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Window Films - Frequently Asked Questions

How do solar control films work?

Solar control films are designed to reduce the amount of solar heat transmission through glass in windows by increasing the solar reflection (not necessarily visible reflection) and solar absorption through the glass.

Typical colored or dyed films work primarily through increased absorption. The color absorbs the solar energy at the glass, thus reducing the direct transmission into the room. These films are not as effective as reflective films for reducing heat.

Reflective films are films that have been coated with metals. These metallized films are designed to increase the solar energy reflection of the glass and range from moderate to excellent in solar performance (heat gain reduction).

All solar control films are made to be transparent and optically clear. The ultraviolet protection in the adhesive system is there to protect the adhesive, the metals, the polyester film, and the abrasion resistant coating from UV degradation. This UV protection will also help protect home and office furnishings.

Most window films have an abrasion resistant coating that provides long-term durability and appearance.

How do low-e window films work?

Low e films, work much in the same way as the solar control films except that they offer an increased performance against cold weather heat loss. The construction of these films enables the metal coating to reflect more of the interior room heat back into the room where it is needed. This improves personal comfort by reducing drafts near windows, and can help save on fuel costs, especially in commercial buildings. These films are also protected with an abrasion resistant coating.

Why do commercial customers have solar control film applied to their buildings?

  • Lower heating and cooling operating costs
  • Lower utility demand costs
  • Utility rebates
  • Improved tenant comfort
  • Improved aesthetics, uniform appearance
  • Improved safety and security
  • Extended A/C equipment life
  • Valued alternative to adding more A/C equipment

Many customers will purchase window films for tenant comfort and justify the purchase through energy cost savings.

What is the typical energy payback for window films?

Simple paybacks will vary depending upon the amount of sunlit glass exposure, the type of film, the type of glass, cost of fuel, cost of application, and other variables. However, we have seen paybacks often range in the 2-5 year period, with some reported to be even less than 6 months.

How is window film applied?

Window films are professionally applied by skilled, well-trained installers.

The first step is to prepare the window area for the application; placing drop cloths on the floor protecting and/or moving furniture where necessary.

Next, the window glass is cleaned using simple cleaning solutions and razor blade scrapers. Then the film is sprayed with a slip solution for proper positioning, and applied to the window glass. Using a professional grade squeegee and following proper techniques, the application is completed by removing excess water, trimming the edges, and a final squeegee technique to dry the edges.

How long does it take window film to dry?

The film can take up to 30 days to fully dry and cure. During this curing process, it is normal to have small water bubbles and/or a hazy appearance. These will disappear as the film dries; depending upon the film type and weather conditions, drying may take as much as 30 (or even 45) days, or as little as a few days.

Can I install window film myself?

This can be done but is not recommended as window films require professional application; our installers are thoroughly trained and experienced in performing high quality work. In this way, our customers will enjoy the benefits of the window films and will have the comfort of the manufacturers warranty (often up to 10 years when applied internally).

How do I clean my window film?

After thirty (30) days, you may clean window films using normal household cleaning solutions, including ammonia based products and a soft, lint-free cloth or towel. You may also use a squeegee to clean the films. Abrasive products which would scratch or damage the film should not be used.

How long does window film last?

Window films are made to last for many years; just how long may depend upon the type of film applied, type of glass it is applied to and the particular climate in which it is applied. Most applications last upwards of ten (10) years and beyond, and several applications are still performing after fifteen (15) years. All applications have a minimum warranty period of ten (10) years (except exterior applications).

Do window films cause glass to break?

The application of window films will increase the temperature of your sunlit glass which will increase the stress on the glass edges. The quality of those glass edges and several other factors (external shading, interior shading, glass history, type of film, size/shape of glass, indoor/outdoor temperature) all contribute to the potential risk of glass breakage.

Stress test analysis reports are available with 3M and Llumar to assess the compatability of the window film type to the glass. 3M's thirty (30) years of experience with applying 3M™ Scotchtint™ Window Films to different types of glass enables us to make proper film/glass recommendations and minimize the potential for glass breakage.

Do window films cause seal failure when applied to insulated (double-pane) windows?

