Fade Protection

Does Window Film Prevent Fading?

Many folks consider the installation of window film specifically to address a problem with the fading or damage the sun causes to their furnishings. So the question comes down to: Does window film protect my furnishings? The answer is: Absolutely! Window film has plenty of attributes and protection from fading is one of its strong suits. But let's take a moment to look at the bigger picture - what we call the 'fading pie'.  


Within the 'pie' are all the causes of fading. First, note the smallest slice - miscellaneous. This is very important, as contained within that 10% slice are a number of factors which are beyond the control of window film, such as the passage of time, humidity, type of material being protected, color of the material, etc. Because of this slice, no one can make a claim that window film can STOP fading….however, because the other 3 slices are controllable, we can make a huge improvement in protection!


UV Light: It is commonly understood that UV is the most damaging part of sunlight, and it is in this area that window film does its best. Even though UV light is invisible to the human eye, 3M Window Films filter about 99% of UV-C, the trouble maker for homeowners. The result of this filtration is that, regardless of the specific 3M Film product you chose, nearly 40% of any fading problems you might have are immediately removed! Whether your film is clear or you choose something darker, cross UV off as a source of fading!


Heat: The heat you can feel coming through your windows contributes 25% to the fading of your furnishings. That means that for windows which have the potential for high heat penetration, typically south and west facing, we want to look at films which are efficient in blocking heat from entering your home. These 3M products may be light or dark, but the more heat energy they stop, the more positive the effect on the fading issue they will have.


Light: Literally, the more light which a film allows in, the more potential for fading there is. So, yes, there is less fading in a cave than there is in your home! HOWEVER, since most people would prefer to not live in a home which feels like a cave, the good news is that a 3M film which reduces the amount of light entering a room by half (50%), is actually a film which we in the business refer to as a 'light' film - in other words, though the number - 50% - may sound like a lot, when installed on your home's glass, it is actually very subtle. If someone didn't know the film was in place they may not even notice it, yet the film will reduce the fading from the brightness of the light by half.

That's the basics of fade control - but what does that all boil down to in practical terms?

There has definitely been a change in people's preferences in window films over the 3 decades we have been applying film in the valley. Back in the day, most films selected tended to be darker and somewhat shiny. And those are certainly good films to apply to reduce fading damage. But over the last 10 years or so, and certainly aided by new technology, our customers are choosing 3M films which tend to be on the light side - from 50% light transmittance and up to 70% light transmittance. These films let abundant light into the rooms, yet are able to cut fading pretty much to the level of the old dark stuff because technology has allowed 3M engineers to create light films with VERY HIGH levels of heat reduction. All this means that a dramatic reduction in fading can be achieved with films with little impact on the appearance of your home's glass.


Typical of these films is Prestige-70, a high-tech high-light transmitting film which is very popular with both home owners and business owners who have display windows. The following pictures illustrate what the protection level is, using Prestige-70, on a piece of dark red cotton fabric. This test, conducted in August for a period of only 2 weeks, is a dramatic representation of the protection level. As you can see, with the film peeled back the fabric on the left still retains its deep red color, while the fabric which was exposed for only 2 weeks is bleached out significantly.


Finally, in the interest of full disclosure: That pesky 10% slice contains a lot of tricky issues we have encountered over the years. We chose red fabric for the above test because we know that red is a pigment which has a propensity to fade. Other common factors we see are things such as wood flooring - some darken and some lighten with excessive sun exposure. Paintings and tapestries are particularly vulnerable to fade damage. I have had folks show me tapestries which were hung down a dark hallway, but were fading as the result of UV light 'bouncing' down the white walls of the hall and attacking the fabrics of the tapestry. Light colored things don't fade like dark colored things. Brick and ceramic are very fade resistant, while wool, cotton and other natural fibers fade easily. We have seen evergreen hedges which bounce UV light into a room like there was a mirror there, even though the sun never directly entered the room.


I guess you can imagine the many scenarios there are out there, but let me finish with my own testimony: We built our home in 1991-2. My wife told me she didn't care what product we put on the windows, as long as it was light. We have forest green carpet and golden oak stained knotty pine frames around all of our windows. These should be a recipe for fade damage, BUT - after 21 years, you cannot see fade damage to carpeting anywhere, and only now is my wife thinking we should consider touching up the varnish on the knotty pine - no peeling, no obvious damage, but we can see a subtle lightening of the color of the wood. AFTER 21 YEARS! I am sure that we would have been in big trouble over that period of time without window film applied. (You can see a picture of one of our windows on the'residential' page of our website.) That particular film has a calculated fade reduction of 66%. Lots of people might say "Oh, only 66%", because that really doesn't sound all that good, but here we are all these years later, and I have not incurred any loss from fading in that time. (With a light film).


Can 3M Window Films help you with your fading issues? I say "Absolutely, YES!" Give us a call and let us show you what 3M Window Films can do to help you enjoy the views out your home's windows while protecting your expensive furnishings!

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