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Opal Glass Vs Frosted Glass Vs Smoked Glass: What’s Different? Which To Choose?

Searching for the right glass finish for your windows and doors can be confusing. There's frosted, smoked, and opal, to name some of the glass finishes you'll see. How are they different from each other, you ask. We've done the research and have the answer below.

Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

Opal glass often has a milky white appearance and is used to make tableware and home decor. Frosted glass has a foggy look. It allows natural light to enter but obscures the view from the glass panel.

Smoked glass has a dark tinted appearance that lets light in but infuses it with its dark hue. Both frosted and smoked glass can be used for your windows and doors depending on your need for privacy, energy efficiency, and UV protection.

Please keep reading to learn more about these glass finishes, their benefits, and where they are best suited for use. Let's get right into it!

Sheets of factory manufacturing tempered clear float glass panels cut to size, Opal Glass Vs Frosted Glass Vs Smoked Glass: What'S Different? Which To Choose?

What Are The Different Types Of Glass Finishes?

Glass is an essential building material incorporated in residential windows and doors. It is versatile such that it can transmit, refract, or absorb light depending on its particular use.

Furthermore, it can withstand changing weather conditions without showing signs of wear and tear. It is easy to maintain, rust-free and has a smooth surface that's very convenient to clean.

And, of course, no one can deny that they add beauty and elegance to a home. Add to that the fact that they can come in different colors and finishes to match your home's particular style.

All you have to do is choose the right one for you. As if it's that simple, right? Well, that's what this article is all about.

What Is Frosted Glass?

Frosted glass

Frosted glass has a surface with a whitish and cloudy look. It can allow light to pass through, but people can't see what's happening on the other side of the glass panel because of its cloudy or foggy appearance.

It is a type of obscure glass or privacy glass finish, as people can't see clearly through it.

This type of glass finish can be achieved in different ways.

There's acid etching wherein one side of the glass panel is treated with hydrofluoric acid or any kind of acid to make it translucent.

There's also sandblasting, which involves using a particular machine that sprays sand onto the glass surface at high speed.

Because of these meticulous processes, frosted glass can be expensive, except when you decide to cover your glass surface with a frosted film to mimic the look.

Frosted glass is excellent for your exterior doors, windows, or the glass surrounding your bathroom. You can have complete or incomplete coverage as you please.

Or you can also put decorative designs and patterns on their surface to enhance their appearance and liven up the space where you're using them.

What Are The Benefits Of Using Frosted Glass?

You get to enjoy these perks when you use this type of glass finish:

  • Energy Efficiency. Frosted glass allows natural light to enter. You still have a bright home space when you use this glass. When you don't have to use artificial lights at home, it's always a win because you get to save on your electric bill.
  • Maintain Privacy. You'll love that this glass finish is that light is welcome, but curious and prying eyes are not. People can't see through it, so you can keep your privacy even when using glass.
  • UV Protection. This finish helps in filtering the harmful rays of the sun. This means you (together with your home fixtures and furniture) have protection against UV rays, glare, and sun damage.
  • Low Maintenance. Frosted glass is easy to clean, and its surface doesn't streak. You need to wipe it with a glass cleaner once in a while to remove any dirt or dust particles.
  • Aesthetics. You can have the frosted glass panels customized to come with your preferred designs and patterns to make it more fun.

Frosted Glass Vs. Frosted Window Film: What's The Difference

One way to achieve a frosted glass finish is by just putting a frosted window film over your glass surface. You can use an adhesive or non-adhesive film or glass frosting spray.

Whichever option you choose is safe to use on the glass.

Find this frosted window film on Amazon.

As we've discussed frosted glass in detail, we'll tell you more about the benefits of using frosted window film.

  • Simple. It is easy to apply and can be removed when you don't like it anymore or want to replace it with a new design. It doesn't cause any damage to the surface.
  • Sleek and Aesthetic. Out with the flat glass panels. You can easily style your glass windows with frosted window film. You can also create patterns using different shapes to spruce up its look. You have control over its appearance. You can opt to have the whole glass surface covered with a frosted finish or go with partial coverage to provide a nice peek of what's inside. 
  • Affordable. Frosted window films make it affordable for you to achieve the frosted glass look without hurting your pocket. Plus, they can last between 10 and 20 years. This is truly value for your money for a fraction of the cost of frosted glass panels!

