Five (Mis) Conceptions Architects Have About Window Film
by Katie Hodge
What’s the worst thing an architect can say to a window film
installer? How about, “I am serious about saving energy, but I don’t want
to bother with window film. I will just install new windows?” Or how about,
“Window film is just too hard to install?” or “It always looks dark.”
Common misconceptions all, but comments every window film company hears
Window Film magazine has assembled the top five misconceptions about film
most commonly circulated to architects, along with the real and simple
1. Window film is messy and hard
to install and requires chemicals.
Wrong. Window film is installed using simply soap and water. Depending
on the number and size of the glass being filmed, installation can be
done quickly in a matter of hours, minimizing the disruption to work time
or a consumer’s space. The ease of installation combined with the excellent
energy benefits make the product ideal for those serious about saving
“Many property owners are simply unaware of the significant energy savings
that can be realized, the energy consumption reduction tax credits and
other economic incentives which are available from the use of window film,”
says Antonius van Dijk, director of business development for U.S. Film
Crew in Bethel Park, Penn.
2. Window film is expensive.
Nope. One of film’s great benefits is its low cost. Film is much more
affordable than giving a home a complete window makeover and produces
many of the same benefits. Film can help keep cost down while providing
an energy-efficient end result.
“Building owners routinely leverage sophisticated software tools to estimate
energy savings for HVAC, Building Management Systems (BMS), window and
door replacement and other energy efficient devices in an effort to determine
applicable tax incentives, lifecycle costs, and return on investment ratios.
Ironically, the efficiency improvements and carbon footprint reduction
achieved through the application of window film can be estimated using
the same software and often the same data that is already available from
previous models for the abovementioned energy efficiency devices,” says
Mark Carlson, business development manager for HanitaTEK Window Films,
based in Dallas.
“Actually there are a number of window films available that offer an affordable
alternative to window replacement and can have a dramatic impact on cooling
costs for a building,” says Alison Schell, vice president of 3M energy
conservation in St. Paul, Minn. “Simple paybacks will vary depending upon
the amount of sunlit glass exposure, the type of film, the type of glass,
cost of fuel, cost of application, and other variables. However, we have
seen paybacks often range in the 2-5 year period, with some reported to
be even less than 6 months.”
3. Natural daylighting is difficult to
Not true. A common misconception among architects is that film reduces
the amount of usable light that enters a building. With new spectrally-selective
films you can allow as much or as little light as possible. Film is a
made-to-order product where the buyer can decide how much light they would
like and how much protection they would like.
“When most people think ‘tint,’ they think of dark films that would counteract
the daylighting benefits architects use as part of a green building philosophy.
The truth is, with the advent of the latest film technologies … films
with higher visible light transmission can have significant impact on
cooling costs, building aesthetics and overall comfort,” says Liza Noland,
manager for sales and marketing at SunTek Window Films in Martinsville,
4. Films turn purple.
Not any- more. This hasn’t been true since the early 1980’s when there
were some bad automotive films out there. Window film is much more advanced
than it was in the 1980’s and the technology of film today is far beyond
old automotive films. “The perception that window film is that ‘purple
stuff on cars’ has, thankfully, faded into the history of our industry,”
says Lewiz Pitzer, special projects coordinator for American Standard
Window Film in Las Vegas, Nev. “When I first began work in this industry
in the late 80’s, it was common for someone to bring up the ‘P’ word in
discussions about window film. Our industry has had excellent color stable
products in the market for years now and it is rare to see a vehicle with
“General Motors doesn't make a 1980 Corvette, and we don't make 1980 window
film,” adds Ron Jones, architectural programs manager for Sarasota, Fla.-based
Madico. “Technology changes such as the various metal deposition methods,
color extruded base materials, specialty coatings, etc. have helped window
film keep pace with market demands. Premium quality films made today offer
durability and longevity that consumers can count on.”
4. Window film does not stand up to weather
False. Window film is a durable product that will withstand extreme weather
and dirt or dust. In fact, in many cases manufacturers will guarantee
the life of the product for a significant amount of time. The product
will stay in place and continue doing its job for years to come. It’s
an energy-efficient product that protects interiors and lasts beyond many
other materials or products that face weather conditions.
“I challenge any user to identify other products in a commercial building
that are guaranteed not to fail for 12 to 15 years and come with a warranty
that includes costs of materials and labor with no proration. In fact,
lighting fixture manufacturers assume a useful life of their fixtures
of less than 10 years,” says Carlson.
“The profile of our industry has risen dramatically as manufacturers,
distributors and dealers have joined forces to engage films to reduce
energy consumption, mitigate damage in the event of failed glass and protect
valuable furnishings from the affects of the sun,” adds Pitzer.
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