Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Wear Sunscreen

Sorry, your daily SPF isn't enough.  Even your windows need some sunscreen.  

I recently switched out a sad (once cute) comforter in our guest room, and it was faded terribly.  But, only on the side that faced the window.  And I'd noticed serious fading on the dark curtains we'd hung elsewhere.  I really didn't want that to happen to my fancy new bed, or anything else in our house.

Aesthetic concerns aside, without any big trees to shade us, our house roasts in the Summer sunshine.  Especially the dining room.  I LOVE this window bay, but it gets too hot to enjoy, even in the winter.

Wandering around Lowe's, we found these Gila window films.  DIY window tinting?  How hard could it be?

Luckily, it's pretty easy, after a little learning curve.  Even more luckily, you get to benefit from my learning curve.

Some tips:
  • You will definitely need a buddy for this project.  I mean, I'm sure you could figure out a way to peel everything smoothly without the film sticking to itself, but I couldn't.
  • The full instructions are wrapped up inside the roll of film.  The first window I installed it on did not benefit from my thinking the full instructions were on the side of the package (and yet, it looks just as good as the second one I did, so that should tell you how seriously easy this is).
  • Trim to a slightly bigger than glass pane size before you peel off the clear backing.
  • If the clear backing is too hard to get off, use a piece of Scotch tape to separate the layers.

Let's get started.

Step 1:  Gather Materials

Window (clean first with Windex or your preferred window cleaner)

Window Film

Installation Kit


Paper Towel

Step 2: Find and Read Instructions

Step 3:  Trim Window Film

Make it a little bigger than the window pane.  Too much overhang is wasteful and makes the final trimming more difficult.

Step 4: Grab a Buddy

Have your helper hold the cut panel while you peel the backing off.

Step 5:  Spray

Spray the window and the sticky side of the window film with the application solution.  Don't be stingy.

Step 6:  Stick the Film On

Wet sides together.

Step 7:  Smooth 

Get the big bubbles out with the squeegee.

Step 8:  Final Trim

Use the cutter to trim the film to the exact size of the window pane.

I found it easiest to trim and remove one edge at a time (as opposed to trimming the entire way around before removal).

Step 8:  Final Smooth

Wrap your squeegee in paper towel to do a final smoothing.  The paper towel will soak up excess application solution.

If you get something trapped between the film and the window pane (errant fly, perhaps), just peel up a corner, get it out, and repeat from Step 5.  It takes a few days for full cure, so there's time to play with it.  

Here's the difference - the window on the right is filmed, the middle and left are au naturale.

These guys aren't perfect, of course.  The window film is so thin that, if it does bend, it can leave a little crack that's visible on the window.  Also, the Platinum finish turns a little two-way-mirror reflective at night.  They do have a less reflective model, but I worried that it wouldn't reflect UV rays as well.  Neither of these are huge problems.

I still have a few windows to go, and then we'll be able to compare our electric usage from year to year.     It feels cooler, the instant the film gets installed, though.  And for now, that works for me.  

Note: Not a sponsored post - this brand was just what we found at our go-to hardware store.

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