Commercial and Residential Glass Installer and Manufacturer Resource

What Is Acid Etched Glass?

Apr 26, 2022 12:00:00 AM / by Greg Martell

what is acid etched glass

When looking for a striking, but functional, piece of glass for your next design — consider acid etched glass.

It’s an old favorite in the design world, and for good reason. There are seemingly limitless opportunities to incorporate this beautiful work, and the final result is timeless.

We put together this guide to answer any questions you might have.

How Is Acid Etched Glass is Made?

In general, glass etching is accomplished in two ways: with acid — specifically, hydrofluoric acid — and sandblasting. Acid etched glass tends to require less maintenance than sandblasting, and the etching itself leaves a smoother finish.

Glass etching can be done using either liquid hydrofluoric acid or hydrofluoric acid gas. First, though, you need a stencil, called a “resist” that defines the image and determines where the acid touches the surface of the glass and where it doesn’t.

If you use liquid acid in the acid etched glass process, you achieve a clear etching. Use the gas, and you get a result that looks like ground glass. With the acid gas, you get an etching that presents a semi-opaque image on clear glass. Or you can use the gas to give an entire glass plate the semi-opaque look and apply the liquid acid to create a clear image on the same plate.

The possibilities for the look of glass etching designs are virtually unlimited. Glass sheets become a canvas of sorts on which to paint with acid. The best part -- the image won’t wear off or degrade over time.

3 Common Uses for Acid Etched Glass

It’s not hard to imagine many acid-etched glass applications. You probably see several practically every day without taking particular notice, except maybe to appreciate their good looks. 

Inside, the stairway railing might include glass panels that carry the same image, repeated over and over.

Here are a few more applications:

  1. Partitions
  2. Doors 
  3. Shower and bath enclosures

1. Partitions: 

The applications for partitions for homes, commercial and office buildings, hotels, restaurants, and more are countless. They can provide privacy or open up a space while controlling sound. They can be clear or frosted, depending on privacy needs, and artistically etched to any level of sophistication.

One of the many benefits of an acid etched partition is the ability of light to pass through, without sacrificing the need for privacy. 

In homes, they can create a private dining nook in the kitchen or a partial partition to separate a section of the living room. In hotels, they can break up open lobby spaces into conversation areas and separate the hotel shop from the lobby. In offices, their most obvious use is to separate offices and conference rooms. Restaurants use them to separate the dining area and the bar.

In any partition application, acid etched glass partitions can be as elaborate or basically functional as desired, but they’ll always be eye-catching.

2. Doors:

Whether a door is solid glass, as it might be in an office, or contain a glass panel, as it might in a residential application, acid etching on glass can add a personal and impressive touch. 

Similar to patterned or other commercial glass options, acid etched door glass allows external light to brighten the interior space, but grants the partition needed for the design.

Patterned glass adds a pop of creative flair to a custom project. Explore our patterned glass options: 

Patterned Glass Comparison Sheet

3. Shower and Bath Enclosures:

An acid etched shower and bath enclosure adds a new level of attractiveness to any bathroom. 

The rich look of etched glass, whether it’s mostly frosted to provide privacy or clear with a semi-opaque image providing a decorative accent, will become the focal point of the room.

How Acid Etched Glass Saves Birds

Millions of birds die each year from running into clear or reflective glass windows. It can happen at a house or a skyscraper. Estimates put bird deaths from collisions with glass at 365 million to 988 million just in the U.S. One of the solutions to prevent this issue is acid etched glass windows.

Treaties and laws are now on the books to protect birds from collisions with glass. Acid etching helps owners and builders meet the requirements by making the glass visible to birds, thus preventing them from crashing into it while in flight.

Interested in Ordering Acid Etched Glass?

At New Angle Beveling, we manufacture and distribute Walker Textures Acid Etched Glass

Contact our team of experts today for help finding and ordering the product that fits your exact specifications.

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Topics: Glass, Acid Etched Glass

Written by Greg Martell