Window Film Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to common questions about 3M Scotchtint, Brower Tinting & Graphics, and window films in general:

Information and definitions on these pages is derived from the ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers) Handbook of Fundamentals, AIMCAL (Association of Industrial Metallizers, Coaters, And Laminators) publications, IWFA (International Window Film Association) publications, and 40 years of experience.

General Film Questions
General Installation Questions
Film on dual-pane windows
Warranty Questions
Safety / Security Questions
Brower Questions

General Film Questions:

What is window film?

Modern window film is a micro thin layer of metallized or dyed polyester that is installed on the inside of your existing windows. Depending on the film type, it reduces varying amounts of heat, glare, and UV. Almost all films will reduce at least 99% of harmful ultraviolet rays. More reflective films are useful for daytime privacy.  Thicker, stronger versions provide safety and security. They also act as “anti graffiti” films and protect glass from scratching or acid etching.

Is this the purple, bubbly stuff I see on cars?

Any film that contains dyes will fade with time. The good ones just take longer.  Metallized films do not turn color, and all of 3M’s window films are guaranteed not to discolor.  This includes our CS (Color Stable) line of non-reflective smoke films.

As for the bubbling, that would indicate film that is either very very old, very very cheap, or it was improperly installed.

Does 3M make its own window films?

Yes.  3M produces its own raw materials – polyesters, adhesives, and scratch-resistant coatings. They produce the finished products in their facilities in Knoxville, Iowa and Decatur, Alabama. This gives us the quality control and product consistency other manufacturers lack.

What’s more, 3M window film is backed by a warranty that covers 100% of materials and labor.  It’s the most comprehensive warranty you can get.

That, along with 3M’s worldwide reputation as adhesive experts, means you can rest assured that 3M window film is safe for your windows, and safe for you.

How do 3M Sun Control Films work?

3M tints reduce solar heat, glare, and UV rays by reflecting and absorbing the sun’s energy.

Non-reflective dyed films work primarily through absorption.  They are good for glare and fading reduction, but are the least effective for reducing heat.

Reflective films are precision coated with metals. These metallized films are designed to increase the reflectivity of the glass. These films range from moderate to excellent in heat reduction.

How do 3M All Season films work?

3M All Season films are “Low E” films.  They are like sun control films, but the patented construction of these films reflects more of the interior room heat back into the room. This improves personal comfort by reducing drafts near windows and can help save on fuel costs, especially in commercial buildings. The LE films are also protected with our abrasion resistant coating.

Will my windows be darker after you put the film on? Can you see the film?

Our most popular films maintain the naturalness and clarity of your windows. In some cases, the glare and heat of the sun requires us to install a more tinted film. However, it is always our goal to apply a film that provides you with the protection you need while impacting the view as little as possible.

In the case of our Prestige films, these are designed for maximum heat reduction with little or no impact on the room lighting or the view. With Prestige films, since there is absolutely no metal in them, there is no reflectivity at all added to the glass during the day or at night.

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Do I need film on all of my windows or only those facing the sun?

It is recommended that all sun-facing windows be treated. If some windows receive less direct sun, we may apply a lighter film to those windows, for protection as well as uniformity. All windows transmit UV, regardless of whether or not they face direct sun. If fading protection is the primary concern and there are delicate furnishings or artwork that need protection, then use of film is strongly suggested.

What happens if I scratch the film?

Minor scratching generally does not require replacement of the film. However, if a deep and unsightly scratch requires special attention, generally it is necessary to replace the panel. The film can be removed and replaced quite easily without damaging the window.

Will 3M tints stop my furnishings from fading? (See Basics of Fading)

Nothing completely stops fading. 3M films reduce the major causes of fading (ultraviolet light, visible light, and solar heat), thus prolonging the life of your furnishings by as much as two to five times.

Keep in mind the quality of the articles to be protected; if they have a typical life of five (5) years then they may last ten (10) years or longer depending on the performance of the film selected. However, if the typical life is only 2-3 weeks, then the expectation should be expressed in terms of months.

As a general rule of thumb, ultraviolet (UV) is approximately 40% of the cause, visible light is about 25%, and heat about 25%. The remaining 10% can be attributed to humidity, pollutants, interior lights, dye stability, and other similar environmental factors.

Does the Ultraviolet protection lose its effectiveness over time?

No, the ultraviolet (UV) protection that we use in our proprietary adhesive system is indefinite. It does not lose its effectiveness over time. In fact, 3M tested an actual glass sample from The Dumbarton House, Washington, DC. This was a ten (10) year old application and the ultra violet transmission still measured <1%.

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How long does the window film last?

3M films in the Northwest have historically maintained their effectiveness for fifteen to twenty years. All applications have a minimum warranty period of up to fifteen (15) years for commercial buildings (except exterior applications which are two (2) years), and a lifetime residential warranty.*

*(Lifetime for as long as original purchaser owns their home)

Will solar window film protect glass against breakage during an earthquake?

