Window film is not something that you will buy often.
Buying window film for your home or business is a worthwhile investment. However, your decision to buy window film goes beyond the cost. To make an informed decision, you must research the pros and cons. You’ll also want to find the right window film for your project. It’s also good to understand how window film is made, how it’s installed, and how they perform. These are just a few of the topics we will consider in this article.
Window film is one of the most versatile products we offer, with broad applications for homeowners and businesses. Whether you’re seeking to protect your windows, reduce sunlight, or increase privacy, window films can be a great solution. Here at ClimatePro, we pride ourselves on offering high-quality window film for various applications. But just what is window film? Use this guide to learn about the types, applications, and benefits of window film for residential, commercial, and automotive markets.
Let me first introduce myself, my name is Jeremy Dobbins. My family started ClimatePro in 1979, over forty years ago. I have been working in this industry for almost 19 years. I started working for my grandfather when I was 15 years old. I would help our install teams clean and prepare windows for the installation of window film.
Throughout my 20-year career, our company and I have been involved in almost 29,000 projects and counting. On average, since we started keeping records, we’ve installed 295,000 square feet of window film every year. We’ve installed thousands of rolls of window film at customers’ homes, corporate campuses, small businesses, and even cruise ships. We’re always looking to learn more about our products and offer new and better ways to serve our customers. With this level of experience, we feel confident that we’ve worked hard to hone our craft and become experts.
What does “expert” even mean? Here’s a definition:
We’d like to share our comprehensive knowledge of window film with all who seek it.
Let’s start with the basics.
We have broken this information into six parts:
Estimated reading time: Around 45 minutes, but you can skip ahead to any section by using the links below.
Part 1: Window Film Basics: What it is, Benefits, Types of Window Film and Durability
Part 2: What Window Film Can’t Do
Part 3: Window Film Costs & Pricing
Part 4: Window Film Selection: How to pick the right film
Part 5: Window Film Installation: Professional vs. DIY
Part 6: Window Film FAQs
There is a great deal of information you should know about window film.
In this section we will cover:
What is Window Film?
Window film is a polyester coating that is applied to glass. It is most commonly used to reduce the amount of sunlight that passes through the glass. When used for this purpose in vehicles, it is often referred to as window tint. (Note, we don’t do automobiles.)
Every type of window film uses a polyester film as its base material. Polyester film is produced from the polymer Polyethylene Terephthalate, or more commonly known as PET.
PET is manufactured by combining terephthalic acid and monoethylene glycol, which are derived from petroleum.
PET films are used successfully in a wide range of applications other than window film due to an excellent combination of optical and physical characteristics. Although the final product is quite thin, polyester base films have unequaled strength and toughness while providing excellent stability when exposed to various temperatures, moistures, and solvents during the window film manufacturing process.
Light reduction is far from the only application that window film is used for in automotive and architectural applications. In addition to light-reducing window film, there are films used to reduce heat and glare, and even prevent storm or vandalism damage.
Why Window Film: Benefits of Window Film?
Whether it’s your home, office, or car, window film provides various benefits. The benefits include improving your health, personal safety, privacy, and energy conservation.
Once you understand the positive life-changing aspects of having window film installed, we are positive you will want to contact us to start you on the path to having window film in your life. To learn more about the individual advantages of having window film installed, review the topics below.
1. Benefits – General
By choosing a product that complements the existing elements of your building, Window Film can enhance the existing appearance. For commercial buildings, window films can help to create a modern and uniform appearance to the glass.
If your interest is in energy savings, many types of new windows can be installed to achieve energy conservation. However, window film can achieve the same results at a lower cost. Unlike most building retrofit projects undertaken, you will find that the window film installation is a minor disruption to your busy life. No moving out, no need to not use a certain room for a period of time. Professional installation is fast and easy.
A major concern these days is personal safety. By nature, glass is a dangerous product. Most glass types will shatter when they break. Any window film installed on any glass type will help to keep the fragments intact. This helps to reduce the potential danger of flying glass fragments and large pieces.
Some window film products can be installed to reduce the ability to see inside your building or home. This is an added benefit against vandalism and possible theft. By reducing the view outside the windows, the potential intruder is not enticed to steal your belongings.
