The Process of Glass Etching in Santa Fe, NM

April 9, 2018 2:06 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Etched glass is a common sight in many commercial businesses, homes, department stores, homeware and more. Its frosted yet light-filtering appearance makes it ideal for maintaining privacy and creating eye-catching designs in an otherwise simple material. Some DIY experts may do glass etching in Santa Fe, NM on their own, but very few people actually understand how glass etching works.

There are three major ways to etch glass: sandblasting, acid etching and chemical (cream) etching. Each method uses a slightly different set of tools and materials but ultimately ends up with the similar, frosted-looking result that’s so popular today. Here’s a brief guide to each method and how it works.


Sandblasting, also called abrasive blasting, is one of the most popular methods of glass etching. Sandblasting in Santa Fe, NM is the process of using an abrasive material to cut into the surface of the glass. An abrasive-resistant stencil is used to cover parts of the glass that should not be etched.

Then, an air compressor paired with a sandblaster uses high pressure to blast abrasives like sand against the glass, which chips the surface and creates a frosted look. The longer the abrasive is pushed into the glass, the deeper and more apparent the etching will be.

Acid etching

Acid etching uses hexafluorosilicic acid to etch away glass. The acid is made using a combination of heated chemicals including hydrochloric acid, calcium fluoride, quartz powder and sulfuric acid, and is thus considered quite dangerous. Acid etching also creates a frosted style look that still admits light, but the glass will be uniformly smooth and satin-like.

Acid etching is typically completed on large pieces of glass for windows and doors. The method uses an acid-resistant material, usually wax, which is applied to the glass. Then, the design to be etched is carved out of the wax to remain exposed to the acid placed on top. The acid sits on the glass and then the pane is cleaned, revealing the etched design.

Chemical etching

The third common type of glass etching in Santa Fe, NM is chemical etching. Similarly to acid etching, chemical etching uses a combination of chemicals, including multiple fluoride compounds, but is put into a cream form. A stencil is used to cover the portion of the glass that isn’t being etched, and the cream is applied to the exposed areas. After a period of time, the cream can be wiped away and the glass will be etched.

Chemical etching products are often found in home etching kits and do-it-yourself projects. It is typically used in smaller applications like single doors, homeware and small decorations.

Santa Fe Glass & Mirror is your foremost expert on glass etching and sandblasting in Santa Fe, NM. We are a premier glass repair and installation company and offer a variety of products including custom glass and mirrors for tubs and showers, decorations, tabletops, windows and more. If you have a need for custom or etched glass, call us today for a free estimate!

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