of solar heat entering your home or property which can result in lower cooling costs in the summer. However, determining exact energy savings can be difficult because many factors contribute to energy use such as the fluctuating cost of fuel, amount of direct sun exposure, type of film installed, type of glass and many others. However, typical payback in energy savings is usually 2 – 5 years, sometimes less. Talk with your dealer regarding your particular situation; they can help you analyze and determine potential savings.
Will window film really stop my furniture from fading?
Window film will significantly reduce the amount of fading on interior furnishings. It’s nearly impossible to eliminate all risk of fading though. Visible light, heat, and the chemicals given off by carpeting and other components of a home, also cause fading.
Will window film kill my house plants?
In most cases if a house plant is already receiving adequate light, the use of window film will not harm it. New growth or flowering may be delayed or reduced, and the plant may take a few days to adjust to the light change. If a particular plant normally wilts by the end of a sunny day, it can actually thrive better with film installed.
Can window film be used on Low E windows?
In most cases, window film can be very beneficial when used in conjunction with Low E glass. Whether window film should be used on low E windows and how much you will benefit depends on three factors:
- Type of low E surface used on glass.
- Location of low E surface in the window system.
- The desired amount of heat gain reduction, heat loss reduction, or other film benefits.
- Talk with your dealer to help you consider all these benefits before making a final decision.