Residential Window Tinting FAQ
Where can I buy Gila® Window Film?
Click here to find a partial list of major retailers that carry Gila Window Film for residential and automotive window tinting.
Note: product selection and stock vary by retailer.
Do I apply the film on the inside or outside of the window?
See Residential Film Application Instruction sheet
- Apply Heat Control films to the INSIDE only.
- Apply Privacy Mirror and Frosted films to the INSIDE only.
- Apply the Glare Control films to the INSIDE of single-pane windows, and to the OUTSIDE of dual-pane windows.
- If you have exterior (outside) removable storm panes, apply the film to the INSIDE of the storm pane.
- If you have interior (inside) removable storm panes, apply the film to the INSIDE of the fixed window, and not the storm pane.
What are the five secrets to a successful job?
- Read the Application Instructions thoroughly before you begin. These are rolled up within the film, so unroll the film a few feet to find them.
- Collect all needed tools before you begin. These tools include: Gila Application solution, a rubber squeegee, a utility knife with breakaway blades, low lint cloths or coffee filters, transparent tape, and a single-edge razor blade to clean the glass.
- Use smaller pieces of "extra" film to practice application before starting your first window.
- Two people working together make this a very simple project.
- Apply the application solution generously to keep the glass and the adhesive side of the film wet during the application.
Is Gila Window Film safe for dual-pane windows?
All Gila Window Films are safe for dual pane windows if used correctly. Most can be applied to the inside of dual pane windows with the exception of Glare Control and Privacy Control Black (outside only).
Why is Gila Application Solution important?
See Residential Film Application sheet. The Application solution keeps the glass surface clean and slick. It allows you to apply and position the film, and it lubricates the top of the film so the squeegee glides evenly across the film. Be generous with the solution during application.
If your local retailer does not stock Gila Application Solution, you can make a fair substitute by adding a quarter of a teaspoon of no tears baby shampoo (without conditioner) to one quart water, shake up, allow the bubbles to settle, then use.
When is the best time to apply film?
It is safe to apply the film year-round. Gila recommends applying the film to cool glass, avoiding direct sunlight.
* Note: Do not apply film when the outside temperature is below freezing (32 F.). Adhesive may crystallize if below freezing temperatures occur within the first three days of film application.
For dual pane glass, because the inner pane is more shielded from the outside cold, the outside temperature should not be below 10-12°F to be assured that the application solution does not freeze before curing.
Why do I need to trim a gap around the film edge?
Always trim the film before squeegeeing water out from underneath the film. Absorb excess water with coffee filter or paper towel. Trimming the gap prevents air and water bubbles, which are impossible to remove once the film has fully cured (dried). If the film is too large, "fingers" will appear along the edges, usually along the bottom; and as they "grow," they pull dirt under the film. See Residential Instructions
The gap also permits adequate room for the glass to expand and contract, as it becomes warm and cool within the window frame. When applied according to the instructions, all Gila residential window films/tints are designed to be fully compatible with standard residential windows, whether single- or dual-pane.
The Gila trim tool is the best way to trim the gap. It is designed to create an appropriate gap between the film edge and window frame. A credit card can also be used to create the gap. The gap should be no less than the edge of a credit card and no greater than 1/8".
How should I clean window film?
The best way to clean the film is to use the Gila Application Solution and a rubber squeegee. Thoroughly spray the area to be cleaned with the solution. Spray your hand. Rub the area to break up any dirt or grease. re-spray and squeegee. Use lint-free towels or paper coffee filters to wipe up excess soapy solution.
It is safe to use Ammonia-based window cleaners if the cleaner doesn't sit on the film for a prolonged period of time (no more than 1-2 minutes).
How long will window film last?
The life expectancy of Gila Window Film depends upon the type of film, its exposure to the sun, the climate, and its cleaning and maintenance. With average care, the Heat Control and Privacy Control films should have an expected life of up to 15 years. The longevity of film is usually the result of direct exposure to UV rays (part of sunlight). The older the film, the less UV it can absorb effectively. If UV protection is an important reason for using film, we recommend replacing the film every five years. By that time, the protection level has gradually decreased from 99% to about 70% UV reduction, depending upon direct sun exposure.
Will film hurt my indoor plants?
The most compatible films for sensitive indoor plants are Heat Control films. These films transmit higher portions of visible light spectrum that plants need for healthy photosynthesis. Darker films (i.e. Glare Control) block too much of that light.
