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Window Film for UV Protection

Light coming in through windows can cause considerable damage over time. Wallpaper can suffer uneven wear. Book covers, store merchandise, antique furniture, clothing, and more need protection from the sun's rays. Plastics constantly exposed to the sun will fade and become brittle. When looking at window specifications, UV protection can be a prime consideration.

But what do you do if you have just purchased a home or building with old windows or windows manufactured without UV protection in mind? Ripping out and installing new windows can be an expensive proposition. The best alternative may be to install window film.

Besides UV protection to prevent fading, window film provides an array of benefits1 including:

  • Reducing glare and heat gain
  • Helps to save on heat and air conditioning bills
  • Can prevent glass fragmentation and shattering

Because of the advanced technologies and materials used in window films they can be expensive. However, installing them is far less expensive than replacing whole windows. Also, installation can be performed by the average person.

Window films can be purchased from numerous sources, including the major home improvement chains and online. The leading manufacturers are 3M and Gila. A first time installer can do a window in about two hours. After the learning curve is surmounted, additional windows can be filmed in less than an hour each.

The installation process is similar to wallpaper installation. It is best to precisely follow manufacturer's instructions. Nevertheless, the following description should give an idea of what the average installation is like, and will serve in case instructions have been lost or accidently discarded. Film installation is very difficult for one person to do alone. First timers should perform this task in pairs.

  1. Remove roll from box and roll the film backward; allow to set while doing other preps. Take care not to crease the film as creases are difficult, if not impossible, to remove.
  2. Thoroughly clean window. Wipe down with dust free cloth, manufacturers recommend using coffee filters for this job.
  3. It is presumed that you have measured the windows before purchasing the window film. However, it can't hurt to do it again. Lay the film out on a flat surface and cut using a razor and a straight-edge so that it is approximately one inch larger than the glass pane to be covered.
  4. Thoroughly wet the window with a solution of baby shampoo and water from a spray bottle.
  5. Split the backing from the film at the top of the sheet. To differentiate the film from the backing is impossible without touching the backside. The sticky piece is the film. This can be done easily using two pieces of tape. Place them on a top corner on either side of the sheet (facing each other). Pull them apart. The film will stick to one side and the backing to the other. Reveal about six inches of the back of the film. Spray the back as well as your hands with the soap solution.
  6. Place one of the corners over the pane at the top. Use the piece of tape to secure it to the window frame. Arrange the sheet so that it is flush with the top and one side of the pane. The sheet of film will adhere to the window, although it can still be slid around at this point.
  7. Remove the backing by pulling downward as your partner sprays the back side of the film. Also take this opportunity to spray the front side of the film.
  8. When the back side is removed adjust the film so that there are a minimum of air bubbles. There will be considerable water beneath the window film.
  9. Using a squeegee push the water beneath the film to the edges where it will come out and run down the side of the frame. A couple of towels should be placed at the base of the window to absorb water. The film should begin to be indistinguishable from the window.
  10. When a significant amount of the water is removed, with your razor and a straight-edge, remove the excess film near the edges of the pane.
  11. Continue to apply the squeegee until all visible water and bubbles are removed from beneath the film.
  12. If two pieces of film are needed to cover the window, overlap them by about 1/2-inch. Before the adhesive has a chance to set, use a straight-edge and razor to go down the center of the overlap. Remove the extra strips. The two pieces of film should fit nicely together. Do not try to simply fit two edges together. It can be done, but it is much more work in the long run.
  13. Allow film to cure for 30 days.

To clean windows that have been covered with film is very similar to cleaning regular glass. Generally, ammonia based products can be used after the curing process is completed (30 days). Do not use abrasive cleaners or razor blades to scrape the windows. Most films are tough and durable. Tape and suction cups can often be used on the windows, although it is inadvisable to leave them in place for long periods.

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  1. Benefits of Window Film

The author of this site is also the author of: "How NOT to Build an Addition" a fun and interesting parody of home-improvement manuals outlining some of the many things that can go wrong in building an addition.

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