The Science Behind Window Films: How to Prevent Thermal Fractures in Modern Buildings

Table of Contents

The world of architectural and design marvels is incomplete without the perfect window solution. The right window, coupled with the right film, doesn’t just enhance aesthetics, but it also significantly influences the comfort, energy efficiency, safety, privacy, and longevity of residential or commercial settings. However, many don’t realize the potential pitfalls of installing incompatible window films. One of the most glaring issues is the risk of thermal stress and resultant fractures. In this article, we will delve deep into why choosing the right and compatible window film is essential and the dire consequences of neglecting this factor.

What is Thermal Stress?

First and foremost, let’s break down what thermal stress (also known as thermal fracture) is. In simple terms, it’s the internal stress that forms within a material due to temperature changes. Think of it as the material being “pulled” from the inside because of temperature differences across its surface. This stress can sometimes be so severe that it causes the material (in this case, glass) to fracture.

This is most commonly experienced in dual or triple paned glass, when the glass is experiencing multiple temperatures.

Incompatible Film = Greater Absorption

Every window film has its own Solar Energy Absorption rate. If a window film that absorbs too much solar energy is installed on a particular type of glass, the heat isn’t distributed evenly. This uneven heating is what causes thermal stress. The central part of the window gets hotter than the edges, leading to a difference in expansion rates and eventually, a fracture.

For example, automotive film is designed to absorb majority of heat. This is completely fine since automotive glass is tempered. However, with dual or triple paned glass in residential or commercial settings, high absorption can lead to an uneven distribution of heat, leading to thermal stress – especially in cold yet sunny climates like in Alberta.

Aesthetics at the Cost of Functionality?

Many choose window films based on how they look without considering compatibility. While the aesthetics of a tinted or reflective film might be appealing, they might absorb more energy than what the window glass can handle, especially if it’s a double-pane or insulated unit.

Energy Efficiency and HVAC Strain

An incompatible window film doesn’t just risk fracturing your windows, but it also hampers the energy efficiency of the entire establishment. The wrong film could potentially make your HVAC systems work harder to maintain desired indoor temperatures, leading to increased energy bills and a reduced lifespan for your HVAC units.

Commercial Setbacks

In a commercial setting, the consequences can be even more dire. Imagine the reputational damage if a client or customer witnesses a window fracture. Additionally, replacement costs, potential injuries, and disruption can be financially and operationally challenging.

Recommendations and Solutions

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Here’s what you can do:

Expert Consultation: Always consult with a window film expert before making a decision. They can assess the type of glass you have and recommend films that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing.

Manufacturer’s Guidelines: Stick to manufacturer recommendations. Most reputable window film manufacturers provide detailed specifications on where and how their products should be used.

Regular Checks: Even after installing the right film, periodic checks can help detect potential issues before they become major problems.


Window films offer a plethora of benefits, from UV protection to enhanced privacy. But like any other architectural or design choice, it’s crucial to ensure that the film is compatible with the setting. The cost of neglecting this factor can be high, both in terms of money and safety. By being informed and taking the right precautions, you can enjoy the benefits of window films without any of the potential drawbacks.

What's your main goal today?

  1. Get a free quote: If you’re considering protecting your vehicle with world-class tint film, paint protection film, or changing your vehicle colour with vinyl wrap, click here to request a free quote. Just answer a few quick questions and get an instant quote within minutes!
  2. Work at Tap And Tint: We’re always on the lookout for talented, skilled, and hardworking people. If you or someone you know is considering a career in PPF, vinyl wraps, window tinting, or ceramic coating, check out our Careers page here.

More articles you might enjoy


See What Calgary Says About TAP AND TINT


Get The Ultimate Protection Today

Industry Leader
Our team has decades of experience installing ceramic tint films.
100% Money Back Guarantee
If you're still not happy with the workmanship or the service... YOU SIMPLY DON'T PAY!
Mobile Services Available
We come to you. Mobile services available upon request.
Fast Same-Day Service
Save time with our quick turnaround time.
Lifetime Warranty
All our tint films and installs come with FREE Lifetime Warranty

Located at:

4505 1 St SE
Calgary, AB T2G 2L2

We’re located just two blocks southeast of Macleod Trail and 42 Ave SE.

*10 minutes from downtown*
*3 minutes from Chinook Mall*

By Appointment Only