Tom Shafer

Wait, non-see through windows?

October 21, 2015

Worried that your home is a too open to the great outdoors, and the many neighbors that come along with it? Obscure glass can keep all the light you want while obstructing the view in. "Obscure glass" is simply a general term for a type of glass that is semi-opaque. It is used in places where privacy is required or deemed necessary, and is actually quite nice to look at. If you're picturing tinted windows, think again. Instead, picture glass embossed with a lovely pattern of pebbles or reeds that keeps the view murky, but the room nice and bright.

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Obscure glass is made by passing sheets of glass over a roller that embosses, or presses, a pattern into the surface. That pattern in the glass controls the degree of light diffusion. Patterns vary widely -- you can get a simpler or busier pattern, choose how much you want the light diffused, or even pick a pattern based on the varying degrees of privacy they offer.

Obscure glass is usually seen in bathrooms. If you have a tub under a window, the glass has to be tempered for your safety, but many times it isn't obscured for your privacy. If you ask for obscured glass, you may find that your suggests taking the window and having it sandblasted at an auto repair shop. But sandblasting breaks the surface tension on the glass, making it weaker, especially in the case of tempered glass. Instead, ask for a replacement window with a pattern.

Love the look of obscured glass? Cabinets are also a great place for it if you want to add it into more spaces in your home. Not only does it hide the cabinet contents, but it also adds architectural detail.

Doors also are a prime place where any type of obscure pattern will fit. There's been massive growth for decorative exterior doors, many of which include some type of glass. Leaded units might have a modern design or something straight from the Victorian period. And now, obscure glass is even making its way into interior doors. There are several manufacturers that offer great designs for these, such as a frosted glass with a word like "Pantry" or "Laundry" in clear letters. Obscure glass has actually been used for privacy in interior doors for many years, but now that the types and designs are more varied, it's gaining some popularity.

Looking for some of the most popular options? Fern leaves are a classic choice, and rain -- which looks like raindrops pouring off of the glass -- is another popular option. The reed pattern is also gaining popularity -- it's a vertical pattern of half-inch wide grooves. However, if you're looking for an industry standard, "pebbled obscure" is used by most window manufacturers.

From windows to cabinet doors, these beautiful glass options can cover it all.

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