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Disadvantages of Home Window Tinting

What are some of the disadvantages to getting your windows tinted? Valid question, we have answers. We have often talked with our customers about the many benefits and advantages of installing window film in their homes. But in the pursuit of full transparency we wanted to list out some of the disadvantages of tinting your home windows.

Virtually clear window tint on a waterfront residence
Installing window tint on a condo

  • Potential For Voiding Window Warranty: If your windows are brand new, they likely come with a window warranty from the manufacturer or the dealer. To avoid unnecessary liabilities, the warranty may have language that states that it is voided if the glass surface is treated in any way, like with window tint. In the state of Florida this makes sense, since window film is not a licensed trade, there are loads of window tinting companies that install low quality film not designed for residential or commercial applications on windows because they can offer it at a much lower cost. Often times if this is not done by a professional they will not do a glass checklist, and the film they install may add a large heat load to a window which may lead to thermal fracture. This would not be the case with us, since we are trained to evaluate the window for the best tinting options to avoid issues, and we work with reputable companies that will take over the window warranty. 3M, for example, will take over the window warranty with a credit for any damage to windows due to the film.

  • Cost and Benefit : Window tinting with excellent heat rejection and lifetime warranty can be expensive. And to be completely honest, unless you install a silver film which is usually less expensive, the payback for the film in utilities will take several years. This is not a bad thing, it is because the price per mega-watt hour in the United States is relatively inexpensive compared to other countries in the Americas (like the Carribean Islands). The clients who are looking for a speedy payback in utilities and can achieve it in under 5 years are large buildings with entire elevations that get huge solar exposures. Commercial clients receive a bulk discount for the volume. Residential clients rarely achieve a payback in under 5 years for higher-end films. This being said, most residential clients are looking at the functional aspect of making a space in their home usable, and the film ends up being the least expensive option when they consider HVAC upgrades and window replacement. When Artwork, high end furniture and flooring are considered, then window tinting is a no brainer, the film is a small percentage of the replacement factor of any of these furnishings.

  • Issues with HOA: The dreaded home-owners association. They exist to make sure that the community as a whole maintains uniformity. While it can be a major inconvenience, we have seen what happens when window tinting regulations are not enforced. The checkerboard effect is what happens when one unit installs a bronze reflective film, another installs a dark film, another installs a silver film, another doesn't install tint and another installs some green tint. This inevitably ends up lowering the curb appeal of all the residences. Most HOA's, even the very strict ones, will allow a virtually clear film for heat rejection purposes. In this case we often recommend 3M PR70.

  • Difficulty in Removal: Low quality window tint is ironically incredibly hard to remove. Good window tints can be a breeze to remove, they normally peel off in one piece and with a steamer the adhesive comes right off with it. Lower quality tints on the other hand disintigrate, split into several layers, and are very thin so they break when you pull on it. Most window film companies will not want to bid on projects that are only removal because removing 100 square feet could take 2 hours or it could take 4 days. Removing window tint is a wildcard, and leaves folks with a bad taste in their mouth. Cheap window tint often times ends up being more expensive. When the film rejects way less heat, changes color after a year, bubbles up after two years and then is almost impossible to remove, customers usually wish they would have spent the extra investment to get a film with a lifetime warranty.

  • Reduced visibility and privacy based on lighting conditions: Sometimes home window tint is installed to help create privacy, and for this purpose, dark or refletive tints are often used. This privacy works because one side of the glass is much brighter than the other side, so the bright side gets reflection and the dark side gets view-through. These tints can provide excellent privacy during sunny days but their privacy effects may backfire on very overcast days and at night. So when the sun goes down you may try to look out of your windows and just see your reflection. The best way to avoid this is to work with tint samples and explore different lighting conditions to understand what works best for your goals. Also if you install extremely dark tint you will reduce your visibility to whatever is on the other side of that window.

  • Installation Challenges: We always recommend a professional installation when it comes to window tint. We can make it look easy, but it takes years of bad tint to produce great results, especially with residential window films. There are dozens of different types of window frames and sizes, and the skills needed to achieve a high quality install take practice. Equally, if the tint thats used is some home-depot static cling, it can easily lead to bubbles, wrinkles and a bad adhesion with curling corners. Few things look worse than a cheap tint job.

As you can see, most of the disadvantages of home window tinting can be avoided with an experienced consultation. The key is to review your window tinting goals with a professional to see if the right solution is within your budget to avoid creating a larger headache. Window tinting is one of those home improvements that you want to avoid half measures, they end up being the most expensive. At Sea Cool, we are able to offer a wide variety of solutions that fit most budgets and we offer a no-cost consultation to everyone.

Disadvantages to home window tint
Window tinting a home skylight


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