Different Types of Obscure Glass And Their Uses – 2021

Types Of Obscure Glass

Since the 1880s, obscure glass has been growing in popularity with its beauty, durability and privacy feature.

After 20th century, the designs and varieties increased manifold.

Although there are mainly 3 types of obscure glasses with different benefits and uses, you’ll find many more varieties and combinations in the market.

Want to know more about it? No worries. Here you’ll get to know all types of obscure glass and their uses.

What Is Obscure Glass?

Obscure glass refers to any glass that comes partially or fully opaque so it gets difficult to see through. It simply disguises or distorts the substance on the other side by using patterns, textures or colors.

The range goes from having very slight distortion to revealing just silhouettes to completely concealing the view through the glass.

You may often see the use of it in glass-enclosed showers, sidelights, skylights, room dividers, entryway doors- spaces that have privacy concerns.

Strength Of Obscure Glass

Obscure glass goes under tampering process to increase the strength and decrease the risk of breakage. It starts with heating the material to a very high temp and then exposing it to a very cold temp with jets of cool air. Lastly, the outer layers cool down and tighten at a higher rate than the interior. As it creates tension, it results in stronger glass than ordinary ones.

Because of the strength, obscure glass resists higher level of impact without breakage. Even if the glass shatters, it’ll break down into crumbs instead of jagged shards. So, not only you’ll find the glass strong but safe too.

Usually, tampering is required for big glass panels. For instance, you may want your doors, full length windows, shower screens, partitions, and furniture to be having tampered glass for their safety benefits.

Levels Of Obscurity

You can denote the level of obscurity on a scale from 1-5. The lower the level, the lower the obscurity and vice-versa.

Level 1 makes the substance hardly distorted, you can still see it kinda clearly. As you increase the rating, the substance becomes more and more obscured. Once you reach level 5, you won’t be able to see anything behind the glass.

One of the reasons for the visibility is the light. The lesser opaque levels still let the light pass through to let you see stuff until you’re increasing the level.

3 Types Of Obscure Glasses

A. Frosted Glass

Frosted Glass

It is one of the most common types of obscure glass that’s popular for its minimal maintenance and affordability. The surface of the frosted glass has a mottled effect while the texture feels eminently fine, white-ish and smooth.

It comes treated, mostly using chemicals like alkali fluoride and hydrofluoric acid, followed by washing the water-soluble products from the reactions to eliminate them and then make them roughened.

The obscurity of frosted glass awards your room with tons of privacy without sacrificing daylight. Not only full but you can enjoy partial privacy too.

Although its visibility levels are wide in range, it comes with pretty much the same function, difficult to see through showing you nothing but shadows and fuzzy shapes. The transparency is not opaque but hazy.

There are typically two types of frosted glass. Acid-etched and Sandblasting.

1. Acid-Etched

Acid etching is a thousand-year-old glass decoration technique that you’ll still find in use.

You get acid-etched glass through colorless hexafluorosilicic acid. It’s a special chemical that melts, corrodes and changes the physical surface of your glass. The result leaves a flat texture with smooth, consistent frosting.

Also refers to French embossing, such frosting glass has a variety of gradients as well as opacity levels. Many manufacturers make use of stencils so they can decorate glasses with heaps of designs.

2. Sandblasting

Be it partially or fully, you can etch the sandblasted glass depending on your needs. You’ll find the glasses solid. Neither these will peel nor chip easily.

The ‘sandblast’ effect basically comes from sand or organic substance like walnut husks. It uses a very powerful, high-speed machine that sandblasts a clear, flat sheet of glass at high pressure and creates a mottled surface. The glass certainly diffuses light but obscures visibility of stuff on the other side.

Sandblasted glass comes with more range of visibility levels and customized options than Acid-etched. It’s because the technique lets you inscribe different designs and patterns on the glass.

Related post: Know the Actual Different – 2 Types Of Low-E Glass.

Uses Of Frosted Glass

1. Shower Stall In Bathroom

Bathroom gives you moments of seclusion. You can ponder and introspect for several hours there. Designing your windows with frosted glass panes and shower screens helps give you privacy with some necessary natural light.

Plus, frosted glass smartly deals with moisture in your bathroom without becoming corrosive. Even if you notice any mold buildup at the bottom of panel, you can clean it easily with some vinegar. 

2. Closet Door In Bedroom

The wardrobe of bedroom is something very important when it comes to home décor. It can make your room appear tidy or untidy.

If you want the tidy look, then go with a neat, repeated pattern that can cover your closet door with frosted pane. Try it out and jazz up your archaic closet with the beautiful design.

3. Skylight Windows

Although windows allow for daylight from the front, skylights provide the same through your roof. If you want to enjoy the light with privacy, then get a skylight embedded in the roof with frosted pane. Not only it’ll give a long-lasting diffused effect of light but protect you from solar glare too.

4. Partition In Living Room

If you have a small living room, then frosted glass partitions would be great! The glass helps a lot in making the room look bigger. You’ll get both privacy and feeling of a big space. Albeit partitions usually come in wood material, people are switching to frosted glass panels lately.

