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All About Decorative Window & Glass Vinyl for Crafting

by Samantha Watson on October 13, 2020

Windows and glass are a fabulous medium for vinyl decals. Almost any self-adhesive vinyl can be adhered to glass but there are also a number of products that have been specially designed for glass application.

Window films can perform many different functions, they can be purely decorative and are also ideal for privacy, safety, temperature control or simply to change the feel of a room by controlling the amount and colour of light streaming in.

Transform your windows into works of art by layering different coloured and textured films to create stunning effects or use stripes and dots to hide an ugly view or avoid prying eyes. Delicately coloured stained glass vinyl can warm up cold northern light or make plate glass easily visible, preventing accidents

Not just for windows! Think about mirrors, picture frames, vases, storage jars and glassware. You don’t have to limit yourself to glass surfaces either, acrylic, metal, translucent and many glossy surfaces are ideal for window film applications.

So, if you'd like to glam up your glass, read on and get creative.

In this post you can find the following information:

- Before you start
- Can I use any vinyl?
- Types of window film
- Inspiration - latest projects
- FAQ's about Window Film

Before you start

Decorative window films such as craft vinyl and sticky back plastic are a wonderful way to change the look and feel of a room or property and there are bags of choice when it comes to craft window vinyl, however in order to ensure a professional and long lasting result there are a few things you will need to consider.

There are many different types and grades of glass but as a rule glass is susceptible to temperature variations, therefore we recommend that you do not cover large areas of glass with dark or opaque vinyl especially if they are situated in the path of direct sunlight. The vinyl can absorb heat which builds up and can contribute to thermal shock. Similarly if you have one half of a window covered in dark or opaque vinyl and the other half clear, the variation in temperature across the pane can contribute to cracking. Clear films such as frosted and etched effects are fine to use all over a window as they do not absorb heat.

If you have very old glass which tends to be very delicate take care as the pressure used during application can crack or shatter the glass.

Window film is not suitable for triple glazed units or Georgian Wired Glass.

Can I Use Any Craft Vinyl?

As we mentioned earlier, glass is an ideal surface for most types of self-adhesive vinyl, however the usual flawless finish of the glass does tend to highlight any blemishes such as dust or air bubbles trapped underneath the film., Usually we would recommend that you use the wet application method when applying vinyl onto glass giving you the best chance to maintain that flawless finish.

Unfortunately some craft vinyls, particularly matt finish and short term films have a water-based adhesive. When you wet apply these films the adhesive can go milky and ruin the reverse side of your graphic so you should avoid these for double-sided designs.

Additionally some vinyls, particularly wrapping products, blockouts or those with a super opaque feature, will have a white or grey adhesive to prevent colour or light showing through, this will also spoil the look of any double-sided design.

Key Types of Window Film

Frosted Glass Vinyl

These films allow you to reproduce the effect of sandblasted glass. They are available in a range of delicate coloured tints and silver and have a subtle sparkly finish with more texture than etched effect films.
We have permanent and removable options lasting from 3 – 15 years depending on the brand and are suitable indoor or outdoor use and for wet application.

Look closer . . .

Image Perfect Light Silver Frost
3M Frosted Crystal (Tints)

Etched Glass Vinyl

These films are designed to mimic the effect of acid etched glass. With names such as dusted or satin crystal they produce a matt effect without adding colour and obscure the view through the glass without blocking the light.
These films have a permanent adhesive and a life expectancy of between 7 – 15 years depending on the brand. They are suitable for use inside or out and can be wet applied.

Look closer . . .
Image Perfect Satin Crystal
3M Dusted Crystal

Stained Glass Vinyl

Glossy and transparent Oracal 8300 films come in a wide selection of colours from delicate tints to dazzling jewelled hues and can be overlaid to further increase the colour range.
Use with opaque black vinyl 'leading' to create your own stained glass or mosaic designs or use to add a pop of colour to a white tiled bathroom.
Think outside the box - layer these highly transparent colours over other vinyls of the same grade such as reflective or speciality films to get just the right shade without blocking the visual effect.
These premium polymeric films have a 5 year outdoor life and are suitable for wet application.

Look closer . . .
Oracal 8300

Translucent Vinyl

Translucent films transmit light whilst offering a high level of privacy as they obscure your view.
With bright punchy colours that mirror the ImagePerfect 5700 range you can mix and match to create unique effects. They are especially effective for applications such as decorative shower screens or for backlit surfaces such as lampshades and hurricane lamps and can be combined with other films to create unique window designs.
These films offer a 7 year outdoor life, are waterproof and can be wet applied.

Look closer . . .
Coming soon
ImagePerfect 5700 Translucent Vinyl

Static Cling Film

Static Cling Film is ideal for temporary reusable 'stickers'. It has no glue but, as the name suggests, uses static electricity to cling to suitable surfaces. It is ideal for glass application but will also cling to ceramic tiles, smooth plastics and glossy metals.
Static cling is slightly translucent so will allow some light to pass through, however you cannot see through it so is ideal to use in sheets for short term privacy or to reduce glare from a window. Alternatively, cut into shapes and use for reusable window and glass decoration.
Static Cling Film is designed to be used indoors, to apply, simply smooth over the surface, no application tape required.

Look closer . . .
ImagePerfect 2907 White Static Cling Film

 

Metal Effect Vinyl

Whilst not strictly window and glass products, these films look so fabulous when applied to glass surfaces that we just had to include them here.
Choose from both glossy mirror effects or satin brushed textures in silver gold and fashionable rose gold, these polyester films are easy to cut and apply and love smooth glossy surfaces
Add elegance to windows, mirrors, vases and all other glassware with stripes, intricate designs or decorative lettering. Combine colours and textures to striking effect, all films are silver on the reverse.
These films are suitable for use indoors and out depending on the brand and have a 3 - 5 year life depending on the film, they are waterproof but are not suitable for wet application.

Look closer . . .
Image Perfect 6500 Series
Oracal 351 Series

Dichroic Window Film

How about a film that shimmers through the spectrum, changing colour depending on the angle of view?

Polyester based Dichroic is a glossy transparent film with an iridescent colour shift effect.

Mount onto glossy transparent surfaces for incredible spectral effects. Rcommended for indoor use.

Look closer . . .
ImagePerfect 7600 Dichroic Film


So you've chosen the perfect window film for your project.

Head on over to our 'How To' section to find the best way to apply it.

Where can you use decorative window films?

Shower Screens

Personalised Bottles

Drinking Glasses

Doorways & Entrances

Glass Panels

Stained Glass Windows

Manifestation Graphics

Holiday Decorations

Mirrors

Furniture

Gifts

Window Decoration

Privacy

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Decorative Window Film?
A self-adhesive vinyl designed to be cut into decorative shapes with a double sided appearance to enhance windows, reduce glare or provide privacy.


How do I apply Decorative Window Film?
Application is the same as everyday self-adhesive vinyl, for a flawless finish use the wet application technique, check out our step by step instructions here.

How do I remove Decorative Window Film?
Decorative window film often peels easily away from the window, if it is particularly difficult to lift try warming gently with a hairdryer - be careful not to overheat the glass. If the vinyl refuses to move there are vinyl remover sprays available as well as adhesive remover if there is a lot of adhesive residue left on the window. Take care using these as they are quite aggressive and can damage surfaces if they drip onto them. Acetone or nail polish remover can be useful when trying to remove adhesive residue from glass.

What is the difference between Window Film and Window Cling?
Window film is a vinyl with a self-adhesive coating that sticks to glass and is single use. Window Cling uses static electricity to cling to the surface allowing it to be removed and reapplied as required.

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