Glass tile can be an excellent material choice for kitchen backsplashes. With proper installation and care, glass backsplashes are durable, easy to clean, and bring a touch of style to the kitchen. Here is a detailed look at the pros and cons of using glass tile for kitchen backsplashes.
What are Glass Tiles?
Glass tile is a man-made material composed of sand and recycled glass mixed with chemicals and coloring and fired at high temperatures. The result is a durable, lightweight and versatile tile available in a huge array of colors, finishes, and textures.
Unlike ceramic or porcelain tile, the color in glass tile goes all the way through, so chips and scratches are less noticeable. Glass tiles have a shiny, glossy finish ranging from satin to high-gloss. Their polished look gives kitchens a sleek, contemporary style.
Benefits of Glass Tile Kitchen Backsplashes
There are many advantages to using glass tile for kitchen backsplashes:
- Glass tiles come in a vast array of colors, patterns, and finishes like subway tile, mosaic, large format, and mixed metal. This allows for incredible design flexibility.
- The glossy surface gives the backsplash a liquid, jewel-like look. Light bounces off the tiles, creating a radiance and depth.
- Glass tile adds gleaming texture and interest to neutral kitchens. Many styles mimic natural materials like marble or stone.
- Backsplashes can be a bold pop of color or subtle splash of shine. Either way, glass tile makes a serious style statement.
- Properly installed glass tile is waterproof and stain resistant, perfect for high-use kitchen areas.
- The polished surface resists grime buildup and is easy to wipe clean.
- Glass tile is impervious to heat, so it won’t scorch near cooktops. It won’t absorb food stains like porous tile.
- Glass is break-resistant and stands up well to cutting, pots and pans banging around. Chips and scratches are less visible.
- The non-porous glass surface prevents mildew and soap scum buildup. Glass tile backsplashes just need occasional wiping.
- Glass tile does not need regular sealing like natural stone. Just use a damp microfiber cloth or squeegee to keep your backsplash sparkling.
- Harsh cleaners are not necessary. Mild soap and water remove most grime. For tough grease, use an ammonia-based cleaner.
- Glass tile is fade and scratch resistant. The color and shine last for years with minimal maintenance.
- Properly installed glass tile backsplashes stand up well to heavy everyday use without cracking or breaking.
- Glass tile retains its like-new glossy appearance for decades and won’t need replacing any time soon.
Potential Drawbacks of Glass Tile
While glass tile has many advantages, there are a few potential disadvantages to consider:
- Cost – Glass tile is more expensive than ceramic tile. Pricing starts around $10 per square foot. Unique artisan or custom-cut tiles run even higher.
- Weight – Glass tile is heavier than ceramic, adding more weight to walls. Proper substrate and support is key during installation.
- Grout Discoloration – Grout needs sealing to prevent staining. Epoxy grout is the best choice for glass tile backsplashes.
- Difficult Installation – Precision cutting is required. Tiles must be perfectly aligned and evenly spaced. This is best left to experienced tile setters.
- Brittle Material – Glass can crack or break if subjected to blunt force, hard blows or extreme temperature changes. Handle with care.
Tips for Installing a Glass Tile Backsplash
Careful prep work and installation is key to creating a long-lasting glass tile backsplash:
- Select a top quality thinset mortar adhesive specifically formulated for glass tile. This creates a strong bond.
- Glass tiles should be installed on surfaces free of defects and irregularities. Use cement board or fiberglass-faced backerboard.
- A high quality epoxy or urethane grout that seals and resists staining should be used with glass tile.
- Use plastic spacers between tiles for consistent spacing and alignment. Remove immediately after grouting.
- Take care cutting border and edge tiles to fit. Use a wet saw with a diamond blade. Enlist a tile professional if unsure.
- Seal the grout several times in the first week after installation. This prevents porous grout from absorbing stains.
- Avoid hanging heavy items like pot racks on a glass tile backsplash. The weight can crack tiles over time.
Are Glass Tiles Good for Kitchen Backsplashes?
Glass tile can make an excellent material choice for kitchen backsplashes with proper selection, care, and installation. The gleaming surface is beautiful, durable, and easy to maintain. Glass tile backsplashes make a contemporary design statement and add a radiant focal point. Just be aware that glass tile has some special considerations in terms of cost, weight, and installation factors. If those can be accommodated, glass tile backsplashes bring striking and lasting style to any kitchen.
Frequently Asked Questions about Glass Tile Backsplashes
Here are answers to some common questions about using glass tile for kitchen backsplashes:
Is glass tile suitable for kitchen backsplashes?
Yes, glass tile is an excellent material for kitchen backsplashes. Glass is non-porous, so it resists water, grease and stains. The hard surface stands up well to heat, cuts, and scratches. Glass is easy to clean and keep sanitary.
What kind of tile substrate is best for a glass backsplash?
Cement backerboard or fiberglass-mesh backerboard provide the smoothest, most stable surface for installing glass tiles. These prevent cracking that can occur with wood, drywall, or plaster.
Can you use glass tile on a backsplash with an outlet?
Yes. Just make sure to turn off power at the breaker box. Use a tile wet saw to carefully cut tile around the outlet. Turn power back on before grouting to ensure proper outlet function.
How do you cut glass mosaic tiles?
Use a wet saw with a diamond blade designed for glass. Cut very slowly and steadily to avoid cracks and chips. Wear safety goggles and gloves. For small touch ups, a tile nipper tool can be used.
Does glass tile need to be sealed?
Glass tile itself does not require sealing. However, sealing the grout joints twice in the first week is highly recommended. This prevents staining and discoloration of the grout over time.
Can you install a glass tile backsplash yourself?
It’s possible for an experienced DIYer, but glass tile installation is tricky. Hiring a professional tile setter skilled in working with glass is often worth the investment to ensure proper cutting, spacing, adhesion, and grout application.
A glass tile backsplash can be a gorgeous addition to any kitchen. Glass tile comes in a vast array of styles and adds a contemporary, radiant flair. Yet functionality is not sacrificed; glass tile performs beautifully in high-use kitchen spaces. Just be prepared for a more specialized installation process requiring precision and care. With a professional installation and proper ongoing maintenance, glass tile backsplashes make a stunning statement and focal point that lasts for decades. For those seeking to add artful shine and texture, glass tile can be an excellent backsplash choice.