Privacy Window Film - Mirrored

kimcocoFebruary 24, 2010

No responses on the window forum, so I'm posting here.

We live on really small lots, so little privacy. For example, I have a window that faces my driveway, driveway, then my unfriendly neighbors house.

Wondering if anyone has used the Gila brand privacy window film - I purchased a roll of the mirrored film, which provides daytime privacy. I then read on a thread here about thermal shock, and that you should never install it on the INSIDE windows, but I wasn't planning on installing it on my storm windows, so now I'm torn.

Our storm windows aren't energy efficient or air tight, not sure if that makes a difference, but I read because of the UV rays you could cause thermal shock (window breaks) if you install on the inside windows.

Can anyone comment on this? Have you used the privacy window film? Were you happy with it?

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Kimcoco, I have a box of the Gila privacy window film in the frosted finish, not the mirrored finish. The box says, "Try Frosted or Rice Paper for 24-hour privacy. Safe for dual panes."

I was not planning to install it on an outside window. As soon as DH gets through with the pocket frenchdoor to the new tiny bathroom, I will install this frosted film on BOTH SIDES of the 15 panes in this door.

What direction does this window of yours face? Is it NORTH?
I'm not familiar with the thread discussing thermal shock and the application of mirrored window film. BUT, I just asked my DH who is a retired PhD engineer, and he says that the mirrored FILM will crack within a year if applied to the inside. I asked about my frosted or the rice paper kind, and he said that the kinds which admit at least some light and therefore some heat, will not deteriorate so quickly if placed on the inside of the exterior window.

However, since I always argue with him about things anyway, I would bet that if the sun NEVER hits your window, like if it is a real true NORTHERN window w/o any kick toward NE or NW, then the mirrored film would last a while longer than a year.

Is the neighbor's house a two-story so he would be looking down into your room? Can you also consider other window coverings, which can be adjustable to allow you to see out but stop his direct view into your room? Could you try a nice lovely PLANTATION SHUTTER? I'm a great believer in the benefits of shutters for maintaining privacy AND light.

Also, have you thought about making a top-down/bottom-up ROMAN SHADE? You can buy them custom but they are expensive. However, I discovered an online site for the supplies and directions to make all sorts of roman shades at and that lady is GREAT. I have several windows with privacy issues (facing street, or nosy neighbor both) and like to let in lots of light as well, so the shades I am making are top-down, mounted inside the house, and will be made of 90% shade cloth with Thermalsuede for lining to deter the heat of western sun. With that lining, the heat comes through the glass but the lining stops it. I think.

Can you take a picture of your problem? Stand inside your room, and shoot the whole window, out to this view you speak of. How big is this window? Is it the ONLY window having a problem?

Can you put some plant or a trellis in between you and him? Depending on your climate, A good tall CLUMPING BAMBOO would grow tall and quickly and not be invasive. I like a solution which will not leave you feeling imprisoned in your home, while hordes of pirates threaten your peace of mind.

There is a Bamboo forum over on the g*rd*ning side of GardenWeb, and I'm sure you'll be happy to visit them. There is a bamboo for every budget, every climate almost, and they look wonderful.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2010 at 3:07PM
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I'm left with few options, unless I bite the bullet and just put in stained glass.

It faces my neighbors window, a direct view, we face south, direct sunlight. Basically, it's my kitchen window - 8 inch planting strip - if that - and very narrow driveway - neighbors property and house/window. We also have a driveway gate, so we're limited in what we can plant there (low plantings) to allow for the swing of the gate, which swings below the kitchen window.

We currently have custom blinds. My long term thought is stained glass with a window treatment (valance) and a roman shade behind that hidden by the valance, for those summer months when we feel like opening our window for a breeze, but still want privacy/light.

Thanks for the suggestions about the bamboo, great idea but I think it would be too wide for the driveway gate to clear, unfortunately. To answer your question, it's more than one window, but this is the main one with the direct view at the neighbors house. The other one is not a direct view, depending on where they are on their property, but I have the same issue with the other - concrete walk directly below, no planting space. I can't install a window box there due to electric meter conduit that can't be moved, it would be a huge undertaking to try to build something stable around that. Back to the bamboo - I didn't realize it grew in my climate, zone 5. Good to know, I'll have to look into that. I love to garden.

The only other thing I can think of is a really tall trellis, like 9 or 10 feet, and plant morning glories every year, since they grow well on a trellis..we had them last year, and they grew fairly narrow until they topped out. Or, a window box, which tend to be pricey, I think our window is high enough that will still allow clearance of vehicles off our driveway, but it would be a permanent mount into brick wall. We don't have a ledge wide enough for planters.

I'm assuming if I were to apply the film on my storm windows, it wouldn't last a year before it began to peel, especially in full sun. I haven't even read the directions yet to know if you install it on the inside of the glass or the outside to get the mirror effect on the outside. Hmmmm.

