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DIY Success Story: UV Film on Windows

July 8, 2015

Why we chose it:

We loved the light and open look of the living room with naked windows.  The way the house is set meant we didn’t need window coverings for privacy reasons.  However, we did care about keeping the sun off the wood floors and furniture… and us, I guess.

We debated what we should do to solve this.  The options for window treatments for the two big slider glass doors on either side of the room were either things I didn’t particularly like or very expensive.  Rugs were a partial solution for the hardest hit areas, but there would still be furniture to worry about.

We decided on UV film to keep the harmful rays off our stuff but maintain the open feel.  Our goal wasn’t so much to keep the place cool in the summers but I did notice this helped a bit.  (So, if you count on sunlight to keep it warm in the winter, not a good option.)  Note that adding window film may violate any warranties for windows, so this isn’t a good option if you are worried about that.  Our windows in this room are old, maybe original to the house, so I’m pretty sure that ship has sailed.  You can also get new windows that already block out some UV rays, but I’m sure they are expensive.

DIY Install:

To be honest, I would have never done this project on my own, even with a similarly competent helper.  I’m not meticulous enough.  I’m not patient enough. But, I’m also kind of cheap, so… I’m glad that my husband is more meticulous and patient than I am.

The first step was to clean the window really well using windex and razor blade scrapers.  Any smudge not cleaned off will be there for the rest of eternity.  Then, we wet the window with a baby shampoo / water mixture (with towels on the ground below to catch drips).  Then, very carefully, we unrolled a piece of film from the giant roll.  One set of windows is about 8′ high, so I would stand on a chair with my arms above my head holding the top of the film as we pulled it off the roll (and occasionally complaining that my arms would fall off).  T sprayed the film with the same solution, front and back, to help keep it from sticking to itself as we worked – it is a very clingy film!  He stuck a piece of scotch tape in each corner, which was used to peel back the protective backing and reveal the sticky side of the film.  As the backing was pulled off, he sprayed even more solution as I whined that my arms might fall off any second now. (Obviously, don’t drop the sheet.)  Finally,  very carefully, we moved the film close to the window and pushed the center of the film towards the window.  The film grabbed the window from the center,  and sort of flowed out to the edge.  Finally, T squeegeed out all the excess water, working from the middle.  If you screw up this squeegee step, you’ll end up with creases and have to start over (or live with crappy looking film).

The first window pane we attempted had 2 failures before we had a success.  This made me nervous, because we didn’t have enough excess film for a 33% yield! Luckily, we had minimal failures after that, and we have plenty of film left over.

Cost:

We got a 48″ x 100′ roll, as we needed the 48″ dimension for some of the windows.  This means we paid about $220 for more than we could use.  We didn’t want one that filtered out light, but we wanted UV blocking.  We settled on this one by Gila.   There was maybe another $20 or so in squeegees and other supplies – not much additional cost, really.

Results:

We completed a large 3-pane floor to ceiling sliding glass door,  and a smaller 2-pane door, as well as two other normal windows.  We might do our bedroom slider later, and just did a kitchen door last weekend.  We wouldn’t have done it if we didn’t have the film on hand, but we wanted to reduce the heat hitting our wine fridge.

It looks really good, if I don’t say so myself!!  I really don’t think it could have looked better professionally installed.  It does distort the view a little bit, and it is definitely a bit reflective at night.  This would bother some people, but it doesn’t bother me.  (The puppy, however, isn’t a big fan of that other dog that shows up but won’t come play.)

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. middle_class permalink
    July 9, 2015 7:52 am

    I’m really really impressed!

  2. July 11, 2015 4:36 pm

    Thanks for this! We’ve been talking about doing something like this. It’s definitely on the project list for this summer. I’m mostly just scared of how precise one needs to be to apply it!

    • July 11, 2015 5:36 pm

      Yeah, anyone with a careful hand and attention to detail can do it – I’m just not that person!

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