Window-film time, your tips/tricks to share?

ks_toolgirlNovember 5, 2011

I really hate doing the plastic window-film winterizing thing... Every year, I think I've got it figured out - until I start.

I know a lot of you do this, and probably have it down-pat - to the point where ONE window doesn't take a full hour. (Or longer, in my case). That puts you way above me in the food chain, lol.

Anyone with little tricks & tips you've figured out? Please share them with the rest of us, so we (ok, "I") can get it done without getting so crabby that family members keep their distance from us (me) until it's finished.

Share your secrets, & experience? Is it just me, that struggles with this so much?

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It's not just you--I do it to several windows, and it takes me about half an hour or so each! My biggest problem is that stupid 'double-stick' tape--it doesn't always stick to the window frame, so it gets reinforced with duct tape.

Speaking of which, I'll have to work on mine Monday while I can have some warm weather to do it in!

For my biggest window, I use regular plastic, since I don't want the expense of a sliding-door kit and then waste most of that. To shrink it, I use my heat gun, set on low of course, and held a bit farther away.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2011 at 10:37PM
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I hate that stuff. I use mortite instead. I know it's a different animal, apples to oranges for what you're doing, but it is an improvement, and keeps me sane because it's so much faster to install, and less noticeable. And I can get my kids to help. It's mostly titanium dioxide and linseed oil, so ok for little fingers to handle.

I think I'm going to bite the bullet and start installing spring bronze soon. I have a feeling it won't take much longer to do a permanent weatherstripping install than this annual stuff, and then I'll be kicking myself. I'll let you know. :-)

    Bookmark   November 6, 2011 at 7:25AM
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Rope caulk is nice & all, but it won't keep condensation off of your windows like plastic shrink-wrap does. For folks without any storm windows it's the only way to get any r-value at all. And as awful and ugly as it can be (with duct tape, no less!) it will prevent a substantial heat loss from infiltration and convection drafts as air cools and plummets from contacting the icy glass.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2011 at 10:44AM
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Thanks for your responses! Is duct tape less destructive to wood (painted & not) than the evil double-sided tape that comes with the kit? Lol, CG, I have the opposite problem.. It sticks so well (to the trim, & anything else - except the plastic film!) that every year, when I take it down - it pulls a strip of paint off. (I just move the tape over a bit each year... I figure in about 12 more years I'll finally have them "stripped" like I've always wanted, lol). I have a roll of "camouflage" duct tape that DH uses for hunting blinds, I could use that & call it "decorating"... ;-)

Part of my problem, I guess, is where to place the tape? Here's an example of what I mean, this is part of the upstairs bathroom window - they're almost all like this, except the ones the flippers replaced w/cheap stuff...

The trim bits that stick out, I have problems with. The curtain hooks, I'll take down. I've never covered this one before, the claw-foot tub is right up to - & a little bit over - the ledge. It's gonna be even more difficult than usual. If I struggle w/others, how am I gonna maneuver tape & plastic behind/under the rolled edge? Tub in the way for a ladder, also, it's sideways right in front of the double windows..

Like the panelling PO's put up, almost all the way to the ceiling? Lol - cant even blame the floppers for that, it's a 60's or 70's floral orange/green/brown print, under the paint. How about the textured ceiling spray - that WAS the floppers - boy, they sure did disguise the plaster issues, didn't they? Believe it or not, there's a crack & a bulge right there! Lol, they did the same stuff on all remaing plaster walls - I had to scrape it off, after too many scratches & a snagged sweater.
Sorry - I digress... Again. Just had to explain/acknowledge the photo issues! Time to stop whining, & start thinking... Thanks for being a place for me to "vent". :-)

    Bookmark   November 6, 2011 at 3:17PM
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I think, maybe, it depends on how much of the frame you cover--when I do mine, I try to put the tape close to the window opening, so that curtains will hide it; that way, I don't have to take down my curtain or shade brackets. The main place I have issues with the tape is near the bottom of the frame and the sills--it just doesn't like that 90 degree angle there!

I think I"m lucky that my bath window is only half-height, but I don't plastic that one as the storm on it is pretty tight, unlike a lot of the others. And yes, I do have issues with both types of tape removing paint, as can be seen on the pantry window in my house pics...I would love to strip the pantry to original stain...just have to work myself into a mood to do it.

I would love to try interior storms, but the depth between my frame surface and stop moulding is 1/4" would I make them to fit between the stop mouldings instead?

    Bookmark   November 6, 2011 at 5:28PM
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Worked, intermittently, this evening. Got it done, thought I was proud of myself, until I realized...

While I DID remember to make sure both blinds were down before sealing them away for the winter... There are SO many things wrong w/these horizontal blinds. I forgot the left window blind didn't get taken down & scrubbed. It's nasty. The right-side window? ONE "slat" turned the wrong way? Distracted, much? Another broken/slipped to the side?

Time to make curtains - I hate blinds, anyway. Frustration! In my mind, I've been cursing - the likes of which my kids won't hear (out loud) in our home! Argh!!

CG, we both need to make John Leeke's interior storms. I keep planning to, then suddenly it's late Fall & I'm once again scrambling to get the plastic on. Late enough to notice a difference the same night. Been a while. Too many other things going on.. & on.. & on. :-)

    Bookmark   November 6, 2011 at 10:57PM
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Never mind. The usual thing happened, tonight.

I get a chance to adjust the blinds... Then try again with the plastic/tape seal. I guess this is just me... Complain, & I get an unwanted chance to fix the problem. I tell you - this doesn't work for me!
See why I'm asking? Lol!

    Bookmark   November 6, 2011 at 11:45PM
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Removable interior storm windows using shrink film are relatively easy to make. You can find fully illustrated instructions at The ones I made following these instructions are going into their fourth year with no problems other than resticking the weather stripping with new double stick tape on a few. Each one may take a bit more than an hour to make, but once done they can be installed each year in less than 5 minutes. No paint peeled off by tape on the windows themselves, either.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 5:15AM
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Do you think the bathroom one peeled off because of humidity changes? Did somebody bathe or shower after you put up the plastic, and do you have a vent fan in that bathroom?

Also (and forgive me if you're already doing this anyway), but you might want to wipe down the woodwork before putting the tape on. I like to use microfiber dust cloths (they have them at Target; they're like washable, reusable swiffer cloths), and then I'd follow up with a cleaning solution; most ammonia bottles have a recipe for cleaning woodwork on them to the tune of 1 cup ammonia, 1/2 cup vinegar, and 1/4 cup baking soda to 1 gallon of water. This recipe requires rinsing (and don't touch shellac with it). I often just use a weak ammonia and water solution and skip the rinsing. It gets off the invisible accumulations that would keep stuff from sticking.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 8:00AM
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Have you tried putting a couple thumb tacks in the corners so that the glue doesn't take all the stress?

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 9:10AM
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Mainegrower - that's really cool, thanks! I just bookmarked the instruction page. I've seen others, that looked more complicated (intimidated me, lol).

Slateberry - no one had used the tub yet, but the room has never had a vent fan. Is that terrible? Other bathroom hasn't, either. Something else to do?
I did clean the trim first. Perhaps, in a rush, I could've done better. I just used (Lysol, I think) disenfecting bathroom wipes, with one side abrasive/scratchy & the other side smooth.. I scrubbed then wiped. Kit said to use alchohol & this stuff has that - but also has other ingredients, maybe left residue behind I need to rinse off?

Graywings - I hadn't thought of tacks. Although the trim is clearly not perfect under all that paint, I still hesitate to add more holes. Silly, right? I'll keep it in mind, probably as a last resort.
Thanks, everyone, for your helpful suggestions! (That'll teach me not to say "the tape always sticks too well to the paint". First time it hasn't, and the same day I griped about it, lol!).