Help your plants acclimate to the change in light by adjusting them over a five-day period. On day one, move the plants 1 foot further into the room. On day two, move them another foot. On day three, apply the film. On day four, move the plants a foot closer to the windows. On day five, move them another foot closer.
Can I put window film on my skylight?
The most important element of this question is personal safety. Applying film to windows that you can easily reach is a skill that must be mastered before you consider applying film above your head. Anytime you consider applying film to a window that has a bottom edge more than 7 feet above the floor, you should seriously consider one of two options:
- Work with an equally experienced partner as a team, or
- Hire a contractor or window film installer to do the work for you. Handling film on a ladder is at least twice as difficult as applying film to a large patio door by yourself.
Click here for a listing of professional window film installers who use the commercial grade films manufactured by Solutia Performance Films under the LLumar® and Vista® trademarks. Please note that professionals usually provide their own films as part of their contracted work. They may or may not be able to perfectly match the appearance or performance values of a Gila ® Window Film.
How do I remove old window film?
Gila brand EZMount adhesive makes film removal easy and clean. Removal is as easy as peeling the film away from the glass. However, depending on when you purchased your film, it may not contain EZMount adhesive. If your film has been installed for a while or it doesn't remove easily from the glass when pulled, please follow the instructions below.
We recommend the Gila Window Film Removal solution as one of the best ways to remove old window film and adhesive from glass. This solution is sold at the Gila Window Film display at major home centers nationwide. One bottle removes between an average of 45-60 sq ft of film, depending upon how many years the film has been on the window and its exposure to direct sun.
Directions for using the solution are printed on the bottle. In summary, (1) shake the bottle for 30-45 seconds to mix the solution properly, (2) spray the solution over the surface of the film until it is fully covered, (3) notice that the spray does not drip after contact, (4) wait 30-40 minutes*, (5) use the provided single-edge razor blade to loosen the top corner of the film, (6) peel the film down and off the window, (7) re spray the solution on the adhesive to soften it, then (8) use the razor blade to shave off the softened adhesive.
*If the film has been on the window more than 5 years, you may want to reapply the solution after 1 hour, wait another hour before peeling the film off.
CAUTION: Be very careful when handling any razor blade or scraper. Keep your hands dry. Wear protective eye covering. We recommend that you shave upward so you can always see the direction in which the blade is moving. Keep the surface wet so the blade can easily shave the film and adhesive from the glass.
If the Removal solution is not available in your area, the steps below outline an alternate method of removing any brand of window film:
- GATHER TOOLS
Single-edge razor blades in a holder/scraper
Spray bottle filled with 8oz water, 4 oz ammonia, 1 tsp dishwasher liquid soap
Disposable toweling to clean the razor blade edge
Old towel to protect window sill from loose adhesive
Drop cloth to protect floor
- REMOVE THE TOP FILM LAYER
Use the razor blade to loosen the top 1/2 - 3/4 inches along the top edge of the film. Spray the ammonia-water solution (aka "the solution") behind the lifted film and allow to soak for a minute. As you pry the film loose, continue to spray behind the loosened film. Continue this process until you have peeled 3-4 inches free from the glass. Using both hands, grasp this loosened film and pull the film downward. You may find it easier to peel diagonally from one corner to the center, then the other corner toward the center, then bunch the film up in your hands and pull the remainder down toward the bottom of the window. If the film sticks, spray the solution behind it to loosen the grip of the adhesive. As you rip the film from the window, the tearing sound you hear is the shredding of the old adhesive as part of it comes away with the film and part of it remains on the glass.
If you have the time and the film has been in place more than five years, do the job overnight while you sleep. Spray the solution onto the top of the film, then cover the entire glass area with a precut plastic sheet (i.e. 30-60 gal trash bag cut to size). Apply the plastic sheet on top of the wet film, then use masking tape strips to secure the bag around the inside of the window frame. Allow it to sit for 2-4 hours, then peel back the top edge, spray 10-20 "squirts" of the solution behind the plastic sheet, then reseal the top and allow to sit for 2-4 more hours (or overnight). During this time, the solution will soften the adhesive so you can more easily peel the old film from the window.
