23 May 2012

DIY (fail): how not to frost a window

I’ve shown you our front door before – several times, actually. Most recently when I re-painted it:

But I’ve never really pointed out the windows around it. The previous owners frosted them, which was excellent because I tend to do the hit-the-floor-and-army-crawl-to-the-peephole move whenever the doorbell rings unexpectedly. And allowing the neighborhood children selling fundraiser candy to see you sneak up to the door to peek out is just embarrassing.

Unfortunately, though, the previous owners didn’t use film to frost the window, like in the tutorial by YHL here. Instead, they used spray-frost, like this stuff. And there’s a few problems with it.

First of all, it’s really really hard to get a clean, even coat of frosting with spray. The previous homeowners were stylish and talented DIY-ers (laundry mural aside) and yet still, splotches. You can see the more-opaque splotches in the photo above, as well as in the indoor photo below. But the splotches aren’t even the worst part. If you try to dust around the window, after a few years, the frosting can wipe right off onto the dust rag. That happened to the upper window when my well-meaning mother cleaned it in... uh... cough 2010 cough. Thanks to the split-level nature of my house, this window is easily seen from the upper floor (right behind the entryway chandelier), and the bottom of my frosted window was clearly no longer frosty:

It’s most obvious in the corners but there was a patchy stripe of frosting missing all the way across the bottom. (And... did you see what I did there? Clearly? Ehhhh?)

If you looked at the window up close, it gets even worse, because the existing frosting was looking super gross:

Not to mention the delicate dust and cobwebs on surface of the glass that I was too afraid to wipe away. YUCK. This was obviously under the category of “must repair” before putting the house on the market, especially because it’d been driving me crazy for nearly two years.

Now, if the frosting would all just wipe off with a couple of swipes of the rag, it wouldn’t be so bad to wipe it off and re-frost properly. But it wouldn’t. And I know it wouldn’t because I’ve already been through this song-and-dance with one of the sidelight windows, when I dusted it and the frosting came right off. That time I spent days (DAYS) scraping off excess bits of frosting with a razor before re-frosting (with spray, because I wanted it to match the other sidelight). And I was not willing to spend days on a ladder scraping this one.

So I bought my own spray can of window frosting and just sprayed over the whole hot mess for a quick fix.

Sure, it looks better in that photo without the missing frosting. But the splotches, oh, the splotches.

The camera metering was set to enhance the splotches for that photo, so they’re not THAT horrible in real life. But they’re pretty bad. They were bad before and now they’re worse. They’re awful and daily I wonder if it wouldn’t have been worth scraping off and frosting with film.

And yet the buyer apparently didn’t care. Or at least, she didn’t grimace with near-physical pain every time she saw it, like I did. Or... at least she figured she wouldn’t be too lazy to fix it properly... like I am.

So, moral of the story, dear readers: Frosted windows are fantastic, so go forth and frost away! But pick your supplies wisely. Perhaps some windows that are frosted with the spray stuff will turn out just fine. Our eastern-exposure bathroom window, also spray-frosted, has fared far better than the western-exposure front door. But I still don’t dare touch the bathroom window either, for fear that it’ll flake off. And I dust around it very carefully.

The spray stuff isn’t worth it. Frost your windows with film and live a splotch-free life, where you are free to clean your windows easily!


Rachel said...

I've been considering using Contact Paper on my front door (which has three, rectangular 1960s windows). I suppose if you're feeling especially neurotic you could still scrape them...

corey ostrander said...

I have been researching the best method, I think I am going to try to etch mine- we will see!! I chose this because of your reviews that frost comes off but the peel and stick kind is hard to cut to your window if its an odd shape without having an ugly edge. I think i will use a stencil and put a little design in it too!