No, window films do not cause seal failure. Window films have been applied to insulated windows for over 30 years with several millions of square feet of film applied to date.

When recommended films are applied to the inside pane of an insulated glass unit, there will be some absorption (except with clear safety films) of the sun's energy, which will increase the temperature of the glass pane. Some of this heat will transmit to the airspace, slightly raising the airspace temperature. However, even a 20 F degree increase (unusual for most films) will result in a less than 3% change in air pressure, whereas properly made units are designed and tested to withstand 22% changes in air pressure.

Risk of seal failure is greatly determined by the quality of workmanship and the quality of the materials that go into building the insulated glass units. The best guard against seal failure is to purchase well-made units from reputable window manufacturers that have solid experience and histories with insulated units.

Will window film stop my furnishings from fading?

Nothing completely stops fading. Window films are designed to help reduce the major causes of fading (ultra violet light, visible light, and solar heat), thus prolonging the life of your furnishings, perhaps as much as two to five times.

Keep in mind the article(s) to be protected; if they have a typical life of five (5) years then they may last ten (10) years to much longer depending on the performance of the film selected. However, if the typical life is only 2-3 weeks, then the expectation should be expressed in terms of months.

As a general rule of thumb, ultra violet (UV) is approximately 40% of the cause, visible light is about 25%, and heat about 25%. The remaining 10% can be attributed to humidity, pollutants, interior lights, dye stability, and more.

Does the ultra violet protection lose its effectiveness over time?

No, the ultra violet (UV) protection that we use in our proprietary adhesive system is indefinite. It does not loose its effectiveness over time. In fact, we tested an actual glass sample from The Dumbarton House, Washington,DC. This was a ten (10) year old application and the ultra violet transmission still measures <1%!

How do Ultra Safety and Security window films work?

3M™ Scotchshield™ Ultra Safety and Security Window Films are designed to make glass shatter-resistant by holding the glass pieces together when broken.

Compared to standard solar control films, 3M™ Scotchshield™ Window Films are made with thicker polyester and a much thicker, more aggressive adhesive, 3M™ Scotchshield™ Ultra Films are unique in the industry; they are built using a special micro-layered polyester technology which increases the films' tear resistance significantly. Pound for pound, the impact and tear resistance of Scotchshield Ultra films outperform all other films of similar thickness.

Are 3M Scotchshield films burgular proof?

No, 3M™ Scotchshield™ Ultra Films are not hurricane-proof, earthquake-proof, bullet-proof, bomb-proof, nor burglar-proof. Again, they are designed to make the window glass more shatter-resistant.

These films can reduce the risk of injury from flying shards of broken glass, and possibly help prevent debris and water penetration through the window depending on a number of factors, which include the type of glass, framing system, size and velocity of objects, and more.

Bullets: these films are not designed to stop bullets.

3M™ Scotchshield™ Films were originally developed to address international concerns and needs for improved safety and security against terrorist acts of bombings. These films can significantly reduce the risk of serious injury from flying shards of glass due to blasts, however, much depends upon the severity of the blast and the proximity of the window glass to the blast (and glass type, framing system, and more too).

3M™ Scotchshield™ Ultra Films are a low profile, high performance measure of security in the battle against 'smash and grab' crime. The tough, shatter-resistant qualities of the film can hold the window glass together even if a brick (or similar object) were actually to pass through the glass. The thief must now make a choice; continue to attack this window, try another window, or move on. Time is short, and often they move on. However, if they are determined to gain entry, they will get in. It is generally recommended that the property have proper alarm systems in addition to Scotchshield Ultra Window Film.

Will 3M Scotchshield Ultra film keep my glass from breaking?

This is difficult to answer with any degree of certainty because it is difficult to test for this. Window glass varies in strength from piece to piece, and lot to lot. So, if a 3M™ Scotchshield™ protected window were impacted, yet, failed to break, it would be difficult to determine if the glass alone, the film alone, or the film and glass together resisted the breakage.

Do window films hurt plants?

Certain high performance films may cause some plants to suffer slight growth retardation or possibly stop flowering. Others may go into a temporary state of shock while they adjust to the new film. For the most part, there will be little harm done to commen house plants.

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