2. Enhanced Appearance and Protection
Whether it’s a contemporary look or a uniform design that is desired, there’s a variety of window film options that can aesthetically enhance the exterior of your home, office, or automobile. From virtually invisible films to darker colors, there’s a range of shades to give you the look you want.
All of our window film products, whether designed for residential, commercial, or automobiles, contain the highest levels of UV protection. This allows the films to reject up to 99% of harmful UV rays.
Have you ever wondered about the effects the sun has on your skin? Even during everyday activities like driving your car, standing by a window or going outside, you are exposed to harmful UVA rays. Is this why most of us have the habit of applying sunscreen? Think of window film as sunscreen for your home or office. Window film blocks UVA rays, giving you a layer of protection from skin cancer and visual impairment. While you apply sunscreen when you plan to be outside for long periods of time, have you ever thought that when performing the simple daily activities of driving your vehicle or standing next to a window, the sun streaming in can also damage your skin? By stopping virtually all of the UV rays, window film provides an effective “sunscreen” for your skin against the harmful effects of the sun, including but not limited to skin cancer and vision impairment.
3. Not Only for Automobiles
Automotive tinting is by far the most widely known application of window film. Most drivers want to reduce glare while driving and protect their vehicle’s interior from fading. As we drive around town, we always see companies advertising automobile window tinting. Did you ever think that the same kind of product might bring advantages to your building? At ClimatePro, we’ve never done a single automobile; we focus only on residential and commercial buildings, and for good reason.
Your car is not the largest investment you will ever make; that’s reserved for real estate. Whether it’s a commercial building, your home, office, or a rental unit, real estate is an investment worth protecting. Why not give the largest investment you will ever make the protection it deserves? If you are interested in privacy, safety, energy savings, or appearance, the benefits of window film are numerous. It will bring the same superior levels of protection with a greater return on investment.
The temperature changes that buildings experience are slower and felt more by humans than the changes in your car. Sure, your cars get hot. But you can quickly change the temperature in your car by leaving the windows open or turning on the AC.
However, buildings are not conducive to quick temperature change. Automobiles are small spaces with limited amounts of air which allows air to circulate more quickly. As we all know, trying to cool or even heat a building in which the HVAC has gone out takes quite a while. Adding the right kind of window film on a structure will assist in preventing the amount of heat or cold that escapes from windows.
4. Energy Savings
One of the biggest benefits of window tint, particularly in homes or commercial buildings, is energy efficiency. The two times of the year when energy bills skyrocket are typically the height of summer and the dead of winter. Window tint can’t stop the heat or cold, but it can reduce the amount of sunlight and energy coming into the building. The film manages to accomplish this by reflecting ultraviolet rays from the sun. This can significantly decrease the interior temperature during the summer months. In the winter, the tint can work to reflect heat back into the building. This can result in lower heating costs.
5. Fading & Glare Protection/Reduction
The sun’s rays can also be harmful to both people and furniture. Tinted windows can help to reduce this damage by blocking the UV rays. Left unchallenged, these rays can cause furniture and upholstery to fade. Not to mention the damage that the sun can do to unprotected skin, including increasing the risk of skin cancer.
Installing window film on a building is not as time-consuming as some other retrofit improvements you might undertake. Replacing windows to achieve higher energy savings can cost thousands of dollars for the windows alone. Not to mention the installation costs, the invasive practice of removing old windows, and the cost of inside and outside window trim replacements.
The process of window replacement could leave your building potentially open to the elements. Also, inclement weather could extend the length of the project. There is the potential for damage to any parts of the building exposed during the installation.
Window film can be installed either on the interior or the exterior of your structure. This depends upon the required access and the type of product you choose. Residential and Commercial or Safety products are installed without window removal. The product is applied to the existing glass surface like a surface coating.
After the installation is complete, you will have immediate access to all areas. The only caution you’ll receive pertains to the curing process. It’s important not to clean your windows until the adhesive curing process has been completed. This normally happens within 30–45 days after installation. What could be easier?
You can immediately feel the improvement in heat reduction and still have the crystal clear views you had before. The added benefit of minimal downtime during the installation process means that you can get back to your routine. The benefits to your family and investment are clear.
