Frosted vinyl window decoration for Johnny Farina on Elgin St. in Ottawa, ON

Simulate etched glass with frosted vinyl

Frosted vinyl is a great economic solution for professional looking glass graphics and patterns

James Martensen
Jul 9, 2017 · 3 min read

This article originally appeared on

Frosted vinyl is pretty cool stuff, and it’s perfect for a professional look without breaking the bank for real etched glass. Frosted vinyl is flecked in shades of silver and has a slight transparency to it. It is also very thin, so when it’s applied it is indistinguishable from etched glass at almost any distance.

You can even print on frosted vinyl, but it is important to note that due to its transparency and silver coating — as opposed to the opaque white of most vinyls — your colours will be slightly muted. You may have to run a few small test prints and make adjustments to your file to achieve the result you’re after.

Johnny Farina’s dine-in section windows

Johnny Farina’s windows turned out great, we went with one style for their express deli windows and another for their dine-in area windows, tied together by the band than spans the entire width of their restaurant.

360 Centre wanted a full-width band as well, but instead of 12 inches in height they went a full 5 feet, and instead of a cut pattern they printed one. More than half their windows were so big we had to seam two pieces of vinyl because the roll of vinyl itself is 54″. Their band at 60″ in height meant that any window wider than 54″ had to be seamed.

360 Centre 360 windows

You can see the seam in the photos, it is visible enough that you will have to take it into account when designing your artwork. However, you should be able to keep all seams to less than a quarter-inch thick — the size of 360‘s seam — which if placed properly shouldn‘t break your design.

In the 360 Centre photos you also can see how transparent frosted vinyl is. You can see blurry objects and shapes through the vinyl, but it is opaque enough that it’s regularly used as a privacy measure by some businesses. You can block visibility into a kitchen area or meeting room by covering the windows, either partially or completely, with frosted vinyl. Banks and medical clinics are places that commonly use this effect.

That wraps up my posts about signage for now, but I’m working on other projects so hopefully I will have more to share shortly.

— James

If you learned something while reading this article please share, recommend, comment, bookmark, or shout it from your rooftop. It would mean a lot. Thanks.

James Martensen

Written by

Design, baseball, and sometimes other stuff too

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade