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 backsplash.
Glass tile installs much like ceramic and is widely available at tile retailers everywhere, making it easy to tackle the entire project yourself.
Glass vs. Ceramic Tile for Backsplashes
Ceramic and porcelain are traditional tile materials for backsplashes. Sometimes, unusual materials are used for backsplashes: terracotta, ceiling tiles, sheet glass, wood, or laminate.
But along with ceramic and porcelain, glass is the most popular material for backsplashes for its superior functional qualities, its appearance, and its ease of installation.
Glazed ceramic tile has a glass-like surface and is generally just as washable, durable, and stain-resistant as glass tile. And both materials have grout joints, the weak feature of many tile installations, at least in terms of maintenance.
The surfaces of glazed ceramic and glass tile are very hard to stain, but the grout must be sealed for stain resistance, and it should be scrubbed periodically to bring back its original coloring. If you wait too long to clean grout, it can be hard to bring it back.
As for appearance, ceramic is opaque, and all of its color is on the surface.
Most glass tile is translucent, and light penetrates the entire tile. Some light is reflected off of the tile surface, and some light is reflected off of the wall behind the tile.
This is why it's important to use white tile adhesive and to apply it consistently because you can actually see the adhesive through the tile. The translucence of glass gives the tile visual depth, and it gives the overall tile color a beautiful watery shine or glow.
Glass is sharp. Yet porcelain and ceramic are sharp, too: in fact, they can be as sharp as glass. So, working with glass tile is nearly the same as working with ceramics or porcelains.
Always wear eye protection. Be careful when handling the tiles, especially cut edges.
As with the other materials, glass tiles can be cut with a wet saw, a scoring wheel, a rail-type tile cutter, or wheeled nippers.
It's important to avoid hollow spaces behind your glass backsplash tiles. Voids can lead to cracking.
Glass Tile 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 4x4 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.
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 tiles made of stone, porcelain, or other materials for limitless options for your backsplash design.
Tips for Installing Glass Backsplashes
If you think glass tiles might be right for your kitchen or bath design, consider these tips for 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 complement 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. The glass tiles will elevate the look of nearly any backsplash material.
- During installation, be sure to apply grout carefully and properly, as the grout may show through the tile.