Using Recycled Glass Tile

Translucent look works well all over and spares glass from landfill.


Chunks of glass and assorted recycled glass tiles

Photo by: Thomas Northcut

Thomas Northcut

Bathroom and kitchen designs are often the centerpieces of today's homes. Colors, fixtures, lighting, style and comfort are all critical elements of these often used spaces. For builders hoping to incorporate a unique design while being environmentally responsible, recycled glass tiles can provide the best of both worlds.

While recycling programs and curbside collection have helped to increase the amount of recycling in America today, as much as 70 percent of all glass still ends up in landfills. Because of the durable nature of glass, it doesn't break down over time in landfills. To reduce landfill waste, recycled glass is used to make "glassphalt" for road surfaces, backfill and storm water drainage systems. It's also used to make fiberglass insulation, reflective paint and decorative tiles. These decorative glass tiles are ideal for builders and homeowners looking for a beautiful, colorful touch and a natural beauty. The translucent surface offers a look not found in other, more common types of tile.

Recycled glass tiles are produced by melting down waste glass in furnaces heated to a temperature exceeding 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. The molten glass is then stamped into shape, hand trimmed and ground to its finished form. This sort of workmanship gives each tile both a professional finish and a hand-crafted appeal.

The benefits to homeowners who choose recycled glass tile for their backsplash, bathroom floor, or other prominent area of the home are two-fold. First, recycled glass tile is a good way to keep glass products from building up in landfills. In addition to helping conserve the environment, homeowners getting a unique product that adds style to their home. Glass tiles come in a variety of colors and finishes, both matte and glossy, and are a durable way of decorating surfaces. Use glass cleaner to care for them.

Glass tiles can be used anywhere normal ceramic tiles would be installed, and they have the added benefit of being resistant to chemicals and stains, which makes them good for areas that are prone to getting wet. They can be installed on floors, walls, countertops, tabletops, among other locations, and they can be used outdoors as well as indoors. Installing glass tiles requires a little more care than installing standard opaque ceramic tiles, and builders should be well aware of these differences to make sure their trades get it right the first time.

Here are a few things to think about when installing recycled glass tiles:

  • In general, recycled glass tile will take more time to install, and greater care must be given to the tiles before they are secured in place.
  • After applying the coat of thin set, it's important to knock down and smooth the comb marks. If not, these marks will be visible through the glass and will create an unattractive appearance.
  • When smoothing the thin set, make sure that an even layer of adhesive remains that's deep enough to secure and support the tile.

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