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What to Do With a Window in the Shower

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A window in the shower can be a challenging bathroom design problem. Here is what we did with our window during a recent home renovation project.

obscured glass window in the shower area of a bathroom surrounded by white tile

Years ago, when I graduated from college, my first apartment had a window in the shower area.

Some Options For a Window in the Shower

  • Consider using obscured glass panes
  • Manage privacy issues with window film
  • Install a dimmer switch for your lights
  • Use a waterproof trim like Azek

It was the 90’s and the apartment was probably built in the 50’s.

The bathroom was small – and green. And we thought it was kind of a weird window placement. But the window was high and we also were on the second floor – so privacy wasn’t really a worry.

However, I was happy to move on to future showers without windows.

So, when we remodeled our bathroom recently, I was kind of annoyed that there was no way around window in the shower situation.

It just is not ideal.

Depending on the view that you have looking out – people standing outside will most likely have a similar view looking in.

And hanging up a blind or a shade is not really an option because of moisture issues.

As you can see, our window – unfortunately – falls smack in the middle of the shower.

obscured glass window in shower

Looking back, it all worked out. But at the time, I had to find a practical solution to this problem.

I also learned a thing or two along the way.

Know the Difference Between Frosted Glass and Obscured Glass

As a total novice – my first suggestion to my contractor was to put in some kind of frosted glass replacement panels.

It seemed logical.

However, the glass guy put me straight on that one.

The Problem With Frosted Glass

The problem with frosted glass is if the frosted side gets wet – the glass magically becomes quite transparent.

You can see out and people can see in.

If the frosted side was inside – that would never work.

If the frosted side was outside, you might be ok except during a rain shower.

Why Obscured Glass is a Better Option

The better choice, I learned – is something called obscured glass.

Obscured glass has a kind of textured side that obscures the view.

Is it 100% opaque? No.

But it’s the best choice that I found. I have even read on some glass manufacturer websites that you can choose the degree of obscurity.

I was not offered that option on my order – but it might be something to look into.

You Will Have Privacy Concerns at Night

For me, the obscured glass was a great option for the shower but I still had concerns.

During the day – it is near impossible to see anything inside the bathroom from outside.

But at night, when it’s dark outside and the lights are blazing inside you really can see someone standing right in front of the window.

Window Film Can Help

To solve this problem I turned to Amazon.

Here I discovered something called window film. It comes in many different brands, patterns and obscurity levels. Think of it as a huge vinyl cling that covers your whole window.

Since the textured side of my window faced out and the smooth side in, applying a window film was an easy option.

I purchased a brand that is applied with only soap and water. No adhesives, nothing sticky. So, if it didn’t work out then it would be easy to remove.

To get a better idea of what I chose you can look here: Artscape Etched Leaf Decorative Window Film at Amazon.

It adds just another level of privacy on top of the window in the shower that is already obscured.

Another common sense tactic is to install a dimmer switch on your bathroom lights.

When you take a shower at night then you can dim the lights.

Not only will you get a little more ambiance – but you will gain some privacy too.

Order Tempered Glass

Whatever you do, remember to order tempered glass panels for your window in the shower area.

God forbid the window breaks while someone is in the shower, at least they won’t be hurt by shards of sharp glass. Tempered glass still shatters but the edges of the pieces are smoother.

In fact, this is probably code in most areas.

Consider a Water Resistant Window Frame

If you are renovating the shower area itself, the window frame causes a problem too.

Obviously a wood frame is out of the question.

I really wasn’t sure what options were available.

I asked my contractor and he created a solution by installing Azek trim around the inside of the window.

This composite trim will not rot from repeated exposure to moisture.

And if he installs it by angling it away from your window you will eliminate the possibility of standing water on the window sill.

Caulk it up and make it water tight – again a good carpenter that is skilled with Azek is priceless.

And there you have it – some practical suggestions for dealing with an awkward bathroom design dilemma.

Do You Have a Window in Your Shower?

How do you deal with privacy and moisture issues?

My obscured glass is shown above without the window film – just to give you and idea of what that type of window looks like.

Leave a comment below and tell us about your situation.

Other Bathroom Decor Ideas

More Home Renovation Ideas

Well, we are at it again.

This time we are doing a complete kitchen remodel.

If you would like to follow along with our kitchen renovation here are a few articles:

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41 Comments

  1. Couldn’t you just use window film on the inside of the window and skip the obscured glass altogether, or is the film alone not effective enough for complete privacy?

