Install Guide

What tools do I need to install glass tile?

We recommend that you have the following tools:

    • 3/16” Square Notch Trowel
    • Gum Rubber Float or Green Epoxy Float
    • Glass Mosaic Tile Nippers
    • Level
    • Metal Straight Edge
    • Chalk Line
    • Masking Tape
    • Spacers
    • Oversized Hydraphiliated polyester sponge
    • Clean bucket

For larger projects, you will need these additional tools:

    • Grinder
    • Wet Saw
    • Water jet
    • Continuous Rim Diamond Blade(s)
    • Diamond hole saw using a wet drill process

Glass is nearly limitless in terms of what can be done with it. There are so many different compounds, textures, colors, and sizes that the only thing holding you back is your own imagination. However impressive, it’s like they say on television “Don’t try this at home”.

Possible locations to install glass tile:

…shower, wall, tubs, mirror accents

Kitchens…backsplash, walls

Floors…indoor and outdoor

and many more…

What materials do I need to install glass tile?

We recommend using conventional installation methods of mortar or mud as preferred by industry professionals for centuries.

You may choose to use white thinset or thinbed in dry area applications. Please make sure that you use only a quality liquid latex fortified Portland cement thinset.

Do not use multi purpose or regular thinset mortars or any type of mastic as this may result in failure.

There are many manufacturers of white polymer modified thinsets like MAPEI, TEC, ALL SET, etc.  Please see your flooring associate or distributor for more manufacturers.

With many glass tile brands offering a wide variety of styles and cuts, like;

  • matte glass tile finish
  • glossy glass tile finish
  • river rock glass tile
  • sea glass tile
  • 4×4 glass tile
  • 12×12 mesh mounted glass tile
  • 1×6 glass tile borders

and many others there are many options to choose from.  For the latest in glass mosaic design contact Decor-store, Southern Cross, Dal Tile, among others for high end design at affordable prices.

How do I get the surface prepared?

You want to make sure that the surface to be tiled is dry, clean, treated for moisture and dimensionally stable.

We recommend that you install tile only on a level cement or cementitious backer unit (CBU). All joints on CBU must be caulked and an alkaline resistant fiberglass mesh tape to avoid cracking.

A water proof or crack suppressant membrane is also recommended to prevent shrinkage or movement of the substrate.  In all circumstances install only over well-cured, stable substrates.  If a crack suppression membrane is not used neither the manufacturer nor the dealer will accept any responsibility should any cracking occur.  Allow for expansion joints whenever substrates change.

Please make sure that all cementitious substrates or slabs have cured no less than 28 days before installation.

Wet Areas

If you are installing the tile in a wet location like a shower you must use a waterproof membrane.

Allow a minimum of 28 days curing time after grouting before applying water in submerged areas like swimming pools or fountains.

Follow setting material manufacturer’s installation directions as some setting materials are not suitable for wet or submerged applications.

Do not use paper faced gypsum of any kind as a substrate in wet locations.

“The Roman Pool at Hearst castle is a tiled indoor pool decorated with beautiful mosaic tiles. The pool has an ancient Roman feel with statues and Italian tile throughout. The mosaic tiled patterns were inspired by mosaics found in the 5th Century Mausoleum of Galla Placidia in Ravenna, Italy.  This magnificent pool is decorated from ceiling to floor with 1″ square mosaic tiles. These glass tiles, called smalti, are either colored (mainly blue or orange) or are clear with fused gold inside. The intense colors and shimmering gold of the tiles combine to create a breathtaking effect”

Expansion Joints:

 This is a very important step.

Please make sure that you install expansion joints made of silicone or prefabricated with metal trims a minimum of every 20 feet for indoor and every 8 feet for exterior application.

We recommend a siliconized caulk joint at all wall and floor joints. Most manufacturers of grout sell caulk that matched the color and shade of the grout.

How do I cut the glass tiles?

Please use safety goggles and gloves as edges may be sharp!

Using the wheeled glass tile nipper to cut glass tile:

Wheeled glass tile nippers work a bit differently than offset nippers. The wheels will cut the tile parallel to the nipper rather than break the tile on a line perpendicular to the nipper handles. You will need to place the center of the wheel on the center of the line that you wish to cut. Try placing the wheeled blades in the center of your tile and give the nippers a VERY gentle, constant squeeze at the end of the handles. Your tile should cut evenly down the middle. Remember that the glass tile does not break with the force but with the heat that is generated by the carbide wheel.

Using a wet saw to cut glass tile

It is important to follow all the safety instructions that you received with your wet saw. Please do not remove blade guards or forget to use eye protection. Remember that you are now working with water and electricity so make sure that your power source is higher than your saw so you do not allow water to run down the power cord and into your socket or electrical connection.

The blade on the wet saw should be a continuous rim blade or a blade recommended by the manufacturer for cutting glass tile.

Cutting glass tile on a wet saw is not very different than cutting a porcelain tile. They are both very vitreous and require the same careful handling. Excessive vibration from the wet saw may cause the glass to chip so please allow for a small degree of chipping which can be hidden with a face plate or molding.

How do I set the glass tiles?

It is imperative that you first skim coat the substrate with thinset using the flat side of the trowel.

Use the notched edge to spread the thinset. Follow by flattening the peaks of the thinset with the smooth side. This will reduce the chance of having gaps or voids behind the tile.

It is important to back butter the back of the tile to get maximum coverage.

Please make sure to not overbuild the thinset under the glass – this will make the finished surface uneven and increase the possibility that the thinset will shrink as it dries.

Carefully press the glass against the wall to prevent the notch marks in the adhesive from showing through the glass.

  • see ASTM/ANSI Guidelines (ANSI A108 American National Standards for the Installation of Ceramic Tile
  • See also “Installation of Paper Faced, Back Mounted, Edge Mounted, or Clear Film-Face Mounted Glass Mosaic Tile A108.16-2005

Using these beautiful glass tiles for design and decor is as old as sliced bread!!! Actually it’s older, much older.  Glass Tile, crystal glass, and glass mosaics have been traced back to the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians.  What’s new is the technology that allows for the consistency in color, a variety of shapes and sizes, and creative design applications.

Today, many people are once again attracted to the beauty of glass tile.  Glass mosaics can be used to accent furniture as well as cover many areas of the home giving it a luxurious and elegant effect.