How to Make Windows Private at Night (3 Affordable Methods)

by | Dec 20, 2021

How to Make Windows Private at Night (3 Affordable Methods)

In a world where it seems like our life is watched, privacy in our residences, especially with windows, retains its importance for one’s comfort to be ourselves. Nobody likes any prying or wandering eyes of passersby to privy on our private affairs in our homes, especially at night. Besides it being dangerous, it is also very creepy. This article will show you how to make windows private at night without breaking the bank.

Considerations before installation

Renter-friendliness 

You should consider how permanent the application will be to the window. If you are renting, it might not be practical to install curtain rods or drills for blinds if there are no existing options. In some cases, it may even be permanent! Besides that, stick-on window films can leave an adhesive residue that is difficult to remove. In contrast, you can easily apply electrostatic window films and remove them whenever needed.

Light Allowance 

After applying some window treatments, some windows might not have a lot of light during the day. This might not be optimum if you prefer some level of natural sunlight. Some window treatments like curtains might be completely opaque when open but cause complete visibility when drawn. Others like window film can be a rather semi-permanent application. So do keep in mind what your light allowances are. 

UV Protection 

As much as you should prioritize the privacy of windows, it is also essential that the window can filter UV rays during the day. Always call your window manufacturer beforehand to ensure that whatever window treatment you apply does not interfere with any existing UV protection, mainly if this includes direct application to the window itself. This is to prevent voiding your windows’ warranty if you need a replacement for your windows in the future.  

How to make windows private at night

how to make windows private at night 1

You can apply many types of treatments to windows, whether it is an external application or modern techniques like films that are used directly to the window. Installing these privacy films also depends on the manual’s specific instructions, so give it a good read before starting any work. 

The main ways that you can employ to make windows private at night are installing: 

  • Curtains
  • Shades
  • Window films
  • Dimmers

Comparison table of methods to make windows private at night

Window treatment Renter FriendlinessLight Allowance in DayVisibility at Night
Curtains
Renter FriendlyFull allowance when openLow when drawn
Blinds

Depends on installation methodsFull allowance when openLow when drawn
One Way Window Film
Static cling: renter friendly
Stick on: not renter friendly
High Depends on external light, can be fully visible
Decorative Film

Static cling: renter friendly
Stick on: not renter friendly
Medium to highLow
Blackout Film Static cling: renter friendly
Stick on: not renter friendly
No visibilityNo Visibility

1. External Methods

External methods are generally traditional ways of creating privacy options for windows. Installation of these methods differs from brand to brand. However, general installation rules depend on whether the window treatment will be installed as an inside or outside mount.

An inside mount usually involves installing the treatment directly to the window frame itself. That said, many DIY greenhorns install mounts wrongly because of inadequate measurements. So, here are some general tips to keep in mind before installing an inside mount:

  • Measure width on the inside of the window frame: top, middle, and bottom 
  • Measure the height on the inside of the frame: mid-left and mid-right, top to bottom 
  • Measure depth for the window: ensure there is enough room for the curtain rod or shade of choice

An outside mount installs the treatment externally from the window, usually on the wall in front of it. Remember to mark these measurements before installing an outside mount: 

  • Measure height: 2 inches above the top sill to bottom sill 
  • Measure width: 2 or 3 inches outside the frame 

Curtains 

How to make windows private at night with curtains.

Credit: Jon Tyson

 

Curtains 

Firstly, you can use curtains to make windows private at night there are curtains. These fabrics can be slid back and forth in front of the window to provide light and visibility if necessary. 

Moreover, curtains provide great versatility as you can switch them out quickly according to your privacy and aesthetic preferences. Blackout curtains, in particular, are a popular option if you wish to have total privacy due to their thick and soundproofing material. 

However, keep in mind that curtains also require frequent cleaning because they can quickly accumulate dust. Moreover, you must install curtain rods before any curtains, so make sure to choose matching ones!

You can also opt for installing curtain sliders rather than hook curtains if you prefer something more lightweight.

Shades

Shades are another way to make windows private at night.

Credit: Max Vakhtbovych

Shades are another popular method to make your windows more private. Unlike curtains, shades are structured or interfaced with stiffer material that you can fold or roll up or down according to your visibility needs. 

There are two types of shades: Roman shades and cellular shades. You can roll Roman shades up and down, whereas cellular shades are folded and pleated in a honeycomb structure. Both of these shades often have a cord that you can pull to open or close the shades.