7. Temperature Imbalances
Window film helps to eliminate troublesome temperature imbalances inside your home or building. Those uncomfortable cold or hot zones from shaded or sun-exposed areas can be a thing of the past. The right window film helps to minimize temperature fluctuations and make your rooms a pleasure to spend time in. You’ll also find that the window film will pay for itself as your utility bills and energy costs are reduced.
Window film can provide up to 82% solar energy rejection versus untreated glass. By controlling the overall unwanted interior heat from the sun, window film helps create a more comfortable interior while reducing cooling costs.
Windows are the heart of your home or building. Today modern architecture has evolved to incorporate our natural desire for more natural light. However, the increased natural light has a downside – the increased solar heat coming through your windows. While visually appealing, the building is now uncomfortable to be in. The application of window film will not only maintain the natural light and crystal clear views you are used to, but it will also reduce the amount of solar heat that comes through the windows. Whether installed in your home or office, window film will improve your experience inside of any building.
8. Like Sunglasses for Your Windows
Our bodies require sunlight to produce and use certain vitamins and minerals. At the same time, too much of this vital resource can damage our eyes and skin. We need the sun to warm our atmosphere so that life can be maintained, but too much heat is uncomfortable.
While sunlight is vital to our existence, it is also dangerous. The application of window film on your glass still allows an amount of both sunlight and heat to be felt while reducing the dangers. Think of it like the sunblock you put on when you are outside or the sunglasses you use when driving. Why not get sunglasses for all your glass panes and see the change in your lifestyle? The cost per square foot of window installed won’t cost more than a set of cheap sunglasses and will come with a return on investment that is almost impossible to measure.
Related Articles: Window Tinting Price Guide
9. Scratch and Breakage Prevention
Many businesses and property owners have experienced firsthand the damage caused by graffiti. This is unsightly and expensive, causing damage to the business or properties’ reputation. Graffiti window film is a great way to protect and prevent this damage. In addition, it allows for the quick removal of graffiti, helping to reduce costs and keep up appearances. These films are applied to the exterior of the glass.
Window film can also help hold glass together in case of accidental or intentional breakage. This creates a strong barrier to keep people out of your home or building. It also protects people from broken glass.
10. Privacy and Protection
Another great benefit of window tint is the privacy that it provides. Standard window tints make it harder to see into a building. This inherently increases the privacy of the building. However, there are window tints designed specifically with privacy in mind (frosted windows are a great example of this). The energy-saving benefits of window film are apparent, but the added privacy that tinted windows provide is a reason to consider making the change.
Related Article: Nighttime and Daytime Privacy is it Possible?
Window Film Types
There is a wide variety of window films and tints depending on the application; some have no tint at all, such as our safety, graffiti, and spectrally selective films.
Window Film Durability
Many window film providers offer a warranty of up to 15 years for commercial installations and a lifetime warranty for homeowners (as long as you own the home). Depending on the film type, glass type, window construction, and the location of the building, some professionally installed window films can last well past their warranties.
Most factory warranties will cover issues such as;
Since we’ve been in business for forty-plus years, we’ve seen many projects and window film types over the years. While the warranties offered with these products are extensive, some other factors should be considered in terms of their lifetime and durability.
What Is Not Covered?
Almost all window films come with extensive manufactured warranties that cover the failure of the product prematurely. However, they do not cover things such as wear and tear, scratches, or damage caused by the homeowner or user, abrasive cleaning methods, or products.
Window film manufacturers apply a scratch-resistant coating on almost all of their film products. It’s applied to the top of the film during the manufacturing process. Its purpose is to protect the film from minor abrasions and cleaning solvents. Some window film manufacturers take more time and effort to make better scratch-resistant coatings which in turn increases the durability and lifespan of the window film.
How Long Does Window Film Last?
As we discussed previously, there are many different types of window film for various purposes. Not only do these window films serve different purposes they’re also made of different materials which affect the lifespan of certain products.
The length of time that window film lasts also varies depending on the application. Some factors are;
These are just some of the factors to consider when determining the lifespan of a window film. In most situations, you determine the estimated lifespan by examining the window film manufacturer-backed warranty.
