What is Glass Sandblasting?

Here at KLG, we’ve been asked on more than one occasion “what is frosted glass made of?” And well, the answer’s in the question; it’s plain old glass. But the difference is that it’s glass that’s been sandblasted.

“Sandblasting” is one of those terms that pretty much is what it sounds like. It’s the process of blasting sand particles at high speed to abrade a smooth surface. So what is sandblasting used for? Well it can be used to etch patterns onto a surface, to clean certain metals, and when used with glass, sandblasting takes the clarity out of the surface and makes it opaque.

You’ll have probably seen sandblasted glass windows in bathrooms and front doors where the privacy of opaque (or ‘frosted’) glass is useful. But at KLG, we’ve taken sandblasted glass designs to a whole new level, from matching wallpaper patterns to bonded glass trophies and everything in between.

How is Sandblasting Done?

The concept is fairly straightforward, but what is the process of sandblasting? It basically involves the sand particles being propelled along a tube on a high-speed current of air. The sand shoots through a nozzle at the end of the tube, hitting the glass and corroding the surface, leaving a milky white opaque look to it. Different etching effects are obtained by varying the amount of sand used, the speed of the jet and the nozzle at the end of the tube.

The amazing patterns and detail you often see in sandblasted panes is created by simply ‘masking off’ the areas of the glass you don’t want affected by the sand with an adhesive vinyl. The masked off areas are not susceptible to the sand blasting, so remain crystal clear.

There are two main approaches to how sandblasting works: suction/syphoning, and pressure. The suction method simply sucks the sand into the high-speed air stream, whereas the pressure system uses a pressurized container to shoot the sand through the nozzle. Generally, pressure set ups are more powerful and so produce results more quickly, but they also tend to be more expensive.

In addition to the standard blast hose and nozzle jet (which looks a little bit like a heavy duty pressure hose), you can also use a blast cabinet. Cabinets are great because all the sand particles are contained inside so there is less to clean up, and you don’t generally need to wear protective clothing as you’re operating the machinery in a sealed box. However, there are obviously limits to what you can fit inside one!

And it’s not just sand that’s used either. There are lots of other abrasive materials that can be used for blasting, such as crushed walnut or coconut shells, and actually this is often preferable as silica sand (the traditional medium) can cause silicosis of the lung.

There are other ways in which to etch glass, which involve using acids and creams, but as these techniques involve extremely hazardous materials and don’t offer the same range in technique or effect, sandblasting is now the more common approach.

Where Can You Use Frosted Glass?

Although frosted glass works brilliantly in bathrooms for privacy in shower screens, windows and glass doors, it can be used in lots of other places around the home too. Here are a few examples to get you thinking:

  • Mirrors can be sandblasted on the back when being fitted with lighting or have patterns sandblasted onto the front.
  • Balustrades and partitions look great with patterns sandblasted onto them (we can even match these to your wallpaper design).
  • Doors with glass panes in double glazing units can be sandblasted for privacy or patterned for decoration. You could even have the name of your house etched into a window above your front door.

And it’s not just around the home that frosted glass can be useful; having logos or motifs etched onto doors, windows, table tops and signage can be a wonderful and practical addition to the workplace as well.

Sandblasted Glass Designs

We mentioned earlier how the patterns on frosted glass are achieved by masking off the areas that need to remain clear with adhesive vinyl. Once you appreciate that the vinyl can be cut to order, you begin to realise the possibilities for designs are practically endless! A quick search on Pinterest will bring up a huge range of beautiful sandblasted images, some bold and simple, some intricate and sculptural.

Contemporary trends lean towards complex patterns and varied gradations of depth in the glass to create a shading effect and some amazing 3D designs. The more intricate a design, the more expensive it will be, but here at KLG we have a large range of bespoke patterns and designs available for all budgets that will meet contemporary as well as more traditional tastes.

What is The Best Way to Clean Frosted Glass?

What sandblasting does is create a beautiful effect on the surface of our glass whilst still letting 97% of the light pass through. However, it also leaves an uneven surface that can trap dirt, so regular cleaning can be important.

Most sandblasted glass will have a protective coating applied to it before it leaves the workshop which will help provide you with long-lasting protection against grime and knocks, but it also means you have to choose your cleaning products carefully. If you choose to use a commercial cleaner, ensure that is not alcohol, ammonia or isopropanol based, as these types of cleaner may remove your protective coating.

We’d recommend making your own water-based glass cleaner with some clean, clear water and a little detergent (think a weak bowl of washing up water). Then simply use a soft, lint-free cloth in a consistent, uniform pattern to avoid distracting smears.

Sandblasted glass can offer a really contemporary look to your home or workplace, as well as some very practical privacy. If you’ve not considered using it before, take a look at our range and see if we can inspire you to bring a little extra beauty into your space.

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