What is Window Film?

ARC Window FilmWindow Film is a low-cost, high benefit upgrade for glazing which has a wide array of applications - ranging from Automotive, to Residential, to Commercial Installations.

It is made from micro-thin layers of optical grade polyester sheeting that undergo various processes (such as vacuum metallising or sputtering), and is then combined with specially designed adhesives that bond to the glass surface.


Note: People often have misconceptions about window films and associate them with dark or mirrored tint on vehicles and buildings. This is not the case as many energy saving and safety window films are completely clear!

What are the Benefits of Window Film?

The benefits of window film are best explained by the categories they fall into. ARC products carry some if not all of the following benefits:

Solar Control and Energy Saving

to reduce glare, heat gain, heat loss, and to save energy.

  • reduce up to 85% of solar energy.
  • reduce glare by up to 95%
  • (these in turn can lead to improved occupant comfort, and increased work efficiency)
  • save money by reducing energy bills
  • lower your carbon footprint

UV Protection

to protect people and property against UV Rays.

  • reduce up to 99.9% of UV Rays
  • filter out UVA and UVB rays to reduce one of the main causes of skin cancer and interior fading.

Safety and Security

protection from thieves, terrorists, vandals, and the glass itself.

  • gain compliance with current health and safety regulations such as EN12600 for impact safety of glazing.
  • thieves and vandals will have increased difficulty in gaining entry into your property
  • in the case of a bomb blast, safety and security film holds the glass together – helping to protect people and property against deadly flying glass.

View Control

For added privacy and decoration.


For use specifically on vehicles, with some if not all of the above properties.


In addition to the above, Window Film:

  • visually enhances the appearance of a building by creating a uniform appearance to its glazing
  • is quick to install,
  • can be applied to existing windows
  • is “maintenance free”, and can be removed and replaced at your discretion.


What types of window film are there?

Solar Control

These are usually metallised or tinted films. Metallised films reflect solar energy, whereas tinted films absorb it. (The two are not mutually exclusive.)

Films can either be metallised via vacuum metalizing (molecular level) or via sputtering (atomic level). The naked eye cannot tell the difference however sputtered films are generally more durable and offer greater energy control properties. The chosen metal dictates the colour of the film – for example Silver films contain aluminium, and bronze films contain copper.

As above, films can be tinted via two processes – they can either be dyed, or extruded. In dyed films the colour is on the outside of the polyester laminate, whereas in extruded films the colour is in the laminate. Extruded films are more colour stable due to the protection the colour has. Dyed films are relatively old technology and are not as frequent due to their lack of colour stability – they would frequently change purple and therefore not look visually appealing.

Solar control films offer excellent all round performance.



Specialist films are designed with a specific purpose in mind. ARC currently offer 3 specialist films;

  • Spectrally Selective Films,
  • Low Emissivity Films, and
  • UV Protection films.

Spectrally Selective Window Films are designed to reject the maximum amount of heat whilst maintaining the windows clear appearance. These metallised (yet clear) films are used where solar heat gain is a problem, but it is imperative to maintain the daytime view through the glazing from outside to in, for example in a shop window.

Low Emissivity Window Films are effectively “winter films”, reflecting more heat than standard window films back into a building during the cold winter months. They are silver metallised films.

UV Protection films are for use in Museums for protection against fading, or for increased protection against skin cancer and UV sensitivity. Standard window films block out 99% of UV rays but only to a maximum of 380nm – UV Protection films surpass this and continue to offer substantial protection up to 400nm. UV protection films are completely clear and invisible when on the glass.


Safety and Security

These are clear films available in a range of thicknesses to deliver the level of protection required. Protection ranges from EN12600 Category 2B2 for impact safety, up to ISO 16933 for Bomb Blast Mitigation.

Always ask to see testing certification when dealing with safety, especially at the higher levels.


View Control and Decorative

These are matte films available in various colours and patterns. They can be used to control or restrict viewing through a window, for corporate branding in offices, and to meet DDA (2005) standards.

Decorative films can be especially useful to increase safety – helping to ensure that glass is seen before it is felt.



These are usually dark tinted films, and offer the same major benefits as standard solar control film. ARC Automotive window films are extruded, and are therefore colour stable and will not fade or turn purple like cheaper alternatives.



What colours and shades are available?

Window Film is available in a range of colours including Silver, Grey (Neutral), Bronze and Black to name but a few. Light Transmissions range from 0% complete blackout film to completely clear safety and specialist films.

How does Window Film compare with alternatives?

