Glass Tile / January 11, 2019 / Fealty Allaire
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.
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.
Usually they are available mesh mounted on a fiberglass sheet or as field tiles such as subway 3"x6" 4"x4" 6"x6" and even 12"x12". Stained clear glass tiles are made of clear/translucent glass that are stained during its manufacturing process and then cut into multiple pieces. In this case you can see all the way through it even if it has a dark stain color and that is the reason they are not mesh-backed otherwise you would see the mesh through the glass even after installed. Instead they are mounted on clear-faced or paper-faced sheet. Plain or non-colored clear glass tiles are made of clear/translucent glass and do not have color in it. Though the word "plain" is used to describe these types of tiles they are extremely elegant and easy to work with if you want to give a special "touch" to a kitchen backsplash bathroom and shower or swimming pool.