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Naturally, we believe the answer to this question is yes. Still, you should consider the following factors when choosing window films:
Warranty. Some window films have extravagant warranties. Just remember that a warranty is a promise about the future, like an insurance policy. The question you have to ask is, “What is the financial strength of the company behind the warranty?” Also, the corporate owners of many window film brands have changed over the past decade, raising questions about who is going to be responsible for warranties.
The 3M™ Window Film brand has always been owned by 3M. 3M is a Fortune 500 company with $29.6 billion in 2012 revenues.
Most advanced technology. 3M received the first window film patent in 1966 and has since received hundreds of patents for innovations related to window film. As a result, 3M™ Window Films have always enjoyed a technology edge and more field experience than other window films. You should choose 3M if you want to be assured that you have the most advanced window film technology currently available, whether your needs relate to sun control, safety and security, energy cost savings, protection against fading of surfaces and finishes, or daylighting of interior spaces.
Most consistent quality. In addition to the unique technology advantages of 3M™ Window Films, 3M is also the only manufacturer that produces all of its raw materials. See the next question to learn why this is so important.
Absolutely. 3M is the only manufacturer that produces its own polyesters, adhesives, metals, and scratch-resistant coatings. This means 3M can formulate materials such as, for example, the adhesive that holds laminated polyester sheets together, for ideal compatibility, rather than just trying to match up off-the-shelf materials from several different suppliers.
The result is a degree of quality control and product consistency that other window film brands just can’t match. When you also consider that 3M is the worldwide leader in adhesives research and technology, 3M™ Window Films become the obvious choice for your windows.
Glass breakage during window film application should never occur. However, we have experienced very rare instances of glass cracking after window film installation.
Here’s what happens: Every solar control window film works by reflecting a portion of the solar energy striking the window. Because the film is applied to the interior side of the glass, a portion of the reflected energy is absorbed into the glass, increasing its temperature. Also, metallized window films absorb heat, some of which is transferred into the glass by conduction. Higher temperature subjects the glass to additional stress, especially at the edges. This stress is called thermal shock. Glass may crack under thermal shock if scratches or other flaws exist along the edge surfaces. Factors that can increase the risk of glass breakage as a result of thermal shock include:
- condition of glass edge surfaces
- exterior and interior shading
- window orientation—east and west facing get hottest
- glass history—for example, age and handling
- type of film
- size and shape of glass
- indoor and outdoor air temperatures
3M’s nearly half century of field experience with window films—far longer than any other manufacturer—should give you peace of mind. And our window films are backed by a 60-month warranty against glass fractures caused by thermal shock from 3M, a Fortune 500 company. (See more details below.)
3M™ Window Films do not cause seal failure. Millions of square feet of 3M™ Window Films have been applied to insulated windows since the late 1960s, without any evidence that these films cause seal failure.
3M solar control window films applied to the inner pane of an insulated glass window will increase absorption of solar energy and raise the temperature of the glass pane. Some of this heat will transmit to the airspace between the glass panes, slightly raising the airspace temperature. However, this increase is meaningless.
Even a highly unusual 20°F increase in airspace temperature raises the pressure in the airspace by less than three percent. Insulated windows are designed and tested to withstand air pressure changes of up to 22 percent.
The risk of insulated window seal failure is primarily a function of product quality. Cheap windows are more likely to experience seal failure, regardless of the presence of sun control film on the interior pane. The best way to reduce this risk is to invest in quality windows from a manufacturer with an established track record for building insulated windows.
Light within the upper and lower ranges of the visible light spectrum is important for photosynthesis, so tinted windows that indiscriminately block a portion of all sunlight wavelengths could potentially reduce plant growth. On the other hand, in tinted 3M™ Window Films, these effects might well be outweighed by the fact that ingredients in the adhesive block virtually all ultraviolet radiation, which is harmful to green plants.
Greenhouses often supplement poor seasonal or cloudy light conditions with artificial lighting, so it is quite possible that evening indoor lighting will offset any visible light blocked by your window film.
3M’s patented Prestige Series window films, which contain absolutely no metal, deliver a high percentage of visible light while removing infrared wavelengths from sunlight for comfort and energy saving purposes. Prestige Series window films will have little effect on plant growth because plants are insensitive to infrared energy wavelengths past about 800 nanometers.
Nothing completely prevents fading. However, 3M’s solar control window film products are specially engineered to reduce fading. Absent physical wear and tear, you can expect our solar control window films to extend the life of your sunlight-exposed indoor fabrics and surfaces by two to five times. Keep in mind that if you are trying to protect an item with, for example, a typical life of five years, then you may expect 10 years or much longer, depending upon the film selected. However, if the typical expected life of an item is only two to three weeks, then the expected life increase would a matter of months.
Fading is caused by the following factors, with the percentages shown indicating the relative significance of each factor:
- 40% ultraviolet light
- 25% visible light
- 25% infrared solar energy
- 10% other
Other factors that contribute to fading include humidity, airborne pollutants and interior lighting, and the chemical stability of surface materials, finishes and color dyes.