BenefitFilmBlindsAir ConTinted Glass
Reduce Solar Energy Penetration (Heat etc)YESNONOYES
Summer Cooling SavingsYESNONOYES
Winter Heat SavingsYESNONOYES
Reduce GlareYESYesNOYES
UV and interior Fading ReductionYESYesNOYES
Night time PrivacyNOYesNONO
Noise PollutionNONOYESNO
Universal ApplicationYESNONONO
Installation CostLowMedHighHigh
Maintenance/ operation CostNoneLowHighNone
Lifespan in yearsLife*55-710
Safety PropertiesYESNONONO

Reduce solar energy penetration

  • Window film can reduce solar energy penetration by up to 85%, leading to reductions in temperature of up to 20c in summer – amongst other benefits.
  • Blinds can reduce SOME forms of solar energy, but only when the blinds are closed.
  • Air conditioning attempts to battle this gain AFTER it has already passed through the window.
  • Tinted glass can offer this benefit, but only at a rate of 30-40%

Heat Reduction - Summer cooling savings

  • Window film can reduce solar heat gain by up to 85%, lowering the strain on a buildings cooling systems.
  • Blinds trap heat between the window and the blind – absorbing the heat and acting like a radiator
  • Air conditioning – an increase in heat gain leads to an increase in cooling costs.
  • Tinted glass can offer this benefit, but only at a rate of 30-40%

Heat Retention - Winter heat savings

  • Window film increases the insulation properties of glass by up to 40%, meaning that more heat is retained during the winter
  • Blinds and air conditioning don’t generally offer any winter insulation benefits
  • Tinted glass can offer winter heat savings but only if the glass is Low E

Reduce Glare

  • Window film can reduce blinding glare by up to 87%
  • Blinds can reduce glare, but only when they are closed. They also do so by sacrificing all viewing through the window
  • Air Conditioning does nothing to reduce glare
  • Tinted Glass can reduce glare by up to 87%

UV and interior fading reduction

  • Window Film can eliminate up to 99% of harmful UV rays, reducing interior fading.
  • Blinds deteriorate over time, as the UV bleaches and fades the fabric.
  • Tinted glass and air conditioning do nothing to address interior fading via UV.

Night time privacy

  • Blinds can offer substantial night time privacy if closed ever night
  • Window film, tinted glass and air conditioning do not offer any night time privacy


  • Window film and tinted glass are no less hygienic than standard windows
  • Blinds collect dust and dead insects and constantly require cleaning. This process is often difficult and time consuming.
  • Air conditioning units also require specialist maintenance and cleaning.

Noise pollution

  • Window Film, Blinds and Tinted glass offer no form of noise pollution
  • Air conditioning units can produce noise whenever they are in operation

Universal Application

  • Window film can be applied to virtually any flat glass window, and does not affect or depend on the windows surroundings.
  • Blinds are a permanent fitting and require railings, chords and the blinds themselves to be installed into the surroundings of the window. These can be obtrusive to the window and window sill.
  • Air conditioning requires all windows and blinds to be closed to work, and are usually obtrusive
  • Tinted glass can be installed wherever standard glass is installed, but it would require removing and replacing the existing window.

Installation cost

  • Window film is substantially less expensive to install than its alternatives. Also, because it actually reduces energy usage, a payback period can be calculated. (this is typically around 3-5 years)
  • Air conditioning units, tinted glass and blinds can be expensive to buy and install, compared to window film.

Maintenance / Operation cost

  • Windows with film applied, and tinted glass require no additional maintenance to ordinary windows.
  • Blinds have no operation costs but cleaning could be classed as a maintenance cost.
  • Air conditioning units are expensive to operate and maintain throughout the year

Lifespan in years

  • Window films typically carry a 10-15 year guarantee for commercial, and a lifetime guarantee for residential. However, ARC window films have been known to last far in excess of their guarantee period.
  • Blinds have a typical lifespan of around 5 years. Designs can also become dated as trends change.
  • Air conditioning units have a typical lifespan of around 5-7 years
  • Tinted glass typically retains its solar properties for around 10 years

Safety Properties

  • Window Film can help protect occupants from flying shards of broken glass in the event of accidental breakage
  • Tinted glass, blinds and air conditioning do not provide this benefit

How is Window Film installed?

ARC Window Film is a retro-fit product which is professionally installed and can fit virtually any size and shape of flat-glass window.

Most windows can be filmed in 15 minutes with minimal to no disruption to building occupants.

There are window films for both internal and external application, although the only reason for using external films would be if the window interior was not easily accessible.


Professional installers completely clean and prep the glass prior to installation. The film has a powerful adhesive on one side which bonds the film to the glass. Using a unique application solution and specialist tools, the installer will prepare, fit and secure the film to the glass.

