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What’s the difference between etched glass and frosted glass?

The art of glass etching and sandblasting began in the mid 1800’s. Skilled craftsmen created glass panels which had a luxury look and many examples can still be seen today in many of our hotels and bars. Originally, glass would be masked using “animal fats” and acid poured over the glass and left to permentantly etch the surface. Today, the process is a little less harsh and low tack vinyls and rather than using acid which would definatley cause a health and safety issue, glass is sandblasted to give the frosted acid effect.

There are many names for etched glass which can also be referred to as sandblasted glass or frosted glass. Many people mean simply that they are looking for an obscure finish which has an even milky appearance to the glass.

Does etched glass wear off?

No, etched glass is a permenant finish and can’t be scraped off as some paints can. Do beware of using the “etching creams” that are on the market, many are simply a paint which looks like etched glass and won’t last for long. The one issue that many people fear is that fingerprints will leave a mark on etched or sandblasted glass. This can be the case if the glass isn’t coated with a non-stick coating. Ritec Clearshield is the market leader for hygienic non-stick coating which will protect the sandblasted or etched glass. You can read more about Ritec Clearshield here and its effect on sandblasted glass.

How is glass etched or sandblasted today?

Glass designers today build on the work of their peers from the mid 1800’s and use similar skills and techniques to create beautiful bespoke pieces of glass work. Clive Sparkes, Design Director at Go Glass creates individual one off pieces and creates ranges of designs for glass doors, showers and even for interior glass partitions.

Each panel is individually designed and the artwork is scaled to fit the size of the glass panel. Often this isn’t simply a case of enlarging in proportion but the design has to be re-worked to fit the perspective and work well.

Clive has been designing glass for over 30 years and now runs a team of glass designers to create individual and bespoke glass art. The process has several steps :

The video below shows many of these steps to create a perfect piece of etched or sandblasted glass

What designs are available for sandblasted and etched glass?

What is custom glass etching?

Sandblasted glass is perfect for a custom glass panel as the flexibility of design is limitless. Company logos and branding can all be achieved with a simple etched glass finish. Front doors of showrooms and public houses are particularly popular with this style of glass design.

Bespoke etched glass with logo on a front door of a restaurant

Traditional Victorian or Contemporary modern etched glass?

Sandblasted etched glass is so versatile it can be used to enhance any interior be it a traditional style house or an open plan modern day property. The image below shows how designs can be created.

On the left a hand drawn design and on the right the sandblasted product on glass.

These skills are unique to a glass designer and shouldn’t be underestimated. The sketched process for glass etching is unique to Go Glass and Clive Sparkes and this has been used to create some bespoke glass panels which can today be seen in prestigous hotels, bars, and airports around the UK and Europe.

Go Glass, established in 1978 celebrate their 45th year in business in 2023 and can create a range of products in sandbalsted or etched glass. Check out the website https://goglass.co.uk/etched-and-sandblasted-glass-panels/.

What’s the difference between sandblasted glass and frosted glass?

Frosted glass often refers to acid-etched glass. This satin finish glass is very similar to sandblasted glass, which is treated with hydrofluoric acid to remove the surface. Sandblasted glass gives a frosted appearance but is created by firing abrasive at pressure to remove the surface of the glass. Sandblasted glass is a good option for obscurity and can also be decorated with a choice of traditional and contemporary designs

Modern sandblasted glass designs

There are a range of contemporary and traditional style designs for sandblasted and etched glass. These range from botanicals and organics, geometric and modern, traditional and custom. They can be etched onto clear glass, clear onto obscure etched background or in our privacy finish which is a sandblasted design onto an obscure privacy style background. This finish is perfect for WC’s cloakroom and bathrooms. Here is an example of one of our modern designs which is scaled to fit any custom glass sized panel

Hummingbird design sketch
Example design from the Go Glass Design Catalogue