It’s often the case that people who live in apartments or condos don’t make the most of their balcony space. Privacy is a big barrier to enjoying a balcony, and it’s completely understandable.
After all, why would you want all your neighbors to see you relaxing on your balcony?
But it no longer has to be a restriction in making the most of your outdoor space. In fact, making an apartment balcony private is easier than you think!
In this article, we’ll go over all the different ways to make a balcony private and go over the pros and cons for each. By the end, you should have an idea of what will work best for you. Feel free to also check out our supplemental balcony privacy articles:
- Best Balcony Privacy Screens for 2023
- Best Balcony Privacy Plants
- Best Bamboo for Privacy
- Best Planters for Privacy
- Best Metal Privacy Screens
- Freestanding Privacy Fences
- Cheap Ways to Block Your Neighbor’s View
But let’s get those initial ideas happening first. Here are the top ways to make a balcony private.
10 Balcony Privacy Ideas
There are an endless number of ways for creating privacy on a balcony, so we’ve focused on the main categories here.
1. Privacy screens
The most obvious option to start with is to use a privacy screen. You’ll have plenty of options for materials and styles, and, importantly, privacy screens are specifically designed for this job.
We’ve written extensively about the different kinds of privacy screens you can buy for a balcony, so check out our guide for Best Balcony Privacy Screens if you’re looking for specific recommendations.
The only real downsides to privacy screens are that most will block out some light in favor of privacy, and will likely be more expensive than the other options suggested below.
- Purpose-built for privacy
- Plenty of styles and materials available
- DIY options are possible
- One of the more expensive options
- You’ll have to block a lot of light for true privacy with a screen
2. Privacy Plants
A great and more natural option for balcony privacy involves using plants. Not only will this make your space feel more private, it’ll add plenty of green, too.
Plants for privacy are a wide-ranging category and can include anything from hanging plants, tall grasses, or potted plants. If you don’t have the time – or patience – to wait for real plants to grow, there’s also a wide range of fake privacy plants to buy.
Adding different plants helps to create interest and depth, and you might as well make your additions beautiful and functional.
One slight downside if you go with real plants is that you’ll have to wait for the plants to grow to size unless you can find mature plants or artificial ones.
That said, fast growing shrubs will reach maturity in a year or two, so you won’t have to wait that long.
- Less obvious way of making a balcony private
- Good option for adding greenery that serves a purpose
- Can be a budget-friendly option
- Some plants in pots will take at least a year to mature
3. Outdoor curtains
Outdoor curtains are ideal for enclosing an apartment balcony because they offer privacy and make the space feel cozier. Curtains will obviously block out the sun, which may or may not be a benefit.
Generally, outdoor curtains for a balcony will be exactly the same as interior curtains, although some brands sell waterproof models for greater outdoor durability.
You can choose from opaque curtains if you want complete privacy or sheer fabric curtains if you want some middle ground.
An obvious benefit of curtains, aside from the practical aspect, is that they’re a great way of adding color and interest to your outdoor space. You’ll find a wide range of colors and textures, so getting a suitable option won’t be difficult.
Of course, you can make your own curtains, too. If you’re going down this route, be sure to use a weather-resistant fabric like canvas, oilcloth, or treated cotton.
Fitting curtains does require hanging a curtain rail. Check your building regulations to see if this is allowed. If not, you can always tack or staple them in place. While this won’t look as good, it gets the job done.
- Curtains are good for cozy private spaces
- Curtains can also provide a level of sound reduction
- Flexibility in colors and styles
- Vital that you buy outdoor/waterproof curtains
4. Fake ivy
If you like the idea of greenery but don’t want to wait for it to grow, fake ivy is the next best thing. It’s a good option for those wondering how to make a balcony private quickly because it’s ready within minutes.
There are also a couple of ways to use fake ivy.
Fake Ivy + lattice or trellis
As with real ivy, you’ll need to provide a support frame around which you can wrap the fake ivy. Grab an expandable lattice and pair it with some fake ivy. Using an expandable lattice is ideal because it’s relatively cheap, easy to install, and can be adjusted to any size. If you’re looking for other ways to use a lattice for privacy, though, check out our guide.
If you’re feeling ambitious, you can also make your own trellis from bamboo canes or lumber. We have a guide for how to do this, so check that out if you’re keen for a DIY project.
Fake Ivy railing cover
If you don’t have a trellis or support frame, you can always hang the individual ivy strands from your balcony railing (as shown above). This is incredibly easy but is a bit more decorative than a complete privacy solution.
Fake Ivy Curtains
Finally, with a bit of DIY skill, you could turn fake ivy into a set of curtains that hang from your balcony ceiling. All you’d need to do is cut it into strips and fix these to curtain eyelets. Doing this would give you all the benefits of fake ivy but in a flexible option.
Fake ivy isn’t your only option, of course. There are so many kinds of fake vines available, some of which are incredibly realistic. Over time, however, you might find they start to look a bit battered depending on the weather.
