Guide to choosing privacy window films

Contra Vision® Privacy Window Films™ are an attractive and clever way to hide the view into rooms, with applications in the home and at work. The one-way vision from inside the building is excellent and natural light is allowed into the room. The films are available in plain white or decorative designs to enhance the appearance of your building and also provide solar control benefits.

There are a range of different products options and choosing the right one is not always straight forward. It is important to set expectations upfront that there is no perfect solution to achieve one-way vision privacy in all lighting conditions. If the inside is illuminated and the outside is dark then the products will not work properly. Shining a powerful floodlight onto the outside surface of the window is a way to maintain privacy at night, however, this is not a realistic option in most situations. Otherwise blinds or curtains will normally be required to maintain privacy at night (sacrificing the view outside).

This page describes the main product options and their pros and cons. Contra Vision® Privacy Window Films™ offer a unique set of benefits which make them a great option in most but not all situations.

1. Etch or frosted films

Etch films come in many different varieties and in a range of quality. The films are guaranteed to provide privacy inside rooms but they also block the view outside (2-way privacy) although some daylight is allowed into the room.

The films tend to be made from a solid PVC vinyl and come with an adhesive backing which can be applied to either the inside or outside of the window. We would recommend inside window application to avoid rainwater finding a way to get underneath the film. The film is a little tricky to install for non-experts because unsightly air bubbles can get trapped.

This is the best option for bathrooms where 24/7 guaranteed privacy is essential and the view outside can be sacrificed.

2. Reflective/mirrored films

Reflective films give a shiny metallic look to the outside of buildings. This can be an attractive feature when coupled with modern architecture but is not to everyone's taste. The reflected dazzle/glare can also be a problem which is a major cause of bird collisions.

The films provide very good one-way vision privacy during bright daytime conditions and significant solar control benefits in terms of keeping rooms cooler in hot climates. At the night the films work in reverse: windows become mirror-like when viewed from inside an illuminated room and from outside the windows are see-through. This can be very disconcerting especially in the home.

Again the films are a little tricky to install without getting air bubbles trapped underneath.

Reflective films are the best option if solar control is the overriding consideration in hotter climates, and people inside do not mind the slightly eerie reflections you get at night.

3. Contra Vision® Privacy Window Films™

Our standard film appears as satin white from the outside, somewhere between a matt and gloss finish. The film consists of a perforated pattern of opaque areas covering up to 70% of the surface and transparent holes which account for the rest. The white side reflects natural light and shields the view inside in a similar way as net curtains. Blinds or curtains will normally be required at night to maintain privacy if the inside is illuminated.

The reverse side of the perforated film is typically coloured black. This gives the window a tinted look from inside and maintains excellent see-through: black absorbs most light rather than reflecting it, so the daylight coming from outside is dominating.

Unlike conventional window tinting, reflective or mirrored window films, Contra Vision® Privacy Window Films™ do not block the view outside at night (these other films become mirrors at night when looking from the inside). Contra Vision® Privacy Window Films™ also avoid the dazzle and uncomfortable glare from reflective/mirror films when viewed from the outside and help to minimise bird collisions.

Our perforated films are very easy to apply to windows because air bubbles do not get trapped underneath. Instructions and an applicator tool are provided.

An added benefit is a reduction in solar heat gain, glare and UV radiation. This can help offices, public buildings and homes to be more comfortable living environments with lower air conditioning costs.

If night time privacy is important then we offer a product variation which is translucent white from both sides (the view from inside is more milky compared with a black backing). This provides good privacy during the daytime and some privacy at night depending on the lighting arrangement inside the building. If you are looking for 100% privacy then blinds or curtains are still needed.


Contra Vision also offers a non-perforated option to achieve one-way vision privacy. White on black opaque areas are printed onto a transparent polyester film, in either a dot or fine line pattern.

Our secret is being able to print the white on black areas in exact registration (with no overlap) so that the white side does not look muddy and the view through the black side is not blurred by white edges.

A non-perforated film is more expensive and slightly more difficult to install but provides a beautiful and high quality finish.