CAUTION: Do not leave a black or dark plastic bag suspended over the window, especially if you have dual-pane windows. Leaving the bag in place on a warm/hot day can cause a significant heat stress to your windows, which could contribute to a window crack.
- REMOVE THE ADHESIVE
After removing the film, a translucent or clear layer of adhesive may remain on the glass. To remove, generously spray the entire surface with the solution. Rub the solution into the "dry" adhesive until it becomes milky white. This color is a sign that the adhesive has broken its bond to the glass and has become pliable enough to shave off. Re-spray the area you plan to shave and use a new razor blade. Shave upward in quick movements. As the adhesive collects on the blade, wipe it clean with an old towel. (Note: When you are finished with the job, throw towel away).Do not let the adhesive fall onto carpet or fabrics. Change blades as frequently as needed to keep a sharp edge and avoid scratching the glass.
- CLEAN THE WINDOWS
After removing all the adhesive, re-spray the window with the ammonia-water solution and clean with a squeegee. Look for any white dots and pick them off; they are leftover pieces of adhesive. The glass may look cloudy for a few hours while the ammonia evaporates. If you plan to apply new film, clean the glass immediately with the soapy-water application solution and allow the glass to "breathe" for at least 24 hours before you apply new film. Re-clean the glass before applying the new film.
What is the warranty on the film?
Each Gila Window Film product is backed by a manufacturer's warranty. Please click here for more information.
Refunds are the exclusive responsibility and option of the retailer which received your purchase money. The retailer's refund policy controls that option.
Why does the film feel warm on hot days?
All films feel very warm, even hot, when the windows are hot. The reason why depends upon the type of film, the type of window, and the type of weather. Basically, all films obstruct the transfer of heat from the outside of the window through to the inside of the room. The heat has to work much harder to move through this obstacle, so a lot of energy is dissipated through reflection, absorption, conduction, and convection. When you put your hand on the film, you feel much of this heat energy.
Reflection measures how much energy the material reflects back into the glass. The higher the reflection, the greater the "heat gain" reduction. Utility companies often measure this as "shading coefficient."
Convection measures how much energy is drawn away. The main cause of convection is air movement, such as a breeze outside or a moving fan indoors. Convection helps cool a surface by pulling heat away.
Absorption measures how much heat the material absorbs. The Glare Control vinyl films absorb a lot of heat because they are dark-dyed vinyl. The Heat Control films reflect very high percentages of heat because they are metalized polyester films.
Conduction measures how much heat transfers through the film to the inside. Most of this heat is left after convection and reflection have rejected as much heat as they can. What comes out the other side of the film into the room is "net heat gain." Heat Control films have the lowest net heat gain because they have excellent heat reflection. Glare Control vinyl and Privacy Frosted films do not contain metal, do not reflect heat as efficiently, and so reduce less net heat gain.
How do I remove adhesive and paint from film?
The best way to remove paint overspray or residual adhesive left over from removing masking tape or old stickers from a filmed window surface: use pure acetone (nail polish remover without oils) dabbed on a clean, soft cotton cloth. Gently stroke the affected area. Continue with circular strokes in this fashion until the surface is clean. The acetone will evaporate completely. Warning: acetone is extremely flammable. Use it only in small quantities with good ventilation and never near a source of ignition. Be aware that acetone can damage acetate fabrics, painted or varnished surfaces. Read the MSDS sheet before use.
What is the difference between air bubbles and water bubbles?
Water bubbles are pockets of water trapped under the film during an installation. Most small water bubbles will dry out in a few days.
Sometimes air pockets remain trapped under the film, and unfortunately these will not disappear without proper squeegee methods. If ample application is still under the film, simply re-wet and re-squeegee the film to remove trapped air. In some cases it may be necessary to lift and re-wet the film.
Is there some other alternative application solution I can use to install Gila Films?
If Gila Application Solution is not available, you may use a mixture of water and no tears baby shampoo (without conditioner). Mix one quart of water and ¼ teaspoon of shampoo in a spray bottle.
Other liquid soap products contain ingredients that may reduce the effectiveness of the film's adhesive.
Is overspray from the application solution harmful?
The solution is no more harmful than a gentle soap solution, such as no-tears baby shampoo. Nevertheless, we suggest that you use the solution in a well-ventilated area and use drop cloths to cover carpet, furniture, etc., to help prevent possible spotting of fine furniture or fabrics.
