If you live in a city apartment, you know it’s not enough to have a lawn chair on the balcony to enjoy the outdoors. You need more than that – privacy! Whether it’s enjoying your morning coffee, evening workout, or a drink with friends, you can choose one out of several ways to keep your peeping Tom neighbors out of your business. No matter how small your balcony is, you can transform it from an open stage into a private paradise with these tips:
1. Balcony Curtains
Balcony curtains are an affordable and effective way to cover your balcony. Depending on the way your balcony is built, you can easily install these curtains with a tension rod, or curtain rods. It may take about an hour or so, but you won’t need to call in a professional.
Balcony curtains come in various styles and fabrics. Make sure you choose an outdoor-friendly fabric that’s Ultra Violet resistant, dries out quickly when it gets wet, and is fade-resistant. Remember that they should look good too, so ensure to match them with your apartment theme.
2. Green Screen/Foliage
Are you a green-fingered apartment dweller? Plants are a great way for you to make your balcony private especially if you already have a plant-based theme. Just don’t get too enthusiastic and go overboard. Your balcony shouldn’t be completely covered with plants for you to have privacy.
Acquire a couple of pots, large enough for tall plants to grow in – and place them along the length or width of your balcony depending on which side you want to cover. When the plants grow, you’ll have the privacy you need. Alternatively, you could buy grown plants.
3. Lattice Screens
The crisscrossed patterns in lattice screens are decorative enough for the low-key apartment resident looking for a simple way to keep their balcony private. The pattern on privacy fences is generally tighter than standard lattice to allow light onto the balcony while obscuring the view of prying eyes.
A treated wooden lattice screen is the best option as it can withstand the sun and other elements. It lasts longer than untreated wood or plastic. Also, you can paint the lattice whatever color you want to complement your apartment style.
4. Balcony Shutters
The school of thought that outdoor shutters are out of style is not valid. They add a classic look to your balcony while offering the privacy you need. The three most popular shutter styles for balconies include:
Fixed Shutters (With Adjustable Louvers)
The adjustable louvers are the major feature of these shutters as you can adjust them to let in the sun and some air while maintaining your privacy.
Roller shutters will keep your private sanctuary safe and dry from the rain. The best shutters to buy are the aluminum type because they are rustproof.
With sliding shutters, you can open up your balcony as much as you want. If you enjoy watching the sunrise or sunset, these shutters are perfect for you.
5. Bamboo Barriers
For a simple and uncluttered minimalist look, bamboo screens are the perfect option for your balcony retreat. The airy and exotic feel of bamboo will give your balcony a relaxed atmosphere. You can add freshness to it with a couple of living bamboo plants.
You can find bamboo pre-made screens in stores sold as rolls or panels. You can also use individual bamboo poles attached with stainless steel clamps. If you’re into DIY projects, you can easily make your own. Applying a bamboo protector will keep it from being damaged by the rain or sunlight.
6. Folding Screens
In ancient China, where folding screens originated, their core uses were for beauty (they had beautiful paintings on them), to prevent a draft in a room, and privacy. The purpose of privacy still applies today all over the world. Folding screens are a set of 3 or more frames or panels joined together with hinges.
You can place it on your balcony and remove it whenever you feel like it. The frame generally comes in wood or steel while the panel comes in various materials including polyester, bamboo, wood, and others. For polyester panels, you can choose or create various designs.
7. Wood Pallet Fence
Pallets are a versatile material used for chairs, beds, bookshelves, benches, and privacy fences too! They are conveniently pre-built into sturdy squares or rectangles with little assembly required. You can easily find second-hand pallets in your community, making them easy on your pocket.
Make sure you buy heat-treated and not chemical-treated pallets for safety reasons. You may need to sand it depending on how rough it looks. Brush them with a coat or two of your desired color of paint to bring life to your balcony. You can also add a few planters to create a herb garden.
More than providing privacy blinds also protect your balcony from direct sunlight and heat making it more comfortable. Shades or vertical blinds are the most popular kinds because they are affordable and easy to install and maintain.
Sliding panel blinds are another great option. They are made with flat vertical panels of fabric installed on tracks that slide from side to side. They come in various colors, styles, and patterns. If you have a busy theme going on, a neutral shade will work best.
How Do You Screen an Apartment Balcony?
Screening an apartment building has to do with a lot more than just privacy. It keeps out unwanted elements like a strong wind, rain, and direct sunlight. It also keeps pesky insects like flies and mosquitoes away. Screening stops your little ones from throwing objects over the railings.
Balcony screening provides a fresh and comfortable environment for you and your family or friends. Depending on what method of screening you use, you can still enjoy the view and fresh air in an enclosure. Before getting to work, make sure it’s allowed in your building or area.
