Have you heard about the clear film you tape over your windows to keep the cold winter drafts out?
You can get the shrink wrap film kits down at the hardware store with everything you need. Here at my house I tried out a couple of the kits, but didn't like ripping them out and throwing them away at the end of the heating season. At ten bucks per window per year it looked more like a way for the manufactures to fill their corporate coffers than a way for me to save on energy costs. Plus the tape damaged the finish on the window casings. I resolved to make a simple air panel system that would reused the plastic film, that any handy DIY person could make, that would last for years, not damage the window in any way (good for the museum houses), would cost less than $10 in materials, take less than an hour to make, and take less than a minute to remove and install each season.
So I made simple wood frames and taped the plastic film to the frame. Then I applied a gasket around the edge. The whole frame is sized to fit snugly into the reveal of the window, just to the inside and up against the sash. The seal is so good that when the wind blows the panel pops right out, so I hold them in place with screws. I decided the kits from Warp and 3M were too costly at about $10. (I've got 26 windows and that would be hundreds of dollars each year, so forget it!), I bought a whole roll of graphics-grade shrink wrap film for $60. at the art-supply house. I'm not sure how much is in the roll, but it looks like a 50-year supply for my entire neighborhood. Those big corporations are making a killing on their $10. kits. I figure there can't be more than about sixty cent's worth of plastic film in each kit) If you want to stop by my place here in Portland I'll give you some. I have made six rounds of these "air-panels" over the years with minor improvements each time.
My wife says "they make the front parlor much more comfortable in the winter, and cut down on the exterior street noise too." My friends say, "Neat! Can you make 38 of them for my house?" I say, "No. Make your own, here's how..."
Clear, straight grained wood cuttings, may be sawn out of wider boards with some defects. I usually rip the frame stock from wider boards on a table saw, avoiding knots and cross-grain.
3/4" to 7/8" thick by 1" to 2" wide by lengths as needed
pine, poplar, or any wood to match interior trim
If you are buying 1"x2" lumber (actual size 3/4" x 1 1/2") and are not ripping your own stiles, sort through the lumber pile to find pieces that are truly straight by holding one end up to your eye and sighting down along the edge to see if it curves. (Be sure to leave the lumber pile neatly stacked to remain friends with your lumber dealer.)
wallboard-style screws, #6 diameter x 1 5/8" to 2 1/2" long, length as needed for fastening frame butt joints
5/8" diameter foam backer rod
"Sof-Rod" brand product proven life is 20 years, expected life 25+, no other brands or products tested or in use. This backer-rod product is made to be very compressible. Other backer-rod products may be too stiff to make a good weatherstrip in this application.
http://www.demandproducts.com/EIFS-item ... ku=GROUPSR
Gordon Glass Co.:
http://www.gordonglassusa.com/group/298 ... of-Rod.htm
Pile & Fin with Arrow Anchor
Durable, expected long life (decades),the plastic fin will cause some abrasion on the window trim surface, perhaps not suitable for delicate important paint and fragile aged patinated wood surfaces. Source: ART http://www.advancedrepair.com
V-Type, ~$.20 to ~$.40/lin.ft.
Frost King V-Seal Weatherstrip, pre-scored polypropylene roll with an adhesive backing on one-half. To install, clean the surface where it is to be installed. Cut the weatherstripping to the desired length with scissors. Fold the weatherstripping piece into a "V" shape. Peel off the adhesive backing, and press into place with fingertips. One roll is 17 feet long, and is 7/16th of a inch wide when folded. The color is brown. $3.86 for 17lin.ft. ($.23/lin.ft.)
Foam with sticky side
#191-- Item 33114-00062. Ethertape PSA-1, black foam weatherstripping, .5 x .5 x 70'. This is the last item applied to panel.
Rolled Poly-Sheeting, less than ~$.01/lin.ft.
For making your own rolled weatherstripping you will need 6-mil thickness polyurethane sheeting, one 1/4" or 3/8" dia. wood dowel rod and 1/2" staples
There are two choices, Thick Film that is more costly and durable, and Shrink Film that costs less.
When I need a more durable film (cat claw resistant) I use this thicker, stronger film.
Warp Bros 5FP-3650 Flex-O-Pane
This clear, somewhat flexible film is thicker and more durable that the Clearmount film. It is made of Cellulose Acetate Butyrate resin, which is more environment friendly than Warp Bros Flex-O-Glass product that is made of PVC vinyl. Cellulose Acetate is also more sustainable because it is derived from tree and cotton fiber, rather than most other plastic films that are derived from petrol-chemicals.
