Vinyl Window Film: How to Choose the Right Thickness

by | Nov 28, 2023

Window films offer several benefits including privacy, protection from UV rays, and security. Many films offer two or more of these benefits. When it comes to security, it seems intuitive that the thicker the film is, the more safety it provides, although this is not necessarily the case in extreme scenarios like blasts. Apart from the level of protection desired, the choice of window film thickness also depends on the dimensions of your glass panes, making picking the right window film thickness for your needs slightly complicated. Read on for an in-depth look at window film thickness and how to choose the right window film thickness for your needs.

What is Security Window Film and How is it Made?

Security window film is a transparent vinyl film that is applied to glass panes to fortify them against break-ins, vandalism, inclement weather, and in extreme cases bomb blasts. Security film protects the inhabitants of a building against glass breakage by preventing glass shards from becoming projectiles. A huge advantage offered by window films is that they are far cheaper to retrofit onto existing glass compared to changing entire glass panes to improve security.

Vinyl (or polyvinyl chloride – PVC) is the main component of most window films. PVC is made by combining chlorine and ethylene. It is then mixed with plasticizers, stabilizers, and pigments to make it more durable and resistant to UV rays and heat before being shaped into thin window film. When it comes to security film, special acrylic adhesives are incorporated to reinforce the lamination and the bond to the glass. A unique pressure-sensitive adhesive that is 7-10 times stronger per square inch is used, which is significantly more robust than the 1-2 lbs per square inch found in solar control films, anti-graffiti films, and other types of films. It may also be treated with UV inhibitors to protect against the sun’s harmful effects.

Security window film typically comes in 2-ply or 3-ply forms. The term “2-ply” refers to window film that is composed of two layers of PVC. One side of the film has an adhesive and backing liner, while the other side has a scratch-resistant coating. 3-ply is similar with three layers of vinyl instead.

How is Window Film Thickness Measured?

Window film thickness is usually quantified in a unit known as “mil”. One mil is equivalent to one-thousandth of an inch. When using the metric system, the window film thickness can be measured in a unit called “micrometre”, which is often referred to as a “micron”. One micron (μm) is equal to 10-6 meters or 0.001 millimetres.

Levels of Protection Offered by Varying Window Films Thickness

Solar control films are typically 1-2 millimetres in thickness, while security films can range from four to 24 millimetres in thickness. The most common security window film for homes is an eight-mil thick film. Safety and security film may be as thin as 4 mil (or 100 microns) thick, historically used to bring old windows up to code. On the other hand, extreme security window film may be 8 mil or higher giving twice the protection and is used as a bomb blast protection film.

  • Four Mil Window Film Thickness

Window films with a thickness of four mils is a mainly used to bring old glazing up to code. It works to hold shattered glass together during incidents like a ball being thrown through a window.

  • Six to Seven Mil Window Film Thickness

It offers medium security and is ideal for bathroom windows that are not tempered, doors, sidelights, and transoms.

  • Eight to 11 Mil Window Film Thickness

High-level security film that works as blast proofing and intruder delay film. Works well for medium-sized glass with an area of 1.8 square meters or less.

  • 12 Mil Window Film Thickness

These are extremely high-level security window films that meet GSA-approved blast-proofing standards. Works well for windowpanes larger than 1.8 square meters and can withstand forces of up to 63 kg per square meter.

  • 14 to 16 Mil Window Film Thickness

These are extremely high-level security window films that exceed GSA-approved blast-proofing standards. Perfect for very large windows and shop windows in areas that are vulnerable to break-ins.

With so many options available, it can be hard to choose the right films for your needs. The experts at Vancity Window Films can help you choose the right window films for your needs and install them too. Get in touch with us for a free quote today!