Want to keep prying eyes out but natural sunlight in? Learn how to apply privacy window film for the best of both worlds!
When I first moved into this house my dad was more than a little bit concerned about my backdoor with a full-length clear glass window in it. He was so worried about it that he taped a piece of cardboard to my door so that prying eyes couldn’t look in. But I love a light, bright and airy space. Unfortunately blocking the light from such a large window made the living room feel like a cave. I absolutely hated it.
Realizing I needed to come up with a better solution I perused Amazon where I found some really pretty privacy window film. I was drawn to it because:
- It’s temporary and removable at any time (perfect for renters!)
- It comes in some really pretty patterns.
- If faceted it can add ambiance to a room with lovely and colorful light prisms!
- It is far more affordable than replacing a door or adding blinds.
- The only tools you need are a craft knife and a felt squeegee and can get both in a kit for around $5-6.
- It can easily be applied by one person.
- It is surprisingly durable.
Oh, and this isn’t the first time I’ve used it… really pretty privacy window film
How Well Does Privacy Film Work?
In all honesty when I first applied the film to my backdoor I instantly saw a problem. The film was attached inside of the door and I have dogs. Both of them scratch at the glass when they need to go out. I just assumed it wouldn’t be long before it would get shredded.
But this film has been up for a whole 15 months of quarantine where the pups and I are home pretty much constantly. And guess what? I haven’t replaced it and won’t need to any time soon.
If you turn at a certain angle you can kind of see where the bigger dog (85 pounds big) has scratched the film but it has never come away from the window. And truly from 90% of angles you can’t even see any scratches at all. And these dogs SCRATCH this privacy film. See the scratches in the door frame where I need to repaint? (Don’t judge!) That’s a year’s worth of scratching on both the wood and the window. And this is proof that privacyfilm can be surprisingly darn durable.
I Was So Pleased That I’m Adding a Little More Privacy to My Dining Room Windows
So this is my dining room and in this pic it’s kind of a work in progress :) I’ve painted the dark tan room white, purchased a new rug, dining table, chairs and bench. Plus my dad helped me replace the light fixture and I added some adorable linen lampshades to it. Looking around my house it turns out I really have a thing for linen lampshades. Who knew? In this room I also had a cabinet that my mom wants and 2 chairs my sister wants sort of cluttering the space.
But the dining area has been going in the right direction for a while, now, and I’m pretty darn pleased with it. And since the weather is lovely I decided it was time to start opening the windows regularly to let in a breeze and air business out.
And That’s When I Realized a Problem
So I have the windows open and I had been working in the yard cutting down dead palm fronds. If you’re wondering I am STILL cutting down palm fronds from the winter Storm Uri that killed a lot of my plants. There’s only so much you can put in your dumpster for weekly pick up, after all. And even with my dad taking a whole truckload of stuff, I’m only about halfway done.
But back to the fronds. Those dried out suckers are the devil. They have thorns that get even sharper and I’m naturally accident prone. Oh, and I’m on blood thinners. So I come in the front door and I really don’t want to get blood on my shirt so I take it off. And as I’m walking to my bedroom to get cleaned up I hear people talking on the neighbor’s porch. The windows were open only a few inches but the blinds were ALL the way up. Oh, dear.
But a Little Bit of Window Privacy Film and All Good
Now when I have the windows open just a few inches I don’t really have to worry much about anybody seeing in.
And let me say I’m not worried about nosy neighbors. I have, like, the sweetest neighbors in the world. But in the event that I forget the windows are open and I tromp around my house half-naked I don’t have to worry about them accidentally seeing anything they don’t really want to see anyway :)
Where to Buy Privacy Film
I purchased this privacy film from Amazon. I just love how it throws these gorgeous rainbow prisms around the house as the sun moves around. For what I need, obscuring the view in not so private windows it’s perfect. I will note, however, that at night if there is a light on inside and it’s pitch black outside, you can see inside better than I would have guessed. But you still have to be fairly close to make things out inside.
Any of my backyard neighbors are too far away and cannot see in my backdoor window. But the dining room windows aligned with the neighbor’s living room windows right next to the front door making it a different story. Since I have blinds and sheers that are always drawn in the evening I’m not concerned. But the same style of privacy film I purchased obscures view, it doesn’t completely block it.
However, if you are using privacy film that needs to stay private at night, don’t buy the same design that I did. It looks like frosted designs might fare better, but you can still see a blurry shape through them. This privacy window film that features flowers states that it is also private at night, so a design like this might be more of something you’ll need to look for. And stained glass look privacy film would also be pretty protective in the evening, also.