This film does not need shrinking (like Clearmount), so it saves a step and time when making air panels.
Thicknesses: 5 and 10 mils (.005" and .01" very thick and much stronger than Clearmount, which is .001" thick)
Widths: 36" and 48"
Rolls: 25 and 50 yards
Cost: $132 for 5mil x 36" x 50 yards
Source: Amazon.com https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0009X8MU8/re ... zAbN22RHZB
Should you buy film kits or bulk stock? It depends on your specific situation, how many windows, window sizes, etc.. If you will be making panels for more than ten windows it will be worth doing a comparative estimate to figure the costs both ways. If you will be making 20 or more panels it will probably cost less to buy film, tape and weatherstripping in larger bulk amounts.
Window Film Kits, ~$.20/sq.ft.
Typical cost is $10 to $16 for one 62" x 210" sheet of film, includes double-stick tape (~$.15 to $.20/sq.ft.)
Brand names are Warps, 3M, Frost King, etc.
Available at many hardware stores and building material suppliers
Clearmount Ultrafilm, ~$.043/sq.ft.
Manufacturer & Supplier:
630 Silver Street
Agawam, MA 01001
GRAPHICS GRADE, polyolefin, Acid Free, 100 Gauge (1 mil) thick; on rolls of 500 linear feet; Widths - 24" - 28" - 30" - 36" - 41" centerfolded so folds out twice as wide
100 gauge thickness, (also known as 1mil or .001")
minimum order is 1 roll, 36" roll is about ~$128 + shipping (~$.043/sq.ft.) direct from the manufacturer. Partial rolls may be available.
My local artists' supply house had 500' by 36" rolls for ~$70, and it may also be available at art framing suppliers.
Additional source for shrink film, including a heavy duty 2mil film:
(~$.03/sq.ft.for 1mil, ~$.03/sq.ft. for 2mil)
Double Stick Tape, with backing strip
I find that the adhesive in the double-stick tape lasts 1-2 years if the film is taped to the face of the frame and if the panel is left in place year-round on the sunny side, and 3-4 years if removed seasonally and is on the shady side. The same double-stick tape lasts 5-8+ years if it is applied to the edge of the frame where it is under under the gasket, where it is protected from the deteriorating effect of sunlight. 3M tape lasts longer than Warp's tape. Ordinary office-supply double stick tape is no good.
I have been testing various double stick tape products to learn which lasts the longest. Specific tape product testing results, Dec.2012:
(All the following tape products have multi-year durability when used on film and tape. See other failures as noted.)
Ace, Double-Stick Tape, "for mounting shrink film or poly sheeting", 1/2in x 52ft., $8.00, $.16/ft, 12-2011
3M Scotch, Window Insulator Tape, "for indoor use", 1/2in x 13.8yd, $8.00, $.20/ft, 12-2011
3M Scotch, Outdoor Mounting Tape, "for 3M Window Insulator Kits", 1/2in x 13.8yd, $8.00, $.20/ft, 12-2011 (failure of adhesion to Sof-rod backer rod gasket, 10% failure after 4 months with panel in window, 80% failure after additional 8 months with panel in storage)
Now beginning to test:
TAP Plastics, 8 mil Clear Double Sided Tape (aka Double-Sided Permanent Bond Tape) 1/2" x 36yds, $9.45+ship
http://www.tapplastics.com/product/repa ... d_tape/411
(if you try out this tape, post a message here to let us know your results)
Another double-stick tape to consider:
#314-- Item 33E00-00002. White mounting tape, double-faced tape .03 x .5 x 216' per roll. Minimum order of 12 rolls.
Clear Tape 2" Wide
Don't use the ordinary cheap packing tape, it will not last long enough.
Duck® HP260 High-Performance Packaging Tape
polypropylene film, acrylic adhesive, very clear
1.8" wide, 3.1 mil thickness
35-lbs.-per-inch tensile strength
Ultra-violet light resistant
Long-term resistance to aging
Specially formulated for wide temperature range applications (-10° to 150° F)
Manufacturer: Duck, http://duckbrand.com/Products/packaging ... -tape.aspx
Source: Amazon.com, http://www.amazon.com/Performance-Packa ... d_sbs_op_2
Cost: about $23 for an 8-pack of 60yard rolls. ($.02/foot)
A.M. Leonard, Poly Patch Tape
polyethylene tape, one side adhesive, white backer strip, translucent (not exactly clear)
2" wide, 6 mil thickness, 48' roll
twice as thick and much stronger than the HP260 above
Source: A.M. Leonard, https://www.amleo.com/poly-patch-tape/p/VP--PPT/
Cost: about $14 for 48' plus shipping of about $10. ($.50/foot)
I am currently (2017-) comparison testing both of the tapes above to determine if the Poly Patch Tape is worth the significantly higher cost. Test results not expected for 4 to 6 years.