No. The ultraviolet (UV) protection ingredients in 3M’s proprietary adhesive systems do not lose any appreciable effectiveness over time. For example, a 10-year old sample of window film applied to window glass from The Dumbarton House in Washington, DC was tested and the ultraviolet transmission still measured less than one percent.
Not necessarily. Chasing the maximum possible infrared heat rejection, visible light transmission, or impact resistance is not nearly as important as investing in a durable film that will retain its performance over several years.
A test rating that gives one film a few extra percentage points of performance won’t mean much if the adhesive starts to degrade after two or three years, if the polyester sheets start to separate, if a so-called “ceramic” layer starts to crack, or if the film develops a cloudy haze after a few years of exposure to ultraviolet radiation.
Your payback period depends upon a variety of factors: the surface areas and orientation (direction) of your window surfaces, type of window film, type of glass, and current energy costs. That said, most 3M™ Window Film applications will achieve total energy cost savings equal to your investment within two to five years.
In some cases—for example, a large west-facing expanse of glass—property owners have reported payback periods as short as six months. We can give you a better idea of your potential energy cost savings after inspecting your site.
3M™ Window Films are engineered and manufactured to last for many years. Just how long your film will last depends upon several factors, including:
- type of glass the film is applied to
- window orientation (east and west facing film is exposed to more sunlight than north or south facing)
- the specific film product’s characteristics
- local climate
Most 3M™ Window Film applications can be expected to last 20–30 years or more. 3M™ Window Films have been in use longer than any other window film brand and all interior applications carry at least a 10-year warranty. Outdoor applications are only warranted for two years. Certain premium 3M™ Window Films give the original owner a limited lifetime warranty when installed in a residence.
3M™ Window Films are warranted to maintain their solar properties without bubbling, peeling, cracking, or crazing. Many of our films (those that do not use dyed polyesters) are warranted against discoloration. Should the product prove defective, 3M and Engineered Group will replace the film and provide the reapplication labor free of charge.
3M also warrants against glass failure due to thermal shock fracture or seal failure (maximum value of $500 per window) caused only as a direct result of the application of 3M™ Window Films provided the film is applied to recommended types of glass and the glass failure is reported to us within the specified time (listed below) from the start of the installation.
- Sixty (60) months coverage against thermal shock fracture
- Forty (40) months coverage against seal failure if covered by original window manufacturer
Any glass failure covered by this warranty must be reviewed by us prior to repair, and only covers film and glass replacement.
Optional Platinum Warranty for residential applications only. The 3M Platinum Warranty matches the terms and conditions of the residential customer’s existing window manufacturer’s warranty for just 35 cents per square foot. The 3M Platinum Select Warranty matches the terms of the Platinum Warranty, but also increases the warranty replacement value of $500 per window to $1,500 per window. This gives you continuous coverage on new windows and peace of mind, knowing that a 3M product is protecting your home investment.
There are indeed websites that will sell you rolls of window film. But if you are interested in obtaining the unique performance and warranty protection of 3M window films, your film must be installed by a 3M Authorized Window Film Dealer.
You should carefully consider the implications of this direct quote from the same mail order window film company’s website:
The application of [window] films will result in additional [stresses] being placed on glazing systems. Customers who require a comprehensive warranty … should contact a professional solar film installer, rather than installing their own films.
On a more practical note, most people intuitively understand that installing large sheets of an adhesive-backed material requires practice and patience. The “money back satisfaction guarantee” promoted by one prominent mail order window film website only applies to unused window film.
Our factory certified applicators are thoroughly trained and experienced in applying advanced window films. Installation by a factory authorized applicator is required in order to obtain the full coverage and benefits of 3M™ Window Film warranties.
Just use your common sense. 3M invented window film almost 50 years ago and has literally millions of square feet of film installed. Even today, 3M continues to file the key patents on major innovations in the field.
As for rumors about problems with one or another of 3M’s hundreds of thousands of window film installations, keep in mind that, even if true, tales of window film failures may in reality have been attributable to other causes, such as defective window glass or improper film installation. We can tell you from first-hand experience that 3M has asked Engineered Group’s team of professionals to replace defective installation work performed by other companies on more than one occasion.
And finally, with respect to any side-by-side window film warranty comparisons you may see, just remember that 3M’s warranties are backed by a Fortune 500 company with $29.6 billion in 2012 revenues.
Most 3M™ Window Films are designed to be applied to the inside of your glass. The first step is to prepare the window area by placing drop cloths to protect the floor and covering or moving furniture.
Next, the window glass is cleaned with an ammonia-based cleaning solution and razor blade scrapers. Once the glass surface is clean, the film’s backing is carefully removed and the film is sprayed with a detergent and water slip solution that makes positioning the film on the glass easier.
Now, the film sheet is applied to the window glass—a step that is easy to describe but requires great skill and patience. If you have ever experienced the frustration associated with a piece of adhesive tape becoming wrinkled and sticking to itself, imagine working with sheets of adhesive-backed material the size of windows.
Finally, using a professional grade squeegee and proper technique, the application is completed by removing excess water and trimming and drying the edges.
