Thursday, October 6, 2016

Which Window Film/Tint Brand is the best?


We are asked this several times a day by our curious customers!
The answer is simple in our minds but often complicated by our lips, but I will try and keep it simple here today!
It has never been one manufacture for all needs since I have been in the window film industry (27 years) and not really since Made In The Shade has been in business (1980).
I was an Advanced Certified Trainer For the 3M Company from 1998 to 2008 and watched them fail again and again to develop a good program, with good films and marketing. They would think they had it, and it just led to more warranty claims and/or a shortcoming in roll size or aesthetics, depending on the type of film.

The last two years we were a dealer we had to turn in almost $40,000.00 in warranty claims! So you see, the most popular or oldest is not always the best! I finally gave up and split the blanket with 3M in 2008. 

These are all reasons a dealer may choose to Leave a manufacture: Film Failure, Delays in Warranty Service, Slow payment to us for Co op and Warranty Claims, Ugly Films, Films that break Glass, Bad or unfriendly Service, Unfair business practice, Anti Trust. Obviously it benefits the customer when a dealer leaves a manufacture for these reasons!
Pre 1998 we at Made In The Shade tried to find the best films for our customers needs. 3M pressured us and bullied us to be more and more exclusive until by 2001 we were primarily selling 90% 3M films, the 10% were the many films they did not make or were limited by roll size. Ironically we were initially pressured by the US area manager Mike Feldman, whom has now seen the light as a retired 3M executive, (33 years of service) and is now a successful window film dealer in Florida. Mike fully understands the difference in quality between 3M and everyone else! You can check out Mikes Site and Blog to see his expert film choices along with helpful information!
First it's window film history time:
The first film's developed were all a series of mistakes, and basically dyed plastic with high failure rates. Silver films made with deposits of aluminum on the plastic (usually Vapor Coating) were among the first, then Copper and many other metals followed. Over the years many types of coloring systems and combinations of metals and alloys have been used.

Films for Sun Control fall into these categories: 
Reflectives like Copper and shiny aluminum
Reflective Neutrals which are grey to grey black because of the dull looking metals used like stainless steel, nichrome and titanium
Dual Reflectives, which are are less reflective on the inside, than the outside for better Night Vision, basically the outside has a reflective metal and the inside does not
Non Reflectives which usually have a significant amount of color/dye added and no metal or ceramic added (these films will fade or change color in 1 to 5 years)
Spectral Select films are made to allow in more light than these other films, but still stop a great deal of heat. These films usually stop a larger portion of heat light or infra red light to allow in the visible light. See our site for more extensive info.
Now that I have given some basic history of window film, what about window film manufactures? 
First the often debated: Who was the first to invent Window Film as we know it today! No One Company! It is nothing like it was when first developed by any number of manufactures! Madico claims to be founded before 3M as a company called Hysil. 3M claims to hold the original patent (dyed Polyester), but this does not mean they invented it first. What if there were a joint effort to develop films from say...Madico and 3M? Ask yourself who invented metalizing plastics of any type, maybe it was the inside of a potato chip bag! Maybe they should get the credit! I say...WHO CARES NOW!
It does not matter who developed window film first, nor who has been around the longest, and especially when they do it wrong, or no longer do it all from start to finish themselves (3M is probably the biggest window film outsourcer; someone else makes either the whole film or it's components for them)!

Films have been ever improving over the last 5 decades and have literally 1000's of uses and the technology used for films literally has thousands more uses! 
Solar Control, Safety and Security and Graphic and Designer films have many varied formulas and here is a little basic information about the types we sell and install.

If we talk Dual Reflective or Night Vision Films 
I like the Sunscape Select SL 18 from Madico, the whole Suntek Dual Reflective series and the Solargard True View series. these 3 are currently our favorites. The Favorite choice of our customers of late is the Suntek and Sunscape Select in the 15 to 18% VLT because; they have the lowest inner (13%) and outer (37%) reflectivity and a lower emissivity than others (.63); This means it will look less mirror like on the outside looking in, and you can see out at night when your lights are on. These films will reduce heat transfer day or night and year round, for great energy saving benefits in any season. The True View and Sunscape have the most natural View looking out but not everyone likes the Amber exterior of True View, most Dual Reflectives look black, grey black to silver depending on how dark. Usually, the darker the more exterior reflection.

Other companies have a Dual Reflective (Vista made by Eastman Chemical Co. which makes Llumar as well, Panorama made by St Gobain which makes Solargard as well) but in our opinion they have too much reflectivity on the inside and out. Like 3M they tout these Dual Reflective films as a Night Vision film. But the only thing you see, is yourself in your window on the inside at night and the outside during the day! Hanita window films  (as of 2016 has been purchased for $75,000,000 from a undisclosed company) has very clear films looking through and solid performance. They make excellent exterior application Dual Reflectives with the best warranty. There are many more manufactures we have tried but just aren't what we choose. 

