There is the step-by-step, standard process for performing a task and then there’s what the pros do. And this is no less true for the process of installing privacy window film—clear directions are essential to getting the job done right, but a few shared secrets of the trade will push you toward installing your window film with more ease and more ‘job well done’ satisfaction.
As someone who has been applying privacy window film regularly for well over a decade I stand by my list of how-to’s for successfully laying down a window covering you can be proud of. And there’s no doubt that time-tested techniques gained only through hand’s-on experience can not be beat when it comes to DIY know how.
Please note that these tips apply to both our cling and adhesive product varieties, all of which are applied beautifully with water and a squeegee. I can not attest to my list’s applicability when it comes to other brands, but that’s covered in my first step… please read on!
RESPECT THE RULES
The first expert tip for installing your privacy window film is to never take the step-by-step, how-to basics for granted, even if you’ve done it before: Read the instructions several times. There are multiple types of applications and you should never assume one privacy window film will install like another window film.
WINDOW FILM LIKE SILK
The next trick of the trade is a little more unconventional: You have to be willing to treat your new window film like silk, maybe a rather industrial waterproof silk, but a beautiful and precious material nonetheless.
For me it helps to think of the film as the train of a bridal gown and you are a bridesmaid in charge of managing the excess material—keeping it pristine before it’s on the window, never letting the film fold onto itself, never touching and sticking.
THAT’S WHAT FRIENDS ARE FOR
No matter your size or abilities a buddy always makes it better, so we recommend doing your installation in tandem with someone, and don’t forget the masks if you’re bringing in a friend from outside your household! Our StickPretty team of Caroline (left) and Jessica are demonstrating our expert tips as they practice full safety protocols in our studio.
DIVISION OF LABOR
One of you should hold and steady the film and the other should remove the backing paper and spray, both of you helping place the film as you go.
Having one of you pull away the backing paper and spray the film and the other hold the film is as easy as it sounds and it makes the install very, very simple. The faster you can dampen the film the sooner the dry, stickiness becomes damp pliability. You can wet the film face down on a table (image 1), or holding it in the air (2) with gravity helping keep it taut and preventing self-sticking.
If the piece is especially large there is also the possibility of adhering a corner to the window and pulling off the backing as it is applied to the window (3). The advantage of this option is you’re not walking around with the film while the backing is off.
GENTLE IS THE TOUCH
When removing the backing paper, there is never an occasion to aggressively grip the application side of the film as you remove the backing or walk with it toward the window. DELICATELY holding a top corner is all the film needs to separate it from the backing and to hold it in transport. I will say it again: Be gentle with the film. Your fine piece of lightweight silk should rest gently on or in your fingertips at all times, even during application.
WATER WATER EVERYWHERE!
Keeping the window and the window film damp—spraying, spraying, spraying—is key to keeping your install manageable, i.e., keeping that precious material you’re holding soft, pliable (that key word again!), and adjustable rather than sticky and unruly like contact paper. And don’t forget, the window should always be sprayed before the film backing is removed.
I strongly suggest never leaving your water bottle behind. I do not put my water bottle down until the film is fully on the window. Having extra water is much better than not having enough. You can always push it out with your application tool.
THE WINDOW CONNECTION, FROM HAND TO SQUEEGEE
Laying the film with your hands is as essential to the installation as securing the film with your squeegee. Your hands should be used to make the initial contact and then you follow with the squeegee. When using your squeegee do not push terribly hard—the film does not need a lot of pressure to secure itself to the glass and push out water bubbles.
Apply your film patiently and lovingly and you’ll have the look you want as well as the satisfaction of having successfully DIY-ed your window treatment! Your visitors will see a seamlessly applied textile that’s as pretty as a picture window.
Roxie Mae Lackman, Creative Director