All About Glass Tiles
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All About Glass Tiles

Types of glass tiles and glass tile products.

While glass tiles may seem trendy and contemporary, they are among the oldest tiles still in use today. Glass tile mosaics date back hundreds of years, while new technologies allow this product to be produced in new and innovative ways.

Types of Glass Tile

There are several kinds of glass tile on the market. Some are considered safe for floor use, while others should only be used on the walls. Understanding the types of tile can help you make the right choice for your home tiling project.

Color Through and Color Backed

Glass tiles come in two varieties; color through glass and color backed glass. Color through glass mixes the pigments and color colored glass into the liquid glass before it's poured into a mold or cut. The result is a translucent tile that has a rich color throughout. Color through glass can contain numerous colors in one tile, or it can be solid in color, depending on how it was made.

Color backed glass is made of clear glass that has an acrylic paint applied to the back. This paint gives the glass its color when viewed from the front. Color backed glass is often less expensive than color through, and it doesn't show as many mortar imperfections when installed. It can be difficult to cut, however, with chips appearing in the acrylic and marring the color. Color backed glass is usually smaller in size, and unless a mosaic is used, should not be installed on the floor.

Recycled Glass Tiles

Many glass tile manufacturers use recycled materials to make their tiles. These materials include light bulbs, glass bottles and window panes. Recycled glass tiles frequently vary in color from lot-to-lot since the recycled content may vary. The color usually goes straight through recycled glass, and many recycled glass manufacturers also hand pour or hand cut their tiles for a more unique look.

Solid Glass Tiles

Solid glass tiles are becoming more frequently used. Sometimes mixed with resins, solid glass tiles are opaque and can be installed on floors, walls or countertops. Sizes range from mosaic up to sheets large enough to cover a kitchen table. This glass can melt or flex at relatively low temperatures, due to the presence of resins, and should be stored flat to prevent warping.

Styles of Glass Tiles

In addition to the different manufacturing techniques of glass tiles, the product also comes in many styles.


Hand cut or hand poured glass tiles have a rustic appeal, particularly when matte in finish. Mix them with slate tiles for more depth of design.


There are many styles of contemporary glass on the market. Look for large tiles with clean edges, or mosaic tiles that for a tile wallpaper design.


Iridescent glass tiles are a fun way of bringing some color to a tile job. Even the neutral shades of this product showcase a rainbow of color when the light strikes them, making them perfect for floor or wall coverings.

 No matter what type of glass tile you choose, be sure to install it properly. Use white, latex additive thin set mortars and smooth out the trowel marks. Use glass cutting tools, or glass cutting blades in a tile wet saw to minimize chipping and caulk in every 90 degree angle to minimize cracks after installation. When the right tile has been selected for the job, you can be sure the results will be spectacular.

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