Reflectives and Non Reflective Metalized Films 
All manufactures make Silver (Mirror like) and Bronze (Copper looking) and they all have a major common aesthetic issue, which is interior reflectivity that will be a mirror on the inside at night if your lights are on. The positive is that they are among highest heat reducing because of the high reflectivity. We have used Madico for bronze films for as long as I have been at Made In The Shade (24 years) and have had zero warranty issues! And I think they look the best as well. Silver from any of the major manufactures is fine. 

Neutral Metalized films are also made by all manufactures and we prefer Sunscape Select DG 35-45-55 but the 3M Nearl 20-35-50-70 series (The only 3M film I recommend) is a solid attractive film that they actually fully manufacture in 36-48-60 inch but outsource the 72". 

Non Reflective Metalized Usually constructed with a dye layer to the adhesive side (glass Side) and a dye layer to the scratch coat side (interior room side) with metal sandwiched in between dye layers. We rarely install these films because of the high amount of Dye which fades or changes color and short (1-5 years) warrantys. Again, any major manufacture will do but not all make this catagory for buildings. We have used Llumar and Solargard most frequently.
  
When we talk Spectral Select we have to talk about the grand daddy, the one and only... 
VKool! This brand came from a company called Southwall Technology that makes Huper Optik which also makes a ceramic Version of these films. Southwall has also been purchased by Eastman Chemical Co.! We can get Huber Optic, Vista and Panorama for you through our partners at Window Film USA, but we prefer the VKool because of the clarity and high Infra Red Reduction (93 to 98% of the whole IR Spectrum) and phenomenal performance, which is a result of their unique multi layered and multi metalized construction. Films like this may corrode near the coast or high humidity areas if not installed properly by thoroughly evacuating water and/or caulking the bottom and sides with a inexpensive caulk. A non metalized ceramic film may be applicable in such an area if edge sealing is not desired.

The N.F.R.C. gives the VKool VK 70-55-40 films the highest performance rating for films of it's kind and per depth of darkness overall!

Many manufactures have developed low cost Spectral Select films in a metalized or nonmetalized Nano Partical version. Suntek makes one we use frequently when VKool can not be afforded by the customer called Ultra Vision, it has substantially lower pricing than Spectral Select films have had in the past. If we are talking heat reduction in degrees, it out performs 3M Prestige and the 40% shade is Dual Pane Safe (Prestige 40-50% VLT are not) and it also has a nice Neutral low reflective look. It does not perform as well as VKool 70-55-40 and is not a Low Emissivity film like VKool but then no ones Spectral Select lowers emissivity like VKool. 
Madico, (Arguably the oldest Film Manufacture), makes a premium line called Sunscape Select which includes both a Nano Particle (Pure Vision) and Ceramic called Madico Advanced Ceramic which they tout as their High Definition film.  The Sunscape and M.A.C. both have the best standard glass warranty, which is 5 years on Thermal Breakage and 5 years on the units seal for dual pane; this compares to 5 and 3 or 2 and 2 for most of the industry. Madico and VKool arguably have visually the clearest films on the Market to look through.

VKool's (VK 70-55-40), Hupers Ceramic (60-50-40) and Madico's M.A.C. (60-50-40) make a great car film if you do not like it dark, but want a great heat reduction. We do several applications of VK 70 similar films on windshields every month. We prefer  Geoshield Pro Nano and our Favorite is Winco! Winco car film is thee clearest most natural film I have ever seen!

Exterior Films!
Each Manufacture usually has exterior films in at least Silver and often Bronze. Hanita window films has the best overall choices and warranty's for exterior films. They have each category of aforementioned film types in exterior films with warranties ranging from 3 to 15 years! I rarely see the need to recommend exterior applications but for hard to reach windows or certain types of glass, it may be best and the performance is outstanding. It is often required they be sealed on all 4 sides with a structural sealant like Dow 795 or 995 to receive the benefit of the full duration of the warranty.

"What about Safety Films", you ask!
The application of Safety and Security films can save lifes from broken or flying glass do to impact or explosion! It is used throughout the world for Bomb Blast Mitigation and theft deterrent! I like the Llumar Magnum, Bekert Armorgard and Madico 8ml films because they pass the Large and small missile test and have a better rating for large missile and bomb blast than most companies, and definitely better than 3M! I like how much clearer their Safety films are to look through too; The 3M Ultra films are so hazy and distorted and they fail so quickly! Come see my garage window that has 10 year old failing Ultra NV25 400 3M Safety Film that failed at 3 years! I know, I know I need to re do it!

