While most flooring retailers do not think about carrying or recommending window film as a protection to a customer’s new floor, the fact is, this simple—and profitable—product can save a dealer from callbacks because of a portion of the floor fading/changing colors and it can make consumers happy with their investments.

Knowing this, Floor Trends recently spoke with Darrell Smith, the executive director of the International Window Film Association (IWFA) to find out more about this product and why it should be a part of every professional flooring retailer’s product offering—or at least for the dealer to be able to recommend a professional window film dealer for the end user to purchase it. Smith has over 40 years experience in marketing, sales and distribution with the last 30 years in the window film industry, where he has served as organizational and planning consultant with trade associations, Internet related businesses and investment firms. He has also authored or co-authored many of the generic educational materials used for industry training and for consumer information purposes.

FT: How could a flooring retailer or designer integrate window film into their product offerings? What would they need to know to correctly sell and specify this product category?

Smith: For floor covering retailers, window films could be offered as an enhancement or complement to their current offering. Viewed purely from window film’s ability to reduce the rate of fading of interior floor coverings, window film is a cost-effective way for customers to protect and prolong the investment they are making.

Whether the flooring retailer is serving a residential or commercial customer, window film offers an upsell opportunity that protects the investment they have just made in their flooring—whether it is wood, vinyl or carpeting.

And window film can offer future benefits to customers, financial and otherwise—in terms of energy savings, protection of furnishings and floors and even its ability to help hold glass together when it is broken.

To sell window film, a flooring retailer would need to have product knowledge of a wide variety of window films as well as an understanding of what is the best type of window film to be installed on different kinds of windows.

Unless the retailer is committed to learning about window films, the best option is to partner with a local window film dealer. Window film dealers can be found on the IWFA website, iwfa.com. IWFA would recommend that whenever possible the retailer considers dealers that are not only members of the association, but also have been accredited for particular expertise, such as solar control or security films.

FT: How does window film help to protect floors?

Smith: There are other ways of protecting floors, but most of these involve reducing natural daylight and, today, the trend is to allow in more natural light, not less.

The more that the sun’s rays enter a room, the greater the exposure to the damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation, which is part of solar energy. Normal glass may block only half of the UV, while the newest technology dual pane windows only stop about 75%.

Window films, even clear ones, installed on ordinary glass will stop 95% to 99% of the UV radiation from entering the room. This may protect floor coverings—and furniture—from excessive rates of degradation due to UV exposure. Another immediate benefit is that window film also protects the skin of people inside the building from the harmful effects of overexposure. Many are unaware that UV exposure indoors from the sun’s ultraviolet ‘A’ rays or UVa penetrate the layers of the skin deeply and this leads to, at the very least, more pronounced aging of the skin and may even cause skin cancer.

Dependent on the product chosen and the type of window on which it is installed, window film use can also block up to 84% of the sun’s energy which normally comes in through a window, reducing the energy costs of a building substantially. In addition, although even standard window film products may offer some minimal level of protection from the hazards of broken glass, there are window film products that have been tested and have independent certification as enhancing the safety of glass for general breakage, human impact, blast protection and earthquake performance.

Each manufacturer member of IWFA publishes the industry standards each of its products can pass. In addition, there are almost 300 individual window films that have their energy performance certified and published by the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC), the same organization that also rates the performance of windows, doors and skylights. Direct links to each manufacturer member of IWFA can be found under the Business Locator section of the IWFA website.

FT: In general terms, how profitable is window film? Are there any industry measurements that track or detail this? Is it sold by the square foot, plus installation? If we want retailers and designers to add it to their product offering or spec list, they need an understanding of how it can add to their bottom line.

Smith: Flooring industry retailers and contractors will find window films fit nicely into the same general revenue/cost models as many of their other sale/furnish/install offerings. It is generally priced by the square foot, installed by the installing company, but quoted to the customer as a single total price.

If the total sales price can be broken into direct material costs, direct labor cost, selling and general administrative costs, and profit, then by subcontracting with a local window film company to furnish and install the window film, a retailer would only be adding the selling and general administrative costs to his cost structure—and only if the window film was being sold alone and not as an add-on to another product already being offered, such as flooring.