While I found the best prices at Amazon, you can also find privacy film in Hardware stores, online at Walmart and at specialty shops online found with a Google search.
Supplies and Tools Needed
- Privacy Film (design I used here)
- Felt Covered Squeegee (kit I used here)
- Craft Knife (one comes with the kit but I used my Cricut TrueControl)
- Clean Spray Bottle
- Dish Soap
To apply this type of privacy film you need a bottle of slightly soapy water. I purchased a small spray bottle from the travel section at Walmart in the pharmacy area. It’s perfect and can easily be emptied and used for something else when done.
Before We Begin
First thing’s first… measure your windows and buy the appropriate amount of privacy film. If your window is very wide you can tile the film to cover the full size. If using a repeating pattern, like on the stained glass designs, you’ll need to match that design up. That might mean you have a little more waste and should purchase more than you think.
Prior to applying your film you’ll need to wash your windows so that it can stick well. I use my Squeegee Off Cleaner and Kit to clean my windows both in and out and I love it. But use whatever you normally do, just make sure the windows aren’t dusty or sticky or have traces of dog noses.
How to Apply Privacy Film
Measure the first section of your window. Unroll the privacy film to the right size and trim with a pair of scissors. Hold the cut piece to the window to ensure it will fit *Note – you want some overlap that we will cut away for a perfect fit.
In your spray bottle add a cup of water and 4-5 drops of dish soap and NO MORE! Lightly spray the window making sure to get the areas around the frames and the corners well covered. You want a gentle mist and light coverage… not a monsoon and no obviously dripping down.
Window Privacy Film and Static Electricity
Lay the cut piece of privacy film on a clean work surface with the side with the design facing up and the carrier sheet facing down. Peeling this way will help limit some static electricity that will inevitably happen. * Note – if you have pets dust and vacuum right before you apply your privacy film. Since this stuff does get staticky, you’re gonna have cat hair attracted to this stuff and it’s super frustrating.
Place the privacy film on the window generally centering the piece and making sure that there is overlap around all of the edges. *Note – You might need to hold the privacy film into place in the beginning with your hand or shoulder.
Working from the the center outward, like a sunburst, use your felt covered squeegee to apply the film to the window and remove any air bubbles or water. Can you see the drops of water beneath the squeegee but not to the right? The center part is well adhered. You want to remove all of these visible drops of water by pushing it out to to the edge. Keep a towel handy as the water will fall onto your windowsill.
Once you have removed any air bubbles from behind the privacy film and are comfortable that it is well attached for the most part (it won’t be around the edges or corners just yet) it’s time to trim away the excess. Load a craft knife with a brand new, super sharp blade. Using either a metal ruler, or by hand, draw a line down the window with the knife to cut away the excess from just one side of the window. Be careful if you have vinyl windows as you can easily slip and cut the casing.
Once that first cut is made, use your squeegee to make sure that edge is well adhered to the window. If necessary, you can gently pry up the film and spray soapy water beneath to help application.
Repeat trimming and squeegeeing each side and corner in the same way.
Wait a Day.
Once your window panes are all covered and everything seems to be sticking well, leave things alone. Check on it the next day. Rub your finger around the edges and corners. For some reason there are a few patches I have that just won’t stick but it’s an easy (and still temporary) fix. Grab an inexpensive washable glue stick and rub a little bit onto the window and press the film back down and it will stick no problem-o.
Removing Your Privacy Film
If you’re bored with the design or if you’re a renter and need to put the place back the way you found it, removing window privacy film is super easy. Using something sharp like a craft knife, wood skewer, weeding tool, etc., gently pull the film away from the window at a corner. Continue pulling the film away; it should come away easily. For any places you resorted to using washable glue, it should come away easily (especially if it’s been there for some time) but if you meet resistance, the adhesive can be washed away with soapy water.
I Absolutely Love My Newfound Privacy
I spent about $40 to cover my large area in the dining room and my full length window in my back door and I’m really happy with that cost. And even if I some day move out to the country where prying eyes will need binoculars to spy, I’ll still use this kind of window privacy film. In a word, rainbows. The rainbow prisms that cast through my house as the sun moves is just so pretty. They add a little bit of coziness and ambience to my home that I will always want to experience!
Oh, and it’s nice if the neighbor’s don’t know what color my bra is, either :)