Introduction: Paper Privacy Windows (window Frost Like a Boss)

Picture of Paper Privacy Windows (window Frost Like a Boss)

This is an inexpensive solution to add privacy to your windows while still allowing light through. This paper based window treatment is beautiful and has the added benefit of masking imperfections in the glass. We've used this method for our Makerspace, covering 3 storefronts which previously had visible scratches on the outside. The building has been around since 1931, so it's had plenty of time to collect imperfections.

It's non-toxic and easy to remove (read: kid friendly) and you can choose any color or design you wish!

Materials List:

Corn Starch

Tissue Paper

Paint Brush

Painter's Tape

Electric Kettle

Measuring Cup



Utility Knife


Step 1: Window Measuring and Marking

Picture of Window Measuring and Marking

After cleaning your window, its now time to decide how much of your window that you'll be covering. Those of you who wish to cover the entire pane(s) can skip ahead to step 2.

We wanted the top 22" exposed, so we measured down from the top of each pane and marked with painter's tape, checking for level.

Step 2: Preparing Your Materials

Picture of Preparing Your Materials

For the Paper: We cut various sizes of squares and rectangles, averaging roughly 6 inches on a side. There's really no wrong way to do this, though the smaller sizes are easier to apply accurately. You can also choose fractal pattern and other repeating crazy shapes and colors, but it's important to first test your tissue paper to make sure that the colors do not bleed.

For the Glue: Add 1TBSP Corn Starch to your measuring cup, then add 1 TBSP cold water and mix together with your brush. Once it has turned into an even consistency, stir in 3/4 cup boiling water. That's it, your glue is made and ready to apply to your windows.

Step 3: Application of Tissue Paper to Windows

Picture of Application of Tissue Paper to Windows

Working your way from top to bottom across the window, apply/paint your glue on to the window in small segments. Carefully place your previously cut pattern of tissue paper onto the window. Note: It's difficult to move the paper once it has been placed, so take your time in placing and if it's crooked sometimes it makes more sense to throw it away and apply the next piece that's ready.

Once the tissue paper is placed correctly, apply glue over the top of the paper. Each of our squares have an overlapping seam of approximately 1/4".

The paper will become less transparent as it dries.

It's ok to have some overlap when your reach the border of the window. This can be trimmed later, after the paper has dried. Just be careful not to glue it to your window frame!

Step 4: Checking Your Work

Picture of Checking Your Work

Once your tissue paper is dried it's now time for the last bit of finish work. Trim any excess paper sticking out on the edges of the window with your utility knife. Mix up and add more glue if any corners need to be re-stuck after trimming the excess.

Remove Painter's Tape and clean up any excess glue with a wet rag.

Step 5: Conclusion

Picture of Conclusion

You did it! Let us know if you have questions or anything to add in the comments below.


Yardster (author)2015-01-15

I love this idea. I have a question about using this technique to cut down on direct sunlight in a car. As a passenger who is knitting on long trips, I'm made very uncomfortable by the strobing of direct light coming through trees when the sun is low in the sky. I need an idea that will allow the driver to see traffic, but cut down the intensity of light contrast. Any ideas?

PamK50 (author)Yardster2017-07-06

You will not need to remove film to adjust windows if you take a ruler or other straight edge,cut an extra 1/2 - 3/4 inch in length Carefully wet and tuck down under window guide/ the fuzzy thing at bottom of window.Carefully smooth with a thin sturdy object and allow to dry.Good luck

johsou (author)Yardster2015-01-15

you would need to have the passenger window tinted as it must still be see-thru. there are films available in various degrees of tint. some countries do not allow the front windows of vehicles to be tinted or only tinted to a certain level. check before you have it done (unless you'd prefer to knit in the back seat)

Yardster (author)johsou2015-01-16

Does this also apply to the curtains I see suction cupped to the glass? I can't recall if I've only seen them in the backs of cars for babies seated inside.

supear (author)Yardster2015-01-16

You can buy one way film, window cling (google it) that can be put on with water, you'd have to take it off if you were to roll the window down though, I think...I'd say never block the view of the driver! This film is see thru one way and mirror on the other, but this is difficult in your case becasue what ever blocks the sun enough for you, would not be very see thru.

dr_peru (author)2015-01-14

Nice! If you want to do this faster, there is another good method:

Take a cup of natural yoghurt without sugar and fruits, thin it down with cold water until it has the consistency of usual wall paint (buttermilk also works).

