If you want to take full advantage of the view from your balcony, nothing beats a cable railing. The best railings don’t interfere with your view, but that also means people can see onto your balcony. And that’s not what you want all of the time. Sometimes having a more private environment is better for your own peace, or for when you’re entertaining.
There are some amazing balcony privacy options out there that work with cable railing systems, Here’s our guide to the best and worst balcony privacy options so that you can get the right solution for you.
The Worst Balcony Privacy Options
1. Outdoor Curtains
They sound great, but having outdoor curtains permanently hung on your balcony is too inconvenient for most people.
There are many advantages to having outdoor curtains on your balcony. They cover the bottom and top of your balcony so that you have maximum privacy. You can have your curtains only partly closed, so you get privacy where you want it but still get sun. There are also a ton of color and style options for curtains, whether they are made of fabric or vinyl.
For most people, there are too many disadvantages of outdoor curtains to be worth it. The first is hanging them. If you have a cement balcony above you, it’s a challenge to install a curtain rod or supportive hooks for a rod. Unlike with a shower, there are no walls to brace a curtain against on a balcony. You can get around this problem by hanging the curtain at the railing height, but you lose many of the privacy benefits this way.
Another disadvantage of curtains is that they have to be permanently attached, and they’re made of fabric. Fabric won’t last long in the rain or when exposed to the harsh sun so directly. You can bring them in, but it is a hassle to take them down and rehang them every time it rains. You can use a vinyl material instead, but it’s a little like hanging a shower curtain on your balcony. Few people find that comforting or stylish.
While umbrellas also sound like a smart idea, they are made to shade people from the sun, not from horizontal view. They can be cute, but they aren’t often practical. If you don’t have a balcony above you, and you’re looking for shade instead of privacy, then an umbrella might be the right option for you.
Umbrellas are made for outdoor use, so you don’t have to worry as much about how they will hold up to rain and sun. Also, there are many different styles and color options for umbrellas, even among ones that are large enough for balcony use.
Umbrellas are better at blocking the sun than they are at blocking people’s view. You can offset the umbrella, so it reduces more of the view on the side, but it doesn’t give even half coverage of your space. It may also be frustrating to have an umbrella pole in the way if you have a small balcony.
3. Fabric Shades
Fabric shades are a bad idea for many of the same reasons that outdoor curtains are. They aren’t resistant to water or sun, and they are hard to install. If you like the idea of fabric shades, look into the bamboo and hard shades we discuss below.
Shades have many style and color options. They can also provide some privacy while allowing light in when you leave them half-open.
Challenging to install and short-lived when exposed to the weather, fabric shades don’t make much sense in an outdoor context.