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.

Benefits

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.

Disadvantages

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.

2. Umbrellas

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.

Benefits

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.

Disadvantages

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.

Benefits

Shades have many style and color options. They can also provide some privacy while allowing light in when you leave them half-open.

Disadvantages

Challenging to install and short-lived when exposed to the weather, fabric shades don’t make much sense in an outdoor context.

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The Best Balcony Privacy Options

1. Plants in Pots

You can line up plants in pots next to your balcony. Those that are tall enough can offer a lot of privacy. While plants in pots make our list for the best options, they aren’t right for everyone. Unlike every other option on this list, they require maintenance.

Benefits

Plants add such life and vibrancy to any space, and the balcony is no exception. Plants change the feeling of your space and can offer a great deal of privacy.

Disadvantages

Plants in pots will require watering. You may also need to add soil and nutrients to them seasonally. Plants won’t offer complete privacy like a curtain would, and plants that are large enough to offer substantial privacy need large pots, which take up space on the balcony. Lastly, it may be hard to move the plants when you want to adjust how much privacy you’re getting.

Faux plants may be a better option because they don’t require maintenance or large pots (after all, they don’t have roots). But you’ll need high-quality fake plants to make the space look good.

2. Trellises with Plants

Freestanding trellises with plants growing on them add the same liveliness that potted plants do, but they are much more convenient for several reasons.

Benefits

Trellises take up much less space than potted plants and are easier to move out of the way when you want more sunlight.

Disadvantages

Trellises with real plants also require maintenance, including watering and sometimes adding soil.

It may be hard to move the trellis without damaging the plants, depending on its design. You can mitigate this by using fake plants.

3. Bamboo & Hard Material Shades

Shades made of sturdy materials that can resist the weather better than fabrics are a great option for your balcony privacy.

Benefits

Shades made of bamboo, other wood, and plastic will last a lot longer outside than fabric. You won’t need to worry about bringing them in. You can also adjust how much privacy they offer by opening and closing them or drawing them out of the way. There are plenty of styles and color options too.

Disadvantages

There is still the problem of figuring out how to mount hard material shades to your balcony. Much will depend on the material of the balcony above you.