Window Film

Apply window film to improve security, reduce heat and UV rays and add a decorative touch to your home

Window Film - Window Film

Window film is a micro thin 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. Adding window film is easy enough for any motivated do-it-yourselfer who’s willing to invest a little care and patience. This guide will teach you about the different types of window film and detail their application.

Tip: Some window film can be used to tint automotive windows. If that’s your goal, ensure that the film you’ve selected is safe for automotive use, and check your local laws to determine legal restrictions on tinted windows.

Benefits & Features

Window film blocks radiant heat flow, keeping hot air out in the summer making it easier for your air conditioner to do its job. This is especially beneficial in homes with older or inexpensive windows that aren’t very efficient in blocking heat or UV rays.

  • For privacy, choose a darker film that’s hard to see through from the outside.
  • Security film imbues windows with greater strength to help prevent shattering.
  • For windows made of something other than glass, look for film that features multi-surface adhesion.
  • Some films are designed for application to curved surfaces, which is ideal for round or concave windows.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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 cracked.

Decorative

  • Offers the look of stained, etched frosted, or textured glass
  • Can block UV rays 80 – 90 percent and provide some privacy benefits
  • May be removable and reusable
  • Can be used on windows and other household surfaces
  • Doesn't provide significant heat protection

Heat or UV

  • Saves on heating and cooling costs
  • May block up to 99 percent of UV rays and nearly 80 percent of solar heat
  • 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

Privacy

  • 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
  • Reflective surfaces can sometimes be seen through from the outside at night

Security

  • Offers increased shatter resistance
  • 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

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 inches.

Application Process

  • To apply the film, fill a spray bottle with a soapy solution.
  • Apply the solution liberally to both the window and the film.
  • Stick the film to the window and then trim around the border, leaving about 1/16 inch 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.
  • Let it dry and set.


Application Tips

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.  

  • A special edging tool and a sharp utility knife will make it much easier to make cuts around the border of the film.
  • When applying window film, it is very helpful to have a partner help you in order to eliminate any air bubbles and ensure the film is level.
  • 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.