Privacy glass and windows are a dynamic element in creating contemporary spaces, allowing the control of visibility and light within interior designs. With its transformative capabilities for modern architecture, there are certain to be advantages and disadvantages when it comes to reshaping a home. We spoke to Brian Quick, Product Manager at Andersen Corp, Nicole Willits, Strategic Product Initiatives & Sustainability Manager at Pella and Ashley Ridenour, Marketing Manager at ProVia, to gain more insight into privacy glass and windows, diving into their functionality, aesthetics and trends within the design community. Check out their answers below:
Why do builders, architects and remodelers use privacy glass and windows?
Andersen: Builders, architects and remodelers are increasingly turning to privacy glass and windows in response to a growing trend among homeowners as they look to incorporate more windows, particularly larger ones and doors, into virtually every room of their homes. This architectural choice allows for increased ventilation and the infusion of natural light, which can significantly enhance the overall ambiance of any living space. However, with larger windows and increased glass space, it can feel like your private life is on display in some spaces. In such cases, privacy glass offers a practical solution, allowing you to obscure window views without sacrificing the valuable benefits of natural light.
Pella: Innately privacy and obscurity glasses are used when there is a need for some degree of visual concealment, while still achieving natural light. For residential home builders, we often see privacy glass used in windows that may be located in a shower or sauna, as well as on front entry doors. For commercial projects, privacy glass can give architects another tool to maintain a consistent exterior aesthetic while hiding what may be on the inside of the building. A commercial project may have a very symmetrical design where the window elevation from the outside calls for a consistent line of evenly spaced windows. However, the engineering requirements of the building may require a structural beam or column to be placed directly behind one of the windows. Privacy glass can be used to hide those structural components from an exterior view.
ProVia: Typically, the homeowner has a desire for privacy and security in windows that are at ground level or in areas of personal vulnerability in their home. Privacy glass obscures the view, so outsiders cannot see clearly inside, and will not be able to clearly discern a homeowner’s possessions or activities. Privacy glass is typically used for bathroom areas and front entry doors to limit visible exposure from the exterior. However, beauty is also a consideration. Sunlight passing through different types of glass creates a very desirable aesthetic effect.
Photo Credit: Pella
What privacy window styles are available to your customers?
Andersen: For customers seeking privacy window solutions, there are several styles and options to consider. Specialty glass options are designed to obscure views into and out of windows, while permitting natural light to filter through. Some privacy glass is designed to create a textured appearance, making it more opaque and less transparent. This style is useful in bathrooms where traditional curtains and blinds may not be ideal or block too much light. Homeowners can choose from patterned or tinted glass options to achieve the desired level of privacy without compromising light quality. Among the available patterned glass options from Andersen, there are several decorative choices to choose from, including Cascade, Fern, Obscure, Reed and Satin Etch.
Pella: We provide a variety of frosted, obscure, textured, reflective and patterned options available across multiple materials in windows and doors. Most availability in windows is standard in obscure, frosted or reflective, as well as Low-E paired options. Blinds and shades between the glass are another offering that allows the homeowner more control for daily usage.
ProVia: We offer several styles of privacy glass for windows, with varying levels of obscurity: Gluechip, Taffeta, Waterfall, Chinchilla, Obscure Pebble and Frosted.
Photo Credit: Andersen
Are certain window colors preferred?
Andersen: Satin Etch stands out as one of Andersen's most preferred privacy glass options. It offers a smooth and sophisticated appearance while providing a high degree of privacy by obscuring views. The minimalistic, modern look makes it a top choice for homeowners looking to balance privacy and natural light. Tinted glass is another option that can offer privacy while adding a touch of color. Depending on the specific product, homeowners can choose from various colors like gray, bronze and green.
Pella: Architects, designers, and builders alike are all interested in the best Visible Light Transmittance (VLT) in home design. Color within the types of glass used to create privacy through pattern or obscurity will come into question, especially as coordination with non-privacy glass across the home comes into play. Pella Architectural Solutions does work with builders to make sure nuanced considerations like this are addressed in the planning process. As for interior/exterior frame colors associated with privacy glass, it is as wide of a range as any of the customization options for a customer across the window ordering spectrum.
ProVia: White has always been the most popular vinyl window color; however, a black exterior or all black window is trending right now.
Photo Credit: Pella
How much light do these windows produce in comparison to other types?
