Updated: November 2017

Window Film Reviews:

As our country becomes more energy conscious, more people are realizing the many benefits of having a protective film or tint put on their homes windows. Car owners have been tinting their windows for decades to keep sun damage to a minimum for their interiors. Homeowners are just learning the advantages of having window films put on windows in their home. Window films are a type of window treatment that will help keep the harmful UV rays of the sun from damaging your furniture (sunlight fades objects over time). Residential window film will help insulate your windows as well and keep warm air in during the winter months and hot air out during the peak summer months. This should lower your heating bills and reduce your cooling costs in the summer. People also use window film to get more privacy in their homes and to cut down on the overall glare of the sun. I have several neighbors who installed window film in rooms where the glare from the sun prohibited them from seeing the computer screen and television set properly.

Buying Guide - The basic types of window film are decorative window films, insulating films, glare reducing, static cling, and privacy films. Each can serve several purposes and you need to decide which is best for your home. Many of the window films must be installed by professionals in order for the warranty to be valid, but there are several types that are for do it yourselfers. We read in one article that you should "think of window film as sunglasses for your home" and we feel that is a good analogy. Window film will help deflect sunlight and reduce glare while being very energy-efficient and cost effective. Most of the companies that we looked into that produce window film have a 10 year warranty on their tints which means you shouldn't have to replace them for years. Decorative films include frosted glass, stained glass, and glass block. There are even types that prevent windows from breaking during storms, tornadoes, and hurricanes. The film helps stop the windows from shattering in those severe weather situations and keeps glass shards from flying all over. Frosted window films are perfect for bathrooms where privacy is essential. You can still see out, but anyone on the outside can't see in clearly. Window films are built into many homes located in desert climates like Las Vegas, Nevada, all parts of Arizona, and Palm Springs. These regions consistently break 100 degrees during the hottest months of summer and any windows that face the sun during the peak of the day need window films to reduce heat and keep the interiors as cool as possible. If you have purchased solar control window film from Gila, Vista, or Llumar, then you may qualify for a $500 income tax credit. You can find out all the details online at Windowfilmtaxcredit.com. As for the top brands that make residential window film, choose from 3M, Llumar, Gila, Vista, Johnson, and Madico. Pricing varies by type of film and how much square footage of windows you need to cover. 3M says on their website that many residential customers recoup the upfront costs in energy savings within 2 to 5 years. Down below we have tried to list the most common types of window films available with brief descriptions, benefit, and websites where you can order them.

Privacy Window Film:

Frosted window films are the best if you are looking for privacy, especially in upstairs bathrooms that are exposed to neighbors. Frosted privacy films are translucent which means light will still enter your room in the daytime, but no one from the outside will be able to see in. In the evening hours someone would possible see slight shadows through frosted window films. If you want limited light coming through, look into black static cling films which greatly reduce the light entering into a room and give you the best privacy. You will also find that privacy window films block almost 99% of harmful UV rays that cause fading and sun damage to furniture and interior rugs and flooring. You can install some privacy window films like the Gila Privacy Window Film ($24). It's inexpensive, covers two 36"x54" windows, is removable/reusable, and has static cling installation for DIY homeowners. There are all sorts of designs and styles to choose from on sites like Windowfilmworld.com. They carry Wallpaper for Windows which is an easy to install privacy film that works great on windows, glass doors, and shower enclosures. Pick the pattern or design you like best and cut it to your windows specs. Cost is only about $40 for an average size window.

Static Cling Window Film:

Many of us have rooms where we would like to watch TV but the glare from the sun is so bad at certain times of the day that it's impossible. Glare reducing static cling window films will improve viewing conditions of tv's and computer screens instantly. They are extremely effective and homeowners like the fact they are easily removable and reusable. They will block 99% of UV rays which is another added benefit. As for where they should be installed, if you single-pane windows put them on the inside and for dual-pane windows they go on the outside. Static cling film costs about $40 to $70 for a good size roll from Concordwindowfilms.com. These windows films are excellent at controlling glare (65% reduction), UV rays (90% reduction), and solar heat reduction (34%) but they are not as efficient at insulating windows as the products listed below. They are, however, easy to apply as the film will adhere right to the glass surface w/out any adhesives required. You can remove and reapply the window film over and over. Most consumers say these films work just fine, but you can see air bubbles that appear behind the film after a while and they will need to be re-applied to keep a uniform look.

Insulating Window Film:

Windows are great for allowing light to enter your home and for admiring views but they have a big drawback when it comes to energy efficiency. Modern windows are certainly better at retaining heat than those found on older homes, but adding insulating window films to your windows will dramatically reduce your heating bills in the winter and lower the cost to keep your house cool in the summertime. Insulating films offer a year round benefit with the ability to reflect up to 70% of the suns heat in the summer and retain almost 55% of the heat in the winter months. Your utility bills will be effected in a positive way and the air conditioning won't be running all summer. Another advantage to installing insulating window films is that they can block up to 99% of UV rays meaning there is less fading to your window treatments, interior furniture, and flooring (rugs, carpets, etc.). They work on single and double pane windows. 3M has an excellent reputation in the window film business and their 3M Scotchtint Sun Control Films are a leading product in this category. They remove 99% of the UV rays, they reduce glare, reflect up to 78% of the sun's heat so it doesn't enter your windows. They also offer 3M Scotchtint Plus All Season Films, or Low E Films, which give you protection from heat loss in cold weather environments. They will both need to be installed by 3M dealers and you should get a minimum of 20 years life from these films. The warranty on the 3M Scotchtint window films covers bubbling, cracking, peeling, or crazing.

DIY Window Films:

As we mentioned throughout this article, many types of window films are for do-it-yourselfers (DIY) who enjoy taking on home projects. Lowes offers an excellent article on what it takes to apply or install window films on their website. As for residential window films that offer do-it-yourself application, we found that Gila window films are some of the best and easiest to work with. Gila window films include those meant for heat, privacy, glare, fading, and decorative purposes. Their Heat Control Platinum film blocks heat, prevents fading, and reduces glare. On average, GILA window films last ten years depending the film type, climate, exposure and window coverage. They work on single-pane, dual-pane, and removable storm pane windows. We read on several home improvement sites that installing window films can be tedious work and often requires a second person to help with larger windows. You can save upwards of $600 by doing the work yourself.