Besides that, shades are also categorized into their opacity. There are opaque shades with the highest privacy level but do not allow any light to enter. These opaque shades are mostly Roman shades, which are made from thick fabrics that are rolled up and down. Besides that, there are semi-opaque options, which have a medium privacy level, and allow some light in. These shades are usually cellular shades with thinner fabric to allow for folds. Lastly, sheer options have the lowest privacy level but the most light. 

However, one of the cons of shades is that they cannot be switched out easily once they are installed, so do keep that in mind if you are looking for versatility in aesthetics. 

2. Window films

Window films are applied directly to the window itself as a filter directly from the window. The installation of these window films can differ due to their types as stick-on or static cling film. 

The specific installation methods also differ from manufacturer to manufacturer, which you must always adhere to. 

How to install window films

There are three steps involved when installing window films, which are: 

  1. Clean your windows
  2. Cut your window film to size
  3. Peel back the protective layer and apply the film from top to bottom

Again, make sure to follow the specific installation methods according to the window film’s manufacturer. 

Clean your window: This step removes any excess dust and caulk that can interfere with the film’s adherence to the window. If you are using any liquid, ensure the window is completely dry before continuing to the next step.

Cut your window film to size: Remember you are only applying the film to the glass portion of the window, so measure that first before cutting. 

Peel back the protective layer and apply the film from top to button: Utilize gravity and allow the film to fall to ensure a cleaner adherence. You should also use a credit card or film scraper that might have come with the packager to push out any air bubbles as you go. 

One-way window film 

One-way window films are special because they only reflect external light off the film that is applied. The visibility of this film is rather high as you can still see the outside. Mirror films are also great for improving the aesthetics of your home because it reflects the outside while creating a clear, glossy mirror-like finish.  

However, reflective films have to be balanced out by ensuring the external light is not brighter than light from inside the house. You can counter this by installing lights outside of the window or on the lawn to ensure reflectiveness all round the clock.

Opaque window film 

Opaque window films block out visibility from the exterior through translucent layers that distort the refraction of any light that enters. These films have a relatively high light allowance and UV filtration while still obscuring the inside view from the outside. 

One form of these window films is decorative films, which mostly have some pattern. They can either be colored or clear frosted, and some even have tactile motifs for an interesting touch. Depending on the look and feel of your living space, you can customize and choose any decorative window film that fits your needs.   

Another type of opaque window film is frosted films, which utilizes a frosted, sandpaper look to blur out the interior. However, do remember to check the visibility level of the frosted film, as that can differ from brand to brand. 

You should also keep in mind that as much as it keeps exterior visibility low, it also blurs clear visibility from the interior. It will be hard to see out of the window clearly too. 

Blackout film 

Blackout film is a solid vinyl that completely blocks out visibility. If you want to completely restrict windows’ visibility, you can black them out with these films. However, blackout films are not recommended because they are semi-permanent measures that can be difficult to remove.

3. Other methods that are not window film

If you are not a fan of altering your windows, you can install dimmers. By making your interior darker than the exterior, you can utilize the natural properties of glass to increase the reflectiveness of the glass. This ensures that the outside of the house will be reflected more than the inside of the house. 

If budget isn’t an issue, you can also try out electrochromic windows. This is a new type of window technology that uses heat to detect the brightness of the exterior and adjusts the color of the window to match. This window can be installed by methods of window film or replacing the window entirely.  

FAQ

How do you make a window private without blocking the light?

Consider opaque or semi-opaque window films like decorative films or frosted films. The light allowances for these films are relatively high.

Are there any one-way window films that work at night?

Unfortunately, there is no one-way window film that works perfectly at night. The exterior of the window has to be brighter than the interior. However, you can counter this by installing light outside your window or on your lawn to increase its reflectiveness at night.  

Key Takeaways

Although there may be many ways to make windows private, the best method is usually a combination of different methods. One of the most common techniques is to use a one-way reflective film with curtains. One-way curtains allow light to enter during the day and can still be drawn at night for better privacy. This is so that during the day, light still can enter but the curtains can be drawn at night for better privacy. 

Besides that, many window films also can be used with dimmers to enhance the privacy of the internal setting. It is mostly a matter of mixing and matching to fix your preferences accordingly. Which way of making windows private at night is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!

Jason Beischel is a Remodeler by profession and is always ready for the challenge and surprise that the next remodeling job throws at him. And given his extensive knowledge in real estate, contracting, and interior design, he provides actionable DIY tips online and has consolidated extensive excerpts with details on how to go about the various home repair activities. Enthusiasts will also access information on the best products that they can use in the process. Jason leads a team of renovators, he loves traveling and does not shy away from challenging opportunities that present away from familiar ground. According to Jason, every human deserves a comfortable home from where they can build their future.

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