The selection of the best window film solution for your home depends on the type and location of glass and the level of security required against forced entry. Solutions are typically categorized as to the level of protection they provide. For glass doors and sidelights, the primary purpose of the laminate is to help prevent an intruder from accessing the door locks. Optimal protection is achieved by applying either 3M ULTRA600 or 3M Safeguard S140 on the inside surface of the glass.
The 3M Impact Protection Adhesive System is also a must, as tempered glass will simply break away along the edge when damaged. 3M exterior laminate can be applied for additional protection. For all other non-tempered windows, 3M ULTRA Series Window Film provides the highest tear resistance of any other product. When it is applied to the interior surface and bonded to the frame with the 3M IPA Attachment System, it makes entry extremely difficult. If a lower level of protection is acceptable, thinner basic 3M polyester films can be installed.
The 3M Impact Protection Attachment System ensures that the glass stays in the frame if it is cracked or shattered by bonding the film to the window’s frame. When installations do not utilize a bonding system, there is an increased risk of the entire pane becoming detached from the frame.
The alternative of standard polyester laminates of a thickness less than 14 mil and laminate installed without the specified 3/8” bead of 3M Impact Protection Adhesive may not offer the appropriate level of protection. Fastening aluminum angle around the perimeter of the frame has also been used to ‘anchor’ the laminate, but again this is unsightly and has not been proven to be more effective than the 3M Impact Protection Attachment System.
There are two primary variables related to laminate construction – overall thickness and number of layers. Typically, the thicker the laminate, the higher the break strength, and the more layers in the laminate, the higher the tear strength. Standard polyester laminates range in thickness from 4mil to 21mil and from 1 to 4 layers.
The newer technology laminates, such as the patented 3M Ultra Series, have either 28 or 42 micro layers which offer at least 7 times the tear resistance of the equivalent thickness of the basic polyester laminates. To minimize degradation of this protection over time, all safety and security laminates are also protected by a UV inhibitor as well as an abrasion resistant coating to resist scratching. For customers who would like to also reduce the solar heat or glare, Security/Solar Combination films are also available.
3M invented window laminate and is the only manufacturer that makes the entire product, including polyester, adhesives, and UV inhibitors. Additionally, 3M is the only manufacturer that offers both the basic polyester and ‘micro-layer’ technologies. While all other major manufacturers offer commercial product warranties up to 10 years, the 3M window film warranty goes the extra step of also covering labour for both removal and replacement of laminate for the full ten years should there be any problems with the installation. There are many variables that define a ‘quality’ installation including laminate selection, trimming, and frame bonding.