Oh man, this one just breaks our hearts. We have tinted a lot of homes up in Belserra but every once in a while we’ll lose a bid to our competition. Try as we may to educate consumers about “good window tint deals” sometimes consumers are lured by a seemingly low price from the local hack competing company. And here is the result… a million dollar home + bargain window tint= a sad result for the consumer and a black eye for the window film industry. Let’s break down what happened here and hopefully we can provide some useful information about window film that will help to prevent prevent this type of situation from marring our local neighborhoods.
Just a quick story first… we had heard that one of our competitors in town likes to tell customers that “all window films do the same thing…” His statement implies that every window film will reject heat, light, and UV rays, and they are all created equal and will have equal life cycles. If this were true, then why did the window film on this home turn purple after two years? Sierra Window Tinting has installed films on homes in the Truckee Meadows that are over 20 years old and they look the same as the day we installed them! To tell a consumer that “all window films do the same thing” is like saying all cars do the same thing. Sure most cars can get you from point A to point B but that is where the simile stops. Would you rather invest in a Pinto or a Honda? Come on they are both the same thing, they are cars!
Obviously one is built better and designed to last longer than the other. In the long run, one car will provide years of lasting service, it will perform better, it will be more reliable, and it is the better value overall. The same is true with window films.
Like many other products, window film is composed of different components of varying qualities. Dyes, metals, ceramics, and adhesives are deposited onto layers of polyester and to the consumer it may seem as though all of this stuff is the same. Well, this is simply not true. There are different types of window films and they all vary in quality.
- Dyed window films. Organic dyes and pigments are used to give widow films their color and reduce light transmittance. The pros are that they do not have the haze or light refraction that some coated particle films have such as carbon films. Some dyed films look very attractive and others have a blue, purple, or even red tone to them. The real Achilles heal to dyed films is best illustrated in our photo above. Dye breaks down in sunlight and will eventually turn “purple.” Unfortunately, dye is a very cheap component and it is widely used in low priced films. So if you get a bid and the price is way lower than other bids, chances are that you are being sold a “dyed” film.
- Metalized widow films. These are films that have layers of metal alloy deposited onto the film substrate. The metal coatings are often highly reflective giving a “mirrored look” and thus reflecting large amounts of heat. These films work great at rejecting incoming solar energy and also at providing daytime privacy. The downside is that metalized films are not always the best looking aesthetically due to their highly reflective look. Many planned communities (Caughlin Ranch, Montreaux, Sommersett, D’Andrea, Red Hawk, Arrow Creek, and others) have CC&R’s that ban the use of reflective “coatings” on windows. If you have a metallized reflective film installed you may have a run-in with your homeowners association and be asked to remove your window film or else. The other drawback to metallized films is at night when your windows are back-lit from your interior lighting. Metalized films will reflect inward turning your glass into a mirror and eliminating your ability to see out. Everyone with downtown views at night will do well to steer clear of high “interior reflectivity” films
- Dual Reflective Films are metalized window films that have their reflectivity “toned down” on the interior side with the incorporation of dyes and pigments. The word “dual reflective” is kind of an oxymoron but at any rate these films work well at rejecting heat, UV, and in some cases glare. Dual reflective window films look much better than their metalized counterparts, however, the use of dyes and pigments to lessen the reflectivity makes these products more susceptible to discoloration like we discussed earlier. Dual reflective films are very popular due to their price points so you will most likely be shown a dual reflective film when you start calling up companies. To make sure you are getting a quality dual reflective film that has half a chance at holding up to the harsh high altitude climate here in Nevada, ask for films that have “weatherable polyester.” Weatherizing the polyester with UV absorbers makes a film much more able to withstand the damaging effects of UV on the coloring agents and thus extending the life of the film. Companies like 3M only put the UV absorbers in the adhesive which has been found to have lower longevity exposing the dues and pigments in these films to the UV rays which will cause discoloration. Sierra Window Tinting will only sell dual reflective films that have the UV absorbers in both the adhesive and the polyester, these films carry the best warranties in the business against failure of any kind for as long as you own your home.
- Ceramic Window Films are films that have layers of nano-ceramic coatings instead of metals and dyes. The result is a non-reflective high heat rejecting film that is 25 times more durable than conventional window film. Ceramic films have amazing optical qualities due to the smaller particle size of the ceramic material. Being dye-free there are no discoloration issues, no purple color tones or color shift that is typically found in the dyed products. Ceramic technology window films are a good choice for consumers in panned communities with deed restrictions and CC&R’s banning reflective coatings. Sierra Window Tinting carries the original innovator of ceramic window film Hüper Optik. Using German technology Hüper Optik Window Films contain no metals or dyes and have served us well for over 10 years in the Truckee Meadows.
- Xtreme Infrared Technology Window Films (XIR) are spectrally select films designed to filter out all of the unwanted wavelengths in the solar spectrum while allowing the desirable wavelengths to transmit through your windows. Generally, these are films that let large amounts of light to transmit while filtering out high amounts of infrared energy. The result is a clear film that can reject up too 55% of the heat. These are excellent products for storefronts or any application where views are critical. Sierra Window Tinting was the first company in Reno to carry spectrally select high light to solar heat gain films back when everyone else was selling reflective dyed films. Our XIR films have been used extensively up in Lake Tahoe where sun damage from the high altitude is prevalent and have proven themselves to be a solid product choice.
Once you have found the proper type of window film, now you need to worry whether it is made of good quality components or not. Typically, you get what you pay for so an abnormally low price is indicative of a low quality film. That said, there are some higher end films that contain dyes and optical deficiencies such as color shift. The best thing to do is to start asking questions. At Sierra Window Tinting our desire is to give you the best window film education you can get anywhere. We feel that learning is essential to good decision making and to that end we have created a “before you buy” sheet with some practical tips for purchasing window film. Use this tool along with our blog to educate yourself so that you don’t fall victim to the same fate as the homeowner in our illustration. As always, we are happy to come and give you a free estimate along with samples. What we never do though, is mislead or pressure you into making a decision. Better to teach and inform, if we do this then we believe that you will ultimately make the right choice.