How We Saved $175 on Window Treatments

by Kevin on April 5, 2008

See results of our window treatments at the bottom of this post.

Our house has two thin windows next to the front door that look into the foyer. When we moved in we didn’t think much of them. However, the way the house is designed you can see all the way into the living room if you were standing at our door. That really ruins the “walking around in your underwear” part of owning a home.

Once we realized we needed to cover the windows, we thought of our options: blinds, curtains, or something else. We walked around the neighborhood to see what other folks had done. Mostly we saw open windows without coverings, and blinds.

The problem with blinds and curtains is how to mount them above the door. We have a rounded window above the door rather than dry wall, and it would be weird to cover that up. Blinds can be expensive too. We had Lowe’s install all of our blinds throughout the house. The charge to have the guy come out to do it was $35, on top of the cost of the blinds. We set aside $200 to take care of this need figuring that we would need to order two more sets of unique blinds, plus installation.

We took a walk down the window aisle and discovered what is called window film. Essentially it is a large roll of material that you stick to the window similar to tint for car windows. There are several different kinds. The styles range from tinted to frosted to stained glass. We ended up buying a frosted style from a brand called Gila. Cost? $20.

Installation is somewhat complicated, but if you have two people it works out pretty well.

Here’s what you need:

  • a lint-free cloth (or coffee filters)
  • a sprayer bottle (an empty Windex bottle that is really cleaned out will do — don’t use Windex, it is ammonia based and that can ruin the film)
  • baby shampoo
  • a couple of towels
  • a credit card
  • a razor blade

There was a display right next to the film that offered a “film installation kit” for $8 or something like that. It included the “special liquid” that you would need to keep the film wet for installation, a lint-free cloth, and a squeegee. That special liquid is essentially soapy water. We picked up a new sprayer bottle and baby shampoo for maybe $2. I had everything else on hand.

Basically this is how it works: clean the window really, really well. It has to be spotless and lint-free. (Anything left on the window will cause bubbles to form under the film). Put a small amount of baby shampoo (perhaps 1 tsp.) in the sprayer bottle, fill the rest with tap water. Place the towels around the window to catch dropping water. Cut the film (per included instructions) to fit your window.

Now, this is where it gets kind of complicated. You are going to wet the window with your sprayer bottle, remove the backing from the adhesive side of the film, and put the film on the wet window. After that you wet the film down on your side as well. Make sure the window and film stay constantly wet. This allows you to slide the film around on the window to get it into place.

After you’ve got it into place you will squeegee the water and air bubbles out from the center of the film to the sides. If there isn’t enough room on the sides (the film is flush with the window frame), use a razor blade and the edge of the credit card to give yourself a 1/16″ edge all the way around. Squeegee it out a few times, and leave it alone. Wait a few days and the film will be securely stuck to your windows.

In the end, we spent at most $25 for doing it ourselves. I’m not saying it is a perfect substitute for blinds, but it really does block visibility into the house.

Pros:

  • Mission accomplished. Underwear walking can re-commence.
  • We saved $175 off of our budget expectations. I don’t know if those expectations were reasonable, but it was definitely inexpensive.
  • We didn’t really like the blinds or curtains we saw, and we like how this looks.

Cons:

  • Semi-permanent. I would imagine it would be difficult to get it off of the windows. Perhaps not, I’m not educated enough to know.
  • No way to peek at an unknown visitor at the front door. This is the only downside I see. We could cut a peephole into one side, I suppose.

Overall we are very pleased with the results which you can see below. Has anyone else used window film on their household windows? (And who loves the wreath my wife picked for spring?)

View from outside the front door. View from inside the house.

On Monday I’m going to share with you how much house we actually buy each month. Stay tuned.

{ 2 comments }

Philip April 7, 2008 at 10:57 am

Do you know if this stuff creates any sort of thermal barrier, to increase your energy efficiency in your house? I know they make some stuff that is very similar that is supposed to do just that.

I see for the windows you have being that narrow those work well and blinds hanging that far would look odd. I am about to order some blinds to cover my entire house. I am afraid it is going to be quite costly. I need to find out and budget it in.

Window Film March 29, 2012 at 2:23 pm

If you get a solar film it will create thermal barrier and help kee the house cooler. Its definetly something you can do yourelf if your handy and have the time.

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