  2. We are wanting to update our bathroom, we have an oval tub and want to put a shower attachment to our tub and put a curtain up. Our problem is we have a large frosted window by the tub almost the length of it. We know we need to replace the window and will probably go smaller. There is nowhere else to put a window in the bathroom except the wall where the bathroom tub is. Anyway, the other dilemma is that we live in Alaska where it could get -40- -50 in the winter. Hot water and glass does not go together so what do we do? How can we have light, natural ventilation in the summer, but not break it in the winter? Is there special windows that can handle it?

    1. Hi Lisa,
      Wow, the weather is really quite a challenge! I am not familiar with materials that would withstand such extreme conditions. But, I would think that contractors or home improvement stores in your area could give you some good advice.
      Best of luck with your project. 🙂

  3. Hi Neena – thank you for sharing your shower window experience! I wondered how your composite window trim is holding up a few years later? Has it stayed true to it’s original color? I see from the comments that this is a guest bath – could you estimate how frequently the shower is used? Once a week? Once a month? Less often than that? I am just beginning the estimate gathering process for my small bathroom remodel. In fact, the window might be the biggest thing in the room!

    1. Hi Kate,
      The trim is holding up well. We do not use this bath too often – probably once a month. However, we do have a similar Azek material outside on our deck and it is holding up fine out there.
      Good luck with your renovation!

  4. Hi. We are faced with the same dilemma. Old house with full size window. Have a claw foot tub that had a surround shower curtain. We are switching to a regular tub shower. This post has been most helpful. A few questions. Our options are to do what you did and keep the window or close off the window and just put in a tub/ shower surround. Did you consider this? Does your bathroom also have a dedicated ventilation system? Code here is if you have a window that can open you don’t have to have a separate vent. Does the film you used prevent you from opening it? Lastly did you do any of the work yourself? We are thinking for budget reasons doing the tiling as my wife is very good at meticulous things like that. ( not me lol) Thanks much

    1. Hi Keith,
      So –

      1. We did not want to close off the window because it is the only window in that bathroom and provides natural light which I love.
      2. That bathroom did already have a vent to the outside so that was not an issue for us.
      3. The film does not prevent the window from opening/closing. You use the window as you normally would.
      4. I was very involved in the design of the shower area and the selection of materials for the window in the shower – but I did not do any of the actual construction myself.

      I hope that helps. Good luck with your project! If you remember, drop back in when it is complete and let me know about your decisions and how it turned out.

      Thanks!!

    2. We have a fairly large window above our tub. We are going to be doing a remodel and the tub is going to converted to a shower. We live on acreage and the window looks out to woods. I love my window and would never think of getting rid of it. However, there are times when we have people walking in that area where they can see into that window. Our solution is to install a double hung window with built-in blonds. So we will have the ability to let light in, open the window if we want to let fresh air in or we can close the window and the blinds so no one can see in. Love it!

  5. Just bought a house that was built in the 70s and I’m running into this issue. Very large square shaped window in the shower. It is obscured glass that is textured on the inside, but at night you can definitely see the person showering. I like the idea of the window film but will it adhere to the glass if it is textured?

    1. Hi Olivia,
      Your shower window sounds like a tricky situation.

      Mine is smooth on the inside so I can’t really say whether the window film would work on a rough surface.

      Is your window on the first or second floor? If it is on the first floor, perhaps you could do something with the landscaping outside that could shelter the window. Just a thought.

      Sorry I couldn’t be of more help.

    2. No it won’t! I have the same problem. I plan on using tension ron with a cut down shower curtain. That’s all I can come up with.

    3. Hi Patty,

      Thanks for letting us know about your experience using window film on a textured window.
      I like your idea of the rod with the cut down curtain – it’s low tech but it does the job.
      You could talk to a glass person about replacing the panes in your existing window with obscured glass – which is the only other thing I can think of. We did this in our upstairs bathroom. I can’t remember how much it was, but it was less than what I thought it would be.
      My point is that if the estimate is free, then it is good to know all your options. 🙂

  6. Wondering if you know what type of window was used ? Manufacturer??
    Same situation for me and thinking maybe on 1/2 window privacy can the entire window not sure

  7. Same thing for me large window in tub shower area
    Planning on Harvey replacement window in vinyl with obscure glass and grids between the glass to match rest of house. Trying to decide if I should just use the obscure glass for just the lower window since it will be double hung . The bathroom is on the first floor and looks out to the backyard. I don’t want to lose a lot of natural light

    1. Hi Debbie,
      We also have grids on most of the windows in our home. However, I really don’t like them – I prefer without to let the maximum amount of light in. So, our shower window overlooks the backyard as well, and I did not get a window with grids.

  8. We are thinking about getting our windows re-done, and currently have a window in the shower with a shower curtain in front of it to keep moisture from it, and for privacy. I like the Azek/ privacy film option for the new window! Does water accumulate in the window tho, in the horizontal middle part where the lock is? I am wondering if it takes a lot of cleaning and will it get scummy? Thanks!

