American How-To

American How-To
Official Publication of the Handyman Club of America

November/December 1999 – pp. 24, 26, 28:

Instant Privacy : Window wallpaper looks like etched glass

Club member SallyAnn Klingl loved the natural light that poured through the full-view storm door at her new townhome, but she didn’t appreciate the privacy she lost with the entry door open. Every time neighbors climbed their shared stairs, they could see clear through her living room.

The homeowners’ association had strict rules against making permanent architectural modifications, so replacing the door wasn’t an option. Fortunately, SaIlyAnn discovered a simple and affordable solution: Wallpaper for Windows™ from Decora’s EtchArt division.

Wallpaper for Windows™ is an 8-mil, trim-to-fit, translucent vinyl applique that makes ordinary glass look like decorative etched glass. Because it relies on static electricity rather than adhesive to cling, it’s easy to install and remove.

Increasing eye appeal and privacy are just a couple of the benefits of this product. The manufacturer says Wallpaper for Windows also blocks up to 95 percent of the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays. That keeps the home cooler and helps furnishings resist fading. And don’t forget, a decorative applique can obscure a lousy outdoor view as easily as it improves privacy indoors.

Wallpaper for Windows comes in several patterns and sizes to fit doors and windows. It typically is installed on the inside of the glass, where it will be protected from the elements. The exceptions are when applying the product to a shower enclosure or double-glazed insulated glass. Install the applique on the outside of a shower enclosure so it is easier to keep clean. Install it on the exterior side of insulated glass so reflected heat is not trapped between the panes. That can cause an insulated glazing unit (IGU) to crack.

Begin by measuring the glass you want to cover. Then choose a pattern you like in a size that fits. The standard door size is 32 x 74 in. Sidelite appliques are 16 x 74 in. You also can buy Wallpaper for Windows in 24 x 74-in, and 48 x 74-in. rolls. You can butt pieces against each other like regular wallpaper provided you take care to match the patterns.

The solid Frosted pattern provides the greatest privacy, while others such as the viney Eden or the scrolled Ritz pattern SallyAnn chose are more decorative. EtchArt also plans to introduce a multicolored stained-glass pattern sometime next year. Prices range from $30 for a 16 x 74-in, roll to $70 for a 48 x 74-in, roll. Each kit includes the applique, a small squeegee and installation instructions. You can find the product at wallpaper and paint stores, or you can order direct from EtchArt (see SOURCES).


Plan to trim the applique tin, narrower and shorter than the glass you want to cover to create a uniform 1/2-in., clear glass border all around. To lay out the cuts, first mark the middle of the pattern from side to side and top to bottom on the backing paper so the design will be centered or even when installed.

SallyAnn used a utility knife, a long metal ruler and a hardboard work surface to trim the applique along the pencil marks. For a smooth, straight line, do not lift the knife off the surface as you slide the straightedge forward. You also can cut the vinyl with ordinary scissors.

Before you mount the applique, wash the glass and your hands thoroughly. Next, mix a few drops of dishwashing liquid in a spray bottle full of water and mist the glass to wet the entire surface. Reverse-roll the applique for a few minutes to flatten the natural curl. Then separate the vinyl from the backing paper: This is what gives the appliqne its static charge and enables it to cling to the glass. SallyAnn first tried to peel back just a portion of the backing paper and position the applique on the glass, but she soon discovered that it worked better to remove the entire backer. That way she avoided tugging on the vinyl once she had pressed it against the glass.

Roughly center the applique on the glass using your hands and the centerline reference marks. Then mist the surface of the vinyl to serve as a lubricant. Work the air bubbles and excess water toward the edges by dragging the squeegee from the middle to the borders.

If an edge curls, the manufacturer recommends that you warm it with a hair dryer on low heat until it becomes pliable. Turn off the heat and hold the vinyl in place for 60 to 90 seconds or until it cools to room temperature.