Glass Tile / January 8, 2019 / Odette Pinneau
Consumers need to consider that many mesh backed material use poor quality glue to bond the tile to the mesh. When the mesh side is installed to the surface the mesh acts as a barrier between the tile and substrate. If the glue subsequently breaks down or the bond fails the tile can then easily loosen and fall out because little of the tile surface is actually bonded to the substrate. This failure can begin almost immediately or can take up to a few years after all installation warranties have expired. With Chinese produced glass tile my experience has shown the glue used to bond the tile to the mesh is lower in quality than the glue used in higher quality products produced in Europe or quality US manufacturers.
Often glass tiles are translucent in appearance and any imperfection in either the setting application or the thinset is magnified. Whichever tile is being installed the substrate must be perfectly smooth using the manufacturers suggested setting materials and following their instructions exactly as written. Any "waves or grooves" in setting material are noticeable which is another reason a consumer needs to hire a contractor trained in glass tile installation. Another major quality difference between glass tiles is in the quality of the glass used during production. Oceanside Glass is famous for using recycled bottles in its production and provides consumers with a guide of how much post-consumer recycled material are used in their production and can assist with LEED accreditation. Additionally their state-of-the-art equipment for precision processing in batching changing furnaces and cooling molten glass is revolutionary.
In addition there are two other eminent glass surface treatments for these tiles: slumping and etching. Smalti tile is type of tile which is an opaque glass. It has been in use from ancient times. "Smalti" is an Italian word and refers to a glass paste. Smalti is made by mixing molten glass with metal oxides for color. Translucent Smalti is a popular variant of smalti glass tile. It looks like stained glass with uniform colors. Byzantine Glass is another smalti variant made from thinner slabs of glass. Metallic Smalti is a swirl of a copper-bearing mineral added into the molten glass before it is pressed. Gold Smalti are made by applying a gold leaf and a thin layer of blown glass. Fused Tile is manufactured using the fusion method. In this type a flat glass is cut into tiles shapes and then fired in a furnace. The clear glass will show the tile until treated with a color.