What are Glass Tiles?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Glass tiles are tiles which have been made from glass. Glass has a number of advantages in tile making, including durability and beauty, and glass tiles can be used in a wide variety of applications, from backsplashes over kitchen sinks to trim on garden walls. Many home supply stores carry or can order a variety of glass tiles, and they can also be obtained through stores which specialize in tiles. Companies which produce glass tiles may offer an option for consumers or contractors to purchase directly from the company, especially in cases where people want to order custom tile designs.

Some glass tiles are made from recycled glass.
Some glass tiles are made from recycled glass.

Some glass tiles are made from recycled glass. Recycled glass tiles come in a range of colors, shapes, and sizes, and in addition to being visually interesting, they are also environmentally sound, because they keep glass out of landfills, giving it a second lease on life in the form of tiles. It is also possible to obtain glass tiles which have been made from new glass.

While people often think of glass as clear and shiny, a number of finishes for glass tiles are available. Some are opalescent, with a reflective backing or an opaque color blended into the tile. Others are opaque, or sandblasted to have a rough finish. Glass tiles can be solid in color, or patterned in a variety of ways, and they can be cut into an assortment of shapes, including squares, rectangles, octagons, and triangles.

Small, lightweight glass tile can be used for ornamental applications, like creating a mosaic with tesserae tile on a wall or backsplash. Heavier glass tiles can be used for flooring and counters, where they can be quite attractive and durable. Glass tiles can also be installed over a heated subfloor to conduct heat slowly and evenly into a room, which can be useful in regions which get cold.

There are some special concerns which need to be addressed when installing glass tiles. The first is that if the tiles are at all translucent, the underlying surface needs to be carefully prepared, as any markings will show through the glass, including grooves from brushes and other tools used to spread the medium used to cement the tiles. The second is that glass tiles need to be cut carefully, with a tile cutter equipped to handle glass, and the edges may need to be buffed before installation, or they will be dangerously sharp. Glass tiles should also be properly grouted and sealed for durability and to protect the subfloor.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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