A decade ago window film was conspicuous and at times unsightly, with a tendency to yellow with age and peel from the glass surface. The 21st-century window films are practically invisible, with properties as varied as the problems it solves. It is a complex structure of micro thin sheets of high tensile strength polyester and metal particles laminated with intricate adhesive formulations, built for a lifetime of perfect performance.
Vista window film was the first to introduce the new-age high-performance window
film in 1992 with three basic neutral films. Today there are 15 items in the
basic line with the ability to provide protection against fading of furnishings,
optimal glare-free viewing, reduced energy costs and safeguards against personal
injury through broken glass and harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
Interior designers were quick to see the advantages that window film brought
to their craft. New York designer Jamie Drake, ASID, named by House Beautiful
as one of the nation’s top interior designers, is known for his use of
luxurious fabrics, vibrant colors and a profound attention to details. These
unique qualifications define his New York country home, which nearly crackles
with color: aqua stucco, Caribbean Sea, Strawberry Flesh, Lavande de Provence
and acid yellow.
The entire home is sheathed with spectacular 27-foot-tall view windows, which
provide an indoor/outdoor ambiance. Drake became well aware of the dangers of
uncontrolled sunlight: heat, glare and damaging ultraviolet rays. Ultraviolet
rays are primarily responsible for color fading, which would be devastating.
He knew exactly what to do. He had window film (Vista Soft Horizons) professionally
installed to meet his particular problem of maintaining light without glare and
damaging ultraviolet rays. Professionally installed on the interior side of glass
it rejects 99.9 percent of all ultraviolet rays and reduces glare by nearly two
thirds. Drake also had window film installed in his New York City apartment where
early morning sun would have caused the fuscia furnishings to fade.
As personal interior designer for New York City’s mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg,
Drake helped complete the renovation of the Governor’s Suite in City Hall.
Funded by private contributions, the room’s restoration included Scalamandre
silk draperies. As a civic museum in the oldest functioning City Hall in the
country, the room houses an important collection of American portraits like a
1790 George Washington by John Trumbull and historical furnishings and artifacts,
including Washington’s desk. Delicate paint was specially mixed to match
the original French paint of 1817.
The art and decorations are very much at risk of rapid fading from the strong
sunlight that pours through the huge multi-paned 12- by 17-foot south-facing
windows. Vista window film was quickly installed to help prevent ruinous loss
of color and other sun damage.
In conditions where the sun shines fiercely all through the day bringing heat
and harsh glare, a high-solar rejection film may be needed to control the sun’s
energy. In the past, high-solar rejection equated to high reflectivity with mirror-like
surfaces and poor interior light. Today’s spectrally selective films provide
a range of light and heat control ranging from dual reflective film (Vista Ultima),
which rejects up to 75 percent of solar energy and yet provides excellent viewing
from inside-to-out at all times of day or night, to an even more powerful combination
of light and heat control (Vista Spectra Select). This film, which is next to
invisible, allows sunlight to shine brightly through glass illuminating interiors
to provide high visibility and take the heat (infrared) out of the sun’s
The amount of glass in a home and how it is treated is the single factor that
most influences domestic energy consumption. A recent estimate shows that as
much as half of a home’s energy bill can be attributed to the amount of
glass used in the construction for windows, walls, doors, skylights and sunrooms.
Low-E window film (Vista Ambiance) is a recently introduced energy-saving window
film. Low-E stands for “low emissivity,” a measurement of the ability
of a surface to absorb heat. The lower the emissivity, the less heat is absorbed
by the glass and more heat is reflected back into a room.
Ambiance has an emissivity rating of 0.25, which means that 75 percent of the
room heat that would have been lost through untreated glass is retained. Additionally,
Low E Ambiance rejects 65 percent of the solar energy that reaches the window—most
of which is heat—thus yielding substantial savings on air conditioning
in the summer.
The increased use of glass in homes coupled with worries about acts of terrorism,
high winds from severe storms and sports accidents have drawn increased attention
to the risk of personal injury from broken glass.
Since September 11 more homeowners are seeking safety related products. Window
film is a safety product in that it forms a shield across glass surfaces to help
keep fragments from turning into dangerous flying shards. The 6 mm thickness
of (Vista Mirage) safety film, which is constructed with Mylar® polyester
and a unique binding system, is specifically designed to provide personal protection.
Additionally, most people think they are protected from UV skin damage when they
are shielded by glass. While untreated glass will reduce UVB rays, it will not
deflect the deeper penetrating UVA rays, which have been linked by the medical
community to the development of premature aging of skin and skin cancers including
This is important because 90 percent of UV radiation reaching the earth is UVA.
The total (99.9 percent) blocking of all ultraviolet film afforded by Vista UVShield
is a necessary asset in the battle for skin cancer prevention and is recommended
by the Skin Cancer Foundation as a device for the protection of the skin.
In the years since Vista was introduced, window film has come a long way. Today
the range of products, all of which block UV rays, allows the interior designer
to achieve a degree of sun control to precisely deal with existing solar conditions.
Whatever the problem, be it the fading of furnishings, high utility bills, heat
and glare, skin protection, privacy or safety from broken glass, there is a Vista
film to meet the challenge.
Virginia L Kubler is Director of Sales and Marketing, Window Films, CPFilms Inc.,
Alexandria, VA; (800) 255-8627; (800) 345-6088; www.llumar.com; www.VISTA-films.com.
The company’s window films are sold under the brand names of Llumar®,
VISTA® and UVShield® for residential, automotive and architectural applications.