Glass tiles are a popular choice for bathroom and kitchen flooring and wall coverings. These are rooms where moisture can easily accumulate, but the surfaces of glass tiles are water tight, which means they won't incubate unsavory molds or other allergens. Glass tiles also come in a variety of colors and styles, which makes them a home decorator's delight.
Glass tiles are manufactured in four different ways:
Smalti tiles: Smalti tiles are iridescent glass tiles similar to the ones used in Byzantine mosaics. They're made by mixing molten glass with metal oxides and various other minerals. The molten glass is poured into a slab and cut by hand when cool.
Fused tiles: Fused tiles are flat sheets of glass that are manufactured in factories. The glass is then cut into tile-sized pieces before being fired. Color is usually a thin sheen added to the top or the bottom of the tile.
Slumped tiles: Slumped glass is glass that's formed and embossed in a kiln. Slumped glass is used in many different architectural applications throughout the hospitality industry.
Cast tiles: Cast tiles are made by pouring molten glass into a mould. When the glass cools and solidifies, the mold is removed. Casting is one of the oldest of all glass-working techniques.
Working With Glass Tiles
Glass expands and contracts more than ceramic materials. If you're laying glass tile down in an area subject to temperature extremes – for example, in back of a stove – then you need to take this into consideration, and lay the grout slightly wider in the areas that are going to heat up.
The installation of glass tiles also requires a more delicate hand than comparably sized ceramic or stone tiles. Glass is brittle by nature, and it breaks easily.