Do it yourself!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

How To Install Glass Tile

Glass tile is a little bit different than regular tile in a couple of ways. One is that the thinset used to set them can show through. The other is that the small tiles on a sheet are sometimes held together with a paper on the front of the tile which means that you can’t see exactly what it’s going to look like until the paper is removed.

Tools Needed


  1. Prep The Area To Be Tiled
    Usually glass tile is used for borders or as decorative accents for the main tile that is being used, although that is not always the case. I have seen entire rooms done in small glass tiles. Whatever the surface being tiled, it needs to be as smooth and even as you can get it. Especially if you are using 1"x 1” tile or something similar.
  2. Layout The Tile
    Open all of the boxes of tile to be sure that you have enough, that there are no defects, and that it is all the same run. I did a job last year where the people bought almost $20,000.00 worth of 1x1 tiles and the company sent 3 different runs. It’s difficult to tell they are different until it dries on the wall. Be sure that you have a plan of action before you start because if you change course later you might end up being short on tile and usually it’s not easy to get more as most tile stores don’t keep glass tile in stock.
  3. Mix The Thinset
  4. Use a latex modified thinset. It’s almost always recommended by the glass manufacturer that you use white. Mix it to the consistency of thick mash potatoes and allow to set 7 or 8 minutes and then remix before starting. Laticrete 254 works well for me, but almost every brand makes one similar.
  5. Trowel The Thinset On The Wall
    It sounds simple but if not done right it can cause problems. Start by spreading only enough for a couple of sheets, or if it’s not in sheets, just do a couple of square feet. Spread it a evenly as you can so that the tile will lay flat and smooth. Press the tile into the thinset gently but firmly to assure good contact. The 1/4"x 3/16” trowel has worked well for me on every type of glass tile that I have installed, but if the thinset is oozing up between the tiles that means that it is leaving to much on the wall and you need to us a trowel with smaller notches. It’s almost impossible to get it all cleaned out from between the tiles after it dries.
  6. If there is a good chance that the wall will show through the glass it’s a good idea to skim the wall with the white thinset before you start. Just trowel it on and wipe all that will come off,off. Allow that to day. That will leave you with a nice white wall to apply your tile to.
  7. Cutting the tile
    Some of the smaller tiles can be cut with the tile nippers, especially if the cut is not going to be very visible, like on a back-splash underneath the top cabinets. Plus, if you cut it close enough, the caulking that you use will cover the rough edges. If the cuts are out in the open you will need a wet saw and if possible a glass cutting blade for smoother cuts. If you are using sheet tiles, say 1"x 1”‘s, that are held together with paper on the front you cannot cut it on a wetsaw without the paper coming loose and the tiles separating. In this case you will have to cut your sheets so that you can put as much as you can on the wall dry.The rest will have to be cut and glued individually…one at a time confused
  8. >Removing The Paper
    After you have a few sheets of tile up and the thinset seems to be setting up, you can start removing the paper and adjusting the tile. Start wetting the paper liberally until the paper comes off without the tiles shifting or moving around. Now adjust it all for the look that you want.
  9. Grouting
    It’s usually recommended that you use sanded grout. Basically, just mix, apply, and wash and your almost finished.  It’s recommended that you apply colored caulk around the perimeter especially at the bottom where the tile meets the counter-top. Where a horizontal and vertical surface meet there is almost always movement, which can cause the grout to crack and come out, so definitely put some in these areas. Now your finished!


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