You can now paint your windows with it from the inside using a paintbrush or -roller. It will smell a bit like yoghurt until it is dried (not longer than a day or two though).

If you don´t need it anymore, you can just remove it with a wet towel or scratch it off without any traces.

This method might sound a bit yucky, but actually it´s not unhygienic as long as you don´t start licking your windows (beware you Aphex Twin fans!). Actually dairy products have been used as a buildunig material, e.g. for insulation, for centuries if not millennia.

I learned about this very cheap and effective method some years ago when I wanted to project movies in a Galleryspace I used to work in (also had the benefit, that I did not have to buy a projections screen, as the windows - unlike many walls - were perfectly flat).

jarikcbol (author)dr_peru2015-01-14

Another easy route is the shelf-stable milk (I think one brand is called Parmalat). Because its ultra-pasteurized, it does not have much noticeable smell as it dries. Milk is nice for this also because you have a little wiggle time to adjust things while its still wet. I've used it to fix paper labels to bottles, just wet the paper with milk, stick it on, position, and let it dry.

fzumrk (author)jarikcbol2015-01-15

I wonder how well that would work for beer bottles? It would be nice to put labels on my homebrews, but I usually don't want to go to the trouble of printing adhesive labels and then having to scrape them off the bottles when I reuse them. I'll think I'll try this with some labels printed on plain paper and adhered with milk. It should be much easier to clean off than adhesive.

msm1981 (author)fzumrk2015-03-22

Great idea, and the comment below will ensure you don't get bleeding...

jarikcbol (author)fzumrk2015-01-19

I actually used it to label some bottles of 'quick mead' I made. The trick is to have the labels printed with a laser (toner) printer, because the ink in those is actually plastic, and fuses with the paper. If you use a inkjet printer, the milk will cause the ink to run, because its water based. If you don't have a laser printer, (most of us don't they are expensive) just have copies of your label run off at say, Kinkos, or whatever copy-center/printer you have locally. Copy machines use toner, and the resulting prints should work fine. If you don't have a copy center, often Grocery stores will offer copies, but at some insane price like 25cents per page.

fzumrk (author)jarikcbol2015-01-21

Good advice. I have a laser copier at work I can use.

Laserbird (author)dr_peru2015-01-14

Thanks for the comment. It's an interesting, albeit slightly unnerving, idea. :)

zoebatty made it! (author)2015-01-23

So far so good. The window is still drying. Thank you posting such a clever idea.

Wild-Bill (author)2015-01-17

I lived in a place with a store front and this would be a very effective solution. I am a great hater of curtains and blinds. On a redesign of my current house I had a problem with what to do with the windows where the bathroom now was located. My daughter came up with what I feel was an elegant solution. Something similar would work well here adding a design element to your solution.

Laserbird (author)Wild-Bill2015-01-20

Your frosted city scape looks great. Let your daughter know that we approve!

Katie Green (author)2015-01-17

So simple, yet so lovely!

Laserbird (author)Katie Green2015-01-19

Thanks very much!

paappraiser (author)2015-01-19

If your windows get condensation I would use some watered down cheap watered down acrylic paint. I say cheap paint as the pigments are not as dense.

supear (author)2015-01-16

This is fantastic, can't believe I haven't seen something like this before, such a great idea! Thank you for sharing it!

shantinath1000 (author)2015-01-16

Would mixing borax into the glue solve the problem of mold and roaches?

Laserbird (author)shantinath10002015-01-16

For the sake of simplicity, salt may be the best solution. If we notice any discoloration not related to UV exposure, we'll be spraying the treatment with salt water and letting it dry. Borax would work but its not kid friendly.

rlove4 (author)2015-01-16

Thanks for that Laserbird-M, how does it fair with water / cleaning product running over it when cleaning the clear area at the top?

Puting salt in with the mix would make it anti-bacterial, would it not?

Yardster - I wonder if you know that the fitted sun visors that flip down over the top of the windscreen also detach from the fitting towards the centre of the vehicle and swivel round on the other fitting to block light from the side window but are high enough to let the driver still see out.

ptuny (author)2015-01-15

If you are worried about Roaches and mold, you can use clear liquid " Glazing pouring medium" (made by Goldens or Liqiutex, available in any craft store.)

