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Privacy WIndow Film

A Complete Guide to Privacy Window Film

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Privacy window film is one of the things we get asked about the most here at Concord Window Film. People are looking for a window film that they can see through, but which offers both daytime AND nighttime privacy. And apparently, it’s not just us – people are searching for it online.

When you search for “window film” in Google, some of the top things “people also ask” are:

  • Can you see through window film at night?
  • What can I put on my windows so I can see out, but no one can see in day and night?
  • How do I make my windows private at night?

There’s a lot of confusion about privacy window film. So we thought we would clear it up with this complete guide.

What is privacy window film?

Let’s start with what we mean by privacy window film. In broad terms, privacy window film is any thin, adhesive material that can be applied to the surface of glass windows or doors to enhance privacy and reduce visibility into a room. The film works by obscuring or reflecting the view through the glass, making it difficult for outsiders to see inside.

Privacy window films come in a couple of main types: opaque and transparent. Privacy films are commonly used in homes, offices, and other buildings to create more private spaces without sacrificing natural light. Transparent privacy window film can also help to reduce glare, block harmful UV rays, and improve energy efficiency.

Types of privacy window film

Opaque window film

The first type of window film that can provide privacy is an opaque film. This film has a color or texture to it that obscures the view. These are often called frosted films or matte white films. You can also get a variety of colored opaque films. The films block the view while still letting in some light. The level of opacity can also differ – letting in different amounts of light while allowing for more or less privacy. Typically, white is used for these films to maintain or maximize the brightness of a space.

Picture of a beautiful kitchen with a window with matte white privacy film on it

Opaque window films are typically considered privacy or decorative films. They are generally made from a thin layer of polyester or vinyl that has been coated with a layer of opaque pigment or white ink. The film may also include an adhesive layer on one side to allow it to be easily applied to glass surfaces.

The process of making opaque window film begins with a clear or lightly tinted sheet of polyester or vinyl. The material is then coated with a layer of opaque pigment or white ink using a process called gravure printing. This involves etching a pattern of fine depressions onto the surface of a printing cylinder. The cylinder is then filled with ink and rolled onto the surface of the film.

The ink is dried and cured using heat, which sets the color and ensures that the film is durable and resistant to fading. Finally, an adhesive layer is added to the back of the film to allow it to be easily applied to windows.

Opaque window films are available in a range of patterns, textures, and colors.  Allowing them to be used for a variety of applications, including privacy, decorative accents, and branding or advertising.

Transparent window film

This type of window film is the opposite of opaque – it is transparent and blocks people from seeing inside using a combination of dark color and reflectivity. This is sometimes called one-way window film.

Transparent privacy window film is often used in commercial settings, such as office buildings or storefronts, where privacy is important but natural light is also desired. Most of us are familiar with seeing office buildings reflect the view during the day and then being able to see into the office spaces at night when lights are on. This is due to the reflective one way daytime privacy film used on buildings.

John Hancock Building Boston seen during the day reflecting the sky and at night with lights on

It can also be used in residential settings, such as bathrooms or bedrooms – or any room – to provide privacy while still allowing natural light to enter the space.

In addition to providing privacy and light control, transparent privacy window film can also help to reduce glare, block harmful UV rays, and improve energy efficiency by reducing the amount of heat that enters or escapes through the window.

How does transparent film create privacy?

Transparent privacy window film provides privacy by creating a one way mirror effect.  

One Way Mirror Effect

A reflective coating is applied to the surface of the film to create a mirror effect. This reflective coating is typically made of a thin layer of metal, such as aluminum, or nanoceramic particles, such as titanium nitride. The particles are deposited onto the surface of the film using a precise, high-tech process.

When light passes through the window film, the reflective coating on the surface of the film reflects some of the light back toward the source, creating a mirror-like effect. The thickness of the coating and the angle of incidence of the light determines the amount of light reflected back.

The mirror effect works only when the exterior lighting conditions are brighter than the interior lighting conditions. That is why you can see inside an office building at night if the lights are on.


Is there a film I can see through that provides privacy day AND night?

The definitive answer to this is no. If you want to be able to see through your windows, there is no film that is both transparent and offers privacy at night.

As explained above, you can achieve daytime and nighttime privacy with an opaque window film, but you will lose your view of the outside world.

On the other hand, you can keep your views by using transparent privacy window film and get daytime privacy, but you will not have nighttime privacy.

What’s the solution?

If you want to maintain the views from your windows and still have privacy, there are a few things you can do:

Combine Window Treatments

Because there is no one window treatment that will allow you to see out your windows AND give you both day and night time privacy, we recommend a combination of treatments: transparent privacy window film and shades. 

During the day, the transparent privacy window film will block people from seeing inside your home, while allowing you to leave your windows uncovered to let in light and views. At night, a second window treatment like shades or curtains can be drawn for privacy.

Exterior Lighting

There is a way to achieve a measure of nighttime privacy with just the transparent film using exterior lighting.

Illuminate the exterior of your home at night more brightly than the inside of your home. Landscape lighting and outdoor lampposts and spotlights can be used. Focus the lighting around the key windows/rooms you need privacy for.

While this will work, it often isn’t practical or desirable and will of course incur additional energy costs.

Opaque Window Film

If you are OK with not seeing outside, an opaque window film can do the trick. This can be an acceptable option for certain room types.

Bathrooms are one. You typically aren’t concerned with the view out your window in your bathroom. More with light and ventilation. 

The other is bedrooms. You are typically only in your bedroom in during the night, so views aren’t always as important. Especially if windows just look out onto a neighbor’s home or the street.

There is another strategy you can use with an opaque film. Just film the lower sash of the window to create privacy only where needed. The upper sash will then provide some views and more natural light than you would achieve with opaque film alone.

Concord’s Privacy Window Film Products

At Concord Window Film, we offer both transparent and opaque privacy films.

Opaque Film

Matte White Privacy

Our Matte White privacy film is a lightly opaque film that works well in bathrooms or bedrooms.

Transparent Film

For rooms with views, Concord Window Film has two types of privacy film: ComforTech™ Ceramic Series and Silver 15 Reflective.

ComforTech™ Ceramic Series

Our ComforTech™ 05,  ComforTech™ 15, and ComforTech™ 25 all offer excellent daytime privacy. And you get the benefits of a solar control window film including: heat reduction, glare and fade control, and UV protection. Plus ComforTech™ films will help you save energy by reducing the amount your air conditioner will need to run. Finally, ComforTech™ has a dual reflective 

Silver 15 Reflective Film

Our Silver 15 Reflective is a metallic film with a classic shiny mirror finish.  Silver 15 offers great daytime privacy as well as solar control. And it is an economical option to the more expensive ceramic window film.

Things to consider are (1) it has a very shiny, metallic looking finish that might not appeal to everyone. And (2) it is not dual-reflective, so the same shiny finish that is on the outside will also be on the inside of the home.

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