3M Spray Mount Artist's Adhesive
for use with fin & pile weatherstripping when you are using this weatherstripping to secure the edge of the film in the weatherstripping slot, to keep the film from slipping out of the groove
Cat. No. 6065, 3M I.D. No. 62-6065-4826-1
one-surface re-positionable adhesive for short-term bonding with acetate, foils, fabrics, light tissue and newsprint; long-aging
$8.77 for 13.5oz aerosol can
- Tape measure
Power drill with twist bit and Philips screwdriver bit, or hand screw driver
Screwdriver, Philips (two power drills are handy for higher production rate)
Handsaw, crosscut, fine toothed
Miter Box, for cutting square joints
Table saw, if you are cutting your wood strips to width
Hair dryer, for shrinking plastic film
Exacto Knife, for trimming film at panel edges
Scissors, very sharp fabric shears for splitting foam backer-rod, tape cutting
I make simple wood frames of straight grained pine stock 3/4" x 1", with wallboard screws fastening the butt joints and a horizontal rail at the same height as the window sash meeting rails. I use double stick tape to fasten shrink wrap plastic film on one face of the frame. It would be possible to put another piece of plastic on the other side of the frame, but I don't bother. Around the 3/4" edge of the frame I apply a gasket or weatherstripping. The whole frame is sized to fit snugly into the reveal of the window, just to the inside and up against the sash, with the gasketed edges fitting against the interior stops, the stool at the bottom and the header stop at the top. I shrink the plastic after the frame is installed for the first time.
Here is the step-by-step procedure:
1. Measure Window Openings
The air panel will fit within the window parts on the interior side, typically in between the interior sash stops. The opening to measure is on the interior side, within the window frame. Measure horizontally between the interior sash stops. Measure vertically between the window stool below and the header stop above.
Always make more than one measurement along the stops and stool. Usually the measurements will be the same, but if the window is "out of square" the measurements could be different. More than 1/16î difference could be significant. If this is the case, make a sketch of each opening showing the different measurements.
Measure each opening. Even though all the windows may appear to be the same size, there may be subtle variations that will make a significant difference. Measure to the nearest 1/16". Sometimes a folding carpenter's rule with a sliding extension provides more accurate measurements than an ordinary tape measure.
Also, check each stop and stool to see how straight it is by laying a straight edge on it. If it has a bow or crook that is more than 1/16" out of alignment, the gap between the window and the edge of the air panel may vary greatly which must be noted as you select a weatherstripping system to fill the gap.
2. Select Weatherstripping System
Select a weatherstripping system to fill the gap between the window and the edge of the air panel. If the window openings have significant bows or crooks then you may need to select a weather stripping system that has enough thickness and flexibility to allow for the greater variations in the gap. The following list is ordered from the most effective at stopping air-infiltration at the top of the list to the least effective at the bottom. If you are operating on a very limited budget the Rolled Poly sheeting at the bottom of the list is most cost effective if you already have 6-mil poly on hand or can get some without having to buy a whole roll.
Types of weather stripping:
Split Backer Rod
This weatherstripping system is made of 5/8" diameter foam backer-rod that is split length-ways to a D-shaped profile, then fastened to the edge of the wooden frame with double-stick tape. Use a pair of sharp scissors to split the backer rod down it's length. This was the first weatherstripping system we started out making for the air panels ten years ago. It makes a very tight air seal and causes little or no damage to the window's surfaces. We custom-fabricate this system for each job.
Fin and Pile
This is a specialty weather stripping material that we also use on the edges of wood window sash. A narrow slot must be cut in the edge of the wood frame, requiring more woodworking skills.
A long strip folded back on itself along its length, this type of weather stripping is made of either metal or plastic. It forms a springy strip that bridges the gap to prevent the movement of air. Durable, long-lasting and easy to install, V-strips come with a pressure sensitive adhesive; once you have cut a strip to the proper length, you can stick it in place on the frame without the use of tools. V-type weatherstripping is commonly available at hardware stores and building supply houses.
