What are some creative (and inexpensive) ways to temporarily (and only slightly) tint an apartment window?
October 20, 2010 12:01 PM   Subscribe

What are some creative (and inexpensive) ways to temporarily (and only slightly) tint an apartment window?

I work from home, and the window in front of my desk keeps me sane as I slave away in front of the computer for hours on end. However, the morning and afternoon sun really puts a strain on my eyes. I have to keep the window closed until well into the afternoon (5:00 or so). :(

I'd like to use some sort of tinting method to reduce the amount of sunlight coming through the window, but I need help finding something inexpensive that will tint the sunlight just slightly. I don't think I need a huge reduction in sunlight, just a little bit. Please help!

BONUS points for you if you can think of something I can find for dirt cheap, or at a thrift store.

Some ideas I've had:
window tint (solar control) - specifically designed for this purpose but expensive
auto tint
tinted plexiglass
one-way mirror?
some sort of spray application on glass/plexiglass

Thanks so much! :)
posted by rinogo to Home & Garden (14 answers total)
You could tape a piece of cut-to-fit coloured cellophane to the window, but I'd think it would be best to put up a sheer or translucent curtain. You should be able to find a basic curtain at a thrift shop (cut it to the right size and hem it if you need to) and get a basic curtain rod for not much money at a discount store.
posted by orange swan at 12:11 PM on October 20, 2010 [3 favorites]

I think removable tint film would be your best bet. You can get it on Amazon, any auto parts store and probably Lowes or Home Depot.
posted by jenny76 at 12:13 PM on October 20, 2010

If you google" temporary window tint" you will get a number of options, most under $20. They look like the same stuff they use for those reusable "static cling" window decals. If so it is really easy to use; I just put up some whole-window Halloween decorations made of that vinyl stuff and it only took a few minutes with a squeegee and some soapy water in a spray bottle (this is one of them). You may want to look for something more like that as an option; you only need to block the part of the sky the sun is in and not the entire view. I don't know what sorts of decorative window clings are available, though.
posted by TedW at 12:17 PM on October 20, 2010

I would suggest a thin layer of water based acrylic paint (like craft paint). Pick a pale color (light blue, light yellow), and paint or sponge it on. You should be able to wash or scrape it off later.

For even less risk, pick a nice lightweight fabric, spray fabric starch on the window, and stick the fabric on -- like a curtain, but stuck to the window. When you want it off, just peel off the fabric and wash of the dry starch. Check out quilting fabric -- every color and pattern possible, and nice lightweight cotton.

I may do that on my office window.
posted by freshwater at 12:18 PM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

We've used this at home, but more for privacy than light-tinting. It's nice because it doesn't block the light much at all.

Rice paper taped to the windows works well, too.
posted by crush-onastick at 12:21 PM on October 20, 2010

I used frosted shelf paper once as a privacy screen for the windows of my apartment. I has one adhesive side and a 10' x 15" roll is about 8 bucks.
posted by TDIpod at 12:31 PM on October 20, 2010

Perhaps it's my irrepressible theatre tech side coming out, but lighting gel (or "filters") might be the answer to your prayers. There are a number of shades designed specifically for color correction (rather than, say, turning your window bright pink), and with a little double-sided tape, could be a quick temporary solution. Not only could you get the light reduction you want (with what's called a neutral-density filter), you could also adjust the color (or white balance) if you'd like.

Sheets of gel usually run about $6, and standard sheet size is 20" by 24". MeMail me if this sounds good and you'd like to talk about finding a place to buy gel and/or picking the right color. Good luck!
posted by hatta at 12:50 PM on October 20, 2010

I duct taped newspapers to one window. It ain't pretty, but does the job.
posted by ducktape at 1:11 PM on October 20, 2010

bubblewrap does a perfect job diffusing and reducing glare while still letting lots of light in. get some sheets from a packing store. cheap, effective, reusable.
posted by quarterframer at 1:20 PM on October 20, 2010

I had a lot of success with frosted shelf paper in a bizarre bathroom window in an old house.
posted by Zophi at 1:35 PM on October 20, 2010

I would paint it a light, cool color (white, maybe? light gray?) with DIY window paint. Mix equal parts paint (like a kid's tempera or something) with dish soap and just paint it on the window. It'll rub right off with a paper towel when you need to remove it.
posted by phunniemee at 1:50 PM on October 20, 2010

Another vote for the standard-issue frosted window film, readily available at home stores. Certain varieties are very reasonably priced, and although a little labor-intensive, quite worth it, and they actually seem to diffuse the light better in my place.

The stuff was helpfully suggested to me by my superintendent after she discovered the cat that I wasn't supposed to have, but she opted to spare me from the landlord.
posted by mykescipark at 4:28 PM on October 20, 2010

I've painted both windows, and light fixture globes, with watercolors & colored markers. The globes tend to fade over time, as the bulb heat dissipates the pigment, but you can make some quaint faux-stained-window effects quite nicely.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:34 PM on October 20, 2010

Link to your $16 fix
posted by iNfo.Pump at 9:19 PM on October 23, 2010

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