How to Cover Windows in Plastic


Windows are among the primary sources of heat loss in your home during the cold-weather season. This is especially true with older homes that have leaky, single-pane windows. Short of replacing inefficient windows, you can increase efficiency by insulating these windows with clear plastic window insulation. This thin plastic film provides an air barrier that helps keep heat inside your home where it belongs. When the weather warms up in spring, simply remove the film and the tape that secures it to the molding or frame.

Things You'll Need

  • Window cleaner
  • Rag
  • Measuring tape
  • Plastic insulating film
  • Scissors
  • Double-sided tape
  • Hair dryer
  • Utility knife
  • Clean the windows thoroughly with window cleaner. Allow the window to air-dry after cleaning.

  • Measure across the window opening, from one side casing (wall trim) to the other. Also measure the height of the opening. Add to each dimension so that the window film will overlap the casing by at least 1 inch on all sides of the window. Use scissors to cut a piece of plastic insulating film based on your measurements.

  • Apply strips of double-sided tape (typically included with window film kits) to the casing around the entire perimeter of the window opening. Smooth the tape to ensure it is firmly adhered and free of wrinkles. Remove the paper backing from the tape to expose the adhesive on the top side of the tape.

  • Place the plastic onto the tape strips, starting at one top corner of window. Carefully pull the plastic taught to remove wrinkles as you apply the covering over the remainder of the opening. Make sure the plastic is adhered to the tape all the way around the window.

  • Turn on a hair dryer to the heat setting recommended by the window film manufacturer. Hold the dryer about 2 inches from the surface of the plastic, and move it back and forth, working outward from the center. The heat shrinks the film to eliminate wrinkles.

  • Use a utility knife to cut away any excess plastic for a finished appearance.

Tips & Warnings

  • Plastic film may reduce visibility through the windows.
  • Remove the film and tape after the cold season to prevent the tape from permanently sticking to the window trim.

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  • Photo Credit frosting background image by NiDerLander from
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