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A window in a bathroom brings welcome natural light and fresh air—and it can also bring unwelcome attention from the outside, particularly when that window is in the shower.
With most windows, you simply add a window treatment for privacy. But showers are wet places and don’t easily lend themselves to conventional curtains and blinds. Plus, tile shower surrounds are a little more difficult to attach to than regular walls. The good news is that you have plenty of window privacy options that cost little, hang quickly, and work well in wet environments.
Static Cling Glass Covers
Static cling glass covers are thin, flexible, translucent vinyl coverings that stick to the window glass without adhesive. Available in rolls that cost from $5 to $15 (enough for a window or two), static cling covers come in a multitude of patterns, textures, and colors to suit everyone’s taste.
The glass must be clean and spotless before you apply the glass covers, and the covers do need to be precisely cut to fit the glass. A light mist with water is enough to help the covers cling to the glass. A few swipes with a squeegee push out bubbles.
Static cling covers will occasionally fall down, but many can easily be reapplied. After a while, mold and mildew may develop between the covers and the glass.
Cling covers are not a permanent solution to the problem of shower window privacy. But they are so inexpensive and simple to implement that they’re a great way to add temporary privacy.
Obscure glass or obscure plastic are common terms for translucent materials that permit light to pass through but are opaque and diffuse enough to provide privacy. Popular styles include frosted, pebbled, ribbed, bubbled, or patterned textures.
Frosted Acrylic Obscure Panel
Not all shower window privacy covers need to be on the inside of the window. You can install a frosted acrylic panel on the outside of the window, too, for just as much privacy.
A small frosted acrylic panel costs $20 to $40. Acrylic cuts cleanly with a special $7 to $10 plastic cutting tool. Acrylic’s corners and edges can be drilled to allow the panel to be attached to the window’s exterior trim. Stand the panel off from the trim with 1/4-inch plastic gaskets to avoid trapping water behind the panel and to allow airflow.
Placing an obscure acrylic panel on the outside eliminates any issues with indoor shower spray. It works best with smaller windows.
Frosted Glass Spray Paint
Frosted glass spray paint creates the appearance of etched glass with an oil-based obscuring coating. The semi-transparent coating allows light to pass through while maintaining privacy for the person in the shower.
One can of frosted glass spray paint is enough to cover one window, and application takes about 10 minutes. The cost is approximately $15 depending on brand.
One caveat is that frosted glass spray paint is not meant for constant contact with water. Occasional water drops are fine, but a great amount of water will eventually wear away the coating.
Glass Etching Cream
Frosted spray paint and glass clings are easy but temporary. When you know that you permanently want frosted glass, you can etch it yourself with glass etching cream.
A 2.8-ounce bottle of glass etching cream is sufficient to frost 6 square feet of window glass for $17 to $25. The product spreads on easily and does not require scrubbing. The cream washes off with soapy water, along with a final cleaning with mineral spirits.
The result is true etched glass that’s frosted for privacy in the shower. It won’t ever wear away. Clean with ordinary glass cleaners.
Waterproof Window Treatment
Any kind of 100 percent waterproof window treatment material can be used in the shower. You’ll find many to choose from: PVC shutters, vinyl roller blinds, cellular honeycomb shades (which also insulate the window), and plastic mini-blinds are just a few.
Every shower window treatment must be attached to the wall—which entails drilling into tile. All screw holes must be thoroughly caulked to prevent water from entering the wall through the screw.
If you choose to install blinds, make sure they have few to no metal parts, which can rust.
Replacing a window in the shower with a window made of glass blocks brings in natural light and increases privacy. Plus, it cures any waterproofing problems once and for all.
Due to the weight of glass blocks combined with mortar and supporting steel, the entire wall will likely need additional structural support or may even need to be rebuilt.1
Replacing the window with glass blocks can cost anywhere from $600 to $1,200 but the cost can vary widely beyond this depending on size, materials and installation.
It’s a permanent solution that cures the lack of privacy, plus it gives you the chance to address any problems with moldy insulation or wet, decaying walls.