How to Remove 3M Window Film

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You barely notice it until you decide you want to make a change and need to know how to remove your 3M window film. Perhaps the former homeowner chose decorative or tinted window films you just can't live with. Maybe you had film installed and then regretted your choice, or it could be that the film has sustained damage and needs replacing. Whatever the case, it's a good idea to follow removal directions that come straight from 3M itself — the company that first brought films into our windowed world over 50 years ago.

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What Does Window Film Do?

Adhesive-backed, polyester-laminate residential window films installed on the interior side of your windows have a scratch-resistant surface and are designed to enhance how your window glass performs. They reduce the heat of the sun by 78 percent, block up to 99 percent of ultraviolet rays, reduce glare in rooms where you rest and work, help protect your furnishings from the fading effects of the sun, and lower your energy costs by 30 percent.

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Types of 3M Window Films

3M window films cannot be purchased in retail stores by do-it-yourselfers. They must be professionally installed, and for the original homeowner, they carry a lifetime warranty against crazing, cracking, bubbling, and delaminating.

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There are four 3M window film product categories. The Sun Control Window Films promote energy efficiency by keeping things cool. Low-E Window Films increase window insulation. 3M Safety & Security Window Films protect against flying broken glass, and 3M Decorative Films allow you to design unique window treatments for effect and privacy.

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Advice From 3M

The 3M company strongly encourages homeowners to contact the original installer if possible once they decide to remove 3M window film. If the original installer is no longer in business or can't be identified, call 3M at 866-499-8857 and select option three for help. In a tip of the hat to the DIY homeowner, however, 3M also provides instructions so you can remove the film yourself.

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How To Remove the Film Without Soaking

If the film cooperates with this first removal method, your 3M window film removal project will be quick and easy.

  1. Lift or peel the film at a corner.

  2. Begin pulling the film off the window at a 90-degree angle, pulling aggressively if the age, condition, or type of film warrants it.

  3. If this is unsuccessful, proceed to the next method.

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How To Remove the Film by Soaking

This method is only slightly more involved and prepares the 3M window film for easier removal by softening the film's adhesive backing. Simply doing the basic tug is a cinch, but if you prefer, you can begin with this method.

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  1. Mix 1 part ammonia with 3 parts water in a spray bottle.

  2. Moisten sheets of newspaper or paper towels with the ammonia and water solution. Apply them directly to the film. They should be wet enough to stick to the film but not dripping wet.

  3. Cover all of this with a plastic bag or sheet.

  4. Let the film soak for 30 minutes to one hour.

  5. Remove the covering and the wet paper towels or newspaper.

  6. Beginning at a corner, pull off the film at a 90-degree angle.

  7. Spray any adhesive remaining on the glass with the ammonia and water solution.

  8. Using a 4-inch T-shaped razor blade tool, scrape the softened adhesive from the glass. Be sure the blade you use in the tool is stainless steel to prevent scratching the glass.

  9. Use paper towels as you go to wipe off what you scrape and to carefully clean the blade.

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