The technology behind frosted window films has made it possible for these materials to replicate the look and functionality of frosted glass; there's rarely any difference.

The only drawback, it seems, is when you want to remove the window film, it may leave a slight residue, but it'll disappear over time.

But of course, you need to get a good quality window film to enjoy its benefits for a long time.

What Is Smoked Glass?

Handprint on smoked pub window glass

The smoked glass allows light in and doesn't obscure the view. The surface is clear, but it just has a dark smoky color to it to provide some privacy somehow.

It has been tinted with a dark color by putting it over a flame. The residue from the smoke is what gives it its mysterious and smoldering look.

Benefits Of Smoked Glass

Here are the advantages of using smoked glass:

  • Energy Efficient. Smoked glass panels can still allow light to pass through. This means that when the sun is shining brightly, you won't need to use electrical lights inside your room. Thus, you can save on energy costs.
  • UV Protection. Since these glass panels are tinted, they can filter up to 99% of the harmful UV rays coming from the sun. This is good since UV radiation can cause damage to your furniture, fabric, and other home stuff. This is the strongest suit of this type of glass finish.
  • Privacy. The glass has a dark smoky color that can somehow provide a screen to the glass panels so that others don't have a crystal-clear view of your interior.
  • Maintenance. Smoked glass has a smooth surface which makes it easy to clean. Also, it has a natural resilience to withstand varying weather conditions.

Different Ways To Use Smoked Glass

This type of glass finish is perfect for windows on the upper floors of your house where you still want to enjoy a good view of the outside area without the prying eyes of neighbors and passersby.

It would also nicely complement black hardware, giving your home a modern and contemporary look. Smoked glass is also used for statement pieces like pendant lights that add drama to their surroundings.

Find this smoked glass pendant light on Amazon.

What Is Opal Glass?

Figure behind opal glass panel

Opal glass has an opaque milky white appearance. It is also referred to as a milk glass.

It turns white due to the addition of fluorine, tin dioxide, bone ash, and antimony compounds similar to those added in ceramics that also give them the same white color.

But opal glass can also come in shades of pink, yellow, blue, brown, and black. This is achieved by adding opacifiers to glass. This results in patches of colors seen on the glass surface.  The color would depend on the opacifiers used.

Benefits Of Opal Glass

These are the benefits you stand to gain when you use opal glass.

  • Tough Material. Opal glass is known for having very high resistance against heat and impact. It is tougher than regular glass and won't easily break if it crashes.
  • Hygienic. Its smooth and poreless surface doesn't absorb water, other liquids, and impurities. It doesn't become a breeding ground for mold and bacteria.
  • Stylish. Its beauty is in its simplicity. It can be fashioned into different shapes and demonstrates a stable performance when you put decorations on its surface.

Different Ways To Use Opal Glass

Typical uses of opal glass include tableware like dishes, plates, and cups. It is hygienic and safe to use on your dishwasher and microwave.  It is also used in home decorative pieces such as lamps and clocks.

Check out this opal dish set on Amazon.

Which Glass Finish Is Best?

Workers packaging glass sheets in warehouse

As seen above, each glass finish is suited for a particular purpose. It depends on the users' requirements, especially regarding opacity, privacy, energy efficiency, UV protection, and aesthetic quality.

When it comes to glass solutions for your windows and doors, frosted glass gives you privacy, while smoked glass provides excellent protection from the sun's harmful rays.

You can expect more energy efficiency from the frosted glass as it allows bright light in, whereas smoked glass filters the light from the outside and infuses it with its dark color.

Opal glass is on a different level and is best suited for tableware and home decor.

But whichever glass finish you use, the glass panel or glassware will add value to your home with its elegance and beauty.

Our Final Thoughts

Opal glass, frosted glass, and smoked glass have different qualities. Now that you've learned about their properties, you can optimize their strengths and use them accordingly so that you can enjoy their benefits for a long time.

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