Window tinting is a commonly used method of protecting the interior of vehicles and buildings from the heat of the sun and the deteriorating effects of sunlight on upholstery, carpet, and wall hangings.
In the Western states, the cost of air conditioning with unprotected windows during the summer months can become prohibitive. This is especially true for commercial buildings including schools, restaurants, and high-rise office buildings.
Window tinting films are classified according the amount of light they allow through the window. This measure is called the visible light transmittance or VLT. The VLT rating is the percentage of visible light that is able to penetrate a particular film.
For example, a window film with a VLT of 60 percent will allow 60 percent of the visible light to enter the window.
The lower the VLT rating, the darker the tint. Although it may seem that a darker tint will automatically decrease the heat in a vehicle or building, this is not necessarily the case since visible light is only a fraction of what causes heat.
State governments maintain safety standards by mandating that a sufficient amount of light must enter vehicle windows. Since state regulations vary, it is a good idea to learn the VLT limits of the state before acquiring window tint for a vehicle.
Window tinting is achieved by the use of a polyester film that clings to the window through the application of water, an adhesive, or hand-applied pressure.
Window tint film consists of an adhesive layer, one or more layers of light- or heat-resistant material, and a scratch-resistant exterior.
Because window tint can be difficult to apply without creating bubbles or a sloppy look, a professional window film installer should be contacted to ensure the best appearance for the windows of a car or building.
There are five basic types of window tinting: dyed film, metalized film (also known as deposited film), hybrid film, sputtered film, and ceramic film.
Dyed film is has a layer of dyed polyester between the adhesive and the scratch-resistant coating. Dyed film will reduce glare and fading within a car or building. Dyed film is the darkest of all window tints and is one of the cheapest window tints available.
Metalized film is also a relatively cheap type of window tint and contains an extremely thin layer of metal. Metalized film is more reflective than dyed film and is excellent at reducing glare and heat. The thin layer of metal in metalized film may cause interference with cell phones, remote starters, and navigation systems.
Hybrid film is a combination of dyed film and metalized film. Hybrid film is the most commonly selected type of window tint for vehicles and protects from UV rays. Because hybrid film contains metal, it may interfere with signal-operated devices.
Sputtered film is similar to metalized film but it is significantly thinner and creates a less obvious tint. Sputtered film is an excellent UV deterrent and can be used in many applications.
Ceramic film is the most advanced type of window tint available and the most expensive. Ceramic film is not as dark other types of film, yet is has superior clarity and UV protection. Ceramic film deflects the heat-causing infrared rays and has a long lifespan.