Etching a Window for Privacy

We have a cute little window on our front door.  It opens so you can talk to someone without opening the actual door.  But, it also means that if there is a solicitor and they knock, they can see you checking to see who it is and know you are home.  There is no privacy.  Well, if you read our backyard post, you know we like privacy.  We want to be able to use the window, yet not always have people see us on the other side, should we not be dressed, not want to appear to be home, etc.


What to do?  We looked into putting window film on it.

image image

But, we tried to put window film on one window in our home in Utah when we lived there.  I worked and worked at it for days, going through tons of film to no avail.  It was hard to size just right, to adhere just right and so on.  I remember wanting to pull my hair out.  I really didn’t want to go through that again.

It can be done and it can be done well (not by me, though).  In fact, I did have some professionally installed in this home so as to guard against uv rays and heat.  I love it, but it’s not something I’d do myself.  I’ll leave window film to the professionals.

Then, we looked into a spray on frosted finish.

image image

However, after reading reviews, it seemed that it was tricky.  There could be overspray (we’d have to protect the door and floor), and it chips easily with use.

Then, we researched just etching the glass like you would on a wine glass if you were putting an image on it.

image image

In the end, we decided to try the etching cream because:
a) It is easier to apply.
b) It takes less time than the film. 
c) It seems to be more permanent and consistent than the spray.

We purchased the Armour Etch cream at Hobby Lobby.


We needed a piece of glass to test it out on, so I removed a glass shelf from our medicine cabinet in the bathroom.

Armour Etching Cream has the best reviews, but no instructions on the bottle.  So, we went online and got some tips and hints.  Some said to leave it on for only one minute while other said up to 35 minutes.

In order to resolve how long to leave the cream on, we taped off sections on the glass.  The first is 1 minute, the second is 5 minutes, the third is 10 minutes, all the way up to 40 minutes.

We took an old craft paint brush and put the etching cream on thickly.   Be generous.  It can be scraped off, put back in the bottle and reused, so no need to skimp.  This is a 10 ounce bottle.


Then, we used a metal scraper to scrape the majority of it off as the timer went off on each section.


After scraping the majority of the cream off, we used the original paint brush and water to brush the remaining cream off.  After that, we used a paper towel and Windex to clean the glass.


We did that for each of the separated portions.


Here is the outcome. I put sponges behind it so you can see how well the etching obscures the detail on the sponges.  The shortest time is on the right, longest on the left.  however, the last one on the right was done twice for one minute.


And, just laying on the granite countertops.


It seems it really doesn’t matter if you leave it on for 1 minute or 40, but two layers did make a small difference.  I decided on doing two layers for 5 minutes each.

Time to start on the door.  The goal is to obscure the clear glass window enough to add some privacy.


Here is the nifty little window shut, or almost shut.


We started by taping the window off and protecting the door and floor.  That way, the etching cream, should it drip, won’t mess up the wood.



Next, I painted the etching cream on.  Generously.


I waited 5 minutes and scraped it off, and put it back into the container to reuse.  Then, I brushed it with the wet paint brush.  And, lastly, I used Windex to clean the window.  Here is the outcome after the first layer of etching cream.


Next, I taped it off again and prepared it for a second layer.



And, after cleaning the etching cream off, we’re all done.  From the outside.

Etching-009-2 Etching-008-2

Just enough privacy!    Have you etched anything?   What method would you have used?



  1. I used armour etch to etch a monogram on a candy jar for a friend. Super easy to do!

  2. I’m going to have to give that stuff a try! It looks awesome!

  3. That looks like a great product. Smart that you put it on a medicine cabinet glass first. It turned out perfect, like as if it came with the house!

  4. Great tips thanks so much!

  5. I was looking for tips on window etching and engraving, I was planning to customize some glass bar coasters. This is a really great write up and the pictures are s nice touch as well. Thank you for the detailed info.

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