Window Film Basics

08/01/2007 |

Performance-based window films provide many benefits

Performance Expectations for Safety/Security Window Film
Safety/security films are used extensively by government agencies and large corporations for protection from the hazards of flying glass fragments during bomb blasts or other types of weaponry attacks. There are published standards of performance at different levels of protection established by the General Services Administration, and most film manufacturers have many products tested and approved for these uses.

Films can be installed 1) on only the daylight area of the glass, 2) if the frame is removed and replaced on the entire glass surface (called an edge-to-edge installation), or 3) as part of a film-attachment system. Films installed on the daylight portion only hold the glass together and in the frame as long as some of the glass edge remains unbroken along the line where the daylight part of the glass meets the frame. Once there is total edge break of the glass, then the film and broken glass held by it vacate the frame. Films installed edge to edge hold glass in the frame better since a part of the film is installed on the glass under the frame, thereby holding the broken glass in place even with total daylight area glass breakage. Films installed as a part of an attached film system are "anchored" to the window frame using either a structural silicone adhesive or a mechanical device (or both): The film becomes a flexible membrane holding the glass fragments together.

In response to the many requests for a statement on the benefits of installed window film products, the Martinsville, VA-based Intl. Window Film Association has compiled the following information. This list may not include all potential applications and, depending on the product recommendations, many products will not provide all of the benefits listed. It is the responsibility of the installing dealer, as well as the informed consumer, to determine which window film product will best suit the building's needs. Working with an accredited Intl. Window Film Association (IWFA) solar control specialist offers assurance that a dealer has successfully completed testing on important areas of technical and installation expertise.

All window films typically offer the following:

  • Up to 99-percent ultraviolet (UV) light reduction resulting in significant fade protection for furniture, carpet, draperies, wood, etc.; reduced fabric/textile deterioration; and reduced exposure to UV radiation, which has been linked to certain cancers.
  • Increased shatter resistance, resulting in increased peace of mind and increased safety for family and friends.
  • Heavy-gauge security films offer protection from natural disasters such as violent storms, earthquake, high winds, etc.; vandalism, terrorist bombings, smash and grab, etc.; and scratching/graffiti (glass tagging) on exterior windows, restroom mirrors, elevator doors and glass, and similar flat/smooth surfaces.
  • Scratch-resistant hard coating protects against accidental abrasion and product deterioration from normal cleaning, hazy appearance typical with plastic type materials, and performs well in all climates.

Metallized/solar control window film can provide:

  • Significantly reduced solar heat gain resulting in increased comfort, reduced air-conditioning costs, reduced HVAC equipment wear and tear/maintenance, and increased fade resistance.
  • Glare reduction.
  • Daytime privacy.
  • Attractive accent to windows.
  • Lower energy demands from utilities, resulting in lower overall energy costs, decreased demand for new power-generating facilities, and decreased environmental emissions.

With accredited solar control specialist installations, you can expect:

  • Knowledgeable sales consultants.
  • High-quality materials and installation.
  • Manufacturer warranties covering product failure.
  • Glass thermal shock fracture and IG unit seal failure coverage.
  • Confidence you are dealing with an industry professional.

Information for this column was provided by Martinsville, VA-based Intl. Window Film Association (

Related Coverage