Now let me talk about Auto Truck and RV film! 
Car films have almost the same catagories in order below of low to high pricing:
Non reflective dyed which is usually the least expensive and lowest performing but better than nothing for sure. They remove 30 to 40% of the heat.
High Performance or Hybrid metalized films. Basically add metal to the dyed film and sometimes between two dye layers or in the dye layer. It provides a better heat reduction per shade or depth of darkness than dyed film alone. They remove 40 to 66% of the heat but the higher the heat reduction the more reflective they look.
Full Metal Films which are plastic and metal have a great heat reduction per depth of darkness but the most reflective in appearance. This category was harder to work with and especially on back windows that have to be heat shrunk. The heat to shrink the film causes the film to ghost or have blurring where high heat and extensive shrinking is needed.  Rarily chosen and we no longer offer it. 
Ceramic and or Carbon auto films are a more popular choice these days because you get Metalized heat rejection like properties without the reflective look. Carbon gives the coloring that will not fade. Ceramic only films can look reflective or grayish so adding carbon tones that look for a more neutral look. Carbon only films will have a heat reduction similar to Dyed films and for the added expense carbon only films are not worth it if heat reduction isn't higher. All of these films are no conductive, they will not interfere with radio, cell or Bluetooth signals.
Nano particle films are the newest coolest thing but usually cost the most. They have a low or no reflectivity in and out but offer a heat reduction as good as a Metal or Carbon Ceramic film. They are considered Spectral Select because they are designed to removed the highest amount of IR energy. They also will not interfere with signals as they are non conductive. 

We do cars of all types and we feel the best film is a mixture, because it is the best overall program! The warranty from each manufacture is the same. It covers the film against bubbling and peeling along with fading and change of color! We offer only Lifetime Warranty Products; the film is warranted for as long as the original purchaser owns the car the film was installed on. We have the Sungard Black Pearl Non Reflective, Sungard Black Pearl High Performance , Madico Onyx High Performance , Geo Shield Pro Nano and Wincos to choose from. 
Visit our site for more extensive information today!

There are several other manufactures to choose from for vehicle films like: Eastman Chemical Co. which makes the Llumar standard series and Formula one, Solargard made by Saint Gobain, American Standard Window Film, Global, 3M and Johnson, to name a few we have used but obviously no longer choose to use. There are several others and they all have Lifetime warranties available for when they fail and they all will honor the warranty. This has been a solid consistency in the Window Film industry but it is a huge inconvenience to the Customer and the Dealer! With our current line up we have had minimal issues for the last 4 to 7 years opposed to weekly returns with 3M.

Last but not least are Decorative Films!
Most manufactures sell Deco films but they don't necessarily manufacture them and are reboxing products made over seas in Korea, Japan and China. 3M has a large offering because of the graphic division and makes an amazing product called Dinoc which can actually have varying textures like wood, stone etc. 3M, Oracle and Avery make the best vinyls. For basic Frost Films any major manufacture will suffice and usually warranty the films for 5 years on interior windows but sometimes 0 to 5 on exterior windows. A company called Decorative Films LLC a Solyx Distributer aquires and distributes the widest variety of Deco Films.

Tidbits:
Watch for Sunteks films and especially the new line of Dual Reflectives because they are looking pretty good, and for less money too!! They are the fastest growing window film manufacture in the U.S. and probably the world, so they must be doing something right (Compare this to 3M which is the smallest by sales volume in the U.S.) also Suntek has been recently purchased (2014) by Eastman Chemical Co. which holds the Southwall (VKool and Huper Optic), Llumar and Vista films as well.
Madico has purchased the Brand Sungard about 6 years ago with all of it's equipment out of Bankruptcy and have made some improvements in capacity overall and have started improving R and D. They will be releasing a Carbon Ceramic car film soon as of 10-6-2016.
As smaller manufactures like Hannita, Global, Johnson and Geoshield continue to endure and improve, the competition rises and everyone must improve. It is exciting to me that a new innovation can come at anytime from any manufacture! We will update as we gain knowledge!

I think and feel what this really comes down to is:
  • The dealer has to do their homework and be responsible in his choices and refuse to be leveraged by the manufactures
  • The end user customer, needs to do their home work about the dealer; Are they Certified by the International Window Film Association? Are they properly licensed and insured? Do they have good training programs for the sales and installation team?
  • Can they prove their statements with data and Certification, and References?
  • Do they follow the I.W.F.A. standards for installation and offer a written labor guarantee?
  • Do the companies they pick to buy your film from have good sustainable warranties?
Hope this information helps you find a Manufacture and or a Dealer for your needs!
Contact us today for free Honest and Helpful Information!
480-985-9293 Local
1-888-577-TINT (8468) Out of Town
amadeintheshade.com
Email us at madeintheshadeinc@msn.com









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