How to frost glass windows

Written by ray byrnes
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How to frost glass windows
Frosted windows appear transluscent but don't reveal detailed images. (jack frost image by Deborah Durbin from

Frosted glass windows allow natural light to pass through while blurring the image to protect privacy. Frosting glass may be a good alternative to blinds or shades when you want to allow as much light as possible to pass through the window, without it being completely transparent. There are a variety of methods for frosting glass windows yourself, and which one you choose will depend on how permanent you want the frosting to be and the materials with which you are comfortable working.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Tracing paper
  • Temporary adhesive
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Frosting spray
  • Soap and water
  • Clear adhesive shelf paper or frosted window film
  • Wallpaper brush
  • Varnish
  • Turpentine
  • Ground white lead
  • Burnt white vitriol
  • White sugar of lead

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  1. 1

    Cut the tracing paper so it covers the surface of the glass and attach it to the window with temporary adhesive.

  2. 2

    Draw a design. These shapes will be preserved when you apply the frosting spray, and can be simple or complex. Because only the designed cutouts will be covered, the rest of the window will remain fully transparent. Therefore, if your goal is to frost your window thoroughly, keep the shapes small and with frequent repetition.

  3. 3

    Cut out the design and reapply the tracing paper.

  4. 4

    Apply the frosting spray. Allow the spray to settle before removing the tracing paper. You may lightly spray the uncovered area if desired. To remove the frosting, use a cloth or blade.

  1. 1

    Clean the window and spray it with a soap-and-water mixture.

  2. 2

    Apply shelf paper or frosted window film. Smooth out all air bubbles that form beneath the film with a wallpaper brush.

  3. 3

    Allow to settle. After about two minutes, the adhesive will combine with the soap and water to make the frost permanent.

  1. 1

    Combine 3 parts varnish with 1 part turpentine. Make enough of the mixture to spread across the entire glass surface you wish to cover.

  2. 2

    Add ground white lead. Make the mixture very thin.

  3. 3

    Add burnt white vitriol and white sugar of lead. These substances act as a drier.

  4. 4

    Paint mixture onto glass. Spread evenly with a broad brush. If you wish to apply another coat, first remove the previous one. Lye may be used to remove the mixture, or a mixture of 2 parts hydrochloric acid, 2 parts vitriol, 1 part copper sulphate and 1 part gum Arabic.

Tips and warnings

  • Be careful when working with chemical substances, especially acids and lye. Wear rubber gloves and goggles to prevent exposure to skin and eyes.

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