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Readers sometimes write in ask about the differences between static cling film and standard window film.  Here is a comparison of the various factors you should consider when making a decision between the two types of window films.

Solar Heat Rejection Performance

Winner: Regular Window Tint

Static cling film is not as reflective as standard adhesive-based window tint.  This causes heat to be absorbed rather than reflected away from inside the house.  After periods of absorbing heat, sooner or later this heat will be transferred into the home as well.

Due to its non-reflective nature, static cling film should not be installed on dual pane windows unlike regular window tint.  This problem is especially troublesome as the standard for windows now are dual-pane construction.

UV Rejection Performance

Winner: Tie

Both types of film are generally block 99% of UV radiation.

Preserving your Window’s View

Winner: Regular Window Tinting

The optical clarity of regular window film is much better than the thicker but removeable static cling film.  When installed, regular window tint looks as if there is nothing on the window at all, whereas there will be minor to major optical distortions with static cling films.

Installation and Maintenance

Winner: Tie

The major win for static cling film is that it is removeable; however, there are also negatives with this feature.  Due to its static nature, it is likely to adhere to dust and small debris particles.  When removing and reinstalling, great care needs to be taken to make sure that the film is kept clean before the next install.  Once static cling film is dirty, it is quite hard to get it clean again.

On the other hand, although regular window tint cannot be removed, the installation methodology for both films are nearly the same.  After installation, regular window tint does not need any special maintenance besides avoiding using harsh window cleaner or ammonia based products on it.

Winter Performance

Winner: Static Cling Film

This is where static cling film really shines.  Once removed, the winter sun can help warm up your home.  With regular window tint, the sun will continue to be weakened by the window tint.  Although regular window tint provides some insulation to the windows, this insulation effect is not as substantial.

It is always good to see that other blogs, especially one as highly regarded as Treehugger, agree with your assessments.  In a previous article titled, New AC Unit vs Window Tint, we determined that window tint is much more affordable an better ROI (return on investment) than both a replacement AC or replacement windows.

At more than $5k for a new central AC unit or over $250 per replacement window, window film easily becomes the most economical choice at $2.25 per square feet for professional DIY window film.

Treehugger reports that National Trust for Historical Preservation states:

    … a complete myth that replacement windows will save you money. In fact, they go so far as to say that the payback period for replacement windows is probably twice as long as the life of the window.
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A Courier Jounal of  Louisville, KY had a recent article explains the classic misunderstanding in window film warranty policy between a car tint shop and a buyer.  The buyer states in his complaint:

    On Jan. 9, 2006, I had the windows on my newly purchased car tinted at Auto-Sound on Rockford Lane. I was given documents that stated the job came with a lifetime warranty. I was very well satisfied with the tinting until this past summer when a bubbling of the tint occurred on the rear window. It looked hideous.

    The owner agreed that the tint needed to be replaced. When I showed him the original receipt, he said that this warranty included only the labor and that he’d do it but I would be responsible for the cost of material, approximately $20.

The tint shop owner responds:

    “Our lifetime tint warranty is a labor warranty. There is a small charge to cover the cost of the window film,” said Auto-Sound official Richard Kyle. “Mr. Wright did not understand the warranty, so I cut the charge by 50 percent.”

TintCenter’s take on this disagreement is that the tint shop seemed to have followed its warranty policy; however, quality window film should not be bubbling 5 years after installation.  We should be seeing film lifespan of 10 to possibly 15 years for properly installed high performance auto tint.   Our best guess is that the film initially installed by the customer was poorly chosen.

Let’s take for example SolarGard Window Films which is a quality manufacturer that offers a broad selection of performance films.  They have many lines of film that have lifetime warranties that cover various conditions such as:

    adhesive failure

Lifetime protection against all the above conditions are exist for the following lines of SolarGard Window film:

    Ultra performance
    HP Quantum
    NR Supreme
    HP Supreme
    HP Charcoal
    HP Smoke Plus

If any of these films were chosen by this unhappy customer, the bubbling would have been entirely avoided.  If somehow the bubbling or another type of film failure did occur, the replacement labor AND material costs would have been handled by the comprehensive SolarGard warranty.