Summer Project: Frosting a Plexiglass Window

Ode to an Opaque Window

 

This is really a Work in Progress. IZ and I have been contemplating replacing the very scratched plexiglass window on our porch for an opaque or frosted version to help provide some privacy. It’s not an inexpensive project and there are other things in line that need to be done around the house, so we’ve not moved on it. 

But then the neighbors took down privacy hedges a month ago and wow do we feel exposed! We hadn’t realized how much their hedges had provided a visual break and shielded our property. Now, we feel like the porch is a fish bowl. And that point was driven home when another neighbor mentioned her shock at seeing us on our porch one morning, while we were drinking coffee. It wasn’t a complaint as much as she hadn’t noticed our sitting arrangement on the porch from her yard before.

 

Grab a book? A cup of tea? Settle in for a quiet read.

 

While I’m fairly certain we’d love having an opaque window in the space, it’s still a big investment and probably not on this year’s agenda. So, I started doing some research on how to “frost” plexiglass as a make-shift solution. Something that will give us a chance to live with the idea without committing funds to something we might regret. 

Originally, I thought I would just “etch” the window like glass. But that’s not possible with plexiglass. Your options are have it sandblasted, use a sander on it, or spray paint it.

Yeah, you heard me, spray paint it. Rust-Oleum makes a product called Frosted Glass Spray that can be used on plexiglass. (though, it’s not mentioned on the can, google assures me it’s ok!) You can pick up  Frosted Glass Spray at your local hardware store for about $5 a can. I had also read online that a can would cover about 20 square feet, so I initially bought 2 cans to complete my project.*

I’m not completely enamored with the results. But it’s a huge improvement over what was there previously. And I think it might be the inspiration I need (read: Kick in the pants) to finally make a bench cushion. Because those slatted seats are oh-so-unkind to the posterior. But really, doesn’t it look like a nice place to read a book? You know, without being watched. 

Photos of the process, step by step, below the fold.

 

This was the view “before” with the window taped off. I taped the molding first. A bit of a fish bowl, eh?

 

How to Frost a Plexiglass Window:

What you will need: Painter’s tape, paper (newsprint will work) rag, Frosted Glass Spray (enough to finish your project*) and a face mask, a drop cloth (again, newsprint would work).

*My window was approximately 35 square feet. I ended up using 3 cans and honestly, it could have used a 4th. But that’s for a heavily opaque window. If you want more translucency, you could get by with less. Sometimes, less is more. 

First, I gave my window a good wipe down with a dry rag. If your window is really dirty, make sure you clean it first. We’d just finished our spring clean of the porch, so all I needed to do was knock down a bit of dust.  Then I taped off the molding of my window.

 

First Can: First Coat 

Then I added a paper skirt around the tape line. You need something to spray “past”. I should have used an additional drop cloth for the floor. This product produces a great deal of “dust” so make sure you’re wearing a mask too!  

This is the first coat. Each can covered the window twice. You want to actually spray two “wet” coats at once. Just go over your work twice and then wait 10-20 minutes before you start the next can. 

Second can: 4th coat

While spraying you want to spray past the edges. Layer each pass so you don’t end up with too many “start” spots. It’s impossible on a window this size to be completely even, but try to keep your distance consistent. The end result looks a bit like rice paper.

 

3 cans later: six coats. I think it could use a 4th to get it really even, but I’m moving on, folks. Because perfection is overrated. 

Tips: before you start a can, test spray on something else to make sure there are no clogs. The first two cans I had were perfect. So, it didn’t occur to me to test. Well, can #3 spayed little bubbles onto my window. Um. Not cool. And unlike regular spray paint, it won’t level out if you make another pass while wet. Once you get a bubble, or a streak, or anything, you’re stuck with it. 

Also, if you end up hating it, you can remove this Frosted Glass Spray with acetone. I haven’t attempted that yet on the Plexiglass, but I suspect it would work. It would probably “etch” the plexiglass, but our window was already severely scratched, so there’s no risk for us. But something to think about if you have a brand new window. 

You’ll notice the photos were taken on different days; the first photos are sunny. I finally got around to shooting the last photo today, which is grey and wet. You cannot use the product on a rainy day. So, don’t let the photo fool you. Humidity should be below 85% if you want this product to adhere properly. (not to mention dry!) 

All told, this was a pretty easy project. And the results aren’t too bad. The smaller your project, the better. I think the spray works best if you can cover the entire width of your project in one pass. And you’ll get better results if that’s the case. 

Good luck with it! And if you frost a plexiglass window, leave me a link in the comments. I’d love to read your tips/ideas and see your results. 

7 Responses to Summer Project: Frosting a Plexiglass Window

  • IZ says:

    Great tutorial! The “rice paper” look has really grown on me and it is *infinitely* better than the view before. Three cheers for PRIVACY!

    In the long run, I’ll probably want to go ahead and place a piece of frosted glass in there – but until then this is a great solution and lets us focus our cash on other projects – we have plenty of them. (I hear the “great wall” has some cracks that need tending…)

    • Wende says:

      Yeah, the great wall is a MUST do this summer. But um, I’m thinking August since we’ll need at least 3 days of no rain.

  • Neat to see you live on a flat street, I just assumed you lived on some crazy kind of hill! 🙂 And yes, I noticed the sun and the rain in your pictures, haha… The window looks great for a temporary fix, we have a porch similar to yours and love spending time out there, rain or shine!

    • Wende says:

      No, You were right! We do live on a crazy hill! On top of hurricane ridge in fact. Our house is where the slope begins to go downhill. So, all those houses out looking west are on flat land, but if you look south or east, it’s a very steep hill. Sigh. But, I guess that’s how you get a view. 😀

  • Julia says:

    What a great and inexpensive idea…I love it! Now you can enjoy coffee on the porch without being exposed to your neighbors. I love the floral print pillows on the bench. Did you make them?

    • Wende says:

      Thank you, Julia. I didn’t make the pillows. I bought them ages ago before we moved to Astoria. I want to say at Marshall’s? But it’s been so long, I just know it was some store in California. Not helpful, I know. I actually bought them because they reverse to this really pretty pale red ticking, and that charmed me!

  • Margaret says:

    It looks like a lovely and private nook! You are so creative. 🙂

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