Cheap Shoji?
January 14, 2008 6:31 PM   Subscribe

I need a large sheet of thin but durable, mylar-ish translucent material in Toronto.

I'm making a big wood-framed screen to put in the giant window in our bathroom so our many neighbours can't see us every morning, brushing our teeth, in our underwear.
Kind of like a cheap, more durable shoji screen. I made a smaller version for a different window with a $6.00 24"x36" sheet of mylar I bought at Midoco, but that's the largest sheet they sell unless you want to buy an entire 36"-wide roll for $200 (they won't cut you a piece.) This one needs to be 30"x at least 32". I don't care if it's mylar or plastic or paper or whatever, but I want it to be translucent, patternless and colourless and I need to be able to staple or screw it to a wood frame. Also, it will be in a steamy bathroom.
I've checked Woofitt's, Curry's, Loomis and Toles, Japanese Paper Place as well as all the officey-type stores I can think of. Tomorrow I was going to try Kinko's or Astley Gilbert (architectural printer.) The only plastic at Home Depot was this really expensive window-alternative stuff. Oh and I looked at photography websites like Henry's and Vistek and couldn't even find any diffusion paper, but I may have missed it.
Any ideas?
posted by chococat to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You should be able to find a cheap shower curtain that fits the bill nicely.
posted by fish tick at 6:44 PM on January 14, 2008

What about some sort of fine mesh? You could stretch that tight in the frame, maybe slightly offsetting it if the mesh isn't fine enough.

Not sure how well this would work with dark outside/light inside and all that, though - kind of the way that people can see through your net curtains at night...
posted by Brockles at 6:47 PM on January 14, 2008

Is wax paper too opaque? That should hold up against the steam ok.
posted by backseatpilot at 6:58 PM on January 14, 2008

Pellon non woven fabric.
posted by hortense at 6:58 PM on January 14, 2008

I needed something similar, and happened upon it accidentally 3 weeks ago for significantly less money than I expected. For $1(US), I picked up emergency camping blankets. They are 6'x3' silvered plastic and translucent. Looks just like mylar. It's cheap enough that you could use several layers without breaking the bank. I found them at a local department store (Target), but you should be able to find them anywhere that sells camping supplies. Ooh..Amazon has slightly larger ones for a little bit more money.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 7:09 PM on January 14, 2008

I should also mention that they are very durable. I've been playing with one for a few weeks. I've had it stuffed behind a radiator and it hasn't melted. The cats have gone at it, and there are still no tears. (I see them being sold as "silver blankets", thermal blankets" and "mylar blankets" as well.)
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 7:13 PM on January 14, 2008

Best answer: You should be able to buy a suitable sized piece of mylar from any copy shop that handles architectural plans. I work for a construction company and we get copies of plans made on mylar all the time.
posted by moosedogtoo at 7:43 PM on January 14, 2008

I think I saw (maybe on Lifehacker?) people using bubble wrap for this exact purpose... it's translucent and has a kind of cool texture, so the light comes through the window with a nice bumpy pattern.
posted by allen8219 at 7:53 AM on January 15, 2008

Best answer: You should certainly be able to get a 30"x42" sheet of mylar from someplace. That's one of the most common sizes. As moosedogtoo suggests, try checking reprographics stores (not necessarily copy shops) that deal with architects, engineers or contractors. These stores might still have "blueprint" in their company names, although blueprinting is kind of a dead art.
posted by LionIndex at 8:53 AM on January 15, 2008

Try these guys.
posted by LionIndex at 8:55 AM on January 15, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone, great ideas all.
I had thought of the shower curtain/fabric angle, but my concern with such a big frame was that the material would start to buckle or wrinkle.
The Argo-Icc place Lionindex linked to was going to cut me a 3-foot sheet off their 36" inch roll for $18, which seemed a bit steep since a 24"x36" goes for between $4-$6. But searching for some of the terms in Lionindex and moosedogtoo's answers led me to a Reprodux location on St. Clair where he said "sure" but didn't know what to charge me. I went there this morning and he cut me a 36"x30" piece and couldn't figure out how to charge me on the computer, so he said, "is five bucks okay?"
So I paid him $5 cash. Awesome.
Interesting that it seems you simply cannot buy a 30"x42" sheet of mylar in the city of Toronto anymore. No problem in NYC, according to the sites I found.
posted by chococat at 8:39 AM on January 16, 2008

Interesting that it seems you simply cannot buy a 30"x42" sheet of mylar in the city of Toronto anymore. No problem in NYC, according to the sites I found.

That is odd, but I guess it's a symptom of the way the industry is headed. When everything was hand drawn, you'd be able to find an individual sheet no problem. I guess now that everything's done on computers and prints are made by scanning instead of blueprinting, it makes more sense to keep mylar in roll stock instead of sheets. I think the only reason they keep the 24x36 around is because that's the standard engineering drawing size (AKA a 'D sheet') for sewer and street improvements that the City does. At least in my area, a 24x36 mylar is the official drawing of record for things like that.
posted by LionIndex at 12:04 PM on January 16, 2008

Response by poster: Thought I'd post some pictures of the final result:

1, 2, 3 of the large screen that the question was about.
And the smaller screen, which I'd done first, for the basement.
posted by chococat at 7:14 PM on June 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

« Older Financial couples counseling in L.A.?   |   Student loan consolidation- so what? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.