Sun Ruining Your Upholstery? Cut the Glare!

Q: I love the views from my windows and therefore have practically no “window treatments” – which I despise. But the sun is blinding in the morning, and those sunrays land smack on my dark blue sofa. What do I do? — David Aster

A: For some reason, this calls to mind Steve Martin’s famous line, “A day without sunshine is like… you know, night.” Night is the only time your sofa upholstery is safe. Even if it isn’t blinding, sunlight will fade fabric, and dry out wood, leather or any other natural material. And it plays havoc with your Picassos.

As for despising “window treatments,” I’m with you, assuming you mean the term itself. (The only “treatment” mine get is a bloke up a ladder with a bucket and a squeegee.) Draperies, curtains, blinds, shades, sheers, shutters and other means of dressing up a window – those I like. But I assume you’d rather keep your windows free of all that frippery. If you recently won the lottery, you could replace your ordinary glass with wow-ingly expensive conservation glass. Otherwise, you might consider having the glass lined with a light-blocking film.

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Bob Carberry, of the aptly named Carberry Window Film in White Plains (914-220-0244), uses a 3M product that will cut down on both ultra-violet and visible light. “Visible light?” you may be muttering, quizzically. Yes, says Carberry. “Everyone thinks UV is the boogeyman, but visible light, and heat from the sun, is almost as bad.” Although light will eventually cause fading anyway, the film can extend your sofa’s life as a dark blue object for two to four times as long.

Essentially, it means you’ll have tinted windows. “But not ‘tinted windows’ if your frame of reference is an automobile,” Carberry hastens to explain. “They’re very light films, you can hardly tell they’re there. One of the greatest compliments we get is when a client says ‘When are you going to start working?’ and we’re just waiting for them to approve the job.”

The film is applied to the inside of the window, using Joy kitchen soap with lemon to activate its sticky side. Joy? “With some products, you have to use a chemical,” Carberry explains. “3M doesn’t look kindly on that. And most people don’t want you spraying 19-letter chemicals inside their house. So 3M opted for an innocuous product, and if a little drop lands on the floor, it won’t ruin anything.” Once applied, it takes about 30 days for the film to cure, and then you can wash the windows with any ordinary cleaner that’s not grit-based.

As for the film’s lifespan: “The light-blocking material is metal or ceramic, and the base is polyester, which will outlast us,” Carberry notes. The chance of it coming unstuck, if properly applied, is “about as probable as the paint falling off a car,” he says. And the cost? “That’s like asking how much things cost at Tiffany, where it could be anywhere from $10 to $57,000,” Carberry replies, suggesting that he hasn’t shopped at Tiffany lately. Price depends on the size and number of panes; exposure (south and west light require a “more aggressive” film); and the amount of protection you want, because there are grades of tintedness, just as with sunglasses. Views won’t be affected. “It actually improves the view,” Carberry says, “because it cuts down on glare.”

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