6 Cheap Ways to Cover Windows

There’s no doubt about it, window coverings can be very expensive and yet they also provide a high level of function for privacy, light and heat control. Depending on the location of the window, a covering of some kind may be an imperative. However, if you’re on a tight budget or have lots of windows to cover, it can be a daunting task. Here are six great ways to cover your windows that are cheap and effective.

  1. Paper accordion-pleat window shades start at under $10 per shade, are easy to install, and make a great quick covering that is easily replaceable. The shades are available in a wide assortment of colors to coordinate with any home décor. Different paper thicknesses offer every level of light control ... from slight filtering to full-on room darkening.

  2. Fabric panels come in fabrics from voile to cotton to linen. Sheers offer great light filtering properties as well as some privacy. Designs range from simple sheers to lace, perfect for a formal look on a budget. If you prefer opaque fabric, hang a twin sheet on a rod --one of the easiest DIY window panels around. Beautifully patterned sheets usually have a hemmed header that converts easily to a rod pocket. Or simply fold and run a quick stitch or line of glue across the top to create a pocket.

  3. Matchstick bamboo shades are a fantastic way to add a simple, tailored look to your windows without breaking the bank. Bamboo comes in many attractive natural tones and allows a gentle filtered light through, plus a high level of privacy during both day and night.  They are usually very easy to hang -- often on a simple pair of nails in the window frame.

  4. Fabric tie up shades are pretty and colorful, usually washable and easy to hang. A simple pocket along the top makes for an easy rod mount and the bottom can be pulled up to the desired height by ties. These shades are not fully operable in that there is no pulley system for easy up and down movement, but for the price (usually under $18 each), they are a cute way to dress up a window without breaking the bank.

  5. Window film or translucent contact paper is an excellent option for those who don’t care for standard window coverings but who may need a certain level of privacy. Window films are readily available in home improvement stores and come in decorative “stained glass” looks or simpler “etched glass” styles. Easy to install and remove, this option works well in bathroom or basement level windows.

  6. Used window treatments are an out-of-the-box option. Check out local thrift stores, Salvation Army stores, flea markets or even Craigslist for some potential great deals on “hand-me down” window coverings in very good condition. They may not always fit perfectly, but for rock bottom prices, you might find the perfect solution.

When deciding how to cover one window or a whole house of windows on a budget, you don’t have to sacrifice style or functionality. Just use a little creativity!

When it's time to hang your window coverings, find a professional handyman to get the job done right.

Updated December 24, 2017.

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