My name is Brad Maguire, I'm the owner of Precision Window Tinting, and if you're considering tinting windows on your home, car or office; there’s a number of important issues you should understand, so you can buy the tinting film that will best suit your windows. In this article I address what I consider to be the most important issues for you to get your head around.
1. Windows Last a Long Time, Make Sure Your Window Film does too.
The first and undoubtedly the most crucial thing you need to understand about window film is the difference between good window film and bad quality window film. Here’s why:
Premium window film will last for the life of your windows, which is a long time, whereas bad window film will only last 2-3 years, depending on the rigours of your environment. And in reality, the only way for a non-professional person to discriminate between good quality and poor quality window film is its price and the terms of its guarantee.
That’s why I recommend that when you are inquiring with a supplier, be sure to ask how long the film is guaranteed for. If it's not at least 12 years don't buy it. Also beware of unscrupulous operators who offers you a guarantee on cheap film and hike the price, to make it appear like it's good film, but won’t be around, or simply do nothing when you get back to them because your window tint has spoiled. Seriously, this happens all the time so be careful.
Here's a tip, (and incidentally I've found this to be true with almost everything), if your only goal in getting quotes on window tinting is to look for the cheapest possible price, then you will naturally gravitate towards the poorest product choices and the real price you pay will be in 2-3 years when your windows start to blister, fade, peel and look unsightly. Seriously, who in their right mind would pay money to ruin their windows?
2. Reasons For Installing Window Tint
There are many and varied benefits you can get from window tinting, and each particular film you use will bring together a distinct range of advantages, so the first thing you need to be sure of is the benefits of each film, and how they suit your individual needs and circumstances. Lets look at each benefit in so you can understand the most appropriate solution for your circumstances. The core benefits of good quality window tinting are:
Heat Rejection: Good quality window film rejects heat by blocking up to 73% of total solar energy (referred to as TSER) through windows.
UV Blocking: Premium window film stops up to 99% of UV radiation from coming through windows.
Stopping Glare: UV blocking films can also block up to 93% of glare, which does wonders for your view. Seriously, if you own a beachfront home, or (any home with a view really) window tint is a must, because sea views through tinted windows look incredible!
Privacy: The right film will also provide daytime privacy, allowing everyone inside to be cooler, enjoy the view, and at the same time have total privacy from prying eyes during the day.
Impact Safety and Security Films: These specially designed films stop glass from fragmenting when it breaks. Safety films are made to withstand the force of human impact, while some security films are strong enough to withstand a nearby bomb blast without shattering. And since the collateral damage from accidents where windows are broken comes from shards of glass flying like shrapnel, or large sections of glass dropping like a guillotine; the major risks around accidents and safety are mitigated by safety film. It also stops windows from becoming a soft and easy entry point for thieves, because the sheer force required to break the reinforced glass, and the noise that force creates, is so noticeable – burglars would rather move on and find an easier target than risk the chance of drawing attention to themselves by trying to break reinforced glass and getting caught.
Style: Lastly of course there's the matter of style. Good quality window film adds style to windows and makes them look great, and for many people it's the aesthetic charm that tinted windows provide that is the main reason for installing them. This is particularly so with cars.
3. Specific Issues Related to Cars and Vehicles
The next point I want to discuss is relevant to drivers and it concerns installing the darkest legal tint on your car or truck.
In all States and Territories of Australia, the darkest legal tint permitted on a vehicle is one with a VLT (visible light transmission) level of 35%, on all vehicle windows (excluding the front windscreen, which cannot have any window tint except for a visor strip across the top). The northern Territory and Western Australia are the only exceptions to this. In the NT you are legally permitted a minimum VLT of 15% for windows behind the driver; and in my home state of W.A. you’re allowed 20% VLT on windows behind the driver. That's the law. But most vehicles already have a slight tint in the glass in their front windows, so this needs to be considered when adding tint to a window because it can affect the final VLT; and it's very easy to make a mistakes here by not considering the compounded VLT of the window and the film, which can cause a number of issues. Before we address the issues, here's how the maths looks.
If the factory windows on your car already block 30% of light, when a film with the "darkest legal tint" of 35% is added to this window, it will emit only 35% of light, into a window that is already only emitting 70% of light, so the end VLT reading will be a product of the addition of both VLT ratings. Confused? OK, I get that's a bit technical, so let me put it in simple terms. To get an accurate VLT reading we need to measure the VLT of the glass and film together, and to get this right I usually add a test patch to a window and take a reading before I install film, that's the best way to test the legality of the film installed.
So here’s why I go to this trouble, and why having a professional like me go to this trouble is important to you. If a driver accidentally fails to comply with window tinting laws, in some places in the world this will get you fined, but even worse, your vehicle will be deemed un-roadworthy, which in Australia means means a yellow sticker will be put on your car and you can't drive the car again until it has been put through the pits. And to add insult to injury, the illegal tint will have to be stripped off your windows before your car is deemed roadworthy again.
Implications & Risks of Breaching Tinting Laws
Another issues is the legal risks involved in breaching tinting laws. Imagine your vehicle is involved in an accident and you have illegally dark windows, and these are considered by the court to be a contributing factor to the accident. Did you know that if this happens, it could result in the cancellation of your insurance policy, leaving you exposed to the full financial implications of the accident! Now lets take this nightmare scenario a step further. What happens if someone in the accident is severely injured, for example paralyzed from the waist down? You could be sued for loss of income, pain and suffering and have no insurance cover. And if the financial implications and civil liability issues aren't bad enough, consider the fact that if property is damaged or people are injured, a criminal negligence charge could also apply.
Now I know many people knowingly choose to flout the law on this one, and at the end of the day, that’s their choice, but it’s wise to know the risks you're taking by doing so, that’s why I’ve laid them out for you here. It's also why I recommend you ask your installer to check the combined VLT of both the glass and film, before selecting the final tint rating to be installed on your windows, because it's your neck on the line and a lot of installers won't check this or give you a choice, they just slap on a 35% film. Don't unwittingly end up in hot water because of negligence, ask your window tinter to consider this before you install film to your windows.
Here's the main point I want you to be aware of when selecting window tint. Make sure you use a good quality product and that your installer has the expertise to be able to offer you the best solution for your circumstances. Now I realise this may sound self serving but you really do need to consider these things, because if you get that right you’ll be able to make an informed decision, select a film with the best range of benefits for your situation, and enjoy the benefits for many years to come. But make price your only consideration and deal with an unprofessional window-tinter and you’re almost certain to end up wasting your money. And to add insult to injury, if your tinting a car, you could end up buying a range of ongoing risks and even run the risk of having your vehicle declared un-roadworthy.