Our window film company is based in Chicago. We get a lot of questions about tinting house windows for privacy. There are a few misconceptions about what can be accomplished with window film, so we’re going to help clear things up.
The most common request we hear when people want privacy film for their homes is to get a dark “limo” tint installed. The first thing we tell them is that you will still be able to see in at night when the lights are on. This is usually where that discussion ends. But for those who want to push forward we give the next bit of infomation:
Dark films cause windows to absorb excessive amounts of heat. It is this thermal stress that can damage glass. The problem with using a limo-like film is that most residential windows are double pane and made of weak plate glass. If you were to install a limo tint to the inside of an insulated glass window it would only be a matter of time before that window seal would fail, causing excessive moisture to collect inside the window, eventually molding.
Even if you had a window that was single pane, the application of a dark film is risky. Windows are frequently chipped during transport and installation. This damage is not visible after the windows are installed. These chips are weak points from which breaks can occur after the application of a dark film. If you insist on using a dark film we recommend you can have it applied to the exterior surface of the window if your windows are double pane. These applications don’t last more than a couple years, but at least you won’t have to worry about damaging the glass.
If it acceptable to have a silver appearance to the exterior of the window, you may want to consider a one-way film. One-way film has a dark limo appearance on the inside, but is mirror like on the outside, providing superior privacy. The only drawback is that most condo associations will not allow you to change exterior windows in this manner.
Another option if you’re only interested in daytime privacy is to use a 25-35% semi-metallic film. You can easily see outside during the day and the film can safely be applied to the inside of the windows. The only drawback to this is not being able to see outside at night.
The fourth choice in films for privacy are those that block the view in both directions day and night. You can go with a frosted, whiteout or blackout film. Frosted films allow all of the light to come through while blackout film lives up to its name by blocking it all. Blackout films can only be safely applied to the exterior surface of windows unless your glass is single-pane and tempered.
Frosted and whiteout films are safe for interior application. Whiteout films are typically used to cover floor to ceiling windows in a commercial space so that a wall can be built in front of them (to increase shelving space).
Frosted films achieve a natural etched appearance without blocking the light. This is usually the first film we recommend to any customer interested in privacy in their home. Visit our website at www.precisefilm.com to see examples of frosted window film styles.