Maybe our best bet is stained glass, mainly privacy, so we'll still get light but have privacy at the same time. Everything else at this point is a short term solution.

Thanks so much for the feedback.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2010 at 7:37PM
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Kimcoco, there might be another quick fix for you.

Shade cloth .

I bought a 100' roll of the 90% shade cloth, which is very effective indoors or outdoors. Look it up online to see if you can use it, especially made as a roller mounted to your eaves. In zone 5 you won't be exposed to hurricane force winds, will you? So even a bamboo stick blind outside the window might work for the summer. I use one on my sunporch inside the window, since we are subject to hurricane force winds!

But at your latitude, having nice warm light coming inside on your south side in the winter is a great benefit. So just a shade for the summer won't do much good the cooler part of the year.

There is also a style of shutter called a Bermuda shutter, which attaches to the top of your windows, and pivots out from the bottom, mostly with fixed louvers traditionally.
In Italy, they had them on many many buildings and instead of the hinge out being at the TOP of the window, the Bermuda part was in the middle. When they dropped it all the way down, the main hinges on each side of the window would let the two halves open totally away to each side. It was the first time I ever saw those, but they were everywhere. If your window can be opened from the inside, you can access the outside mounted shutter from inside your room.

If the strip of ground you have on the property line is only 8" or so, it would be very close tolerance to build a trellis. But you might be able to put in some big support posts, some crossing members, and then along the top for the entire length of the structure, put a pergola-like horizontal series of boards directed toward YOUR house--like an upside down "L". I'm about to use it as the cap to a privacy fence. You can get lots of ideas in the building project books related to fencing.

It is getting late now, and I am not too sure how coherent this post is, so I better stop. One does need to go to bed on occasion!!! :)

Love the stained glass idea. Just keep your options open for letting in LIGHT.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 1:12AM
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We're about as close to our neighbors as you are and we don't have any window coverings. When I'm at the kitchen sink and they are at theirs, we wave to each other. Yes, our neighbors are ok.

However, the one solution we've thought of is to get 2 small stained glass windows and hang them inside, in front of our kitchen windows. This way we wouldn't muck up our existing windows and, if we ever move, we can take the stained glass with us.

For now, though, we enjoy the light.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 6:20AM
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I'm concerned that a mirror facing south would blind your neighbor with the sun's reflection. That may make that ok neighbor relationship deteriorate a bit.

Another thought:
Instead of colored stained glass, consider a clear or translucent glass. Go to a stained glass shop. They have many different types of glass that will occlude vision but let the light in. Depending on your taste, you can have a panel custom made to fit your window of several different clear/translucent/frosted patterns or just one large piece.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2010 at 4:48AM
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Until you can do your long term solution, which sounds very nice, why not get a different type of window film that lets light through but you can't see through? There is plain frosted, and also some pretty stained glass look ones. You could cut a little window in it so you can spy on your neighbor, he he.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2010 at 4:49PM
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Blinds work well.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2010 at 9:42AM
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We have the town's main post office on one side of our house. If I didn't have stained glass I'd see people parking next to the house, running up the steps, etc constantly and they'd see me in my jammies drinking coffee in the parlor while praying the 4 year old sleeps in for once....he never does :oP

I have stained glass windows hanging on hooks and eyes on the inside of the frames. They can be lifted and moved for window washing and then hung right back up for privacy. The upper portion of my windows is left open (glass) so we don't loose sunlight. The ones in the dining room were installed by a previous owner, but basically they're exactly the right size to sit right inside the existing window frame (they are in frames also) and they're screwed in to hold them. They've probably been there for 30 years so I'll just leave them be.

Its a much better look that mirror on an old house...and does not need to be expensive if you just find an old frame somewhere.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2010 at 12:55PM
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Plain frosted will not look right with the style of my kitchen. It would be an eyesore.

We have custom blinds now, but of course keeping them closed does not let light in. Keeping them open allows for peering eyes. Not interested in replacing the blinds at this point. large window, pricey and not my long term goal.

I agree about the style of stained glass with my 1920's home, it fits much better. I do have stained glass panels there now, but they are not wide enough to provide privacy, and they are old slider windows, not a standard size, so difficult to find stained glass to cover the entire portion. Either way, priced out custom stained glass panels, prices are outrageous. Unable to find the sizes I need. Mirrored, for what I need right now, is my best option. Windows are high, narrow space between houses so as far as style from the outside, they will be unseen unless you walk up my narrow driveway, stop, turn and specifically look up at the windows, which people don't do. The only one with the view of the mirrored windows will be my neighbors from hell, which is fine by me if they have a view of their own unsightly property (they got mad at us, pulled out all plants adjacent to our home, leaving the property in total disarray - can you say, "Cut off my nose to spite my face?".) They are complete psychos, totally and unnaturally obsessed with us and everything we do, wear, buy, own, etc. Long story and so trivial you can only ascertain that they have a mental disorder.