JW7 (author)2015-01-15

Bacteria and molds will grow wherever they have food, water and light. Windows always have light, and condensation provides the water. Food-based adhesives need to have some sort of biocide or preservative added to them to avoid unsightly stains or even bad smells. Commercial starch pastes normally have that kind of ingredient added. You used to be able to get milk-solids-based paints, and they often had an additive of that type in them, too.

Maybe this idea would work well with sodium silicate solution, also known as water glass, as the adhesive. Water glass has no food value, so the only concern then would been the food value (to the microbes) of the paper. If the paper is saturated with the water glass, that shouldn't be a problem.

I'd be cautious about the yoghurt idea, in particular. Spoiled milk is smelly.

Spokehedz (author)JW72015-01-15

I wonder if the UV would kill the bacteria since it is like in the window and all that.

JW7 (author)Spokehedz2015-01-15

The very shortwave UV that is lethal to some kinds of microbes is mostly blocked by soda-lime-type glass, as is used in normal windows. To pass that kind of UV, you need quartz glass. Way too expensive for a window that you're going to frost with paper and glue.

Spokehedz (author)JW72015-01-15

Oh. Thanks!

mfiscarcrazy (author)2015-01-15

This is awesome! I cant wait to try this on the windows in the front of our house!

Thanks for a great instructable!

MichaelE7 (author)2015-01-15

I was thinking how interesting that might look if you used different colored tissue paper and maybe in different patterns, almost like stained glass...

wobbler (author)2015-01-15

I like the simplicity of this, having tried putting film onto windows before. The end result looks good. Does it have any issues regarding mould growth?

Laserbird (author)wobbler2015-01-15

We've not had any issues with moisture or mold and we're in an historic Portland building built back in the 30's. That said we wouldn't recommend this project for a bathroom or kitchen, where steam is regularly present.

There may be another technique that combats moisture by adding iodized salt to the glue mixture. This has not been tested and may not work. Another option could be to apply a fixative spray to the final product.

andrewgilmartin (author)2015-01-15

If you are OC (and maybe D) you can draw alignment lines on the glass outside. and wash off when done.

This is a good idea, especially if you're planning something more intricate like a specific fractal pattern.

jmcgarey (author)2015-01-15

I'd be interested to see what it looked like with a variety of colors of paper. I can envision it looking like a giant stained glass window?

Laserbird (author)jmcgarey2015-01-15

Great minds think alike. :)

Yes, this is the idea. We're thinking about adding a 1-3 inch border of colored tissue paper on the corner windows of the building on the top border of the tissue paper that is there now. If we go ahead with this plan we'll be sure to take pictures and upload them here, as well as relay any caveats we encounter along the way.

Seagrey (author)2015-01-15

A perfect combination - aesthetics and utility. I'll try this on the bottom 1/2 of the bedroom window. Thanks for the great instructable!

Suslee (author)2015-01-15

I'm going to do this on my front door which is 3/4 glass. My house is a Craftsman, so the geometric look should go well with the rest of the style.

xUNMERITEDx (author)2015-01-14

Looks nice; but what if condensed water goes on your windows?
Won't it just come off? As it is not a real grippy ground to bond on an paper is porous enough to adapt the water...

(sorry for the bad English; not my native tongue ;P )

Laserbird (author)xUNMERITEDx2015-01-14

Thanks for the comment. Applying this to a bathroom, where condensation is fairly regular is not advisable, but that's the only limitation we've found. Tissue paper will insulate and change it's humidity to match that of the inside, so it's really not a problem. That being said, ymmv. We're in Portland, Oregon, which is fairly humid year round. Our installations have all been holding up well on both glass and acrylic for quite a while.

xUNMERITEDx (author)Laserbird2015-01-14

Thank you for the reply! ^^

Here in Holland it's rainy all the time and a lot of buildings have still some single glazing; these are some real damp attractors x)

I will try/do this sooner or later; it's really neat, simple, cheap, environment-friendly and got this nice industrial look :3
What does one want more?

I just hope it will work on the single glazed windows as well ;)

BeachsideHank (author)2015-01-14

Shoji moderne glass, looks great.

Laserbird (author)BeachsideHank2015-01-14

You're right, it does look kind of like Shoji Paneling, we hadn't noticed before.

doc.kennedy (author)2015-01-14

Great job and good instructions!

Laserbird (author)doc.kennedy2015-01-14

Thank you so much! We're glad you like it.

seamster (author)2015-01-14

Wow, that photo in the last step says it all!

I love the neat, unique look of this, aside from the excellent function. Very nicely done!

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