The adherence of any pressure sensitive window film to the interior surface of the glass will provide some protection against shattering of glass in the event of breakage. If the building is in an earthquake zone it is advisable to apply a Scotchshield Safety Film, which is thicker, stronger, and specifically designed for this type of application.  Also, it is available in an energy saving tinted version.

What is the typical energy pay back for 3M window films?

Simple paybacks will vary depending upon the amount of sunlit glass exposure, type of film, type of glass, cost of fuel, cost of application, and other variables. However, we regularly see paybacks in the 2-5 year range, with some occasionally shorter. We would be happy to analyze the potential energy savings in your residential or commercial property.

How do I clean my 3M films? (See After Installation)

After thirty (30) days, you may clean 3M films using normal household cleaning solutions, including ammonia based products: e.g., Windex, and a soft, lint-free cloth or towel. You may also use a squeegee to clean the films. Abrasive products which would scratch or damage the film should not be used.

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General Installation Questions:

How is 3M window film applied? (See also A Typical Residential Window Film Installation)

3M film is professionally applied by our skilled installers to the inside of your glass.

The first step is to prepare the window area by placing drop cloths on the floor and protecting or moving furniture where necessary.

The next step is to thoroughly clean the glass and frames.  We scrape the window with a razor scraper and a simple solution of baby shampoo (or Joy™ dish soap) and water. The window is then squeegeed dry.

The film’s release liner, which protects the factory-applied adhesive, is removed at this point of the process.

The window is re-wet, the film is squeegeed in place and trimmed to fit the exposed glass area, leaving a very thin ( usually less than 1/16th of an inch) margin around the edge.  This margin is to allow for glass expansion.  A final pass with a professional grade squeegee gets the remaining moisture out from under the film.  Any lingering moisture evaporates out from under the film over the next 2 weeks to 45 days.

When installed properly, there are no bubbles or distortion.

Can I install 3M window film myself?

It is strongly recommended that the film be professionally installed. This way, you will enjoy the benefits of 3M film and the comfort of the 3M warranty.

Can you handle a large installation, such as a multi-story office building?

Yes. Our staff is capable of professionally installing hundreds of windows on a high rise office building or a couple of windows in your home. We have completed many of these larger projects all over Puget Sound including the original installation of the Seafirst Building in 1979 and Weyerhauser’s headquarters in Federal Way in 1997.

Do my tenants have to move out during the installation?

No.  Installing window film involves no odors or noxious chemicals and can be done during normal office hours with minimal disruption of office routine. If there is a concern, special arrangements can be made for evening and weekend installations. We do ask that at least three feet of space be cleared in front of the window so our crew can thoroughly clean the windows and apply the film.


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Film on Dual Pane Windows

Can I put film on double paned windows?

Yes. Independent tests and our 35 years of experience confirm that the use of film is of minimal risk to dual pane glass. If the windows are new and have a manufacturer’s warranty, Brower and 3M can provide warranty coverage on the seal failure portion of the warranty, as well as on the glass itself. Your representative will review this option with you.

Does 3M film cause glass to break?

The application of window film will increase the temperature of your sunlit glass which will increase the stress on the glass edges. The quality of those glass edges and several other factors (exterior and interior shading, glass history, type of film, size/shape of glass, indoor/outdoor temperature) all contribute to the potential risk of glass breakage.

Brower’s 40-plus years of experience with applying window film to different types of glass enables us to make proper film-to-glass recommendations and minimize the potential for glass breakage. In addition, we support these recommendations with our 60-month glass breakage warranty against thermal shock fracture. Should the glass break within 60-months of application, we will replace the glass to a maximum of $500.00 and replace the film at no charge.

Does 3M film cause seal failure when applied to insulated (double-pane, thermal pane) windows?

Yes and no. When recommended films are applied to the inside pane of an insulated glass unit, there will be some absorption of the sun’s energy, which will increase the temperature of the glass pane. Some of this heat will transmit to the airspace, slightly raising the airspace temperature. However, even a 20 F degree increase (unusual for most films) will result in a less than 3% change in air pressure, whereas properly made units are designed and tested to withstand 22% changes in air pressure.

Risk of seal failure is greatly determined by the quality of workmanship and the quality of the materials that go into building the insulated glass units. The best guard against seal failure is to purchase well-made units from reputable window manufacturers that have solid experience and histories with insulated units.

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Warranty Questions

What is the warranty for 3M film?

3M film is warranted to maintain its solar properties without bubbling, peeling, cracking, or crazing. Many of our films are warranted against discoloration, too. (Those which do not use dyed polyesters). Should the product prove to be defective, 3M and Brower will replace the film and provide the reapplication labor free of charge.

