The sales outlook for window film has never been better with demand being increasingly driven by rising residential and commercial needs for ultraviolet (UV) protection and energy conservation.
Not so long ago potential users were leery of window film as it was perceived as blocking too much light, yellowing or cracking in a few years and vulnerable to everyday scratches and bumbs. Today there are window films that are nearly invisible, virtually colorless, will not change the appearance of glass and yet offer almost total protection from UV light, excellent energy conservation and resistance to fragmentation.
WINDOW TREATMENT PROVIDERS
For the window treatment industry, film is an ideal complementary business. Karla J. Nielson is a design professor at Brigham Young University, noted interior designer, author of several books on window treatments and a regular columnist for D&WC magazine. Nielson has found that the use of professionally installed window film has increased dramatically as a protective complement for draperies, curtains, blinds, shades and even awnings. She suggests that designers add film to their window treatment repertoire. "If the interior design calls for a pared-back, open and pristine look at the windows, specify window film to protect the furnishings against heat and ultraviolent light damage and to minimize glare," Nielson concludes.
Moreover, the market for window treatments increases as the need for protection from the sun's rays matches the growth in the use of glass in new homes and in renovations. According to the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the use of glass in the average home expressed as a percentage of the total home living space has grown from about seven percent in the 1930s to 20 percent today and is growing still. Homes also are larger than ever. The average modest home has grown in size from about 1,100 square feet to 2,150 square feet of living space over the same periord.
Many contractors no longer consider film to be in direct competition with glass, the traditional core of their businesses. With the wide range of films available today, contractors are using film to offer their customers an alternative to reglazing. For example, a home owner whose windows are sound and attractive may want to cut down on fading and glare in a living room or bedroom, but would be reluctant to incur the cost of totally replacing exising windows. Solar control film, at a fraction of the replacement cost, can provide the solution. For the enterprising contractor window film is a good fit with his glazing business.
What exactly are the solar problems presented by untreated windows? The sun radiates enormous amounts of energy, a tiny portion of which reaches the earth in the form of electromagnetic radiation The electromagnetic spectrum of solar energy is split into three bands by wavelenght: the ultraviolet band, the visible band and the near infrared band.
The ultraviolet band (itself divided into two wavelengths: UVA and UVB) is the element most responsible for fading and is associated with the development of skin cancers and photoaging. The visible band is the only part of the solar spectrum actually seen with our eyes and is responsible for glare. The infrared band is the heat element—we do not see it, we sense it as heat.
Today's sophisticated window film products are high-tech laminates of polyester and metallized coatings bonded by distortion-free adhesives and finished with a special scratch-free coating that allows for easy maintenance using standard window cleaning products, including those with ammonia. The product is designed to deal with individual electromagnetic wavelengths from the sun in such a manner as to curb heat passing through glass (infrared), control light transmission (glare) and block against fading and skin cancers (ultraviolet).
The latest development in window films is the introduction of 99.9 percent UV rejection into the Vista line offered by CPFilms, Martinsville, VA. This is the highest degree of UV protection available in the window film market today. When installed on the windows of a home the new line provides, practially speaking, total protection from UV rays (100 percent UV rejection through the use of window film is not scientifically achievable).
UV light (both UVA and UVB) is primarily resposnsible for the fading of home furnishing fabrics, carpets, wallpaper, fine woods, antiques and artworks. Fading and glare are the nemesis of the proud home owner and particulaly those who are responsible for our national heritage homes whose fabrics and furnishing are irreplaceable. Window film has been in the fore in protecting these heirloom properties with Vista film being installed in such houses as Teddy Roosevelt's Sagamor Hill in Oyster Bay, NY; Hearst Castle in San Simeon, CA; and the Vanderbilt Estate in Asheville, NC.
The medical community also has associated UV light with premature aging of the skin and some skin cancers. Standard untreated glass normally found in a home will only partially block UVB rays and will not provide protection against the deeper penetrating UVA rays. More than 90 percent of the ultraviolet radiation that reaches the earth is made up of UVA rays.
Vista films are the only films to receive The Skin Cancer Foundation's Seal of Recommendation for use as a means of UV protection for skin. The film is the only non-skin care product that currently has this seal.
Window film provides an added safety benefit in that it forms a shield across the glass to which it is fitted. If the glass is broken, most of the fragments will be held in place.
With oil prices already high and rising, home owners are increasingly looking for ways to control energy costs. Low emissivity (low-E) window films can play a substantial part in the fight to contain home heating and air conditioning bills. Emissivity is the themodynamic ability of a surface to absorb heat and to reflect it. The lower the emissivity, the less radiant heat is abosrbed by glass and thus more heat is refected back into a room.
There are low-E films on the market today that are specifically designed to reduce home energy bills—half of which can be attributed to heat loss and gain throught glass. Low-E window film enables glass windows to reflect interior heat back into the home rather than absorb it in the glass. Conversely low-E film will reject much of the exterior solar energy that reaches windows—most of which is heat—thus yielding substantial savings on air conditioning in warm months of the year.
A recent renovation of the Adam's Mark Hotel in Dallas, TX, the largest hotel in the state, included the installation of film on all of its windows—some 200,000 square feet of glass. The installation has led to a significant decrease in energy use for its operators. The total savings in energy costs will pay for the film installation in about two years.
The proper installation of window film is critiaclly important to aesthetics and longevity, which is why CPFilms markets Vista film only through highly trained, specially selected dealers who are responsible for its installation. Professional installation is quick, without mess and without the need to interrupt normal day-to-day activities.
Vista dealers are technologically trained to help the home owner match the choice of film to the domestic challenge. They also are eager to work, to common gain, with people in the window treatment industry whose businesses are complementary.
Window film will assuredly be an increasingly integral part of the growing window treatment industry as the millennium progresses. It will be rewarding to be part of this burgoning segment of the market.
Virginia L. Kubler is the director of sales and marketing of widow films for CPFilms, Martinsville, VA, (800) 345-6088; www.vista-films.com, a leading manufacturer of both film components and coated and laminated films for solar insualtion.