- Quick and easy option
- Fake plants are a budget-friendly choice
- You can find realistic types if you’re willing to spend a bit more
- Fake plants don’t age too well
5. Roll-up outdoor shades
Another good choice for enclosing an apartment balcony is to use roll-up shades. These are essentially blinds that aren’t made from fabric, meaning they’re suitable for all weather conditions.
Typically, these shades are made from thin bamboo canes, which offers plenty of privacy but still allows some light through.
As with curtains, the main benefit of shades is that you can open them when you don’t need as much privacy. Depending on the style you choose, they’re a great way of adding a touch of design to your balcony décor, too.
- Can be rolled up when not in use
- Plenty of styles available
- Roll-up shades aren’t expensive
- You’ll need something to fix them to
6. DIY Railing Cover
If your balcony has railings rather than a solid wall, hanging a fabric screen is ideal for creating privacy and adding a pop of color to your outdoor space.
At the most basic level, you could just fix some fabric to the railing with cable ties or string.
But if you’re willing to get a bit more crafty, build a rectangular frame from lumber first and stretch the fabric across. This will give it greater stability and structure, and make it much easier to hang.
Also, filling the frame with wadding or acoustic foam tiles will offer a level of soundproofing against unwanted noise pollution. While this isn’t the main purpose of balcony privacy, it can help turn your space into a little oasis.
- Can be an inexpensive option
- Easy to customize to your space
- Suitable for renters because you could fix in place with zip ties
- Might look a bit cheap
7. Bamboo room dividers
Room dividers are designed for just this sort of job. They’re typically used indoors as a freestanding privacy divider and originally served to create changing areas, but you can find weatherproof options like this one for outdoor use.
Generally, they fold up in accordion style, which makes them super easy to store when not in use.
When shopping for a room divider, choose one that’s suitable for outdoor use as a balcony divider. This will ideally be made from bamboo, wood or metal. If you buy an untreated wood screen, be sure to coat it in paint or preserver to make it last longer.
- Ideal for dividing balcony into separate areas
- Freestanding – flexibility in placement
- Easy to store when not in use
- Can be expensive
8. Outdoor screen enclosure
An outdoor screen enclosure is netting typically made of mesh and is slightly different from a privacy screen. As the name implies, it’s designed to enclose a space rather than serve as a screen. Typically, this means it has sides and maybe even a roof rather than just a single side.
The screen is ideal for keeping out bugs and protecting you from the elements along with offering some privacy.
You’ll usually find outdoor enclosure screens made for spaces like patios, but it’s really not difficult to adapt one to a balcony or to make your own.
Most outdoor screen enclosures are a metal frame with mesh screen stretched over it. This makes them a good choice for enclosing an apartment balcony because you can essentially convert it into an outdoor room.
To install one, you’ll need to start by attaching the frame to the existing structure. Begin by fixing screws into the balcony and then fitting track channels over these.
After fitting the track channels in place, you’ll need to cut the mesh screen to size. There’s a little groove around the frame that you feed the screen into.
You’ll need to buy some screen spline, which is thin rubber stripping that sits in the groove over the screen. This is what keeps it in place.
Overall, it should take you a few hours.
- Converts your balcony into a more indoor space
- Offers weatherproofing
- Can be as private or open as you want
- Takes a lot of DIY work – probably not suitable for renters
They do require a bit of DIY work, as you’ll need to install the canopy support. You can either buy foldaway canvas canopies or rigid plastic or metal canopies. Canvas awnings take less work to install and are a bit more flexible in terms of usage.
Of course, if you’re using a balcony canopy for privacy, it’ll need to extend down quite low. But, this option could look less obvious than others, as it’ll just seem like you’re trying to block your apartment from the sun.
The only major downside of a balcony canopy is the work they take to install. Even a canvas awning will require some drilling, so it might not be the best option for renters.
- Canvas canopies can fold away when not in use
- Good way to get privacy and shade
- Plenty of styles available
- Requires DIY work – might not be suitable for renters
We tend to think of umbrellas mainly as providers of shade, but if positioned properly, they can also provide the perfect amount of balcony privacy.
There are many types of balcony umbrellas to choose from, but if you’re looking to add one as a privacy solution, make sure you consider where you’ll want to place it and whether or not it’s adjustable.
- Lots of options for installation (including renter-friendly options)
- Adjustable so you can position for privacy and shade
- Flexibility in colors and styles
- Seasonal – not the best solution for privacy during winter
Hopefully, this article has given you some helpful information on ways to make your apartment balcony private. As you can see, there are plenty of options that don’t sacrifice your ability to enjoy your outdoor space.
Every balcony is different – there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for balcony privacy, so it’s important to make the best selection for YOU and your needs.
Of course, be sure to base your choice on important factors like weather and sun exposure. After all, you won’t want something that blocks out the sun on a south-facing balcony but still lets in the rain!