While summertime may conjure up images of picnics, days at the beach and beautiful sunsets, it also means contending with the heat. Fortunately, there are ways to keep cool and combat the effects of the hot summer sun on your living room, bedroom, dining room and more. Window film is a microthin layer of polyester or vinyl film applied directly to the glass that provides an economical way to reduce glare, minimize energy bills enhance privacy, or add a decorative touch to your windows. Window installation might be available in your area; however, installing window film is certainly a project that is easy enough for any motivated do-it-yourselfer who’s willing to invest a little care and patience. Before you get started, consider the following questions:
- What advantages does window film offer?
- How does it enhance energy efficiency?
- What types of film are available?
- What do you need to do to ensure proper application?
- Are there any special features that are important to you?
Benefits, Film Types and Application Considerations
Depending on the climate where you live, the directional orientation of the window you're applying film to and the type of film you choose, the potential benefits of window film are numerous. Because different types of film offer different benefits, it’s important to determine what your primary goal is. Installation can be a simple task, with the right tools. Also, having a partner is immensely helpful, particularly when it comes to separating the film from its backing. If you've ever done any wallpapering before, you may find some similarities between the two tasks.
Benefits: Most older or inexpensive windows aren't very efficient when it comes to blocking heat or UV rays. As a result, you may find that your furniture fades prematurely, your living room is uncomfortable and your air conditioning bill is skyrocketing. Instead of a new window install or window replacement, Window film can help with these issues and more. One of the benefits of window film is that it blocks radiant heat flow, keeping hot air out in the summer making it easier for your air conditioner to do its job. In addition to regulating temperatures and promoting greater comfort, this helps lower energy bills. Warranties, proper care, and the conditions in the room, vary, but it’s very likely that window film will pay for itself within a few years as a result of the money you'll save. Film can also be used to enhance a room’s appearance with a decorative element.
Film blocks UV rays to help prevent fading of furniture and carpeting
- Choose a darker film that’s hard to see through from the outside if you're concerned about privacy
- Film helps keep cold air out and warm air in during the winter to further reduce heating costs
- Security film imbues windows with greater strength to help prevent shattering
Types: Window films are available in a number of types, each of which is designed to provide different benefits. Some types are specifically designed to block UV rays and keep out heat. Others are designed to tint windows for privacy or enhance a window’s strength to prevent it from being easily destroyed by a loose baseball or flying debris during a strong storm. The chart below details some common types of window film as well as a few points of consideration for each.
||Points to Consider
- Provides a stylish touch
- Offers the look of stained, etched frosted, or textured glass
- Blocks UV 80 to 90%
- Can provide some privacy benefits
- May be removable and reusable can be used on windows, Plexiglas, showers, glass cabinet doors and more
- Doesn't usually provide significant heat protection
- Saves on heating and cooling costs
- May block up to 99% of UV rays
- Can prevent nearly 80% of solar heat from entering
- Reduces glare
- May reduce the amount of light a room receives
- Spectrally selective films are more expensive but protect against heat while allowing in more light
- Prevents people from being able to see in from outside
- May feature a frosted or reflective surface
- Available in varying degrees of darkness
- May reduce the amount of light a room receives
- Ideal for home or car use
- Reflective surfaces can sometimes be seen through from the outside at night
- Offers increased shatter resistance
- Provides protection from flying objects
- Helps protect against intruders
- Particularly useful if you live in a climate that experiences strong storms and natural disasters
- Holds glass fragments in place if the window is broken
Application Considerations and Tips: Make sure the film you choose can safely be applied to the surface you plan to use it on. There are certain situations in which you should avoid using window film. Do not apply film to large single-pane windows that exceed 100 square feet in area or to clear glass thicker than 3/8". Most films are designed for use with single- or double-paned glass, though some types can be used on Plexiglas or other materials. To apply the film, you'll need a spray bottle filled with a soapy solution. Apply it liberally to both the window and the film. Stick the film to the window and then trim around the border, leaving about 1/16" between the film and the window frame. This space is necessary to allow glass to expand and contract with temperature changes. Use a squeegee to smooth out any bubbles once the film is applied. Then, simply let it dry and set. Cleaning is an important part of making sure window film retains its effectiveness over time. While most film is scratch-resistant, it is not scratch-proof. Use only a soft cloth and nonabrasive cleaning solution, and be sure to consult the manufacturer’s care instructions.
- Application is usually quick, but it may take a few days for film to fully cure
- Do not apply film to glass that is cracked or otherwise damaged
- Thoroughly clean window before applying film and use a razor blade to clean off any sticky or hard-to-remove substances
- Apply film to the inside surface of a window (i.e., the side that faces into your house)
- Install film when window is cool but not when the temperature may drop below freezing within three days of application
- Scratches can cause film to lose effectiveness more quickly
Multisurface Adhesion: If you need to apply film to a window that’s made of something other than glass, make sure that the film you purchase is designed for application to different kinds of materials.
Curved Surfaces: Some films are designed for applying to curved surfaces, a quality that you'll need if you're using it on a rounded or concave window.
Warranty: The longer a film’s warranty, the better the chance that it will continue to perform at a high level for an extended period of time. Look for film that’s warranted against bubbling, cracking and fading for maximum performance.
Removable/Reusable: Film that can be removed and reused can come in handy if you live in a climate that experiences mild winters that don't require as much protection as the hot summers. However, most films provide protection all year and should be left up through the seasons. This feature is also available for many decorative films.
Edging Tool: A special edging tool, used in concert with a sharp utility knife, will make it much easier to make cuts around the border of the film
Look to The Home Depot's installation services to help make your home projects easier. We provide professional home services with insured install service providers to ensure that your project is done right and on time. View our variety of home installation services and get started today.