How To Create Your Own Privacy Windows With Etching Cream

If you want privacy glass on the front doors that lead into your home, then you can choose to have custom glass added. Privacy glass comes in textures and patterns like pebble, reed, rain-glass, and cubed. While this glass is a good option to obscure light and vision through your door as much or as little as you like, you may not have the funds right away to purchase the glass, especially if your door has several small panes or an odd shape that requires special ordering. If this is the case, then consider creating your own privacy glass by etching the windows.

Acid Etching

Glass acid etching is the process of removing a very small amount of glass from the outside surface of the pane to create a rough and milky texture. Traditional or professional etching is completed with strong acid solutions like hydrofluoric acid, and this helps to create a more opaque surface across the glass as well as texture when patterns are created. It is not safe to use this material at home, so purchase an etching cream from your local hobby supply or arts and crafts store. This cream will contain safer chemical agents like hydrogen fluoride and sodium fluoride. However, these chemicals can still burn the skin, so make sure to wear protective rubber gloves and appropriate eyewear when working with it. 

Once you purchase the etching cream, clean the glass thoroughly. You should use a cleaning agent that will remove general debris as well as body oils deposited by the hands. Dish soap is best for this, so add two squirts of the soap to a gallon of water. Scrub the window with a sponge and use a lint free microfiber cloth to dry the glass. Add masking tape or painter's tape to the wooden or vinyl frame around each pane of glass. Shake the bottle of etching cream to make sure the chemicals are mixed together properly. Use a paintbrush to dab a thick layer of the cream on the glass. Read the instructions on the etching container to see how long the compound should be left in place. Typically, etching cream will work within a few minutes. 

Once the etching is completed, use soap and water to clean the glass. If the glass is not opaque enough, then add another layer of the etching cream. The cream will continue to eat away at layers of glass, so continue etching until you reach the desired appearance. When you are done, you can add a protective coating over the etched glass if you desire. Fingerprints and dirt will often be quite noticeable on the surface of etched glass, and a polymer sealer can help to retain the aesthetic appearance of the glass. The etched glass sealer can be purchased at your local art supply store, since it is often used to protect artistic glass pieces. Use a squeegee tool to smooth the gel onto the panes.

Adding Patterns

If you do not want a glass door with solid etching, then you can add a pattern or design instead. You can do this by securing a self adhesive or static cling vinyl sheet to the surface of the glass. Purchase sheets that are the same size as the window panes across your door, and look for white or light yellow varieties. Also, buy some stencils with designs or graphics that you like. Use a ballpoint pen to add the graphics to the vinyl. Place the vinyl sheets on a cutting board and use a utility knife, craft knife, or a razor blade to cut out the images.

You can either place the cut-out graphics onto the window or attach the large sheet to the glass. If you want the design to be frosted, then secure the sheet. If you want most of the glass to be etched, then place the cut-out pieces of vinyl on the glass. When you have the vinyl positioned correctly, use a sturdy and flat piece of plastic or cardboard to smooth out the vinyl to make sure bubbles do not remain. Add the etching cream, clean the glass, and carefully peel away the vinyl afterwards. Touch up edges with a small amount of etching cream on a toothpick if they are not sharp.

If you feel you cannot do this yourself, contact custom glass companies, such as Wildwood Glass Company Inc, who can help or do the project for you.