5. Door Or Window For Home Office, Study

Since frosted glass doors and windows help give you much-needed solitude, it’ll be great to have for your home office or study room. Plus, due to ease of maintenance, it’s ideal for corner doors and windows that accumulate dust easily.

B. Patterned Glass

Patterned Glass

Patterned glass has embossed textures on one or both sides. The heavier the patterns, the more support and strength the glass will get.

It can feature different designs through the method of cutting, drilling, grounding, laminating, and tempering. And if you get the tinted one, its colorful presentation would add more beauty to the space.

The obscure material allows daylight to pass through while preventing a clear view. However, light intensity will still be less than a transparent pane. Usually, it’s the shape, size and depth of patterns that determine the direction and magnitude of reflection.

With this type, you get patterned structure with the rolled glass process. It starts with a batch of materials including soda, silica sand and lime that are melted together in a container.

After that, the mix goes to a machine slab, flows below the refractory gate that controls speed and volume and then moves between 2 water-cooled rollers. One roller comes embossed with a separate pattern on a soft surface while the other comes smooth.

After coming out of the rollers, patterned glass is slowly cooled so it can eliminate residual stresses and then cut into different sizes.

You’ll get to see a variety of designs for the patterned obscure glass. These include Master Carré (grids of tiny squares), Flemish (floral), Chantilly lace, ribbed, geometric shapes, bubble-effect, stars and leaves. Each boasts appealing visual effects and distinctive personality. Among them, bubble-effect and ribbed-effect glasses are very popular.

1. Bubble-Effect

Bubble-effect glass produces the illusion of raindrops. So, it’s known as raindrop glass as well.

Raindrop glasses have this vibrant and fresh appearance that looks great in the setting for home, office, restaurants and cafes. These give the feeling of natural ambiance and subtle light diffusion.

2. Ribbed-Effect

Also refers to reeded-effect, the glass gives you a feeling of illusion, aesthetics, and low-visibility. Some glasses have thinner ribbing that allows some daylight to pass through while obscuring the vision. Contrariwise, the thicker bands of ribbed glass produce a 3D effect that allows for more natural light but contains less obscurity.

Uses Of Patterned Glass

1. Interior Partitions Between Rooms

Patterned glass in partitions helps camouflage your room’s less attractive features. It creates a unique barrier within the area that’ll give the illusion of openness.

2. Front And Back Doors

You can think of using the patterned glass in your front or back door. Not only it’ll give an understated, beautiful look to the doors but also promote privacy from the peepers.  

3. Shower And Tub Enclosures

Enclosures with patterned glass would act as a bar to prevent the steam or water from escaping your shower or bathtub. You can enjoy more protection and unique look of the patterns if you pair it with the frosted glass. 

4. Glass Furniture, Glassware, Covering And Shelving

Since patterned glass has a wide number of textures, manufacturers make a variety of furniture and glassware with it. These include glass shelves, patio furniture, tabletop, counter, wall cladding, lampshade, backsplash, decorative piece, decorative furniture and lighting fixtures.

5. Bathroom Windows

Patterned glass comes waterproof thanks to the materials. So, not only it looks great as bathroom windows but also handles the moisture of bathroom well. Apart from allowing daylight, the glass prevents visibility since it has heavy patterns.

C. Opaque Glass

Opaque Glass

While the frosted or patterned glasses allow for some daylight, opaque glass doesn’t let it pass at all. That’s why it is sometimes known as privacy glass. You basically use opaque glass in situations where your privacy is of utmost importance. It could be used in your house or office building.

Opaque glass uses techniques like lamination, random texturing, painting and tinting to produce unique appearance.

It uses voltage and enables nanowires on either side of the pane to get energized and move towards each other. Then it squeezes and deforms the soft elastomer resulting in roughness. This roughness makes the light scatter and turns the glass opaque.

Uses Of Opaque Glass

1. Office Partitions

Using opaque glass for partitions can benefit staff and employees in the office. Not only it helps give them privacy but encourages their productivity too. Since these partitions are easily movable, you can change the spot whenever needed.

 2. Shower Enclosure

Due to the added privacy, opaque glass is an ideal choice for using as an enclosure in your shower. Although you may need separate artificial light, the privacy won’t be compromised.

3. Windows

Opaque glass windows facing the street can make your house look classier. Its smoky feature prevents the neighbors and passersby from peeping inside the house. 

4. Doors

With an opaque glass door, you’d be able to get the sense of more space than your room actually has. And since the material doesn’t take up much space, you will actually have more surface area and be able to enjoy your private life better.

Custom Obscure Glass

Obscure glass can be customized with different mixes, patterns and shapes. That’s the special property of the material.

You can mix frosted and patterned glass or opaque and patterned material. Besides, there are tons of special stripes, patterns and segmented designs that you can choose from.

Final Words

That stunning smoky look, those tempting textures!

Obscure glass lets you live your life with privacy and enchant you with its beauty. Although it used to be more popular for doors and windows, you can have it in other ways.

Besides adding a stylish touch, it can immerse your small room in sunlight! The room will look happy and twice the size.

There are heaps of advantages that this glass provides. To get those benefits to the fullest, you need to know the types of obscure glass and their uses.

Once you know the ideal type you need and start using, you’ll fall in love with the class and privacy obscure glasses offer.

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