    1. Hi Amy,
      I don’t have a problem with water accumulating in the window – it is a vinyl window. Our bathroom is the guest bath so we don’t use the shower daily, but even if we did, I don’t think it would be a problem.

  9. This was very helpful but I’m still a little confused. I have a very large window in my bathroom that I am converting into a shower. My contractor suggested tiling around and inside the frame to make it waterproof, but I would still need something for privacy and love the product you used. I’m wondering if tile is a good idea vs the Azek Trim or is there a need for both…

    1. Hi Deborah,
      I would think that your contractor would have the best info for your particular situation. However, you might want to mention the Azek option to him. We don’t have a wide sill on our window, so the Azek worked well. Our contractor also angled the Azek trim slightly downward towards the inside shower, so water does not accumulate on the sill, which is a plus.

  10. Did you put the film on the inside of the shower or the outside of the window? I was thinking since eves cover the house, and we live in a place with little weather it might be less likely to come off outside verses all the steam/moisture on the inside. What is your opinion?

    1. Hi Renee,
      I put the window film on the inside of my window and I didn’t notice any trouble with moisture/steam. I suppose you could put it on the outside if the weather is mild but I imagine that it could get kind of dirty. Also, if the purpose of the window film is for privacy then if placed on the outside anybody could walk by and remove it, worst case scenario. While on the inside it is completely under your control. I guess my vote would be to put it inside, but every situation is different, so use your best judgment. Good luck, and let me know what you decide to do and how it works out.

  11. We are doing a remodel that will involve including a window in the shower. What brands of windows are best to use in the shower?

    1. Hi Lee,
      I really don’t have a recommendation as to brand. I believe mine was a generic brand. Just make sure that the glass itself is tempered for safety.
      Good luck with your remodel.

  12. I installed a window in my shower because there was no natural light in it. I chose a custom transom window. I set it about 4″ from the ceiling which put the bottom of the window approximately 6′ high. Privacy was no issue. It made all the difference with natural light. It’s a sliding window so it can be opened for fresh air or additional ventilation during a shower. A current standard window in a shower can usually be reconfigured easily to accommodate the privacy and natural light benefits.

  13. I hung a shower liner on a tension rod in front of the window but the same height as my shower curtain. When we shower we close the liner and open when finished. It takes care of both the privacy and moisture issue. I trimmed it to be about a foot below the window length. Hope this helps

  14. What is the surround/frame of the window made from (the white part that is holding the window glass in place, if that makes sense)? I think I understand that your contractor used Azek as the casing to frame out the window, but your window itself was not made with any wood?

  15. Hi there, I am having the same dilemma and note with interest the products you have used. I am located in Australia, so the product range may differ to what you have available….One question, has the obscure film in the internal window lasted over time with the moisture, or has it required replacement?
    Thanks for sharing your experience!

    1. Hi Emma,
      A window in the shower is truly a dilemma – such a great way to describe it.
      I wish I could give you a little more insight but we used the window film for a little while and then decided that we were getting enough privacy from the obscured glass (the actual window glass) and that the film was not really necessary.
      My best guess is that the window film will last a long time. I am sure that environmental conditions will make a difference – like humidity, ventilation, how often the shower is used etc.)
      I know that everyone’s budget is different, but the beauty of the window film is that it is easy and relatively inexpensive to replace if necessary.
      I hope that helps – and maybe some others can chime in with their experience too.

    2. I have a window in my shower as well – which I love for the natural light!! However, privacy was an issue, but never having thought of replacing the window, duh (lol), we used the film. Not being terribly steady or exacting, there were bubbles in our final product, as well as very minute exposure at the edges. But it is still there. Years later. Even though I WISH it would peel so I could attempt a redo. 🙂

    3. Hi Kelly,
      Thanks for sharing your experience – and I am glad the window film lasted so many years. Sounds like it was definitely worth the investment for you. 🙂

  16. It’s interesting that this article mentions the moisture resistance of different frames. I’m considering getting new, decorative glass for the shower, and I want to make sure it does a good job of insulation. I’ll have to look into higher quality frames to ensure no moisture escapes, etc. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi Tyler Meredith,

      I was very worried about water damage to the window frame. The window itself is vinyl but the sill is what I was most concerned with.

      I have been very happy with the Azek and my contractor angled it down, away from the window so there would be no puddles of standing water.

      Thanks for stopping in and for taking the time to comment!

  17. I actually love having a window in my shower. A little window film solves the privacy issue. Of course, you can’t see out either, but sun gets in. There is nothing more relaxing than taking a shower in the morning sunlight. It is also nice to open the window if a bath makes the room too steamy.

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