When it comes to window film installation, we often get asked exactly what types of windows it can be applied to. More specifically, people want to know if their home’s dual-pane windows are compatible with window film.
Also, what about if you have low-E or low emissivity coatings on those dual-pane windows? We’ll do our best to answer all those questions and more in this article.
What Window Types Are Compatible with Window Film?
What the Different Numbers of Panes Mean and How it Affects Window Film
To get started, we must first establish that there are single-pane, dual-pane, and even triple-pane windows out there. But, what exactly do these terms mean?
Let’s begin with the single-pane window. This one is just a monolithic piece of glass with indoor air on one side and outdoor air on the outside – there’s nothing else in between. In other words, single-pane equals just one piece of glass.
Dual-pane window refers to a window with one piece of glass on the outside and one piece of glass on the inside. There is about an inch or half an inch of space between the pieces, and they are sealed around the edge.
In many cases, argon or krypton gas is pumped into the space between the panes of glass to keep moisture out. This not only does good things for insulating your home, but it also helps to keep noise out. Most windows today, by code, have to be dual-pane.
Dual-Pane Window Characteristics:
- 2 pieces of glass
- 1/2- or 1-inch gap between the pieces
- Sealed edges
- Can have argon or krypton gas pumped into the space
- Insulates and blocks noise
- Common in most modern homes
So, what do single-pane and dual-pane windows have in common? They are both compatible with window film!
We currently do not install window film on triple-pane windows. However, the good news is that if you live in the United States, you probably don’t have them. They are very rare here in the US.
True or False: Window Film Can Be Applied To…
- Single-pane windows: true!
- Double-pane windows: true!
- Triple-pane windows: false
The Importance of Understanding the Differences Between Surfaces
The Truth About Window Film and Dual-Pane Windows
If you have a newer home, let’s say from the year 2000 or sooner, it’s highly likely that you have dual-pane windows. There is also a high chance that you may have a low-E or low-emissivity coating that is added to some of those glass surfaces, which helps insulate the window.
You can still apply window film to increase the performance of these windows, but your window film vendor must understand the differences between the different surfaces and coatings.
You also want to make sure that the specific film you’re using is compatible with your home’s specific type of glass and any special coatings it has.
If window film is incorrectly installed, there is a chance that it can cause windows to crack because of increased thermal stress. However, when the correct film is applied under the correct conditions, it is extremely rare that a window will ever break.
There is a lot of talk out there claiming that window film is going to break your windows because it is going to build up a lot of heat between the panes of glass. If you’re applying the wrong film, then this might happen.
However, your vendor should know the difference between a dual-pane safe window film and a non-dual-pane safe film.
They should also have metering tools to use on the glass to see which surfaces, if any, have a low-E coating – this could be on any of the surfaces of your dual-pane windows without you knowing about it.
Our company installs hundreds of thousands of square feet of window film every year, and we don’t have any glass breakage claims from this last year at all.
Occasionally, a window will break because there is an inclusion on the side of the glass or something that’s already in the glass that turns it into a ticking time bomb, but this is incredibly rare and not the fault of the window film.
Keys to Choosing a Window Film Contractor:
- Understands the differences between different types of glass and coatings
- Can check if your dual-pane windows have low-e coatings
- Knows what window films are dual-pane safe and compatible with low-e
A Word on Window Film Warranties
Do They Cover Window Film Installation Problems?
There are warranties in place from most major manufacturers (including out partners, 3M) that will cover the glass and the seal, as well as the replacement value of the glass and the reinstallation of window film. We have warranties for both residential and commercial buildings.
Your window film vendor should be able to give you a lot of information about the type of film, how safe it is for dual-pane windows, whether or not you have low-E coatings on your glass, which surfaces that coating exists on, and the warranty for your windows and window film.
So, if you’re considering purchasing window film for your home because it gets too hot during the day, because you’re concerned about fading furnishings, or because you have a lot of glare and you feel like you need to wear sunglasses inside, don’t shy away from window film!
Benefits of window film:
- Doesn’t inhibit your views
- Virtually invisible
- Heat reduction/insulation
- UV protection
- Glare blocking
Just within the past few years window film technology has made huge leaps forward. As recently as 2013, we’d hear about excessive heat building up between the panes of glass and a series of other inconveniences that we simply don’t have to worry about anymore with the films we use.
Our Recommendations for Dual-Pane Windows and Window Film
How to Make Sure Window Film is Safe for Your Glass
If you’re looking to have your windows tinted, but you’re concerned about dual-pane glass window film compatibility and whether or not you have Low-e coatings that will be impacted, reach out to a well-known, reputable window film contractor.
When you talk to this contractor, make sure that they are working with one of the major manufacturers of window tinting film, such as 3M window films.
The combination of an excellent manufacturer that is going to back the warranty and a contractor that really knows what they’re talking about is a recipe for success that we can’t recommend enough!