Window film is a micro-thin layer of polyester or vinyl film. It is applied directly to the glass in your home. Adding window film is easy enough for any motivated do-it-yourselfer. However, deciding on the best window film will depend on what you want the film to do.
This guide will teach you about the different types of window film and explain their applications.
Tip: Some types of 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.
Window Film Benefits
Window film blocks radiant heat flow, keeping hot air out in the summer and making it easier for your air conditioner to do its job. Window film benefits older homes particularly. They usually have windows that aren’t very efficient in blocking heat or UV rays. Homes with inexpensive windows can also be helped by some types of window films.
- 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 chance it will continue to perform at a high level for an extended period of time. Look for film that’s warrantied 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.
Privacy Window Films
The best window film for privacy prevents people from being able to see in from outside. Privacy window films may feature a frosted or reflective surface. They are available in varying degrees of darkness. They can reduce the amount of light a room receives. Reflective surfaces can sometimes be seen through from the outside at night.
Decorative window film offers the look of stained, etched, frosted or textured glass. One advantage is that these are usually removable and reusable window films. They can't only be used on windows, but other household surfaces as decor. Decorative films can block UV rays at 80 percent to 90 percent and provide some privacy benefits. However, they typically don't provide significant heat protection.
Temperature Control Films
Temperature control film saves on heating and cooling costs. The film helps block up to 99 percent of UV rays and nearly 80 percent of solar heat. It reduces glare, but also reduces the amount of light a room receives. The best window film for heat reduction is a spectrally selective window film. These heat blocking window films are typically more expensive, but they protect against heat while allowing in more light.
Security films help protect against intruders. The strong film offers increased shatter resistance for window and door glass. They also hold glass fragments in place if the window is broken. Particularly useful if you live in a climate that often experiences strong storms and natural disasters.
Application & Tips
Window film application is a fairly straightforward DIY project. Consult the manufacturer’s instructions for the film you are applying. 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.
- 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 and Maintenance Tips:
- 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 to eliminate any air bubbles and ensure the film is level.
- Application is usually quick, but it may take a few days for the film to fully cure.
- Do not apply film to glass that is cracked or otherwise damaged.
- Thoroughly clean windows 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 the window is cool but not when the temperature may drop below freezing within three days of application.
- 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 non-abrasive cleaning solution, and be sure to consult the manufacturer’s care instructions.
Window film provides an economical way to reduce glare, minimize energy bills, enhance privacy or add a decorative touch to your windows. Whether you are looking for the best window film for heat reduction or for privacy, with a little research, you can find a solution to fit your needs and budget.
Ready to start your window film project? The Home Depot delivers online orders when and where you need them.