This is the least costly weatherstripping, especially if you already have some 6-mil poly-urethane sheeting on hand. To make some start with a 6" to 8" wide strip of the sheeting, and roll it length-ways around a 1/4" or 3/8" wood dowel rod. Slide out the dowel rod and as you slide it out staple the rolled sheeting to the edge of the wood frame. The poly sheeting might last just a few years, but a thick fuzzy wool or cotton fabric might work well with this method and last for decades.
3. Plan the size of the frames
The frame should be somewhat smaller than the window opening to allow for the weather stripping around the edge of the frame. Typically the frame is 1/4" to 3/8" less in height and width than the window opening. Exactly how much smaller depends on which specific weather stripping product you are using. The weather stripping product documentation may state how much to allow. You will be wise to make up a sample frame to test the gap allowance and weatherstripping before buying all the weatherstripping or cutting the all the wood strips. Install the sample frame to test for the proper gap allowance that will work best with the weatherstripping, taking out and putting it in a few times, making any necessary adjustment in the size of the frame to vary the width of the gap. If you have sash pulls on the bottom sash rail that stick out, check to see how the bottom rail of your frame fits underneath the pulls.
4. Make up wood frame
I usually rip the frame stock from wider boards on a table saw, avoiding knots and cross-grain. If you are buying 1"x2" lumber (actual size 3/4" x 1 1/2") and are not cutting/ripping our own stiles, sort through the lumber pile to find pieces that are straight and true.
Cut the horizontal rails and vertical stiles to length. Make the ends very square and even. Use a miter box if necessary.
If you are going to stain or paint the frame, this is the time to do it.
Assemble the frames by screwing the corners together. Pre-drill 3/16" shank holes in the vertical stiles. Then hold the joint in alignment and drive a screw through the hole and into the end of the rail.
5. Check the fit in the window
Make sure the gap is the size you are expecting and will work with your weatherstripping.
Write the window number on the frame, and label the bottom of the frame so it can always be returned to this particular window opening and oriented the same. This is important because in a later step the film will be shrunk to fit each opening. If a completed frame is installed in another window the film may be stressed and show wrinkles or come loose at the edges.
6. Apply the film and weather stripping
Stick the film to the edge of the wood frame with double-stick tape.
Apply double stick tape to the edge of the wood frame.
Lay the film out on a clean table. Lay the wood frame on the film. Pull the backer off of the tape, revealing the sticky tape. Working along one end of the frame, lift the edge of the film up and press it into the tape. Work along the opposite end of the frame, stretch the film to work out any wrinkles and lift the film, pressing it into the sticky tape. Then do the same on both sides of the frame. Trim off the loose edges of extra film.
Do the same to apply the film on the other surface of the frame.
Apply 2" wide clear tape to the edges of the frame, wrapping the edges of the tape onto the faces of the frame, sticking it to the face surfaces of the film on both sides. Press the tape down with a wallpaper seam roller.
Apply the weatherstripping or gasket to the edge of the frame.
7. Install the frame in the window
It's easy to do. Just wiggle it into place.
8. Shrink the film with a hair dryer
Be cautious to not over-shrink the film. If it is too tight it can pull the tape off. I try to get out most of the wrinkles in the film but not all, which might make it too tight. Over the years the film continues to shrink as it ages, sometimes up to a full inch, which pulls the tape loose, or twists the wood rails.
9. Fasten the frame in the opening
I have been driving a screw into each corner of the window frame, leaving the screw stick out past the frame about 1/2" blocking the frame from blowing out. Each year I am careful to reuse the same hole, and to not strip out the threads in the hole. Eventually the hole could wear out. There are various spring pin, and slot lever hardware fasteners that could be used to hold the frame in place, but they all involve drilling holes or cutting slots in the window trim.
10. Sit back and enjoy the cozy comfort of your new air panels
Go ahead, have a seat...
Maintenance of Air Panels
The plastic film can be damaged since it is so thin, but small holes and rips can be neatly taped with 2" clear tape, and not look too shabby if there are only one or two behind the curtains. When the tape fails at the edges of the plastic film I usually re-tape it, or put on new plastic film. (the old plastic film could be reused on a smaller window if it is less that five years old.)
This article is about making your own air panels, but if you cannot, I often recommend these pre-made interior panels:
Window Dressers, making 5,000 interior air panels in Maine every year, get panels and get involved with their "community build" efforts.
Throughout the state of Maine
Green Fret Consulting
110 Englebrekt Road
Edgecomb, ME 04556
Phone: (207) 882-7652
Energy Wise Mfg
Advance Energy Panels (AEP)
AEP now has kits to make panels.
R-Plus Window Insulators