How to Easily Frost Glass With Contact Paper

May 18, 2020

This simple way to frost a window for privacy is one of my favorite home hacks ever! 


This DIY is so simple and cheap, and helps with an annoying privacy problem that would be expensive or messy to fix otherwise. I've actually shared this before (a looong time ago), but it's one that's worth sharing again!

I've used this for frosting glass on glass doors and interior windows and it is a great, inexpensive solution. Plus, it's easily removed if you ever change your mind. 

You can easily do this to any flat glass surface with very few tools and a little time.

The first time I did this was on our glass pantry door ten years ago:
black glass paned pantry door

I was able to make that glass pantry door opaque for next to nothing! (Although getting the film placed perfectly on those panes was a PAIN.)

A few helpful readers told me about this trick forever ago. Who knew transparent contact paper is the easiest and cheapest way to make a window private? I was so pleasantly surprised when this actually worked! 

We had a big bathroom window in the old house that I made private with this as well. I didn't think I'd need to do it again, until we moved into this house and realized the powder room window was placed in a less than ideal spot: 
Navy blue wallpaper white board and batten

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Ha! Just...not the best. I've always felt for our guests especially. 😝

I don't know what took me so long, but I finally did this private window trick again and it worked like a charm.

Now there are a few ways to do this, but I promise you this is the easiest. You can buy frosted window film, but those options are more costly. You can also use a frosted glass spray paint, but that's messy -- you have to worry about overspray and fumes...and it won't hold up well over time on a window or door that gets a lot of use.

You can also use a glass etching cream to do this permanently, but I would only try that in extreme cases. 

For this DIY method of frosting glass, you'll need transparent matte Contact paper:



clear matte contact paper for privacy

See the easy, step-by-step instructions for installing this privacy film on a window here. I shared how to install this on a paneled glass door in that post. 

You'll just need a spray bottle with water, scissors and some way to push out the bubbles. 

Before you start, give the window a good cleaning with glass cleaner and a lint-free cloth.

Because this paper isn't wide enough for the window, I cut the pieces in the size of the window panes. You can also cut them in strips, which is how I did it on the window in our old bathroom. 

The helpful grid on the paper makes it easy to cut straight lines. You really don't have to be exact with it, especially for a window. 

Dose the window with water, then spread the contact paper over the surface of the glass. The water is a must -- it makes it easy to maneuver so you can get it just how you want it. 

You'll have TONS of bubbles, but they will push right out! I always use these pan scrapers, but a debit card or squeegee will work as well. You just need something with a smooth side to push the air bubbles out of the sides. (I leave some space around each piece so I can do that.)  

This time, the vinyl looked like this a day or so after I installed it: 
contact paper on windows

But those marks disappeared over a few days. So odd! They almost look like bubbles, but aren't. I think it could have been excess water. 

UPDATE: This is how the window looks two years later...the contact paper is still in perfect condition: 
contact paper frosting on window

I only placed it on the bottom part of the window. You will not be able to see through it -- everything will be blurry. When I did this last time I thought it would bother us not being able to see out, but it never did. 

You can't control the opacity of the window like you can with other DIY options, but I have never found it necessary to do more anyway. 

Here's a look at the finished window from the outside: 
DIY private window frosting

As you can see, we can still see out of the top part of the window. ;) 

Also, if you stand right up on it like I am above (I'm leaning against the window) I'm blurred but not overly so. But if you're just inches away you can't see much (at night with a light on you'll see movement for sure). 

I took a pic of our son standing away from the window slightly and couldn't see him at all. I thought he had moved away before I could take the photo!: 
make a bathroom window private for cheap

I also love that you really can't tell half of the window is covered from the outside. I'm considering doing this on some other bathroom windows as well!

Here's how it looks from the inside: 
contact paper on window

There are window privacy films you can try that work well as well, but they are more expensive. You can also use spray paints -- this frosted spray paint is for windows, and this mirrored spray works as well. But they take a lot more prep and time. 

This method is also easily cleaned -- you don't have to baby it. I spray it with glass cleaner and wipe like the rest of the windows. 

There are so many places this would be useful!
  • If you have sidelights by your front door and want privacy, this is easier and more aesthetically pleasing than curtains.
  • It's a GREAT option for renter's -- just peel it off when you're done. 
  • This could even be used on glass shower doors, just be sure to place it on the outside of the doors. 
I can whip this quick project out in ten minutes and a whole roll is just a few bucks -- one roll will cover a whole door or multiple windows easily. Have you ever tried this easy private window trick? 


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Comments

  1. Got to do that in my family room side windows. They look out onto a block wall and are ugly. Frosting them will at least blue the wall.

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  2. What a wonderful idea! I have a BIG window in my bathroom over the tub and I took a bed sheet and cut it off lengthwise, got a curtain rod that expands and put that on the window. Maybe I'll get some contact paper and use that and if I wanted to, I could use the curtain also just to change the look sometime!

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  3. This is a good idea!

    http://the-renaissance-of-inner-fashion.blogspot.com

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  4. I've been an Environmental Graphic Designer for many years and have created and/or installed a TON of vinyl graphics. Add a couple drops of dish soap to your water when you spray the window. It helps keep the vinyl from sticking and you can move it around until you get it in place. Also buy a 5" squeegee vinyl application tool. It helps SO much! Trim edges off with an exacto blade and straight edge. One last tip, if you have any visible bubbles left after a day or 2 of drying, just poke the bubble(s) with a needle and gently squeegee over it. The vinyl should lay down and stick. I even use these tips when installing shelf paper in my cabinet drawers. Works like a charm!

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  5. I did this to our powder room window after I saw your post years ago, and it has held up perfectly! It is on the front of our house, so it really needed some privacy, but it's an octagon shape and blinds would have looked ridiculous. This was the perfect solution.

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  6. I have done this on a sidelight window at the front door. I am not a big fan of the curtains or narrow blinds that are made for these but def want my privacy. I cut the contact paper into arabesque shapes and created a really nice pattern that looked beautiful inside and out. Nice job!

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  7. Just a friendly FYI, translucent (clear) Contact paper can be found at the Dollar Tree for a buck! It was a great find when I needed to "frost" a window to obstruct the neighbors' view. :)

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