Architectural Advancement

May 31st, 2022 by Nathan Hobbs

Explaining Window Film Specifications

By Chris Collier

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an average of nearly 9,400 architectural job openings each year for the remainder of the decade. Data also indicates there are 126,700 employed architects in America. Rookies and veterans comprise a collective making the country stylish, safe and sustainable. Whether you’re retrofitting, renovating or building structures from the ground up, architectural window film deserves your undivided attention.

The Elevator Pitch

“Many architects don’t think past the first year because that’s all they’re concerned with,” says Peter Osorio, general manager of Tint by Masters in Orlando, Fla. “But you come back in 10 years— the sun is in the same place in the sky every day. Things fade, and many of these wood pieces, high-level finishes and wall coverings can’t be refinished on site. It has to be removed and replaced.”

Ultraviolet (UV) rays contribute up to 40% of all interior fading, according to the International Window Film Association (IWFA). For architects focused on today and tomorrow, window film, also referred to as tint, could provide solutions. Regular window glass blocks about 25% of the sun’s harmful UV rays, while UV-blocking window films reduce UV rays up to 99.9%, per the association. It’s a line of defense designed to satisfy detail-oriented building owners.

“COVID-19 has changed a lot and benefitted the film industry,” says David Chukhman, president at Tritek Window Tinting in Garland, Texas. “It’s normal to order a couch, blinds or shades and have it take six months. When you tell an architect, ‘I can get this film [installed] next week,’ it’s amazing to them.”

The Harris Poll surveyed on behalf of the IWFA in March, asking U.S. homeowners who don’t have window film installed if they are likely to have it professionally installed to improve the energy-saving performance of their existing windows. Fourty-six percent answered yes, and for a good reason. The association says that window film may offer year-round savings of nearly five to 10% of a building’s total energy bill when applied.

Invisible Impact

“There’s a big need for film,” Chukhman says of architects’ industry awareness. “It’s a much better solution to save costs than many solutions with glass. There are starting to be more specs for architects and designers.”

XPEL recently announced the expansion of its Vision architectural window film product portfolio and commercial support services. The new films and services are designed to reduce the carbon footprint of commercial buildings by lowering peak-energy demand and maximizing heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) efficiency, according to the company.

Tritek Window Tinting was recently subcontracted for an architect-driven project at a restaurant dubbed “The Mexican” in Dallas. The architect aimed to equip the establishment with energy efficiency while maintaining timeless transparency.

“Architects love to put glass in spaces because it’s beautiful, and it lets in a lot of light; you don’t have to use as much lighting,” Chukhman says. “They’re able to benefit from the films. This film— [XPEL’s] Vision Clear View Plus 70 window film—blocks a lot of heat, but it still looks natural and clear.”

The Tritek Window Tinting team installed 700 square feet of film for the assignment, which tallied $11,200 this spring. Chukhman, an authorized XPEL installer, has collaborated and worked with an estimated 50 architects during his career.

Meeting in the Middle

But film isn’t just for energy savings and cooling. Denver, N.C.’s, Tint Shop NC was slotted for an ongoing architectural installation at Frankie’s Fun Park in Huntersville, N.C., involving more than 5,000 square feet of film. Owner  Joe DelGiorno says architects are diving into alternatives his industry provides.

“Decorative film—clear frost— looks almost like sandblasted glass,” DelGiorno says. “I told them you have the option to change this at any time.
Different tenant? Boom, pull it off. They like that.”

Tom Wallace’s company, New England Window Film in Plymouth, Mass., installed 1,400 square feet of custom-printed film for a Boston area hospital’s new magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) unit in January. But as product catalogs expand and specification sheets lengthen with complexities, Wallace says the need for education is critical.

“20 years ago, there used to be white frost, dusted crystal and frosted crystal,” says Wallace, who worked with an architect and an overseas designer to nail the correct opacity and scale. “Now, there are thousands of different films. Some are clear, printable or plotted; some have logos. It is so broad, and every architect is trying to put their stamp on something.”

A cocktail of coordination and collaboration could fuse the gap between architects and installers. Osorio and his team are doing their part, displaying 3M’s Fasara line and DI-NOC architectural films in detail on their website’s “solutions” section. The system allows users to search by stock-keeping unit (SKU), color and type.

“Architects know it exists, but knowing something exists versus knowing what it can do are two different things,” Osorio says.

Film Functionalities

Every job is unique, and architectural film is built to accommodate diverse designs. (Scan some of the different forms of film currently on the market). All definitions courtesy of industry resource Window Film Pros.

Anti-Graffiti Film

There are different anti-graffiti film options depending on the surface that needs protection. For example, if a mirror needs protection from graffiti and vandalism, a Mirror Shield anti-graffiti film is available. This type of anti-graffiti film mimics a mirror surface which can easily be installed over a mirror helping prevent and cover existing vandalism caused by
etching and graffiti.

Commercial Window Film

Commercial window films (sometimes referred to as commercial window tint) remains one of the most effective and economical methods of controlling energy costs and increasing comfort for new construction and retrofit projects alike. A smart alternative to window replacement, commercial window film offers premium, high-performance glazing solutions for all types of glazing systems: clear, tinted, low-e or coated glass and from curtain wall to interior glass.

Decorative/Privacy Film

Whether you’re aiming to add some style or just looking to change scenery, decorative window film is a simple and cost-effective way to do so. Decorative window films are versatile; they allow total freedom in design and can be customized to fulfill any requirements. Various films can be used to create the finished products, whether it is textured, patterned or colored film. Products can also influence the transparency of the glass surface as well as its light transmittance.

Residential Window Film

The benefits of residential window film are wide-ranging. Windows open homes to natural lighting, warmth and views of the outside world. Unfortunately, they also facilitate high energy costs, heat build-up, excessive glare and the premature fading of interior furnishings. Tinting a home’s windows with a quality window film allows guests to bask in the sunlight, worry-free.

Safety and Security Film

Safety and security window film provides a clear barrier of protection that creates an environment of comfort and confidence. These films add an extra safeguard against smash and grab theft, unwanted intrusion and injury/damage from natural disasters. They can also be used in building and construction to meet certain code requirements.

Display Your Decorative Side

The International Window Film Conference and Tint-Off™ (WFCT) returns to San Antonio Sept. 14-16, 2022 with its first-ever Decorative Film Competition. The showdown is designed to honor the window film installers who complete the best decorative film installations. Each competitor will be judged on professionalism and the ability to apply film to a specified glass efficiently and expertly. The registration deadline is July 15, 2022.

Prize Package
First Place: $5,000
Second Place: $2,500
Third Place: $1,000

Chris Collier is the assistant editor for Window Film magazine. Connect with him on LinkedIn and Facebook.

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.

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