That would leave the full profit from the job to be negotiated in some arrangement with the installing window film dealer. The marginal profit for both parties may be very attractive and it would give the flooring retailer an opportunity to assess whether to keep it as an offering only or to put in the infrastructure to support it as an ongoing business within itself.

FT: Woven solar screens have recently become more popular as well. Are films a replacement for solar shades? Or can they/do they work in conduction with each, amplifying benefits?

Smith: Woven solar screens are operator controlled, unless the building has a sophisticated computer-controlled climatic system. This means their effectiveness for energy control or safety or UV benefits are dependent on the building occupant utilizing them properly. Even then, if there are periods when, by choice, they might not be in use, such as at night, the safety benefit would not be there. Window films, on the other hand, are a passive system—they are always there, permanently in use and always working or on standby as needed.

From our understanding of the woven solar screens, the best UV block achievable is 75% when installed behind dual pane windows, which as I noted earlier, is the same as what the newest dual pane windows alone can achieve today, while all the window film products will give 95% to 99% blockage.

Editor’s note: Smith recommends for actual information on either woven solar screens or dual pane windows, to check with the manufacturer associations of these products.

In addition, only when fully deployed would the screens be able to reach any energy reduction numbers they might publish. We could not find any specific numbers as these products are not yet independently rated; therefore the greater the energy reduction, the less the percentage of visible light admitted, which is traditionally how window films worked.

Window films of today, however, can give a specific amount of solar energy reduction with varying levels of light transmission reduction which can be selected by the consumer—meaning one can have window films which admit high levels of visible light (50% or more) and still stop substantial amounts of solar energy (60% or more), if so desired. And these specifications are certified by NFRC and the products are labeled as such.

It is clear to see that if one already has an energy saving window film installed, the only non-decorative benefit woven solar screens might add is to further decrease glare—if one wanted to darken a room further—or to improve the insulation value somewhat during winter months.

However, to increase the insulation value one would have to fully deploy the screens which would decrease visibility 24/7 and lose any “passive solar heating” (however minimal) which might occur from sunshine entering the building during daylight hours—the same would be true to a lesser extent with lighter window film use.

If one already has woven solar screens installed, the addition of window film would further enhance the property by adding some mitigation of damage from glass breakage, increasing UV protection by at least an additional 20 percentage points (maximum 75% with screens to minimum of 95% with films), and giving technologically proven, NFRC-certified, visible light transmittance and solar energy reduction without dependence on an operator to achieve them.

FT: What are some new advances—in glass technology, in film technology—that will have an impact on the near future regarding the use of window film?

Smith: Solar energy impacting windows and buildings is being considered for harnessing rather than simply rejection from entering a building, so photovoltaics and other technologies are in testing and trials.

Uses of new framing materials for windows, lower u-value window films, adding coatings to more glass surfaces in insulated windows and more use of triple pane windows are actually happening already.

Electrochromics, thermochromics and photochromics are either already in products or in various stages of product development in the glass, window and film industries as well as in both private and public energy laboratories around the world. Combinations of surface coatings applied using different procedures with dual and triple pane constructions and “active” framing systems which work with the glazing/coating substrates to give various performance parameters make for an infinitesimal number of possibilities.

However, suffice it to say that fenestration products of the future—glass, windows, doors, skylights, tubular delighting systems, window films—will all be more “responsive” to conditions, or “dynamic” as the term is now used.

FT: If a flooring retailer, contractor and anyone associated with the flooring industry wants to learn more about window film, what’s the best way to go about it?

Smith: To see what is happening with window films and the window film industry, the dealer can visit the video section of the IWFA website. The association also offers a bi-monthly publication that offers professional information.

On the website one can also directly contact one of our window film manufacturers through direct links to their websites provided under the “Business Locator” tab at the top of the page. If one would rather speak with one or more local dealers first, they can be found through the use of the “Locate a Dealer” feature under that same “Business Locator” tab.

If one wishes to read up on window film technical information, a copy of the “IWFA Flat Glass Education Guide” or the “IWFA Advanced Solar Control Guide” can be ordered from the IWFA store on the website.

And if there are specific questions about the industry in general or questions to which someone cannot find an answer, they can send the question to info@iwfa.com and the association’s staff will respond promptly to them.