This is a skill that my dad taught me when I was a teenager. Every year, this is a chore that is enjoyable because doing so helps cut our heating cost. In our last house that we lived in for a decade, this project took me almost a week. Literally. We had seventeen windows at our old house which was a 2 1/2 story. At our new house, doing this job to help our house stay Draft Free in Winter is only a 1-2 day chore as it is a ranch with only 7 windows.
Today the temperature is 33 degrees, and the low temperature lately has been in the 20’s. It is frigid cold when the wind blows, and some of our windows are drafty. By wrapping your windows, not only does it help cut down on your heating cost, but it stops the drafts and your home will feel more comfortable! I know our kid’s rooms feel warmer in the winter after we have wrapped their windows. It is another layer of peace we have for their comfort as they sleep at night.
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Published November 20, 2021
Updated March 25, 2022
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Why to Wrap Windows
Winter in Wisconsin, specifically the Fox Valley in which we live, reaches sub zero temperatures often. The coldest it was in 2020 was -39 Fahrenheit. Honest. I do not know why I live where it hurts my face. But I seriously hate the excessive hot more than the cold. Wrapping windows before winter with a quality product can help to keep your home Draft Free.
Living in Wisconsin, once it hits November, the weather turns cold like clockwork. Windows get drafty and you will find how cold a breeze can make you in a room that is constantly blowing for days, weeks and months. Winter here, or cold at least, lasts from November until the end of March typically. That is five months of cold, drafts, and chill to fight. Wrapping your windows helps to cut down on the costs for heating. It reduces drafts while helping to be an extra layer of insulation in and around your windows.
Cuts down on Condensation
The second reason to wrap your windows if you live in a cold-weather climate is to reduce the amount of condensation and buildup that is typical. Condensation that shows up on windows can cause mold issues if you have wood windows. Trust me, you do not want to have to replace your wood windows because of water or mold damage. For health reasons, having mold building on your windows is also a distressing thing that should be avoided.
Cost to Wrap Your Windows
Honestly, this varies based on the size and amounts of your windows. The bigger your windows, the more plastic and tape you will need to use. My favorite product, as I have literally used every one on the market, is the 3M Indoor Window Insulator Kits. The film is super clear and strong, the tape is the best and sticks to wood perfectly, and it is just my favorite product. They sell it in many various sizes. Typically their #1 seller is their 5 window kit for 3′ X 5′ windows. If you have large windows, like we do, you can buy the Oversized window kit, or patio door kit. These window kits help to keep your Windows Draft Free.
*3M is not a sponsor for this post*
Check out their prices as they often change. Lately I have not found these in-store, maybe it is because of supply chain disruptions or lack of material. Whatever the reason, the products I have found in-store has only been off-brand. If that is all there is for you to purchase, honestly give them a try as doing anything to reduce your heating cost is better than doing nothing.
For our house, purchasing three 3M Window Kits that is good for 5 3 X 5 windows is typically more than enough. Some years I have scraps or leftover pieces that still fit smaller windows. Yearly, the cost to wrap our seven windows is only $20 or less, as often I buy these at Menards and can get them with the 11% discount, or sometimes they are on sale. I don’t know about you, but buying full price literally hurts me, causes me to have a stomach ache.
Looking back at our heating costs for the last decade, it has never been high in the winter because of the window wrap. As ours are wrapped every year, I do not have the numbers or costs for heating in a month without windows wrapped. It would be interesting to crunch the numbers and compare a year-to-year view of how this actually does help reduce heating costs.
When we moved into our new house in November 2019, wrapping the windows was one of the first things that was completed. We wanted our first winter in this house to have Draft Free Windows.
Before you get Draft Free Windows
Before you wrap your windows, there are a few things that need to be completed. First, take a bottle of window cleaner and a towel and clean the inside glass; no one wants to be in agony over dirty windows all winter! With four kids, a dog and a cat, cleaning our glass before wrapping the windows is a must!
