How To Use Stencils to Etch Glass

How To Use Stencils to Etch Glass

There are numerous options available these days when it comes to choosing glass etching stencils. Mostly, they are either single-use or reusable stencils; each of them comes with various options.

  • Single-use 

One-time disposable stencils are ideal for novices because they are simple to use, inexpensive, and allow you to check whether you like the result. They are good to be used with glass etching paste but cannot withstand sandblasting. On the other hand, pre-cut vinyl stencils with adhesive backing are considerably more durable but not reusable. These are generally meant for sandblasting and chemical etching.

  • Reusable

Purchasing reusable etching stencils is comparatively more expensive, but they save money in the long run. But buy them only if you need to use them again in the future.

  • Design options

Both of these glass etching stencils are available in a vast array of pre-designed patterns. You can probably find a stencil for anything and everything. You also have the option to customize your own design and ask the concerned businesses to create them on your behalf.

Simple Four-Step Guide on How to Etch On Glass

Etching is not difficult, but it does require precision, attention, and patience. You would require –

  • Etching stencils and cream
  • A paintbrush
  • A wooden burnishing stick
  • Glass
  • Scissors
  • A ruler
  • Masking tape
  • A hobby knife
  • Paper towels
  • Protective gloves
  • Goggles
  • Running water

1. Application

The glass should be cleaned properly. Soap and water will do the job well, but fingerprint-resistant items should not be used since they form a film on the glass that stops the paste from performing.

Cut around the desired glass etching stencils, as well as the frosted backing. Carefully measure and lay on the glass. Apply masking tape to the edges, taking care not to cover any of the designs. Also, avoid adhering masking tape too close to the stencils, as a bit of room around the edge facilitates burnishing. Carefully press the glass etching stencils onto the glass using a wooden stick having rounded edges.

  • Transferring the stencil

This part requires precision. Start by removing a portion of the masking tape and use a craft knife to carefully peel the transparent top sheet from the stencil. If you can remove the top sheet while leaving the masking tape in place, it will be much simpler.

2. Applying the etching paste

You must put on gloves and goggles before applying the etching paste. Ensure that you are in a space with enough ventilation and flowing water. Shake the etching cream and apply a heavy layer to the stencil. If you skip this, you will most likely have a spotty etching. Most guidelines ask you to wait for one minute, but it is preferable to wait for 10 minutes. It differs slightly according to the temperature, but ventilation is essential because the fumes get more intense as time passes.

3. Removal of etching cream and stencil

While wearing gloves, run the glass under a gentle stream of lukewarm water. Once all of the glass etching paste has been washed away, the masking tape and stencil can be removed.

4. Cleaning the glass

You may use soap and water or a glass cleaner to clean the glass.


Do not be worried if you do not see anything at once. Let it dry out entirely before you can appreciate your hard work.


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