Looking for a way to update your kitchen or bath but want something that stands out with style? Replace those worn-out ceramic tiles with a luminous and colorful recycled glass tile. Either in a back splash or as flooring, either will enhance the look of the room.
Glass Tile Vs. Ceramic: Though ceramic is often the material of choice for backsplashes, it requires a lot of energy to produce. For this reason, recycled glass tiles are a much more environmentally friendly alternative to ceramic tiles and offer several benefits in terms of aesthetics and ease of maintenance. Glass tiles are often slightly transparent and reflect plenty of light, so they make your bathroom or kitchen appear larger than opaque ceramic tile would. They are also less porous than ceramic tiles, which helps to resist stains as well as dreaded mold and mildew. However, glass tiles present a few drawbacks. They are typically more expensive than ceramics, and a shoddy grouting job may destroy the clean aesthetic that glass tiles provide. Though they are fairly durable, glass tiles are prone to scratches. Typically, glass tiles are more expensive than ceramics.
Colors, Shapes and Sizes: Glass tiles for backsplashes are available in just about every color you can imagine. They are also made in interesting shapes beyond the typical four inch by four inch format that “backsplash tile” calls to mind, or the popular subway tile pattern. Think long, slender tiles evocative of a luxurious spa, or vintage round and octagonal mosaic tiles. Glass tiles also come in more traditional configurations such as square shapes and decorative edge pieces. They are even available in larger sheets for a minimal, uncluttered look. The colors of glass tiles for backsplashes range from white and black and everything in between, including natural beiges and greens to bright iridescent blues, purples and reds. Some glass tiles feature intricate surface designs, others look crystal-clear or give off a mother-of-pearl sheen or a matte look. You may combine glass tiles with marble or other natural stones for limitless options for your backsplash design.
Tips for Incorporating Glass Tiles for Backsplashes
If you think glass tiles might be right for your kitchen or bath design, consider these tips in selecting and installing them:
- Choose the backsplash colors after you’ve selected your other room finishes (unless you plan to base the entire design around the tile). That way you can incorporate shades that compliment your wall color or countertop materials.
- If you have a small kitchen or bath, opt for lighter and more transparent tiles, which reflect the most light and will make the space feel larger.
- Mosaic glass tiles typically are mounted on a mesh backing, making them easier to install for do-it-yourselfers.
- Buy extra tiles because a few may be broken in the installation process.
- For those on a budget, incorporate a band of glass tiles as an accent among cheaper tiles such as ceramics.
Glass Tile Flooring: Mosaic glass tile floors can imbue a room with a sense of lavish luxury. Invoking the elegance of an upscale spa, these luminous tiles can elevate the style and sophistication of any space. Glass tile bathroom flooring is a popular architectural choice because the material is hard, durable, impermeable to moisture, and relatively simple to keep clean. However it is important that you select the appropriate type of glass mosaics for your installation, in order to ensure that it is able to withstand the challenges posed by this space.
These tiles can come in virtually any size and are available standard as small as ½” x ½”. Squares and rectangles are the most common shapes, but specialty tiles come in a variety of forms. Some installations will combine glass mosaics with tiles of other types such as metal or stone, using the glass as accent pieces.
Advantages of Mosaic Glass Tile
- Design: Probably the biggest benefit of using mosaic glass in a flooring application is the beauty that can be achieved with a proper installation. You have a choice between solid and multicolored tiles, which can be arranged in simple or intricate patterns. Some stores will also sell repeating patterns which can be used to create complex pictures of flowers or animals.
- Clean: Glass tiles are resistant to stains, mold, and mildew. They tend to show dirt very easily so you will always know when its time to clean. They are resistant to chemical damage and they aren’t porous, so you don’t have to worry about grime sinking into the tile. They are also very easy to clean, and can be wiped down with a damp cloth or mopped up with warm water. In the case of soap scum buildup in a bathroom a mild vinegar solution can be used.
- Green: It takes roughly half the energy to produce a glass tile that it does to make a ceramic tile of similar size. You also have the option of using recycled glass tiles, which are made from reclaimed glass refuse.
- Luminous: All but the darkest glass tiles will tend to reflect light, rather than absorb it. This can make the mosaic pieces seem to glow with a luminous radiance that you can’t find in any other flooring material.
- Durability: As long as your glass tiles have passed the stringent ASTM standards required to be used as flooring material, they should be durable and resistant to cracking under anything save sharp direct force applied with a hard object such as a hammer. Scratches are another matter however.
Disadvantages of Mosaic Glass Flooring
- Cost: One of the biggest drawbacks to using mosaic glass tiles is the price. You may find a bargain for $7 or $8 a square foot but the really attractive colors are going to be closer to $30 or $40. Repeating patterns can cost as much as $100 for a single square foot of the design. Fortunately glass is used as an accent and not a lot of square feet will be used.
- Installation: Unlike ceramic or natural stone tiles, glass mosaics are particularly difficult to install. That is because if you are not careful, you will be able to see the adhesive through the tile. Using a trusted professional installer may be expensive, but the cost of the material is so high that you don’t want a mistake to ruin the installation.
- Hardness: Glass tile is very hard. This makes it durable and resistant to cracking. It also makes it painful for anyone who falls on it. In addition, standing on a glass bathroom floor for long periods of time may not be as comfortable as standing on a more yielding material. At the same time, the hardness, and the chance of slipping, means that this may not be an appropriate choice for a bathroom which is frequented by the elderly or small children.
- Scratches: While glass mosaics are durable and resistant to stains, they are susceptible to scratches. Over time scratches will accumulate in a glass mosaic floor, and after several years the installation will need to be replaced. There are some colors and finishes that can be purchased which will hide damage from scratches.
- Breakage: While glass flooring tiles are quite durable, there are occasions when dropping something heavy from a great height will crack or chip a tile. This can then become a hazard for anyone walking on the floor with bare feet. Unfortunately glass tile repair can be quite expensive.
- Slippage: While textured finishes can be applied to the tiles, and grout lines can create some traction, glass is still a relatively smooth surface. In some environments, especially wet ones, it can pose a slipping hazard. The use of a non-slip throw rug can offset this somewhat.
Glass mosaic tile flooring is expensive to buy, difficult to install, and costly to repair. Over time scratches in its surface can degrade the look of the tiles, requiring you to replace it entirely. However, if you have the money to do it properly, mosaic glass tiles can create some of the most beautiful floors possible.
Selected Glass Tile Samples
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