Second, use a clean rag and wipe all around your trim to remove any dust or grime. Most important is the top section of the trim, as that is where a majority of the dust will collect. Bathroom and kitchen windows collect more debris and grime, as they have the most humidity and will cause stuff to stick to the trim. Typically, I do not stick our wrap onto the windows, but to the flat part of the trim ends. This gives a great way to stick the tape and allows the plastic to wrap around perfectly. So, making sure the trim is clean is vital to a successful window wrap session.
Thirdly, make sure your window is completely closed and locked before you wrap the windows. Keeping it unlocked will just cause a draft and completely defeat the point of wrapping them. Make sure they are clean (if you desire) and locked!
Tools You Will Need for Draft Free Windows
There are a handful of tools you will need to collect before you begin this project. Apart from the wrap kits you purchase, you will need a step-ladder, sharp scissors, window cleaner, rag or a towel and a hair dryer. Having a step-ladder that is tall enough to easily reach the top of your windows helps to have the trim more easily cleaned. Using a ladder will also help while sticking on the tape and making sure the plastic is set to the tape. This ladder is a hand-me-down from living at my grandparents house while they were in a nursing home. They eventually sold, but this amazing step-stool got to stay with me! It has been a weekly staple, helped me paint multiple rooms, helps to reach in high spots, and also helps with wrapping windows. A good step stool is highly universal.
Second you will need is a pair of sharp scissors. One that will easily cut the plastic and tape is very important. In the past, I have experienced using a dull set of scissors and it was unpleasant as the plastic cuts very roughly and not as straight. Trust me, sharp scissors is a must!
Thirdly, window cleaner is a must as I stated above to clean the glass before installing the plastic and tape. Along with this goes the rag or a towel. Or, if you prefer, paper towel also works well to clean the windows.
Lastly, the most vital tool for this job is a hair dryer. A hair dryer is the last step in wrapping windows and helps to shrink wrap the plastic. Using a hair dryer helps not only to wrap the plastic, but it also uses the heat to get rid of any wrinkles or weird spots in the plastic as it is wrapped around each window.
How to Wrap your Windows
Now that your windows and trim are nice and clean, you have your tools on hand, you are all ready to begin this project. Work on one window at a time, as doing more than one taping at once can just make you frazzled. Or at least it does for me. Do one well at a time!
1. The first step is to take the roll of tape and wrap it around the outside of the trim, the flat side that is perpendicular to the wall. This is the easiest way to adhere the tape to. I usually wrap around the top first, then work my way from the top left to the bottom right. You can usually make this all happen in two separate pieces. Second piece of tape can overlap the start point on the top left and wrap the tape to the bottom left and overlap to the end of the first piece of tape.
2. Leave the paper on the tape until you rub your finger along the paper to make sure it is firmly stuck to the trim.
3. Once the tape is on, take the plastic wrap and carefully unroll it across the width of the window, leaving about 1/2-1 inch on each side for leverage.
4. Cut the plastic with your scissors and set the rest of the plastic aside. Unwrap the plastic, careful to not tear it! A good quality plastic wrap will not tear easily.
5. When your plastic is unwrapped, get up on your ladder and remove the covering on the tape from the top of the trim.
6. Take the top of your plastic and line it up with the top of the window trip, sticking it to the tape in an even way so there is not a tilt in the plastic.
7. Stretch the plastic down to the bottom of the window and stretch the plastic so it sticks tightly to the tape.
8. Stick one side of the plastic to the tape on the trim, wrapping it around the trim.
9. Starting in the middle of the plastic, grab the plastic and stretch it taught and stick to the tape on the opposite side of the window. Moving along the window sticking the plastic up and down.
10. Once the plastic is stuck to the window, run your finger along the plastic stuck to the tape, making sure it is adhered well to the tape.
11. Using a hair dryer on low heat, move it in small circles along the entirety of the window causing the plastic to shrink wrap along the window.
One down, six more to go.
Happy day, y’all, stay Draft Free this Winter by wrapping those windows. Or, until the cat decides to scratch through every window.