Types of frosted glass

Written by kristin dorman
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Types of frosted glass
Frosted glass provides privacy while letting light in. (Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Frosted glass is a semitransparent material that allows light in while providing privacy. You might find frosted glass in bathrooms, powder rooms and shower areas. Decorators also incorporate frosted glass into windows, doors and furniture. The primary methods of creating frosted glass are sand blasting and acid etching. Spray frosting and window film application are cheap alternatives to authentic frosted glass.

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Sandblasted Glass

The sandblasting process uses a high-speed machine to hurl bits of sand or walnut husks at a glass panel. Sandblasting costs more than acid etching but produces a wider variety of results. Customers choose the level of opacity in custom sandblasted glass and may select different patterns or shapes. Sandblasting can produce nature scenes and realistic pictures.

Acid-etched Glass

Acid-etched glass is more economical than sandblasted glass and creates a true frosted appearance. Hydrofluoric acid roughens the glass surface in acid-etching, creating a consistent, translucent appearance. Acid-etched glass is durable and incorporated into exterior fixtures such as skylights, insulated glazing units and balustrades. Because it is inexpensive and durable, acid-etched glass is popular in design and construction.

Spray-frosted Glass

Cheaply frost glass at home with spray coating. Use tracing paper and temporary adhesive to block off areas on a glass surface. Spray the exposed window and wait for it to dry. For a permanent frosted effect, use soapy water and a frosted-style window film to cover a glass surface. Spray frosting is not as durable as acid-etching so it may not hold up to outdoor use.


Frosting windows reduces energy costs and provides atmosphere. By increasing day lighting, you reduce the need for electrical lighting. Frosted glass captures and diffuses light versus reflecting it, reducing glare. Frosted glass enhances appearance and integrates visual elements. Sandblasted and acid-etched frosted glass are difficult to clean, but provide more durability than spray-frosted glass.

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