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  • Team SRWT

Window Tint vs. Window Shades

Updated: Feb 20

Deciding between installing window film or window shades might be a matter of personal preference. After all, some people love the traditional look of shades, while others like minimalist home décor and unobstructed views. When you compare both products’ value in energy efficiency and protection, you can make an informed decision that will benefit you in the long run.

Solar Heat Gain

Shades can effectively block sunlight and reduce incoming heat when they are light-colored, lowered or closed completely and do not have slats. Specifically designed insulated cellular shades, which fold up accordion-style, can reduce 80% of solar heat coming in through the windows. Because they are insulated, they can also prevent heat loss by 40% during the heating season. However, some styles, primarily darker shades, can absorb and trap solar heat, expelling it into a room.

When completely closed and correctly adjusted, traditional blinds with vertical or horizontal slats can reduce heat gain by reflecting sunlight. If they’re highly reflective and fully closed, they can reduce solar heat gain by about 45%. However, because they have gaps, they do not add any insulation.

Because window film reflects sunlight before it enters the home, it can block up to 80% of the sun’s heat and absorb the remaining heat. Some solar films are “low-emissivity” or “low-E,” which means they do not emit the heat they absorb from the sun into the room.

Low-E solar films considerably improve a window’s insulation. Your air conditioning does not need to run as frequently, so energy bills go down. Also, the insulating properties of window film provide year-round savings by diminishing home heat loss through the glass during colder weather. The General Services Administration estimates that low-E film averages 29% annual HVAC savings around a home’s perimeter.

Glare Reduction

When direct sunlight causes glare on screens or business displays, shades allow you to block or redirect light. They make rooms darker, which requires more interior lighting to account for the loss of natural light. Ultimately, energy usage and costs increase.

Window tinting films control excessive brightness and prevent glare without forsaking natural light. They come in many tints, letting you darken your windows to your preferred degree. Many window tint films are so light that they do not appear to have any tint, while still reducing glare significantly. Meanwhile, you can look out the windows and enjoy your views and scenery, which can improve your mood and mental well-being.

UV Protection

Though sunlight can bathe your home in a natural glow, the sun’s UV rays can damage people and furnishings. Harmful UV radiation that filters in through windows can cause skin damage and cancer, while increasing premature fading on fabrics, furniture and flooring.

Depending on their material, window shades may not block UV rays effectively and can even fade or crack from sun exposure. Thin, light-colored shades that allow light to pass through also let UV light filter indoors. So even when you close the shades, you and your furniture could be susceptible to UV damage. Likewise, while slatted blinds reflect some light, they allow plenty to pass through, including invisible UV rays.

In contrast, window film blocks up to 99% of UV rays to provide safe, natural light. Almost all Santa Rosa Window Tint, solar control films, alongside most of our security and decorative films, reject more than 99% of UV radiation. Optically clear window films contain special additives that give them UV-blocking properties, even when totally transparent. Reflective additives, which bounce visible light back outside, can also reflect UV rays.


Some businesses need to provide a level of privacy for their patrons, and many homeowners do not want exposed windows that display their valuables. Window shades will close off onlookers while obstructing natural light and views.

Many window films feature a reflective additive that turns your window into a one-way mirror. The reflective properties allow you to see outside during the day while providing privacy from the outside. Some people also choose to install window privacy films such as Decorative Frost in rooms requiring extra privacy, such as the bathroom. While this material will create privacy similar to blinds and shades, it also diffuses the natural light coming in. Many prefer it for its minimalist design.


Another point of comparison for shades and window films is how they fare against window breakage. Intense winds can kick up sticks, stones and tree branches that can shatter glass. Meanwhile, homes and businesses are susceptible to breaking-and-entering crimes through their first-story windows. Without a layer of protection, either scenario may leave glass shards strewn about.

If drawn shut, shades may block some shattering glass from projecting into a room. However, they aren’t perfect, and they do not guard against intrusions.

Meanwhile, window film makes the glass more durable. If the glass breaks, the film helps keep the window intact by holding the broken pieces in place with its adhesive. The fragments will not enter the building, where they can cause personal injury. If someone attempts to break the window, the retained broken glass still provides a barrier, alongside the film itself, which impedes them from entering. Because they cannot enter and exit quickly, criminals may abandon their mission after encountering window film.


Blinds, accordion-style shades and even Roman shades collect dust and can be a hassle to clean. Blinds, in particular, require homeowners to clean between each slat. When fabric shades collect dust or become visibly soiled, they are challenging to clean because they’re not easy to take down and toss in the washing machine, as you might with curtains or drapes.

Window film sits perfectly flush against the window and doesn’t collect any dust at all. You only need to clean it as often as you already clean your windows, which adds no extra tasks to your cleaning routines. Many find they can use off-the-shelf glass cleaner, while others use soapy water and a soft cloth.

Gain the Many Benefits of Window Film

You can shed some light on the benefits of using window film versus window shades when you compare how each addresses saving energy and protecting your family and home. Depending on your goals, you may find window film can give you more bang for your buck. Besides light and glare reduction, they offer additional safety, security and UV protection and can even enhance your gorgeous views.

If you decide window film is the right choice for you, contact Santa Rosa Window Tint to get the job done right. We offer a wide selection of solar control window films in many tint shades, reflective and optically clear options. Our products also come with a manufacturer’s warranty to give you peace of mind. We provide window tint installations to Santa Rosa, Windsor, Rohnert Park, Petaluma, Novato, San Rafael, and beyond.

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