What Types of Windows Can You Install Window Film On?
Glass is designed to act as a barrier from exterior elements (i.e., wind, rain, and snow) while providing a natural view of the outside world. When solar energy or sunlight, composed of heat, light, and UV rays hits an untreated window, almost 90% of the energy is transmitted through the glass that’s why your home or business gets warm on hot days.
In contrast, once a solar control window film is applied to glass, nearly 80% of solar energy can be blocked. The special dyes, metals, or thin nanotechnology within the film, act as a solar energy barrier by either absorbing or reflecting a percentage of the energy from passing through the glass.
The level of absorption and reflectance is dependent on how the film is constructed. Dyed films contain no metal and are considered non-reflective because they absorb solar energy. They are not as effective in controlling solar heat and light because they do not provide any solar reflectance. On the other hand, metalized or spectrally selective films provide both solar absorption and reflectance. They do a much better job of solar control since their construction properties control both heat and light from passing through the glass surface.
Understanding these key points guides what type of windows you can install a window film or a tint on. In reality, almost any kind of window or glass can be treated with window film. The key is selecting the right window film, as not all window films are compatible or recommended for every type of window. It’s as simple as that. It’s best to contact us for help with recommendations. We can help you select the correct product for your window and application.
Window film can be applied to the following window type of windows;
You just read a great deal of information about what window film can do, but what about what it can’t? That’s what will discuss in this section:
In this section we’ll cover:
What Window Film Can’t Do
As we discussed in part 1 of this article, window film is a very versatile product that can solve a great many glass related problems. Even with that being true, there are some things window film simply can’t fix. Here they are.
Window Film Can’t Make Your Windows Private at Night and During the Day
Many customers want a window that you can see through during the day, but can give you privacy at night, even with the lights on. This is one of the most common customer requests. Unfortunately, there is no film that is transparent (see-through) during the day and at the same time blocks the view from the outside at night when you have the light on inside.
All glass windows reflect a certain amount of light, the percentage depends on the glass. Usually, the higher the efficiency of the window, the more light it reflects. During a very bright day, a passerby would probably not be able to see through a high-efficiency window into your home. This is because the amount of light being reflected is greater than the amount of light coming out of your house.
The same principle applies at night when you are inside your home. If you try to look through your window at night in a brightly lit room, you would probably see your own reflection. This is because the amount of light being reflected is greater than the amount of light coming from the outside. Furthermore, since a window only reflects a percentage of visible light, the light that is not being reflected is going through the window and into the dark street. This, of course, would enable any passerby to see through your window.
Window Film Will Not Stop Drafty Windows
Many times customers contact us because they have windows that are acting as poor insulators. The common complaint is they can feel drafts coming from their windows or they have windows that get condensation.
Drafty windows can be caused by a variety of issues, sometimes in combination with each other. Loose, rotting window frames or a broken window sash are often to blame for these issues. Window film will not solve these problems. You will need to have your windows replaced by a competent carpenter or professional window technician.
Is Window Film Bulletproof? No!
That is absolutely not true! No window film will make your windows bulletproof. You should not believe any marketing information telling you it is.
We have seen some companies try and market bulletproof window films. While they do have some testing there are specific details, specifically to the type of glass they use in the testing that need to be understood at how they achieve their results.
Simply put we don’t feel that the testing we’ve seen is consistent with reality and are unable to recommend any products that claim to be bulletproof.
Window Film Will Stop My Windows From Breaking
This is another perception that frequently is misunderstood. Using safety window films alone likely will not prevent an intruder from entering a building through glass. Instead, glass that has a safety film installed on it is designed to hold together, not shatter into fragments. This can potentially delay an intruder from entering quickly and, in some cases, cause them to reconsider and move on. It’s also important to understand that even if the filmed glass can remain intact as an intruder is attempting to enter, the window’s framing system may not be able to hold together (which means there would be less of an intrusion-delay benefit).
One of the first topics of discussion on most customers’ minds is the cost or price. In fact, we here at ClimatePro receive more questions about costs than any other issue involving window tinting. We’ve written a comprehensive article discussing what affects the price or cost of window film. There are several factors;
In addition to these factors, window films come in several different varieties, from decorative to functional. Each one has a different associated cost as well as benefits to consider.
