Glass tile can be one of the best design decisions that you make for your home or business. It allows you flexibility in the colors that are available. There is no need to be stuck with one solid color for your backsplash when you can create a custom blend of colors that will pull together your granite countertops, oak cabinets, and stainless steel appliances. Glass tile is not a dated product so in 20 years it will still look classy.
A professional installer is always recommended for the installation of your glass tile. They have experience working with this thinner material and can make your finished area look perfect. However, a lot of people will install the glass tile sheets themselves. Below you will find a guide on how to complete this task without paying the professional to do it for you. The information given is for glass tiles that are face mounted on paper. The typical tile thickness is 1/8″.
You will need several tools and supplies on hand before you start. Make sure to have 3 buckets: one to mix the thin set, one to hold water, and the other to mix the grout. You will also need a dusk mask on when mixing the powders with water. A putty knife, 3/16″ notched trowel, 1/16″ spacers, old rags for cleanup, fine sponge (not very porous), and a grout float are also recommended to have on hand.
Before you begin make sure that your surface is prepared. Don’t tile directly onto your sheetrock. Instead use a thin backer board if possible. There is a lot of information on the internet about how to prepare your surface in different areas of your home or business. Read about this first. You will also need to find your starting point. This will be different for all installations. Don’t start in a corner. You would rather end in a corner.
Do not use mastic with glass tiles. Instead thin set mortar is recommended. Mix the dry thin set with a latex additive not water. The additive makes the thin set sticky and creates a great bond with the glass tiles. Prepare the thin set to manufacturer’s directions. Be sure to wear the dust mask.
Now you are ready to spread thin set on surface using the putty knife. You will want to work in small areas until you get used to the installation process. To start just spread enough adhesive to cover one full sheet of your glass tile. Trowel throughout thin set using long straight strokes. Hold the trowel at a 45 degree angle to get the proper depth of 1/16″. Be sure to wipe excess thin set back into bucket.
Position first sheet PAPER SIDE OUT. Get it exactly where you want it then gently press the sheet down using a flat 2×4. This will ensure that all of the tiles touch the thin set. You don’t want any of the adhesive to squish up between your tiles. If you see this is happening then you have spread your thin set too thick. You may want to remove the sheet and clean out the thin set. Now you can try it again.
Spread another section of thin set next to the first sheet. Using 1/16″ spacers place the next sheet beside the first. Press flat with the 2×4.
Continue to work in this manner until the first sheet has set for about 15 to 30 minutes (the thin set will start to harden). Take an old towel or sponge and wet the paper. You know it is ready when the paper turns a darker brown. Gently pull the paper against itself from every corner until it has completely released. If you pull straight out then you will probably pull off a tile or two.
Continue to install sheets and pull off paper until your surface is covered. Be sure to clean out the grout joints as you remove the paper using a toothpick. Once the thin set has set up it will be very difficult to remove later.
Another great thing about the glass mosaic tiles is that you can easily cut the sheets to fit around sockets or any protruding areas in your space. However, if you get to the corner and realize that the tiles are not going to fit perfectly into the corner then you will have to do some cutting. A wet saw is NOT recommended. It will just shatter the glass. We recommend using a pair of wheeled cutters for cutting the tile around fixtures. You just snap the tiles in half when needed. You can also get intricate cuts as well. Always make the cuts face into your corner. Once grouted, you will not be able to see any wobbly cuts that might occur.
After tiles have set for 24 hours, you will be ready to grout. Use another bucket to mix the grout to the manufacturer’s specifications. There is no need for a latex additive for the grout. Just use water. Spread grout onto the tiles with a grout float using a back and forth motion in order to fill in all grout joints. Be sure to wipe off any excess grout off of the surface of the tiles.
Wait about 10 minutes to allow the grout to set up slightly in your joints. Then take a slightly damp sponge and start wiping the rest of the grout away. If you notice that grout is starting to come out of your joints as you wipe, then you are ready to do the final clean up. Take cheap paper towels and finish wiping the tiles. This will take the rest of the grout off of the tiles but not add water and remove the grout from your joints.
Once the grout is off of the top of the tiles, then use a stiff brush to buff the grout out of any pores. After about an hour, use a clean cloth to buff off any haze that may form. If the haze persists, then mix ½ distilled vinegar and ½ water. Dip a clean white cloth into the mixture and wring out well. Wipe down your tiles and the grout haze should be gone.
After grout has cured for several days, be sure to seal it with a high quality grout sealant.
NOTICE: This information is offered as a guide only. There is no guarantee. Hire a professional installer who has experience working with face-mounted glass mosaic tile.
Source by Protechwood