If you’ve never considered using etched glass in your home, you’re missing out on an art form that’s as useful as it is beautiful. Glass can be etched for semi or complete privacy as in a bathroom window or a shower door, or used as semi-transparent “walls” in modern settings. Glass etching is a technique used to create patterns, translucence or artistic designs on glass by applying acidic, caustic or abrasive substances to the surface of the glass. The process removes minute pieces of glass to create the desired effect.
Acid etching, also known as French embossing, has been around since the Victorian era. It was used mainly for decorating windows and doors in public houses and bars where it gave a luxurious effect to sitting areas and afforded some privacy. In the 1860’s etched glass production began on a semi-industrial scale and was often used to decorate the front doors of homes of the era. Its popularity continues today with more intricate designs tending to be used in traditional interiors and more geometric designs in modern ones. Follow the links below for a look at several creative ways people are using etched glass in today’s modern homes and achieving amazing effects with it:
- An entire glazed wall in this bathroom affords privacy when bathing, thanks to a translucent bottom half, but lets in a flood of light during the day and views of a starry sky by night.
- A special silvery-effect etched glass partition creates a private area for the toilet and bathtub in this transitional bathroom.
- An artful interpretation of traditional “frosted” glass shower doors that look like giant soap bubbles in this fun modern bathroom. Notice that they’re extended to create a private space for the toilet as well.
- A beautiful arched window built into a shower in a traditional bathroom becomes even more extraordinary with a whimsical design etched into the glass.
- A kitchen island’s base becomes an extraordinary piece of art with an undersea design.
- Etched glass upper cabinets look right at home in this sleek modern kitchen.
- This kitchen uses mellow tempered etched glass on a back splash, island front, and upper cabinets.
Partitions and Walls
- In a modern-style living room, an etched glass “wall” or partition defines the main circulation zone and disguises a stairwell. It also provides diffused light and helps contain sound within the room.
- Etched glass framed in black serves as a half-wall for a loft space.
- An artful etched glass wall in this hallway creates beautiful patterns on the opposite wall.
- An intricate tree pattern is etched into barn-style sliding glass doors that separate a modern dining room from the living room in this modern home.
- A tropical entry door etched with banana leaves gives a whimsical nod to its island setting.
- An Asian-style entry is uses etched glass to achieve a traditional Japanese shoji screen effect.
You may wonder about using etched glass for walls from a safety standpoint. These are usually made of tempered glass, a toughened form of glass which is stronger than standard plate-glass, and which breaks into small granular pieces rather than long sharp shards which could cause serious injury. Tempered glass is regularly used in a number of demanding applications such as passenger vehicle windows, shower doors, architectural glass doors and tables and even glass stair treads. It’s also a component in bullet-proof glass for armored vehicles. Tempering puts the outer surfaces of the glass into compression and the inner surfaces into tension, which toughens the glass and causes the safer breaking pattern.
Etched glass is sometimes pricey, but the benefits of added light, an open, airy look and interesting and unexpected applications make it worth the investment!