Curing Time

As a specialist solution is required to install the window film, it is normal for some of this solution to become trapped between the glass and the film. This will require time to dry-out. The “dry out” or “curing” time is necessary for the window film adhesive to properly bond to the glass. The length of time required depends on factors such as the film type and climate during and after installation completion.


Is Window Film application safe? Will it lead to Glass breakage or seal failure?

The installation of window film is perfectly safe for occupants.

Window films absorb, reject and transmit differing percentages of solar energy. Films with high absorption can lead to a slight expansion of the window. In well manufactured windows this expansion poses no problem. However, in poorly manufactured windows containing chips, cracks, or unevenness, this absorption can cause extra pressure on the weak area, and can result in glass breakage.

  • When installed correctly, on well manufactured windows, window film does not directly lead to glass breakage or seal failure.
  • When films with high absorption are installed on faulty or poor quality windows, glass breakage may occur. The film exposes the poor manufacture quality of the window.

ARC Window Films cannot guarantee the manufacture quality of the window receiving the film.

To work around this problem and to ensure occupant safety, Window Film manufacturers provide detailed film to glass compatibility guidelines, and fully warranty compatible installations against glass breakage in the rare event that it does occur.

Cleaning & Maintenance

After the curing (dry-out) process is complete your ARC Window Film will not need any special care. Cleaning can be done safely with mild soapy water and a soft cloth or a soft paper towel.

To protect against minor scratches that may occur whilst cleaning, all ARC Window Films come with a protective, scratch resistant coating. However, to get the most from your window film and ensure longevity, it is advisable to follow the cleaning guidelines provided to you after installation.

How long does ARC window film last? Do you offer Warranties?

The life of window film depends on numerous factors. These include:

  • The quality of the films application
  • The orientation of the window
  • The buildings geographic location
  • Whether the application is internal or external
  • The type and brand of film used

The products used by ARC Window Films, when installed correctly, have been known to remain effective and visually attractive for over 25 years.

Our products are backed by the individual manufacturers guarantee for performance and quality. Our films are covered against peeling, cracking, fading, or demetallizing.  This can be for up to 15 years in commercial applications, and life for residential applications.

The length of warranty given is usually dependant on numerous factors, such as:

  • The type of film
  • The type of installation (internal or external, sloped or vertical)
  • Whether the building is commercial or residential

Please see our Warranties page in the product section for further information on individual product warranties.

What Energy savings will I realize? What is a typical ROI for Window Film?

Energy Savings

Energy savings from the installation of window film depends on many factors, such as:

  • The type of glass that the film will be adhered to
  • The type of film that will be used
  • Your location and climate
  • The energy cost in your area
  • The heating and cooling systems you currently use

As a general rule, in most buildings high performance window films can reduce energy costs by around 10 - 30%. It does this by lowering the strain on heating and cooling systems within a building -as heat gain / heat loss through the window is reduced.

  • Winter heat loss can be reduced by up to 40% on single glazing, and 20% on double glazing with insulation window film.
  • Summer heat gain can be reduced by 71% on single glazing, and 56% on double glazing.

As a result of the reduced load, window film can also lead to lower maintenance costs for heating and cooling systems.

Return on Investment

As window film is only a fraction of the cost of replacing the windows (about 5-10% of the cost), Initial capital investment is much lower.

A typical payback period is around 3-5 years, which equates to around 20-33% Return on Investment.


Can Window Film Be Used On Low E Windows?

Whether window film should be used on low E windows and how much you will benefit depends on three factors:

  1. Type of low E surface used on glass.
  2. Location of low E surface in the window system.
  3. The desired amount of heat gain reduction, heat loss reduction, or other film benefits.

There are two basic types of low E surfaces on glass. One of these is a conductive coating put on glass as it is being made. It gives some heat loss reduction, but does little to reduce heat gain into a building. The second type is a more complex system of multiple layers of metals and conductive coatings deposited on glass after it has been made. This type of low E glass gives heat reductions of 30% to 50% in addition to reducing heat loss. Obviously there will be more heat gain reduction using film on the first type. If there is any question about the type you may have, ask your glass company or the window manufacturer to send you the specific information about your glass.

The location of the low E surface in your window system is also very important in deciding whether film should be used. If the low E coating is on the room-side surface of the innermost pane of glass, the use of window film may reduce or eliminate the heat loss reduction of the glass itself. This may be more than offset by the heat gain reduction/heat loss reduction properties of the films to be used. Most low E window systems, however, consist of double pane windows where the low E surface faces the air space between the panes. In this case, film can be installed without eliminating the heat loss reduction benefit of the low E glass. The type of window film you choose for low E glass depends entirely on your desired benefit -whether you want to reduce heat gain, control glare, prevent heat loss, reduce fading or enhance the safety of your windows and glass doors. Carefully consider all these benefits before making a final decision.