In short, the answer to costs and pricing is, it depends.
For more information, we would recommend reading our window tinting and costs pricing guide which we regularly try to update.
In this section will cover:
Selection of Window Film: How to pick the right window film?
As a customer you may be confused by the overwhelming number of films and performance specifications and industry lingo. We want to help guide you through the process of picking the right window film. We even encourage you to try our window film selector tool to see the various products available that might meet your needs.
We have a simple four step process;
The first step is we like to understand the customer’s needs, we call this the goal elevation step. As you read in part one and part two of this article window film can do amazing things and there are some things it can’t.
What are you looking for? Are they looking to reduce the amount of solar heat? Or maybe you’re looking to improve the aesthetic look of your windows? Whatever the goal, it’s important to understand the window film options. I encourage you to go back and read part one if you have any questions.
Depending on your original goals, you’ll need to examine different performance qualities. We call this the comparison step. Here you will need to understand the various performance characteristics between the window film options. Consumers wanting to apply energy efficient window film will want to explore a spec sheet provided by the manufacturer. The higher the Visible Light Transmission (VLT), the better the efficiency. Additionally, low U-values typically yield more energy savings in colder months.
What is Visible Light Transmission (VLT)?
VLT is a window industry term that refers to the amount of visible light that passes through a glazing system, (in this case window film) and is expressed as a percent. A lower VLT rating tends to be better for glare control, while a higher rating is preferred for maintaining natural light.
What is U-Value?
A measure of the heat transmission through a building part (such as a wall or window) or a given thickness of a material (such as insulation) with lower numbers indicating better insulating properties
Although functionality is one of the more important factors when choosing an energy efficient window film product, aesthetics should also be considered. This is the determining aesthetics step. Plan ahead if there is a specific characteristic that would best compliment your home such as reflective, virtually invisible, bronze or another shade.
Before beginning the installation process, it is important to find a trained dealer to help you compare product performance. The more experienced the dealer, the better they can recommend suitable window film products for your home.
The last step before making the final decision on window film products is to compare in-home estimates. Once you’ve chosen which window film, have a trained dealer like ClimatePro further assess the home and give you a quote for film and installation.
Get all the facts, even the cons
It’s important you have a full understanding of the benefits of window film and the goal you’re trying to accomplish. It’s also very important to understand any potential cons of window film.
Not all films are suitable for all glass. The absorptance of the glass and the film, the size of the pane, the thickness of the glass, the construction of the window should be considered in terms of single pane, insulated glass, laminated or toughened.
Advice on the appropriate selection of film for the glass is vital to ensure that the glass does not crack as a result of thermal stress. However, it is possible that a pane of glass may break subsequent to the application of an appropriate film. One reason this happens because the pane has been damaged during the glazing of the window. Another reason is the result of the movement of the building or other physical stresses that are not apparent at the time of the application of the film.
Glass may crack subsequent to the application of signage. Another factor could be heavy drapes hung too close to the glass, particularly if the edges of the glass are damaged.
The chances of glass breakage occurring subsequent to the application of film or signage or the hanging of drapes are very small. However, breakage can occur and it is impossible to predict the edge condition of the glass without removing it from the frame – an approach that is not practical.
How To Purchase Window Films
Interested in adding window film to your home or building? ClimatePro is an authorized 3M window film company. We provide educational resources through our Learning Center and support for all of our customers.
Window films can make a great addition to any home or commercial building. These window tints are highly effective at reducing the amount of sunlight passing through the glass and can save you money in the long run.
Which Window Film Manufacturer is Best?
As you probably understand from reading through the information in this article, there is a wide variety of window films and uses for window films. So what window film is the best?
Is there a specific manufacturer or brand of window film you should choose? The answer is simple and similar to most of the answers, it depends.
There are many manufacturers or brands of window film for you to choose from; here is a shortlist of the most popular;
As you can see, there are many options, even more than what we’ve included in this list.
Which one should you choose?
We’ve found in our 40-plus years of window film installations that the answer depends on the situation and application. While on the surface and from marketing, it may appear that all window films are manufactured equally and provide the same value. We can guarantee that this is not the truth.
