Which is Better: Sandblasted or Acid Etched Glass?

We often have many people ask which decorative etched glass is better, but really it all depends on you and your wants! While the two glass products are similar in style, acid etched glass vs sandblasted glass, are actually very different when it comes to an end goal.

But first let’s ask the obvious question:

What is sandblasted glass and how is it different from acid etch glass?

Sandblasted and etched glass both use abrasives which create a frosted appearance on the glass.

Sandblasting usually uses a high-speed machine that blasts down on the glass panel with sand, walnut husks or other materials to achieve its look. (It can also be done by hand!) Sandblast glass etching lets you choose the level of glass opaqueness that best fits your needs and is versatile in many ways when it comes to design.

Check out this video that shows the process of sandblasting glass:

Acid etched glass also offers a wide variety of options, but the appearance is smoother. Etching glass with acid offers more finishes and various degrees of transparency than standard sandblasted glass.

Here is a video that shows acid etching in a factory setting:

Gradients and Transparency:

Whether you decide on sandblasted etched glass or acid etched glass one of the most significant benefits is its capability to be as transparent as you like. This is ideal for adding privacy in places like partitions, glass showers, office, or public spaces.

Glass gradients can start and end at any percentage such as a 20%-80% gradient or a perfectly clear glass panel fade into a 100% full frost with zero opacity.

Glass etching services offer two unique options; opacity and gradients. With a light dusting, you can achieve a 10%-20% opacity level while heavier glass frosting yields zero opacity and clarity for full privacy yet allowing light to still penetrate the glass panels.

Pros and cons of sandblasted glass etching and glass acid etching:

As with any product both sandblasted frosted glass and acid frosted glass have their benefits and disadvantages.


  • A pro to sandblasting is that you can are pretty much guaranteed good quality etching and it will be completed within a decent amount of time. Also, designs are readily available and can be more detailed.
  • A con to sandblasting is the glass is more likely to leave fingerprint marks which do require a bit more maintenance when it comes to cleaning.

Acid Etching

  • A pro to acid etched glass is that unlike sandblasted glass it is low-maintenance and less likely to leave fingerprint marks.
  • A con to acid etched glass is that it is not readily available due to the fact that the acid used is hazardous and often has to be produced overseas. Acid etching is also limited in custom designs.

There you have it. You’ve learned about the process of glass etching, the appearance of it, and even it’s advantages and disadvantages. So which is better? Well, that’s up to you to decide.



  1. Stephen June 3, 2016 at 8:03 pm - Reply

    Another MAJOR difference between acid etch and sandblast is that light does not transmit through the acid etch as well as the sandblast when lighting up a piece of glass for accent purposes such as a glass shelf or vanity glass

  2. Kathleen July 17, 2016 at 5:42 pm - Reply

    Good article. I just wanted to address a small confusion in terms, specifically with the meaning of “opacity”. That word refers to the amount of light passing through an object (such as a piece of glass). So a 100% fully opaque piece lets no light through it at all. A piece of drywall is completely opaque. A piece of glass can be completely opaque too. If you’re in a room that has 100% opaque walls, it will be completely dark inside.
    The amount of “obscurity” indicates whether you can see the details on the other side of a pane of glass or other object. Obscurity can be observed when glass has bumps, ridges, micro-roughness (as with etched glass) or any other pattern or texture. It’s created to one degree or another by the number of times light has to bounce around inside the thickness of glass before it reaches the other side of the pane.
    Our modern-day clear window glass is not obscure at all, for most purposes. Lots of clarity there. When it’s clean and dry, we can see through it very easily. There are textures on the market that are very, very obscure, yet all or almost all light will pass through it. The room mentioned above would be filled with light, but you could not see what’s going on outside — nor could they see what you’re doing inside. Hope this is helpful.

  3. John Rose July 18, 2016 at 3:58 pm - Reply

    Great comment. I understand what you mean about refraction and light and obscurity vs. opacity. The general broad term used when referring to etched glass and the degree that of which it is etched is usually referred to as opacity which is why we used the term here. But obscurity would be technically correct.

  4. Maggie July 26, 2016 at 4:49 pm - Reply

    I think that the guarantee of a high quality job makes sandblasting the better option. Since it will do what you want every time, you don’t have to worry about different surfaces looking different. You won’t have to worry about continuity in different sandblasted surfaces!

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