We suggest you allow at least 30 days for the film to fully dry and cure. During this curing process, you may see small water bubbles and/or a hazy appearance. This is normal. Any bubbles and haze will vanish as the film dries. Depending upon the film type and weather conditions, drying may take a few days, or up to 45 days. Once dry, your 3M™ Window Film will look great and can be expected to perform for many years.
You may clean 3M™ Films starting at least 30 days after installation with normal household cleaning solutions like Windex® and other ammonia based products, using a soft, lint-free cloth or towel. You may also use a squeegee to clean the films. Do not use abrasive products that might scratch or damage the structure of the film.
3M Sun Control Films are designed to reduce the amount of solar heat transmission through window glass 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 precision coated with metals. These metallized films are designed to increase the solar energy reflection of the glass. 3M reflective films range from moderate to excellent in solar performance (heat gain reduction).
All 3M Sun Control Films are made to be transparent and optically clear. The ultraviolet protection is built into the adhesive system to provide longevity to the film as well as provide UV protection for your home and office furnishings.
Most 3M™ Window Films are protected with our abrasion resistant coating that provides long-term durability and maintained appearance.
3M Low E Films work much in the same way as the sun control films except that they offer an increased performance against cold weather heat loss. The patented 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 cold spots near windows and can help save on fuel costs, especially in commercial buildings. These Low E films are also protected with our patented abrasion resistant coating for long-term durability and maintained appearance.
Our commercial customers most often invest in 3M™ Window Films for tenant comfort, then justify the investment through energy cost savings. However, 3M™ Window Films actually offer a range of benefits to building owners:
- lower heating and cooling costs
- lower utility demand costs
- utility rebates
- window films with high visible light transmission improve productivity by reducing reliance upon artificial lighting
- less infrared energy passing through windows and striking occupants improves comfort
- improved aesthetics and uniform appearance
- greater safety and security
- extended life of air conditioning equipment
- alternative to adding more air conditioning capacity
3M Safety and Security Window Films are designed to make glass shatter-resistant by holding the glass pieces together when broken.
Compared to 3M™ Sun Control Window Films, 3M Safety and Security Window Films are made with thicker polyester and a much thicker, more aggressive adhesive.
3M Ultra Safety and Security Window Films are unique in the industry. These remarkable films have a special micro-layered polyester technology that significantly increases the tear resistance of the film. The impact and tear resistance of Ultra films outperform all other films of similar thickness.
This question is difficult to answer, and naturally depends to a great extent upon circumstances: the mass and velocity of a projectile, the proximity of an explosion, severity of an earthquake, and so on.
Window glass strength varies from piece to piece and lot to lot, even for pieces of similar type and thickness. If a window protected with 3M Safety and Security Window Film is subjected to violent motion, explosive shock, or a projectile impact and does not break—even in a controlled test setting—it would still be difficult to determine whether the glass, the film, or some combination of the two is responsible. That said, 3M Safety and Security Window Films demonstrate superior protective features when breakage does occur.
No, 3M Safety and Security Window Films are not hurricane-proof, earthquake-proof, explosion-proof, or bullet-proof. These films are engineered and tested to increase the shatter-resistance of glass—not to prevent breakage.
In the event of destructive impacts, these films can provide significant safety and security value. They can reduce the risk of injury from flying shards of broken glass, and possibly help prevent subsequent debris and water penetration through the window, depending upon the severity of the event, the type of glass, the framing system, the mass and velocity of projectiles, and other factors.
In an earthquake, these films can reduce the risk of serious injury to building occupants from flying shards of broken glass, and possibly prevent glass from falling out of upper story windows to injure people below. Again, performance depends upon the severity of the quake, the type of glass, the framing system, and other factors.
3M Safety and Security Window Films were originally developed to address concerns about international terrorism and the need for improved safety and security against bomb blasts. These films can significantly reduce the risk of serious injury from flying shards of glass during a blast; however, the protective value naturally depends upon the severity and proximity of the blast, glass type, framing system, and other factors.
These films are not designed to stop bullets.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: These products are not approved in the State of Florida for use as hurricane or windstorm protection, or for impact protection from wind-borne debris during a hurricane or windstorm. In compliance with Florida Statute §553.842, this product may not be advertised, sold, offered, provided, distributed, or marketed within the State of Florida as hurricane or windstorm protection, or for impact protection from wind-borne debris during a hurricane or windstorm.
No, 3M Safety and Security Window Films cannot guarantee that an intruder will not be able to enter through a protected window. As pointed out in the previous question, these films are engineered and tested to increase the shatter-resistance of glass—not to prevent breakage.
That said, 3M Safety and Security Window Films are a low profile, high performance security measure in the battle against break-ins generally and “smash and grab” crime in particular. The tough, shatter-resistant qualities of the film can hold the window glass together even if a brick, a baseball bat, or some other object penetrates the glass. An intruder is then forced to make a quick choice: continue to attack the same window, try another window, or move on.
Since time is the intruder’s enemy, the resistance added by the film—plus the strong possibility that other windows in the same structure have the same protective window film—can often cause the intruder to move on. However, a determined intruder will eventually gain entry. We generally recommend that you have a proper intruder alarm system in addition to 3M Safety and Security Window Film.