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Decorative Film vs. Etched Glass

Decorative Film vs. Etched Glass


Want to transform the look of your indoor office space or exterior building surface? Homeowners and properties have a variety of choices, with decorative film or etched glass being at the top of list.

How do you choose between the two? Versatile in nature, sheets of decorative film are laid on the surface of glass and used for accents, texture, color, branding, and privacy—with certain films even creating the appearance of etched or stained glass. Etched glass, on the other hand, is glass that is engraved employing the use of laser technology (or uses acidic materials to create a “frosted” outcome). What is left are often high-quality, striking results, ones that are fine in detail and long-enduring. Although that may be the case, less costly decorative film can often resemble etched glass, and therefore may be your best option, one that doesn’t have to be boring or pricey.

For practicality, we often recommend decorative film. Read on for more details. 


Used both inside and out, decorative window film is a good fit for glass windows or walls, stairwells, or anywhere you want to let more light in while still maintaining privacy or the allusion of space. And while you have the option of more permanent, etched glass, decorative glass is more beneficial for design, installation, and your pocketbook.

Design Expense

Designs for both provide many options: with film, you can choose patterns and textures, as well as colors and opacity. Branding is a snap with decorative film, as you can add custom graphics and colors to suit your design. That being said, decorative film costs less than etched glass because it’s less labor- intensive to then create the design in addition to requiring less material. Heavy sheets of glass are used for etching and can’t be altered once ordered.

Application and Upkeep

Decorative film is durable and easy to design and install, going on noiselessly and quickly, with no messy debris or disruption to the space being worked in. Etched glass, on the other hand, can be complex to lay out, as you need either an existing design or an expert familiar with the process and more extensive materials. In addition, the care of etched glass is a little more high maintenance: glass can fall prone to fingerprints, dirt and grime, as well as grease stains or dust. You may have to work harder to avoid leaving residue or fingerprints, whereas decorative film is resistant to all of those problems and is simple to clean, using common glass cleaners.

Aesthetics and Change

The beauty of decorative film is that, if you tire of the film, it can be removed quite easily. Whether you want to mix up your current design for its look or purpose or remove it entirely, the remaining glass won’t be damaged and new film can be adhered as effortlessly as the first time. Although beautiful, etched glass, as mentioned before, once altered with chemicals or through processing, is permanent and can’t be changed without taking down the entire piece of glass and replacing it.

To learn more about decorative film and how it can suit your needs, please contact us.