Installing Window Graphics – Inside or Outside?

Window Graphics can be used to transform glass into opportunities for advertising & branding. Whether you’re looking for an eye-catching shopfront or looking to communicate your current promotions, the sheer range of Vinyl Films for Windows means it’s important to plan effectively to ensure you achieve the desired effect and result.

In this series, we’ll be focusing on Window Graphics and asking the all too familiar question - Should I install my window graphics on the inside or outside of the glass?

…So you have an amazing graphic that you plan to have printed and installed on a glass window or door. One decision that commonly gets overlooked is whether your artwork should be installed on the inside or outside of the glass? In most circumstances, you do have a choice, however, this decision is not always straightforward and can depend on a combination of factors often specific to your design and location. These all factor into how prominent your final messaging will be and include:

  • Your budget
  • Your Artwork/Design
  • The Material you wish to use
  • The colour of your glass e.g. Tinted
  • Whether you have existing security films installed
  • The location of your shopfront and its potential exposure to Vandalism
Clear vinyl internally applied with white ink


Whether your artwork should be installed on the inside or outside of the glass is in most cases is determined by your budget. Printed vinyl graphics are mainly printed onto white or clear face materials. Printed white self-adhesive vinyl graphics, whilst being the cheapest option, must be installed from the outside and cannot be applied internally, facing out, because they are opaque. If you’re a set on having graphics applied internally, facing out, you’ll need to have your design reverse printed onto a clear window vinyl and/or film and incur the additional costs for White Ink Printing.

Why? The entire spectrum of printed colours is made up of cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK), and not WHITE. The face of a white vinyl is designed to provide the optimal base surface for achieving sharp, vibrant, eye-catching print and graphics. However, when this same entire spectrum of printed colours is printed onto clear vinyls, colours can appear washed out, which is obviously not what you will be trying to achieve. However, the addition of ‘White Ink’ creates a whole new level of flexibility. Advanced technology now means White Ink can be printed as a ‘Spot’ (as a layer behind specific elements of your artwork) or ‘Flood White’ (as a base layer to the entire graphic) enhancing the breadth and depth of colour in your artwork whilst still allowing you to apply your graphics internally, should you desire. The downside? This dual process comes at a cost, with a price tag that is considerably more expensive than printing your graphics onto standard white self-adhesive vinyls.

Internally applied window graphics

Your Graphics & Design

When you apply your graphics from the inside, your design will be competing with the reflections on the outside of the glass. These include lighting hotspots, shadows and exterior mirror-like reflections from your surroundings. These reflections are likely to make your graphics less prominent. Generally speaking, using white vinyl on the outside of your windows will deliver the highest contrast and most visible artwork.

externally applied matt window graphics

The Material You Wish To Use

Some vinyl graphic materials benefit from being on the outside. These include textured, metallic and reflective materials. If you are looking for a Matt finish, it’s probably best to install your graphics from the outside. If applied inside, the material will look glossy when viewed through the glass. Matt also offers a change in texture to the smooth plane of the glass and will likely make your window graphics more noticeable with its textural differentiation.

Tinted glass shopfront vinyl

The Colour Of Your Glass

One of the biggest misconceptions is that glass is CLEAR. Glass normally has a natural bluish-green hue and this can affect how the colours in your artwork are seen. Progressively darker colours will usually become less and less visible. Windows also tend to have a degree of tinting in the glass for UV protection or privacy in commercial applications. For visibility, windows with a moderate to heavy tint should generally have vinyl graphics applied on the outside. Our advice is to stay away from artwork that has a similar tint to your glass.

Window security film

Existing Window Films

Security films are fairly common in retail applications. They are a great alternative to security bars to keep your front window safe yet inviting. If you have it, it will be installed on the inside of your glass and often, you won’t know it’s there because it is exceptionally clear. Similarly, tinting or privacy films will be on the inside as well. In all instances, vinyl graphics should be installed on the opposite side or outside surface for visibility and so as not to damage your window film.

Anti Graffiti lamination window application

Protection From The Elements & Vandalism

Generally speaking, the self-adhesive vinyl materials used in large format and superwide printing generally have excellent outdoor durability. It’s always a good idea to consider whether your artwork is a candidate for interior installation based on a combination of the above factors. Of course, Internal application of Self-Adhesive Vinyl Graphics will have less colour fading over time and will be physically protected in high traffic areas. Most people want to have their vinyl graphics applied on the ‘inside’ of the window, facing outwards, because they worry about somebody vandalising them. Whilst that is a possibility, it’s usually not very common. Advances in technology also mean that you can now select Anti-Graffiti lamination; an easily cleaned, durable over lamination with anti-graffiti properties that protects your graphics from such occurrences.

Introducing UltraView

Ultraview 5Studio

We are proud to introduce UltraView, a brand new, adhesive-free Window Film that is perfect for creating stunning Retail and POS graphic displays.

Delivering incredible depths of colour, this expertly engineered window film has been specifically developed for interior and exterior window graphic applications. It is streets ahead of just being optically clear - it is, in fact, so optically clear that it is almost invisible and your graphic will look as if it had been printed directly onto the window. Just the ticket if you’re looking for something with a little bit of glass class.

Vinyl Printing

Here at 5 Studio UK, we not only have one of the most diverse range of high quality and speciality window vinyls and films, but we also have the product expertise and technical know-how to help you identify the most suitable self-adhesive graphics solution for your window graphics.

All of our Window Vinyl and/or Films are printed in high quality, on Roland’s award winning, TrueVIS, Eco Solvent Printer. The high-density, 7 colour, TrueVIS Inks, with the addition of Light Cyan, Light Magenta and Light Black, results in rich and glossy vibrant colours, intense blacks, smooth gradations and exquisite detail.

NEW Eco Friendly Roller Banners
How Do I Hang Banners Outdoors?