The terms “Sandblasted” glass and “Etched” glass are technically two different things producing a very similar result.
The sandblasting of glass means exactly that. A piece of glass is exposed to either a sand or abrasive product hitting the glass in a high speed jet of air. This has the effect of pitting the glass surface and results in an opaque finish. The smoothness of this finish can be altered by the grade of abrasive used. Think of it as sandpaper. A very abrasive sandpaper like a 40grit is very rough and aggressive and on glass will leave larger “chips” of glass removed. A smooth “finishing” sandpaper of say 240grit would leave a much smoother finish.
The etching of glass is the result of an acid being applied to the glass surface leaving a smooth opaque finish.
At Stained Glass Hamilton Ltd, we Sandblast the glass with a fine grit for a finish that is very close to Acid Etched glass. For ease of terminology, I will refer to Sandblasting or Acid Etching as etching.
To create a design, we need to etch some parts of the glass and leave other parts clear. To do this we use a “resist”. Resist is the process of applying a temporary film to areas of the glass that you wish to leave clear, and then etching the exposed areas of glass. Once etching is completed and the resist is removed, the exposed protected areas are clear and the rest of the glass is obscure. In this way, we can either create a design with most of the glass clear and the pattern etched – a rose for example – called pattern etching, or create a negative of this by etching the background and leaving the rose clear – called background etching. One will give a lot of visibility through the glass, while the other will create a degree of privacy. The choice is yours.
Sandblast etching of glass is one of the least expensive and subtle methods of creating decorative glass panels. As there is no colouring involved, just clear glass and a mild white/opaque finish, it can be quite unobtrusive and will blend in to most surroundings. It is an ideal way of “hiding” a particular view or room without blocking out too much light. For example a window looking at an unsightly wall or into a neighbours living area, or maybe some internal doors in to a second lounge where you want to mask what the kids are up to, but not give them a feeling of total privacy.
Etching can be used in conjunction with annealed, toughened or laminated safety glass.
An extension to this method of etching is called “shading”. This refers to the art of partially etching sections of the design. Rather than fully obscuring a section with a full blast of abrasive, we back off the pressure and/or amount of abrasive in the mixture to lightly etch an area or fade from a full etch to no etch at all. This gives different shades within a design.
Going a step further is the “deep carving” of glass which is described under its’ own section along with Wall Art.
(CLICK HERE) to see our Photo Album of Sandblast Etched Glass.