Andersen: The amount of light produced by privacy glass largely depends on the type of glass, size, and design chosen. Compared to traditional opaque window coverings like curtains or blinds, privacy glass can maintain a significant level of natural light. It achieves this by diffusing the incoming light rather than blocking it entirely. The result is a bright and welcoming space while preserving your privacy.
Pella: Patterned and obscure glasses diffuse light more than clear glass but do so differently. Pattern or textured glass may feature raised or caned patterns, which create more dynamic light, and fractal glass patterns. It impedes visibility, without reducing the levels of light emission. Obscure glass is usually the opaquest, allowing for the most privacy with softer natural light.
ProVia: In most cases the privacy film does not affect the amount of light broadcast through the glass. The visible light transmittance would be the same as a clear pane of glass.
Photo Credit: Pella
Is size something that affects homeowners’ buying decision?
Andersen: Homeowners increasingly opt for larger windows and doors in various areas of their homes. These expansive openings create a sense of increased space and allow more natural light to flood into living spaces. This trend aligns with the desire for well-lit, open-concept interiors that connect with the outdoors.
Pella: Design trends in today’s environment are most definitely driving builders to use larger and larger sizes within their projects. This is a trend that we expect to continue, and for good reason – people are spending more time at home and have a higher expectation of what that home needs to do for them. Incorporating bigger windows and doors allows for spaces to feel bigger than they are as well as allowing natural light to flood the room. Homeowners in the replacement space are often seen trying to highlight or open spaces with light, and we have seen spaces with nook windows in showers or for kitchen windows with less-than-ideal views utilizing opacity in tandem with soft light for the space.
ProVia: Yes, privacy glass is an upgrade that adds to the cost of a window, so size can play a part in the homeowner’s purchase decision. Typically, the main considerations are privacy and aesthetics.
Photo Credit: Pella
Are privacy windows more likely to be used in certain rooms of a home?
Andersen: Privacy windows find their most common and practical applications in specific areas of the home, including:
• Bathrooms: Privacy is paramount, making privacy glass a preferred choice for windows in this space.
• Closets: Privacy glass in walk-in closets or dressing areas provides ample natural light without sacrificing privacy.
• Areas close to neighbors' windows: In situations where homes are closely situated, such as in urban environments, privacy windows can help maintain a sense of seclusion in living rooms or kitchens.
Pella: Privacy windows are most common in bathrooms – inside of a shower or sauna, especially on the first floor of homes or inside of a compact development. Privacy glass is often added to the front entry door. It is most associated with spaces that may not be suited for curtains, like a bathroom but can also be used in areas where privacy is preferred like a bedroom or nursery. It is often a homeowner choice, as either side lights or glazed front entry door options to give homeowners style and privacy options for a large opening in the home.
ProVia: Definitely – bathrooms, bedrooms and basements tend to be popular areas for privacy glass. Homeowners get a better sense of security when their windows are obscured so outsiders cannot see their valuables or observe their daily habits.
Photo Credit: Pella
What are some of the new trends you’ve witnessed for privacy windows this year?
Andersen: One notable trend we've observed this year is the increasing use of privacy glass in showers. Homeowners are recognizing the value of natural light even in such private spaces and are opting for windows, both big and small, featuring privacy glass. This trend allows them to enjoy the benefits of abundant natural light while maintaining a sense of seclusion in the bathroom.
Pella: We see the shifts in density in both urban restoration and suburban new construction pushing homes into smaller footprints. It can mean floorplan layout changes (making above street level living spaces), changing the locations of the windows (high fixed windows, low/floor-level windows or obscuring glass through textured, patterned or frosted glass). We continue to see film applications in both DIY application options and highly “smart” incorporations (switchable glass, projection glass) refine and pique the interest of the industry partners as well as adventurous builders and homeowners.
ProVia: We incorporate our Art Glass on a privacy glass pane to allow customers more options and opportunities to customize their home’s curb appeal. Frosted or acid etched glass has gained popularity in a few markets, mostly with modern style entry doors.
Photo Credit: ProVia
With privacy glasses and windows playing a pivotal role in interior and architectural design, it’s important to connect with manufacturers you trust. Learn more about window manufacturers who can help you actualize the vision for your home: https://www.openuptoperformance.com/manufacturers/
Understand the benefits of window, door and skylight certification and how certified products can enhance your projects.
View our list of window, door, and skylight manufacturers.
The Understanding Window, Door & Skylight Certification webinar is designed to help architects and remodelers understand the benefits of window, door and skylight certification and how certified products can enhance their projects.
Find window, door, and skylight manufacturers.