How to Remove Solar Film from a Window.
Often window cleaning involves removing solar film.At first glance removing solar film seems like a simple task. Do not take this job lightly. If not done properly, a window can easily be scratched, and left as a splotchy mess. I was recently hired to remove Solar film from seven windows in a local shopping center. The film seemed like a good idea for the store to reflect sun. The solar film served its’ purpose in the sunlight but at night the store looked black. Customers passed by thinking they were closed. Now it is time to tackle the removal. Follow these steps for the best results. There is no easy process. You will need the right tools, a lot of patience and about two hours per window (3 ft X 6ft) in optimal conditions.
Tools needed: Needle nose pliers, 6 inch Ettore professional razor blade, Lots of extra blades, 0000 steel wool, Ettore Squeegee-Lint free towels-Lemon ammonia, lemon joy
Step 1-Soak and heat
Spray the solar film with straight ammonia. Soak it well. Use a trash bag and press the bag onto the soaked window. Allow this to sit for up to 30 minutes. The film is porous and the ammonia will work its’ way through the film. If you have the luxury to do this in direct sunlight, the heat will assist in softening the glue. I was doing the job in the early morning so I used very hot water. With an absorbent rag or window mop, I went over the window several times with the hot water. The ultimate goal here is to heat up the ammonia which will trap steam between the bag and the window.
Step 2-Peel and scrape
Note: Do not attempt this step with flimsy one inch razor blades. You will need an industrial blade that can take some muscle and leverage.
With an edge of your blade, peel a small corner of the film. Grab the corner with your pliers and pull off the film. The film will stay intact for about three inches and then start to fragment in to smaller pieces. Do not expect to peel it off in one sheet. Now that you have gotten a start it is time to use your blade. With upward strokes use your blade to scrape the film off. This will take a bit of strength. Keep a sharp angle on the blade. Keep the window soaked with lots of warm soapy water. The soap will keep the blade from scratching the class. Sometimes the film has up to three laminated layers. With enough strength it will come off together.
Another note: The first time I did this I thought I had scratched the window. The adhesive used on solar film is more like an epoxy. The apparent scratches were in the adhesive and not the glass.
Step 3 -Remove the adhesive
Start with a new blade for this step. You can easily scratch glass if you are not using a new blade and lots of soapy water. I use lemon joy in a bucket of water. Begin at the bottom of the window and work your way up the glass. When you have reached the top, repeat the same steps using horizontal scraping. Keep your blade at a very sharp angle. When the blade starts leaving stripes it is time to get a new blade. Change the blade often. It will get dull fast. A sharp blade and lots of soapy water is the key to success.
Note- I experimented with some Goof Off and also a citrus based Goo remover. At first it seemed to dissolve the adhesive but is soon spread in to a thin layer of oil that was even more difficult to remove. Spare yourself the agony of this experiment.
Step 4 Finish
After the blade has been over the window several times there will still be residue on the window. Use 0000 steel wool. Soak the 0000 steel wool and in soapy water and soak the window again. Use a circular motion to buff the window. Do not worry about using your full strength. 0000 Steel wool will not scratch the glass. You should have a new sharp blade. You may need to use the blade and steel wool alternately for best results.
You window is now ready to wash.
Give me a call for questions - John Shanahan - Lighthouse Window Cleaning