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I rent a flat which has a beautiful balcony with a great view, but unfortunately the balcony glass has a privacy/frosted layer and I can’t enjoy the view. It might sound weird as usually it’s the other way around, but is there any glass film out there that makes the glass more transparent?

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  • I can’t enjoy the view ... have you considered looking over the railing
    – jsotola
    Feb 3 at 0:14
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    You should probably add a photo. Different people's different responses suggest that there's more than one interpretation of your description
    – Chris H
    Feb 3 at 12:23
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    Are you sure the glass wasn't frosted using a frosted glass spray, which could be removed by chemical means? However, since you say you rent this flat, any changes would need approval by your landlord...
    – Huesmann
    Feb 3 at 13:17
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    @Huesmann or indeed a frosted film, which can also be a safety film to preventing shattering if broken
    – Chris H
    Feb 3 at 15:48
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    Place a giant TV monitor facing inward to the balcony, and then hook it up to a camera placed outside the balcony.
    – Valorum
    Feb 3 at 19:12

3 Answers 3

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No.

You would need to replace the glass.

The process in which glass is etched/frosted is not reversible.

There are two methods used to etch glass:

  • Chemically. An acid is used to physically remove layers of glass causing the frosted appearance
  • Abrasion. Sand blasting or the use of an abrasive substance applied to the glass.

There is no film that will undo this, it would essentially have to act like a contact lens.

Additionally, most rented units do not allow modifications without owner consent due to the potential for damages and the liability involved.

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    If you could match the refractive index reasonably well and make the surface smooth enough, you could fill in the etching. The smoothness is likely to be the issue. If it wasn't a rental, an experiment with varnish would be interesting
    – Chris H
    Feb 3 at 9:41
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    @ChrisH There are fillers for automobile-windshield glass that at least advertise they can fill cracks, chips, etc. sufficiently such that the defect is strong and invisible. I've never tried them. I have significant doubts about how effective they will be, primarily because I doubt how well they will actually "match the refractive index reasonably well and make the surface smooth enough". For the purpose in the question, even if they do exactly match the refractive index, it would be very difficult to get an optically smooth surface on an area the size of which the question contemplates.
    – Makyen
    Feb 3 at 15:41
  • @Makyen I've had a few small chips fixed that way, I could still find where the repair was done afterward but it wasn't noticeable normally. Feb 3 at 20:32
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Normally, the frosted glass has the treatment on one side. This is normally mounted on the inside of the house. This is because, if you apply a film of water, it fills in the holes and makes it semi-transparent to transparent. And you don't want peeping toms getting a better look. This applies to traditional sand blasted glass. I am not sure if this works for other glass (perhaps the holes in those are too fine).

In theory, you could use some sort of glue that fills in the holes and dries transparently. And stick a transparent film on it. But it may not be advisable if you are renting it.

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An old hack (described, I believe, by Babbage in the C19th) was to make a peephole on ground glass using canada balsam to cement a microscope coverslip on the frosted side. Something comparable is regularly used in train WCs so that the incumbent can see what station has just been reached.

This suggests that applying some sort of film might improve things, but in practice- as others have said- the glass needs to be replaced or make moveable.

I'd remind you however that the original purpose of this sort of thing was to prevent neigbours from being able to see your ladyfolks' ankles: something which might cause all parties embarrassment.

You might be able to do something appropriate using transparent glass plus screening louvres: similar to a venetian blind but with the angles and dimensions fixed. I remember reading something many years ago about designing something comparable for an orchid greenhouse: there were sufficient variables (louvre spacing, angle, thickness and orientation) to allow Sun in during the Winter but to provide an effective screen during the Summer.

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