Balcony privacy mistakes — 8 balcony blunders to avoid and what to do instead

Interior design experts reveal the most common balcony privacy mistakes

Couple enjoying balcony, silhouetted behind curtains in sunshine - for article on balcony privacy mistakes
(Image credit: Kelvin Murray/Getty Images)

Knowing the most common balcony privacy mistakes to avoid is key if you're looking to create a secluded space whilst retaining your lovely views. 

Our interior design experts lift the lid on the balcony blunders they encounter most often, including picking the wrong plants for your space and overlooking lighting, and reveal their top tips on what to do instead. 

Just as with backyard privacy ideas, knowing what to avoid can be a great starting point, saving you wasting time and money on the wrong things. 

Essential balcony privacy mistakes to avoid

With so many balcony privacy ideas out there, it can be hard to know where to start, and easy to rush into mistakes. Our industry pros will walk you through the most common balcony blunders to avoid, and share top tips on what to do instead. 

Where our experts have suggested products, we've sourced high-quality items from trusted retailers. 

All prices correct at the time of publication. 

1. Ineffective privacy screens

One of the most common mistakes is using ineffective privacy screens. Choosing flimsy screens means they will fail to offer real privacy or durability. 

Home improvement expert Tommy Mello, founder of A1 Garage Door Service, says, “I often see privacy screens that are either transparent or not durable enough to provide long-term balcony privacy. Many people opt for screens that look good initially but fail to withstand weather conditions, leading to a loss of privacy and functionality.

“To avoid this mistake, opt for opaque or semi-opaque screens made from durable materials such as bamboo, fabric, or metal. Ensure that the screen is properly anchored to withstand wind and other weather conditions. Additionally, choosing screens with decorative patterns can offer both privacy and aesthetic appeal.”

This FENCY Metal Outdoor Privacy Screen from Amazon has a wood grain finish on one side and black metallic on the other, allowing you to switch between your choice of color. This Single Panel Room Divider from MyGift provides seclusion whilst still allowing light through. 

Always ensure privacy screens are securely installed, either through professional help or by following manufacturer instructions meticulously. Consider screens that can withstand various weather conditions and provide adequate coverage from neighboring balconies and public view. 

2. Ignoring noise pollution

Balcony at night with glass of white wine on the table

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Ignoring noise pollution is another significant oversight when it comes to balconies. Even with visual privacy, noise can intrude, disrupting the peace of your balcony space. Balconies near busy streets, construction sites, or noisy neighbors can suffer from constant sound disturbances. 

Tommy says, “To reduce noise intrusion, incorporate sound-absorbing elements such as outdoor rugs, heavy curtains, or strategically-placed potted plants. Additionally, installing water features like small fountains can create soothing white noise, which can mask unwanted sounds.”

Tommy recommends these NICETOWN Outdoor Curtains from Amazon for their weather-resistance and noise-blocking qualities. 

This Winston Porter Outdoor Solar Water Fountain, available at Wayfair, is LED-powered and looks great. This Primrue Adcock Artificial Dracaena Tree, also from Wayfair, comes in three size options up to a height of 71 inches.

3. Not thinking vertically

Balcony with open doors and lots of foliage

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Not thinking vertically is a balcony privacy mistake and a missed opportunity in maximizing shelter from prying eyes in this outdoor space. Horizontal balcony privacy solutions such as railings or low screens miss out on the privacy potential of vertical space. 

Tommy says, “Maximize privacy by utilizing vertical space with trellises or vertical planters. Climbing plants like ivy or jasmine can create a lush, green privacy wall. This approach not only enhances privacy but also adds a touch of nature to the balcony.”

This August Grove Khachadur Vinyl Fan Trellis from Wayfair looks great and can stand nicely to the side of a balcony. Tommy also recommends the Aivituvin Vertical Raised Garden Bed. He adds, “It’s ideal for planting a variety of herbs and flowers, creating a beautiful and practical green wall.”

Vertical solutions can transform a balcony into a lush, private sanctuary.

4. Wrong plant selection

Balcony full of plants

(Image credit: Getty Images)

As with porch privacy, choosing the wrong plants can also hinder your balcony privacy efforts. 

While greenery is a great way to create natural privacy, selecting inappropriate plants can be counterproductive. Plants that require extensive maintenance, have invasive root systems, or don’t thrive in your climate can create more hassle than benefit. 

