Are you worried about those old, energy-inefficient windows? Do you wish you have a little more privacy from your neighbors? Well, window tints are an easy and inexpensive way to update your home without the cost of replacing your windows. We explore the basics of window tinting film, outline the pros and cons of adding it to your home and explain how you can install it yourself.
What Is Home Window Tint?
Window tint, or more commonly window film, is a thin laminate film you can use to cover your windows. Some window tint blocks out light and UV rays, while other types add decoration or help prevent glass breaks.
Most window tinting film is made from a thermoplastic polymer resin called PET. Sometimes the film is coated with metal or ceramic for additional strength and durability.
Although most window tints are dark in color, they range from clear to frosted to entirely solid. They can even print decorative patterns on the window tint.
3 Categories of Window Tinting Film
Although some window tinting films serve more than one purpose, most fall into just one of three main categories. However, some of the categories are a bit confusing.
Solar blocking, also called energy-efficient window tints, is pretty straightforward. This kind of tint blocks out UV rays and helps keep your home cooler. Most have a reflective coating on the outside and make things look darker through the window. Since you usually cannot see into your home through solar blocking tints, it also adds privacy.
Security film is the most misunderstood. While you may think security means more privacy, it mainly protects against glass breaking. Should the glass break, the window film holds the glass pieces together. It is primarily used in areas with severe wind storms like hurricanes or tornados. Security window tints can offer some protection against break-ins as well. Although tinted options are available, most security film is clear.
Decorative window film is also a little confusing. While it has some design, these window tints are mainly for privacy. It is available in many colors and patterns that prevent people from seeing in but still allow light to shine through your windows. Although most clear options are available, most range from frosted to entirely solid.
6 Great Reasons To Tint Your Windows at Home
- Usually Inexpensive – Window tint is inexpensive and solid in both rolls and tiles. In terms of price, security film is the most expensive, followed by solar tints and finally decorative film. Regardless of the type of tint you go will, rolls cost less than tiles.
- Easy To Install Yourself – Window tints are easy to install with just a pair of scissors, a tape measure, and a squeegee. Since they take less cutting, tiles are easier to install.
- Can Improve Energy Efficient – Solar tints will block UV rays and help you save on utility bills. However, security and decorative window tints do not offer the same level of solar protection.
- Improves Your Privacy – Most decorative window tints are opaque, so they add privacy. Many solar window films also add privacy because they have a mirrored finish. Although opaque options are available, most security tints are clear.
- Adds Curb Appeal – While style is subjective, most window tints add curb appeal. If you are looking to sell, security or solar films are the best options for adding value to your home.
- Reduces Glare – With the exception of security window film, most tints reduce the amount of light coming through your windows. In turn, this can prevent glare on TV and computer screens.
4 Cons To Consider Before Adding a Tint Film to Your Windows
While there are many great reasons to tint your windows at home, there are a few cons you need to know about too.
- Can Crack Your Windows – Some window tints can crack your windows. Although most common with solar blocking tints, any window film can absorb heat and stress the window glass. Under the right conditions, they can crack or even shatter. Check with your window manufacturer before adding any tint or film.
- May Void Your Window Warranty – Although rare, another big con to consider is that a window tint may void your window warranty. Most warranties clearly prohibit making window modifications. If you want to tint your windows, read your warrant or call customer service first.
- Hard To Install on Some Windows – It is easy to install most window tints, but it can be difficult or cost-prohibitive for some window styles. Window dividers make installing the tint troublesome. It’s also more labor-intensive to install on specialty garden or awning style windows. Large windows like picture or bay styles may need custom tint panels which are usually expensive.
- Could Violate Homeowners Association Regulations – If you live in a community with a homeowners association, check your regulations before installing any window tint or film. Some HOAs only allow specific styles, while others may prohibit them entirely.
How To Tint Windows at Home
Clean Your Windows
Since the film adheres directly to the glass, it will lock in any dirt or lint on the windows. Start by following our window cleaning guide, then clean the glass again with pure rubbing alcohol and a microfiber cloth. For the best results, clean one window at a time. Then do all the other steps to install the window tint before moving on to the next one.
Measure and Cut the Tint
Take a rough measurement of the window, then add an extra inch to each side. When using rolls, measure out the window tint and cut it with scissors. For tiles, find one that will cover that specific window.
Carefully Peel the Backing Off
Start at one corner and gently peel the backing off the window tint. While you can do this yourself, it’s easier with at least one helper holding the film down.
Activate the Glue
Next, you need to activate the glue on the window tint. Water is the most common activator, but read the instructions for the window film you bought. When using water, it’s best to use distilled water because it won’t leave water spots behind. Remember to mist both the window and the film with water for the best results.
Hang the Window Tint
Handing the window film is the hardest part, so work carefully. It’s also helpful to have someone assist with this part. Hang the tint gently on the window so it covers all of the glass.
Remove Any Bubbles
Then use a rubber-bladed squeegee to remove bubbles in the film. Start in the center and move towards the edges so air can escape. If you don’t have a squeegee, you can use an old gift card. It will take longer, but it’s still effective at working out the bubbles.
Trim the Excess Film
Finally, use a new razor blade to cut off the excess window film. A metal ruler can make cutting easier as well. Plass the ruler against the glass and then push it against the edge of the window frame. Carefully slide in the razor blade and gently cut away the film.