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Best Window Films

Updated December 2018
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 18 Models Considered
  • 5 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 125 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best window films

    Last Updated December 2018

    Do you have a window that you wish you could change? Maybe it lets in too much sunlight or is positioned so that it presents privacy concerns. Or perhaps it just looks drab and window treatments do little to improve it. Regardless of your concern, there is an affordable way to alter the functionality and look of almost any window in your home without breaking your budget: window film.

    While installing new windows can be costly, covering existing windows with window film can make changes from room-darkening effects to refreshed aesthetic appeal. You might want to reduce the visibility into your home or turn a window into a focal point with an eye-catching look. The right window film can help you accomplish your goal, but you might not be sure how to choose the type that’s best for your situation.

    BestReviews can help. We take pride in guiding customers to top-quality choices in the items you use every day. Our shopping guide has plenty of information to help you choose. If you’re ready to change one or more of your windows, read on to learn all about window film.

    With quality materials and numerous varieties to choose from, window film has improved greatly over the decades. If you tried it in the past and found it difficult to work with, you might be surprised to find how much easier it is to apply now.

    What is window film?

    Window film is a thin material that adheres to the smooth surface of a window to alter the appearance of the glass. Although some companies make window film from ceramic, laminate, or carbon materials, most film is made of polyester using a polyethylene terephthalate, or PET polymer. The flexible nature of the film produces a seamless fit when applied correctly, making it nearly impossible to tell that the window wasn’t custom-made to be darker or fancier than it actually is.

    Applying window film has different benefits, and the film that’s best for you depends on what you want to accomplish.

    Benefits of window film

    • Privacy: Some types of window film can make it harder for people outside to see inside.

    • Décor: Updating the look of a window with specialized film can take it from boring to stylish.

    • Darken: Some window film reduces the amount of light that enters a room.

    • UV protection: Some films prevent UV light from entering, which can help protect furniture, carpet, fabrics, and occupants from the damaging rays of the sun.

    • Safety: Broken windows happen, whether from a ball or an act of nature. A window covered with film is less likely to send broken pieces flying in all directions.

    Types of window film

    Depending on what you want to change about your windows, there is a type of window film available that will accomplish the look or function you desire.

    Light blocking: Do you have a room that lets in too much sunlight? Window film that falls into this category is ideal for making rooms dimmer during the daytime hours. This feature is especially useful for sleeping babies and individuals who work at night and need to sleep during the day. This film is also available in different levels of darkness, with some that are opaque enough to almost completely darken a room.

    Privacy: If you live on a busy street, close to other buildings, or your yard is the one where all the neighborhood kids like to gather, privacy can be a concern. Window film with a frosted, textured, or patterned finish can help correct this issue by blurring or completely obscuring the people and objects on the other side of the window. It’s perfect for ground-level rooms where privacy is especially important, such as bedrooms or bathrooms.

    Decorative: This type of window film typically serves two purposes. Not only does it add an attractive design for an updated look but it also offers some degree of privacy. It’s available in a variety of styles, from artsy to floral and numerous options in between. Some decorative window film even creates the appearance of stained glass.

    Do an inventory of all your supplies and make sure they’re within reach before you begin to apply your window film. That way you won’t have to search for a vital tool when you need it most.

    Applying window film

    Window film sticks to windows either with a pre-applied adhesive or by static cling. Although the application process for both types of film is similar, there are some pros and cons to each.

    Adhesive

    Pros:

    • Long lasting

    • Durable

    • Tends to stay put
       

    Cons:

    • Harder to apply

    • Imperfections hard to correct

    • Residue from adhesive

    • Difficult to remove
       

    Static cling

    Pros:

    • Easier to apply

    • No residue

    • Easier to correct mistakes

    • Easy to remove
       

    Cons:

    • Likelier to peel/fall off

    • Not as durable

    • Sensitive to weather, especially cold

    Tools and supplies for applying window film

    Window cleaner: It’s necessary to remove any dirt or residue from your windows before you apply the film. This initial step helps the film adhere to the glass.

    Towels or paper towels: These are for cleaning the windows. You’ll also use them to gently dry the windows after applying the film.

    Spray bottle filled with water: Use this to wet the windows before applying the film. This is what enables the film to stick to the glass, whether you choose film that adheres with adhesive or static cling.

    Ruler: You’ll need this to trim your film to the perfect size. The more accurately you cut the film, the less trimming you’ll need to do once the film is in place.

    Pencil: You might need to mark the film or a small section of the window frame to guide you in trimming and placing your film accurately.

    Cutting tools: You’ll need scissors to cut the film and most likely a utility knife to trim excess film after you apply it to the glass.

    Squeegee: You’ll use this handy tool to squeeze out bubbles, lines, creases, and excess water as you put your window film in place.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Do you have a room with small accent windows? Applying decorative window film can create an eye-catching focal point on the exterior of your home.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    It’s important to clean your windows thoroughly before applying window film. Although the glass may look clean, even small particles of debris can cause imperfect results when trapped under the film.

    Window film prices

    Adding film to your windows is a relatively inexpensive improvement that can easily pay for itself in enhanced comfort and style. Window film typically comes in rolls measuring approximately 17 x 80 inches that cost around $7 to $20 each. Larger rolls of varying lengths and widths are available at a higher price. The total amount you will pay depends on the size and numbers of windows you wish to cover, as well as any other tools and supplies you need to purchase.

    Tips

    • Read the instructions that come with your window film. Even if you’re pretty sure you know what you’re doing, you risk missing an important step that could affect the results if you don’t follow the application steps precisely.

    • Take your time. You might be excited to see the end result, but creating a seamless look that is free of bubbles and creases takes patience and a steady hand.

    • Gently work out bubbles. If bubbles form during the application process, gently work them to the edges of the film with a squeegee for a blemish-free finish.

    • Be prepared with extra supplies. If you have several windows to do, it’s a good idea to have a few extra supplies on hand. There’s a good chance you might need an additional spray bottle, squeegee, or more paper towels when tackling a big job.

    • Allow the film to dry. Don’t touch the window glass for about a week, and avoid opening the window if possible.
    If possible, ask a friend to help you apply the window film. Having an extra hand will enable you to steady the film and work through issues if they arise. A helper is especially necessary when applying film to large windows.

    FAQ

    Q. How do weather conditions affect how well window film adheres to glass and what can I do to avoid problems?

    A. Window film definitely has a tendency to adhere better in certain weather conditions. For example, it might dry more quickly than you can work out bubbles on a very hot day, or it might not stick at all if the weather is cold. Ideally, you’ll get the best results if you apply your film on warm, mild days when rain or humidity isn’t a factor.

    Q. I don’t have very steady hands, but I’d like to give window film a try. What’s the best type for concealing mistakes made during application?

    A. Try using film that has a texture or pattern, which is more likely to camouflage flaws such as lines or bubbles. Although you might end up with some imperfections, chances are they’ll blend in with the lines or designs that are already part of the film.

    Q. I’d like to darken a room as much as possible. What should I look for when choosing the best window film to keep out sunlight?

    A. While lots of types of window film will darken a room, some do a better job than others at making a room look darker in the daytime. Look for a film that indicates it is “blackout” or “light blocking” to achieve the best room-darkening results.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Bronwyn
      Bronwyn
      Editor
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Jennifer
      Jennifer
      Writer
    • Lauren
      Lauren
      Writer
    • Linsay
      Linsay
      Editor
    • Melinda
      Melinda
      Web Producer

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