You may notice from our marketing that ClimatePro is an authorized 3M Prestige Window Film Dealer. Does that mean that we feel 3M Window Film is the best? Yes and no… again it depends on the application.
We do believe the 3M Product line is the best value we can provide to our customers in most cases, but not all. Sometimes, the 3M Window Film products do not fit the customer’s needs, budget, or desired end results. When that’s the case, we happily recommend other products to fill the needs. Such is the case with all window film manufacturers. They can not develop and make products that solve every possible problem or need. Some manufacturers have products that others don’t.
It’s important to work with a professional that understands this so that you can feel confident you’re not being pushed into a purchase that will not fully meet your expectations.
Another factor to consider is the warranty offered by window film manufacturers. Almost all the manufacturers have very similar warranties and coverages, which is a great thing for you as a customer.
What we would like to make clear just because someone markets a similar warranty does not make it equal. What do we mean?
Oftentimes two manufacturers will offer a similar product with a comparable warranty. Remember, however that the warranty time frame is a minimum of 5 years all the way to lifetime; possibly meaning as long as you own your home, your window film is covered under warranty. Think about that.
A lifetime warranty is only as good as the company that backs that warranty. That means the company needs to be in existence in the future to cover any warranty claims, correct? With that thought, that might make clear why ClimatePro has chosen to primarily represent 3M Window Films manufactured and warrantied by 3M company.
Much of our competition reading this will say we’re being biased. The simple fact is we’ve made a business decision and feel there is a strong likelihood that far into the future, 3M company will be in business. This means they will be able to provide warranty coverage to our customers, it’s as simple as that for us at ClimatePro.
Again, it does not mean that 3M window film is the right product for every customer and circumstance. We will happily recommend an alternative product if we feel it will deliver a better result and value for our customers. Any company you work with should be willing to do the same.
How To Pick The Best Window Film Manufacturer
Are There Financing Options Available for Window Film?
Some customers prefer to finance their window film projects and visit their bank or credit union to check on options. Other customers may prefer a 12-month same-as-cash or traditional term loan financing through EnerBank USA. Apply for convenient 12-month same-as-cash or traditional term loan financing through EnerBank USA. The approval process is quick and simple and a good option for many of our customers.
There are some projects that can be done as a DIY project by an experienced homeowner, while there are others that should be left to the professionals.
When it comes to DIY window film installations, it may be something that you could tackle depending on your skill level and confidence.
Window film or window tinting is a very visual product. It’s meant to be looked through, not at. It’s a product that helps you better see and experience the outside world. It’s also something designed to not be noticed after installation.
Imagine putting on really nice sunglasses that have a large flaw right in the middle of them. Even though your eyes are focusing on other things, your eye may still be distracted by the flaw in your sunglasses. Your sunglasses are designed to reduce glare and eye strain while providing an uninterrupted view of the world. It’s very similar to the window film.
In some cases, for very small projects a DIY window film kit, or graphic, can be done on very small projects. There is the potential to waste money when using these kits for homeowners who aren’t familiar with how to use one. The biggest problem homeowners find with these kits is that you only get one chance to install the window film kit, meaning there are no do-overs. So it can be frustrating to waste your time and materials and have to order a new kit.
Here are some more questions answered about window film;
Will Window Film Kill House Plants?
If you love your house plants and are worried that window film will harm them, take heart. Window film blocks UV rays but not the red and blue rays that plants need to live. These two colors are not part of the UV color spectrum, which can be harmful to humans. Window film also helps to regulate room temperatures and moisture. It really contributes to creating a stable environment for your plants by minimizing intense sunlight. In most cases, the best practice is to see how plants fair in spaces with new window film. Most plants will adjust to window film just fine.
If you have concerns about your indoor plants and sunlight, the first thing to do is to understand the actual sunlight needs of your plants. A local nursery can help you to determine the sunlight needs of your plants. We’ve seen that many of our residential and commercial window film customers have thriving indoor plants.
How Much Does Window Film Costs?
Please review our detailed window film price and cost guide for more information.
Have More Questions? Visit our Learning Center or our Frequently Asked Questions