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 1:14PM
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The problem I have is that these kits cost upwards of $10 each. I have 42 windows, 3 are picture windows. So I'd need around $500 in kits. Soooo will I save $500 on my gas bill this winter if I installed them. Not likely. I doubt I'd save more than $100. But my windows aren't that leaky.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 8:44PM
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Motoguy, did you see the website mainegrower posted above? If you have DIY skills, those storms would cost about $10 each - & can be used for years. That would spread out the cost, especially if you try it one room at a time. I always notice a difference.

2nd thing... Where have you been shopping for kits? $10.00 got me 1 box, plastic 62"W x 210"L. Tape included is 84 ft. Granted, this is for one year... But the $10.00/window would be for longer, mainegrower said 4 years now? (If I didn't hate math so much... I'd work that out, lol!).

Perhaps doing some - not all - for this year, would either validate your opinion or make a room or two more cozy? There is always a window, or room, that's worse than the rest, even if your home windows aren't "that leaky"... There's no rule that you have to "plasticate" ALL windows - & you have a LOT of windows!!

You don't say how old your house is, or if you've tried the window-seal yet. I'm curious about both. :-)

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 9:33PM
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I have lived both with and without bathroom vent fans (and kitchen ones too) and I can say they're absolutely worth the time and effort to install, even though it is a bear. If you do get around to that (pun intended) check out the bathrooms forum. People rave about the panasonic whisperwarm fan. I haven't spent much time there in the last couple of years; maybe there is a new greatest thing by now.

Motoguy, you have as many or more windows than I have. Pictures please?

    Bookmark   November 8, 2011 at 7:25AM
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I recommend using your fingernail or some hard but smooth tool to burnish the sticky tape onto the trim before removing the backer and affixing the plastic.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2011 at 10:15PM
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Slateberry, I'll look into the fans - especially since the downstairs bathroom is still... Well, um, torn apart & not rebuilt yet.

Thanks, Casey, I'm about 5 minutes away from tackling a window & will Definately do that. It makes sense!

Something just randomly fell in kitchen! I'm paranoid, as we have felt/had things fall during recent OK earthquakes. Best go look...

Thanks, again.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2011 at 11:53PM
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Not film, but plastic, at least on the pantry window...after an attempt at the front parlor window. :(

Bought plastic last fall, didn't notice until I went to cut some off that it was only 36" wide--unlike the rolls I bought there before! Anyway, it works on the normal windows, but this year I couldn't use the old plastic on the front, so I tried this new roll, and it wouldn't work to leave any overlap to allow taping on the sides; I had cut it to length, taped the top, and was trying the sides, but it was windy, so got the stapler to help and first one went in fine, but when I stretched the plastic to do the opposite side, it didn't quite reach, and the staple didn't come out, so I fired it at the far end of the porch to clear it, and stupid thing popped open, spewing staples all over the porch!

Since the plastic was a tad too narrow, I took the piece down and used it on the pantry, where there was plenty of extra width! Got to buy a wider roll tomorrow, and look into the film to make interior storms--hope it's not too expensive, since I already have the wood.

Projects are never as simple and easy as they seem with an old house, especially since technical devices seem to have it in for me like that guy on the old Twilight Zone episode! If I didn't use a manual razor, I'd fear one would come down the stairs trying to get me! :)

    Bookmark   November 10, 2011 at 1:32AM
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I have interior storms on all our windows. We made them ourselves and our handyperson skills are limited, so don't be worried. I made a single panel with the film from a standard window kit to be sure I was up to the task. Once that was successful, we purchased the materials in bulk for the rest of the windows.

We used a combination of the instructions at the link below ( and this link ( From the second set of instructions, I added the handles and the strip of plastic around the outside edge. They helped position and reposition the panels and prevented the foam around the edges from rolling to the front as the panels are pushed into place. The plastic also helps fill in any small gaps to compensate for my uneven cutting of the foam backer rod.

We made a few each year over several years, starting with the draftiest windows. They made a big difference before we had our original sash restored. Now that our windows have been restored and weatherstripped, we still use the interior panels to protect them from condensation.

Here is a link that might be useful: interior storms instructions

    Bookmark   November 10, 2011 at 3:28PM
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