1. Sliding Screen Doors
These screen doors work with a pre-installed railing and a track system that allows them to slide smoothly to close and open. Their main purpose is to keep bugs out of your home and installation costs anywhere between $100 and $1600.
You can easily install it yourself as most of them come in kits. You’ll need a screw gun or drill and wood glue to install the frame first. Alternatives to sliding screen doors that are popular with customers include magnetic screens, storm doors, fly blinds, and retractable doors.
2. Roll-Up Screens
An outdoor roll-up privacy screen is attached to the top of the balcony and can be lowered manually or automatically to whatever level you’re comfortable with. It blocks out unwelcome sun glare, increases privacy, and reduces the impact of strong breezes.
They mostly come in colors that can easily match your apartment’s aesthetic like white, black, beige, brown, silver, and black. Ensure that you apply a protective coating that protects its surface from dirt and other elements.
3. Curtain Screens
Curtain screens are a more affordable option than the other two. They are generally attached to the ceiling of the balcony with traditional nails. Sometimes hook-and-loop fasteners do the job and make it easy to remove and reinstall whenever you please.
The curtain screen hangs down in usual curtain form, creating a barrier. Many curtain screens have an option for an opening in the middle. This helps you to pull the curtain to either side. You can hold the curtain screen open with hooks and magnets and easily drop them for an enclosed balcony.
These are all great screening options, however, the curtain screens and manual roll-up screens are the easiest to install, compared with the others.
How Do You Enclose a Balcony for Winter?
As the temperatures start to drop towards winter, you might think that you should abandon your outdoor space but you don’t have to. You can still enjoy a hot cup of chocolate or eggnog on your balcony without being exposed to the ice, snow, and blistering cold that comes with the season. Here are a couple of enclosure alternatives you can use on your balcony for winter:
- Clear PVC tarps
- Outdoor waterproof curtains
- Heavy plastic
- Greenhouse plastic sheets (combined with fiber reinforcement for wind resistance)
Each option has advantages and disadvantages in terms of cost, functionality, and style, so you may want to look into what suits your space and needs before you decide on a method. The method you use will also depend on how your balcony is built.
How Much Does It Cost to Enclose a Balcony?
When deciding to enclose your balcony, you must put several factors into consideration. There’s no one size fits all approach here. The price of the project will vary according to the size of the balcony, personal taste, needs, type of materials used, and budget.
To have a clear understanding of how much you’re likely to spend, you answer the following questions:
- What quantity of materials will I need for my balcony size?
- Will my balcony require additional structures for the enclosure I want?
- Can I do it myself or will I need professional help?
If you’re sure of all the answers to these questions, you can easily calculate the prices and come up with the overall cost. Some store sites provide directions on how to measure the balcony accurately, the types of materials they have in store, and a cost calculator. Based on all the factors we’ve mentioned, you will spend between a few hundred dollars to almost $40,000.
Should I Remove Snow from My Balcony?
Your balcony might be the kind that’s set in the building or sticking out of it. Usually, the ones sticking out are culprits of piles of snow. Usually, you only have to remove the snow if it piles up about 3 ft high. Several apartment owners make it mandatory in the lease agreement for tenants to remove snow from their balconies.
A large amount of snow can affect the structure of your balcony putting it at risk of collapsing. If the balcony is wooden, the risk is even higher. Snow will not only destroy the balcony, but it will also compromise the whole building.
How to Remove Snow From Your Balcony
There’s a right way and there’s a wrong way to remove snow from your balcony. It’s a good idea to remove the snow before it’s too high to lighten the load. Let’s look at a few tips you can use to remove snow from your balcony:
- Do not use a metal shovel unless it has a rubber edge. A metal shovel will scratch, scrape and gouge the balcony floor, damaging it. Alternatively, you can use a plastic shovel or a broom.
- Place a mixture of hot water and salt in a watering can and water the snow to melt it. This works well if the snow is not too high.
- Shovel the snow into big buckets and pour it into your bathtub to melt it.
- If there’s no other balcony below you and there’s no one walking about, you can sweep or shovel it off to the ground.
- Use melting products from the store to melt the snow. Be sure to check that it’s safe to use on the balcony material (wood, concrete, etc). It should also be pet safe just in case they venture outside.
Check to ensure that you’re removing the snow correctly as per the lease agreement. Some agreements come with specific instructions on how to go about it.
Your balcony is part of your apartment and that means you should enjoy it too. Your neighbors can’t help but look at your balcony if it’s not covered. So why not use one of the methods we’ve discussed on how to make an apartment balcony private? It will make that space more usable and comfortable.
Some privacy options come with added benefits like bug control and sunlight or rain control. If you’re renting an apartment be sure to check in with your landlord or management for any installation work whether it requires drilling and affects the building in any way or not.