How do I remove trapped air bubbles?
If an air bubble under the film is detected immediately after installation, simply re-spray the film and use the squeegee or wrapped hard-card to push the water toward the nearest edge. If the bubble still remains, it may be necessary to carefully lift the nearest edge, re-spray the adhesive thoroughly, and re-squeegee that region of the film. Before lifting the film, be sure the film edges have been properly trimmed and the borders of the window have been dried with a hard card wrapped in a paper towel to absorb the perimeter gasket moisture. Dry the border first in order to prevent liquid from flowing back under the film.
Can I Apply film to CERAMIC TILES?
We do not recommend that these adhesive-backed film products be applied to ceramic tiles. These products are intended for application to smooth, clean, flat glass only. Installation on non-glass surfaces is outside the scope of the warranty for Gila Window Films.
What is the Curing Time (Drying Time) for Gila films?
The film generally has a curing time of 5-7 days. (Factors that affect drying time are temperature, humidity, and whether that film receives sun exposure). Over this time, you should see those small water dimples, if smaller than the eraser on a pencil, disappear.
How do I work with film that seems extremely curly?
There is a natural curl to the film since it's been rolled up in a box for a period of time. Note that the film's clear liner faces outwardly. To begin, unroll the film across a clean table-top with the liner facing up so that the curl is "into" the table. This should keep the film flat and quite easy to mark and cut down to the needed size.
In the unlikely event that the film is curling up along an edge after installation, wrap a plastic credit card in one or two layers of paper towel and use it as a squeegee. Stroke the film firmly down, beginning several inches away from the edge, moving smoothly and forcefully toward the lifted edge. This will force out the air and enable the film's adhesive to bond to the glass. You may have to repeat this technique several times.
If the problem seems persistent, use a hair dryer on the warm (not hot) setting to help evaporate residual moisture along the edge and tack down with the "wrapped credit card" technique. Hold the hair dryer about 8-12 inches away from the affected area while stroking down the edge with the paper towel wrapped card.
Can I apply film to dual pane / dual pane low-e windows
Be sure to read instructions before applying a given film to dual pane windows. Dual pane windows are windows composed of two panes of glass separated by an air space and a perimeter spacing bar that also seals the edges against moisture intrusion into the air space. Film installation can be done on the room-side surface of dual pane windows provided the proper films are selected. Certain films can cause the inner pane to get too hot and possibly damage the weather seals or even break the glass.
Some dual pane windows, such as used in some motor homes, are made of tempered glass. Usually the outer pane of tempered dual pane windows is also tinted. Tempered glass cannot be broken from solar heat absorption, no matter what film is installed on them. However, care still must be taken to select the proper film because of the potential for premature seal failure because an excessively absorptive film is used which could cases over heating of the seals and excessive stress through expansion cycling. It may be necessary to contact a member of the Solutia technical support team to obtain clarification on the best films for such windows.
Dual pane Low-E and Dual pane tinted windows can safely have glare control films applied to the outside surface. Low-E coatings are applied to one of the inside surfaces of the glazing system, so its performance (in reducing wintertime heat loss) is not affected.
What causes fading? How much will fading be reduced with window films?
Fading of furniture or artwork is caused by UV rays, heat, visible light, indoor artificial lighting, humidity, and the quality of the dye in the fabric. There is general agreement that UV light causes more damage to fabrics than any other single factor. Most Gila films block in the neighborhood of 96-99% of the UV, which means that, while Gila films cannot completely prevent fading, it can help reduce it.
Can you install film on top of film?
Generally, it is not recommended to install film on top of film. "Stacking" solar control films can often result in the glass becoming too warm, raising glass temperatures beyond the manufacturer's suggested limits. Excessive heat can cause seal damage (on dual pane units) or glass breakage. If the glass is tempered and single pane, stacking films will not cause damage.
If you have a special need for stacking two or more films and have questions, please call customer service, who can direct you to a member of the Technical Services Group. Always remember, however, that warranties are voided by film stacking or "layering."
Can Gila films be installed on glass blocks?
Installing film on such glass or acrylic "bricks" is not recommended. Most glass blocks are uneven, so uniform adhesion of the film to the blocks is nearly impossible.
Does the adhesive label that is wrapped around the film roll damage the film?
No. The label on the film is affixed to the clear liner side of the film. The clear liner protects the adhesive and is discarded after removal during the installation process.