Opt for low-maintenance, evergreen plants that grow densely and are suitable for your local weather conditions. Bamboo, for instance, is an excellent choice for quick-growing, tall, and dense coverage. For a low-maintenance option, try this Goplus 5-foot Artificial Bamboo Tree from Amazon. Similarly, climbers like ivy or jasmine can cover trellises effectively, providing both beauty and privacy.

5. Overlooking lighting

Balcony with hanging lights at night

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Overlooking lighting is another common balcony privacy mistake as poorly placed or overly bright lighting can expose your space to outside view, defeating the purpose of other privacy measures. Avoid using harsh, direct lights and instead opt for soft, ambient lighting that maintains the seclusion of your balcony. 

Solar-powered outdoor lanterns, fairy lights, and shielded wall sconces can create a cozy and private atmosphere. Ensure lights are positioned to illuminate the space without drawing unwanted attention from neighboring properties.

Home improvement expert Josh Qian, co-founder of Best Online Cabinets, says, "Many homeowners focus solely on visual privacy barriers, like screens or curtains, but neglect to consider how lighting can enhance or undermine that sense of seclusion. Harsh, glaring fixtures that spill over onto neighboring balconies can compromise your privacy, while thoughtful, directional lighting can actually help define and enclose your space."

These Burroughs Outdoor Bulb String Lights from Wayfair add a vintage glow to your balcony and come in three colors (black, green and white). This Techko Maid Metallic Lantern from Target is solar-powered and easily portable. 

Josh adds, "The right lighting not only adds a cozy, intimate ambiance but can also subtly signal to those around you that this is your private oasis."

6. Not considering sight lines

Another balcony privacy mistake is neglecting to account for sight lines from neighboring balconies or windows. 

Josh says, "Even if you've added screens or curtains, you need to ensure they're strategically placed to block views from all angles, not just the most obvious ones. Carefully assessing your space and potential sight lines can help you identify any blind spots that need additional coverage."

Josh recommends this ColourTree Sun Shade Canopy from Wayfair, adding, "These fabric sails can be stretched overhead or hung vertically to create a cozy, private oasis, and they come in a variety of colors and sizes to suit different balcony styles."

7. Neglecting safety

Neglecting safety is a critical balcony privacy mistake that can cost you dearly. Safety should never be compromised for the sake of seclusion. Flimsy railings, unsecured screens, and heavy plant pots that can topple over are hazards. Ensure all installations are securely anchored and that railings meet safety standards. 

Avoid placing heavy objects near the edges where they could fall and cause injury. Additionally, consider the weight of soil and plants in vertical installations to prevent accidents. 

Regular maintenance checks are essential to ensure all elements remain secure and safe.

8. Forgetting aesthetics

Couple enjoying balcony at sunset

(Image credit: Kelvin Murray/Getty Images)

Also one of the most common decking mistakes, failing to consider the overall design cohesion can lead to disjointed balcony privacy measures. 

A mix of mismatched screens, haphazardly placed plants, and inconsistent lighting can create a chaotic environment rather than a serene retreat. Aim for a cohesive design that harmonizes with the rest of your home. Choose a consistent color palette and materials that complement each other. 

Thoughtful design planning ensures that all elements work together to create a unified and private outdoor space.

Meet our experts

A picture of Tommy Mello, a man with short brown hair wearing a white shirt
Tommy Mello

Tommy Mello is a a home improvement and DIY expert, and the founder of A1 Garage Door Service, a $100M+ home service business. Founded in 2007, A1 Garage Door Service has become a home service industry leader.

Josh Qian profile photo
Josh Qian

With 20 years' experience in the home improvement industry, Josh Qian is the chief operating officer and co-founder of Best Online Cabinets, kitchen remodelling experts. 

So there you have it — eight balcony privacy mistakes, and what to do instead. With careful planning and execution, your balcony can become a hidden gem, offering a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Next, check out the backyard privacy mistakes to avoid

Andy van Terheyden
Freelance Writer

I'm a senior writer with an English degree and NCJ qualification, plus years of experience writing news, lifestyle and consumer articles for the national and international press. I'm also a copywriter, working on a breadth of consumer and corporate projects, and a private education consultant. I live in the quiet of the countryside and spend my weekends mooching around homeware shops, completing DIY tasks to breathe life into my small, newly-built home.