The primary benefit of frosted glass panels is that they offer privacy without blocking light. In addition, manufacturers can etch or sandblast decorative patterns into the glass.
Etching and sandblasting render glass opaque by texturizing its surface. Commonly used in windows, doors and cabinetry, frosted glass also is deal for areas such as bathroom showers, where homeowners typically prefer privacy as well ample light.
Homeowners can choose their glass based on opacity, texture and gradient, which refers to a transition from clear glass to frosted. Manufacturers measure gradient by percentage of opacity. A 0 percent gradient has no frosting.
Opacity refers to transparency. The higher the opacity, or opaqueness, the less transparent the glass is. Sandblasting and etching are equally effective at achieving any degree of opacity a homeowner prefers.
Texture refers to smoothness. Etching typically results in a smoother surface than sandblasting.
Although sandblasting allows for more detailed designs than etching does, it also renders the glass more prone to fingerprint marks.
Do-it-yourselfers can mimic the look of frosted glass using consumer products such as spray-on finishes and plastic film that homeowners can remove when the effect is no longer desired. Paint-on etching products allow users to create more intricate designs or completely frost smaller sections of glass.