Still, we need to see OUT the window to view our driveway gate for various reasons related to neighbors tampering with our electric gate components, among other reasons, but long term we will have a surveillance system at which point we will not longer need a direct view from our window.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2010 at 5:23PM
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Just a thought. What about that one-way mirror they use in police interrogation rooms? Have I been watching too many Law and Order reruns?

    Bookmark   March 5, 2010 at 6:52AM
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Dian57, that is so funny. I have to chuckle. They SHOULD be on the other side of interrogation glass. LOL.

I was just watching The Millionaires Club with Patty Stanger, and one episode she had a couple clients behind a one-way mirror. I think what she said, if I remember correctly, is in order for it to work, the peering room has to remain dark.

I'm sure there is probably a city ordinance against an actual mirror for glass, I don't know. I called and asked about mirrored privacy window film and was told it's fine.

I wonder if birds hitting it would be a problem. I attract birds to my yard with a feeder, so I don't want to inadvertently set a death trap. I'm assuming since the privacy film will be placed on the interior windows and not the storm windows, it may not be a problem. I asked around and was told I shouldn't have to worry about thermal window shock, perhaps because my windows aren't double paned, and storms aren't air tight, not sure.

Is it a two person job, applying the film?

    Bookmark   March 5, 2010 at 9:10AM
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I did the frosted type at the building I manage when a new tenant wanted privacy instead of the glass doors and large side lights. It was ok to do alone. Never done mirrored. I have a feeling it may have to be more perfect to look right which means it would be easier with another person. If I got an air bubble for example I could just cut it with the razor and squeeze the air out and it didn't show. I bet it would appear as an ugly scar in the mirrored. did the product come with a special squeegee? I already had one for applying vinyl letters to signs. It was invaluable.
Good luck

    Bookmark   March 6, 2010 at 6:36PM
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Hmm, if you have cardinals coming to your yard, then yes, they would be challenging the bird they see in the mirror. Possible that a bird could fly into the window, but for sure those cardinals will be pecking the window.

I had a door mirror leaned against the wall of my garage a couple of weeks ago. I kept hearing this SOUND, and it kept up for about 30 minutes. I was curious. So I walked toward the noise, and there was this female cardinal just upset as she could be, launching her attack from the nearby shrubbery at the other female cardinal she saw invading HER SPACE. So I promptly took the mirror out to the trash for pickup. I'd wanted to use it as a background along my privacy fence between some tropical plants, but not at the risk of distressing our feathered neighbors.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2010 at 2:13AM
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In Baltimore, MD there is an old tradition of painted window screens. Painted designs on the screens allowed privacy for the residents of row houses while permitting the windows to open to permit air circulation. If you have screens, then that could be an option.

Here is a link that might be useful: Painted Screens

    Bookmark   March 8, 2010 at 10:56AM
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What is best mirror window fim for nigh ime pivacy? I understand some film actually makes it easier to see into a room at nigh when inside lights are on. Anyone know of a film that provides privacy both day and night?

    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 10:21PM
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Nothing for nighttime privacy, unless you want daytime privacy too, as far as I know. There are emulated "stained glass" films, most you can't see in or out. But the mirrored gives privacy during daylight hours. I close my blinds at night. Otherwise, you can go with the frosted variety, but then you can't see out.

There are windows you can purchase from a manufacturer where you can actually dim them at night for privacy, but I'm sure they're way expensive.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2011 at 2:50PM
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Anyone know of any completely opaque window film? We have a south-facing basement window in DH's home theater. All the film I've seen allows some light in. I don't care if I can see through it (it's glass block, so you can't see anything anyway). I would also prefer not to buy a ton, the window is only 18" x 24".

    Bookmark   April 14, 2011 at 6:23PM
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Your favorite search engine is your friend. I knew I'd seen something like that, so I tried "blackout window film" and one of the links is below. There were many more.

Usual disclaimers - link is not an endorsement, I have no financial interest, et cetera, blah, blah, blah.

Here is a link that might be useful: Blackout Film

    Bookmark   April 14, 2011 at 11:50PM
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Do a search on the internet for privacy window film or go to your local box store. You have plenty of options.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2011 at 12:34PM
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Searching for "privacy" and "opaque" give you a crapload of results that are not what I wanted. But thank you, davidr, "blackout" was what I missing to winnow down to specifics.

Unfortunately the link you provided is for WAY more film than I need. However, thanks to you connecting the dots in my brain, I did find some from a place that sells blackout film by the sq ft after refining my search. Thanks!

Btw, the big box kids looked at me like I was insane, and a search through what they did have on the shelves yielded nothing... (not that I'm in any way surprised)

    Bookmark   April 15, 2011 at 2:06PM
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