How do I remove the clear protective liner from the film?
Remove the liner by attaching two 3" long pieces of transparent tape to the front and back surfaces of a corner of the film so that about 1" of tape is on the film, and the rest is centered and hanging over the pointed corner of the film. Firmly press the two pieces of tape together and quickly pull them apart to separate the clear liner away from the (dry) adhesive side of the film.
Can Gila residential films be applied to plastic, Plexiglas®, Lexan (polycarbonate), or auto windows?
Do not apply residential Gila films with adhesives to plastic, Plexiglas, polycarbonate surfaces, or motor vehicle windows. On plastic surfaces, the adhesive on the film may cause bubbling or blistering and long darts that have the appearance of wrinkles.
Furthermore, attempting to remove film from plastic surfaces may result in permanent damage to the windows. We suggest trying adhesive-free vinyl Glare Control or Privacy Black films on plastic, with careful attention to instruction and trimming.
Plexiglass, acrylic, and lexan are three non-glass materials used to make skylights, sidelights on front doors, storm door panes, and garage door windows. The advantage of these "plastic" materials is that they are more impact-resistant than glass. They are often more durable in certain window locations than glass.
Window film adhesive is not designed for these "plastic" windows. Changes in temperature cause natural expansion and contraction of both plexiglass and window film. The plexiglass and the film expand and contract at different rates, which cause the film to buckle and lift off the glass.
If you want to reflect more heat, you may cut a piece of Heat Control film to the size and shape of the window. Leave the clear liner on the film, and mount the outside of the curl of the film onto the glass after you put a ¼" border of double-sided tape around the inside perimeter of the window.
Do not try to apply film to compound-curved or domed skylights. Window film will not stretch to conform to these 3-D surfaces; but it can crease, pucker, and wrinkle badly if you try to force it to fit.
Residential films, as a rule, should not be applied to car windows because reflectance (a measure of how shiny the film is) is often higher than what is typically legally permissible for cars in various states. There is a special line of Gila Window Films specifically designed for automotive use.
Is there a film that will give me privacy during day and night that still allows me to see out clearly?
In a word, no. Nor is there any one-way mirror glass that allows this either. The Privacy Control Mirror film has been designed to provide DAYTIME PRIVACY ONLY. Wherever the greater source of light is, that is the side where the mirror or reflectivity will be. During the day, the greater source of light is the sun. Therefore when looking into your home from the outside you will see a mirror image. When looking from the inside of the home to the outside, you will be able to see clearly.
During the night: Since the greater source of light will be the lighting in your home, when you look out your window, you will see the reflectivity or mirror image. Someone looking into your window from the outside will be able to see in if the lights are on indoors. There are many professional films products from Solutia that offer very low interior reflectivity with higher outward reflectivity, so night time reflectance is greatly reduced. There is no technology at this time to make a window film (or glass) truly "one way" under all lighting conditions.
The Privacy Control Frosted film provides 24-hour privacy and diffuses natural light. It provides the same appearance as frosted or sand-blasted glass. Our Privacy Control Black is a vinyl film which only allows 6% of light to come through. It is not designed for inward or outward visibility.
Can Gila Film be installed on oval or round windows?
We do not recommend installation of film on non-rectangular windows. Most non-rectangular windows (curved edges or shapes of special design) are custom cut and scored, causing the likelihood of weak spots and fractures in the film.
What if my window is larger than the film size?
To cover windows that are larger than the film size, seam the film as you would with wallpaper. Vertically overlap two sides by ½ inch, and then use a ruler to guide your knife as you cut through the center of both layers of film. (You might practice doing this with film scraps, so that you apply sufficient pressure to cut through both layers but not so forcefully as to scratch the glass.) After cutting the seam, peel the loose strip of film from the top, then lift the edge and slide the waste piece from underneath. Spray the underside of the film as you pull away the freed inner strip. Lay down the film, and re-wet the film along the length of the seam line, then squeegee from top to bottom in a slow, firm vertical motion. Do not squeegee across the seam as you may lift and damage the film edges.
How can I eliminate static electricity?
Static electricity can be eliminated by spraying the film surface lightly with application solution. Some static may occur when stripping away the clear protective liner on certain film products. To avoid this problem, spray the front and back surfaces of the film before peeling the liner away (just prior to installation).