The window film is warranted for 10 years on commercial buildings. The warranty on homes is a limited lifetime warranty. All Low E films and Panther Black films are warranted for 5 years.  Exterior films are warranted for 2 years

3M also warrants against glass failure due to thermal shock fracture or seal failure (maximum value of $500 per window) caused as a direct result of the application of classic window film or Scotchshield provided the film is applied to recommended types of glass and the glass failure is reported to the seller within the specified time (listed below) from the start of the installation.

Sixty (60) months coverage against thermal shock fracture Forty (40) months coverage against seal failure if covered by original window manufacturer.

Optional Platinum Warranty – Residential Applications Only.  The 3M Platinum Warranty matches the terms and conditions of the residential customer’s existing window manufacturer’s warranty for $.35/square foot. This allows the customer continuous coverage on new windows and the peace of mind having assurance that a product from 3M is protecting their investment.

If I sell my house, is the warranty transferable to the new owners?

No. The warranty is issued to the purchaser and is not transferable to the next homeowner.

What is the warranty on commercial installations?

Commercial installations receive a 10-year warranty direct from 3M.

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Safety / Security Questions

How do 3M Scotchshield “Ultra” Safety and Security Window Films work?

3M Scotchshield Ultra Safety and Security Window Films are designed to make glass shatter-resistant by holding the glass pieces together when broken.

Compared to its other window films, 3M’s Scotchshield Ultra is made with thicker polyester and a much thicker, more aggressive adhesive, Scotchshield Ultra is unique in the industry and is built using a special micro-layered polyester technology which increases the film’s tear resistance significantly. Pound for pound, the impact and tear resistance of Scotchshield Ultra films outperform all other films of similar thickness.

Are 3M Scotchshield (Ultra) Films hurricane-proof? Bullet-proof? Burglar-proof?

No, Scotchshield Ultra is not hurricane-proof, earthquake-proof, bullet-proof, bomb-proof, nor burglar-proof. Again, it is designed to make the window glass more shatter-resistant.

In the event of a windstorm, these films may have significant safety and security value. They can reduce the risk of injury from flying shards of broken glass, and possibly help prevent debris and water penetration through the window depending on the severity of the storm (and the type of glass, framing system, size and velocity of objects, and more).

In an earthquake, these films can reduce the risk of serious injury from flying shards of broken glass, and possible prevent glass from falling out of a home or building. Again, much may depend upon the severity of the quake (and the type of glass, framing system, and more, too).

Bullets: these films are not designed to stop bullets and we make no such claims.

3M Scotchshield Films were originally developed to address international concerns and needs for improved safety and security against terrorist acts of bombings. These films can significantly reduce the risk of serious injury from flying shards of glass due to blasts, however, much depends upon the severity of the blast and the proximity of the window glass to the blast (and glass type, framing system, and more too).

3M Scotchshield Ultra is a low profile, high performance measure of security in the battle against ‘smash and grab’ crime. The tough, shatter-resistant qualities of the film can hold the window glass together even if a brick (or similar object) were actually to pass through the glass. The thief must now make a choice; continue to attack this window, try another window, or move on. Time is short, and often they move on. However, if they are determined to gain entry, they will get in. It is generally recommended that the property have proper alarm systems in addition to Scotchshield Ultra.

Will 3M Scotchshield (Ultra) Film keep my glass from breaking?

This is difficult to answer with any degree of certainty because it is difficult to test for this. Window glass varies in strength from piece to piece and from lot to lot. So, if a Scotchshield-protected window were impacted, yet, failed to break, it would be difficult to determine if the glass alone, the film alone, or the film and glass together resisted the breakage. When glass breaks, Scotchshield Ultra demonstrates it’s best performance!

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Brower Questions

Can you give me some examples of your work?

Since 1966 Brower has installed 3M films on thousands of homes and commercial buildings. For specific projects in your immediate area, please call our offices at 800.252.6849.

How long have you been in business?

Brower has been the authorized 3M dealer in Western Washington since 1966.  We have installed more square feet of film on more homes and buildings than any other window film company in the Northwest.  Our commitment to quality and service is indisputable. Our standards are high and unwavering. We always go the extra mile to give you the best solution to your problem with uncompromising service.

Where is your service area?

Our immediate and regular service area is the greater I-5 corridor from Everett to Olympia.  We often work in Kitsap County, especially the Bremerton-Silverdale area.

Are you licensed, bonded, insured, and OSHA compliant?

Our Washington Contractors License Number is BROWEGT066DM.  We are fully bonded and insured for even the largest commercial project.  No matter what size job we do, we always adhere to OSHA and WISHA safety requirements.

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Brower Tinting & Graphics specializes in window film, safety & security window applications, and window tinting for residential homes and commercial business. Window tinting saves energy year round!

We also specialize in digitally printed graphics & vinyl banners of all types.

Located in Renton, Washington, we serve the entire Seattle area, including Tacoma, Bellevue, Kirkland, Everett, Redmond, Auburn, Kent, and the Puget Sound region in Washington State since 1966…


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