The Guide to Glass Tile

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Glass tile is skyrocketing in popularity, and it’s easy to see why! It’s gorgeous and makes for a truly show-stopping backsplash or accent wall.

However, glass tile is often expensive and usually has to be installed by a professional.

If you’re considering this tile material for your next home renovation project, read on to discover everything you need to know.

Types of Glass Tile

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Glass tile comes in a variety of shapes, colors, textures, and levels of transparency.

A few of the most common types of glass tile include coated glass, fused glass, and cast glass.

Coated glass tiles are transparent and feature a coat of color on the back of each tile. They’re typically made from sheets of glass that are fired at low temperatures. 

Meanwhile, fused glass tiles go through a firing process with multiple steps in which color and glaze are added to a sheet of glass.

Finally, cast glass tiles can be easily identified by their textured finish. They typically have bubbles and creases due to being fired at a high temperature. In contrast to coated glass tiles, cast glass tiles have color throughout.

Some types of glass tile may also come with a special coating on the back to hide the adhesive.

Benefits of Glass Tile

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Perhaps the most obvious benefit of glass tile is that it’s visually stunning. Its beautiful appearance is usually why homeowners choose it for renovation projects.

Adding to its beauty is the fact that glass tile is translucent and reflective. Because it reflects the light, glass tile can make spaces look brighter and larger. It’s frequently recommended to install transparent or light-colored glass tiles in small spaces to make them seem bigger, as well as to choose polished glass for rooms that aren’t very bright or lack windows. 

Glass tile comes in a wide range of colors, textures, and shapes, so there are plenty of options to suit a variety of preferences.

In contrast to natural stone tile, glass tile is extremely easy to clean. All you need is a multipurpose cleaner or soapy water, and your tile will look as good as new! Glass tile can be an ideal choice for kitchen and bathroom backsplashes, as well as shower walls, because it’s very easy to remove soap scum, grime, and food splatter from its surface.

While ceramic and porcelain are water-resistant, glass is waterproof and will not grow mold or mildew as long as it’s installed correctly. The absorbency rate of ceramic typically ranges from 0.5% to 3%, while glass has an absorbency rate of 0% due to its nonporous surface.

If you’re interested in making eco-friendly design choices, glass tile may be perfect for you. Many glass tiles are made from recycled materials, and they can be recycled at the end of their lifespan. Plus, glass tile typically uses around half the energy needed to produce ceramic tile.

Drawbacks of Glass Tile

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While there are plenty of advantages to choosing glass tile, it can also be wise to consider the potential drawbacks associated with this material.

Glass tile tends to be more susceptible to thermal shock, which refers to cracking due to rapid temperature fluctuations. Glass can also crack more easily underfoot than other tile materials.

In most cases, glass tile requires professional installation. The proper adhesive must be used, and because glass tile is translucent, you can often see the adhesive through the tile. Therefore, it needs to be applied and smoothed out perfectly, which can’t always be achieved by the average DIYer. Plus, glass is more flexible than materials like porcelain and ceramic, and this can also come into play during the installation process.

When compared to other materials, glass can be scratched more easily. It’s crucial to avoid abrasive cleaners, scrubbers, and sanded grout, all of which can leave scratches on the surface of your glass tile. 

While the glass tiles themselves are easy to clean, the grout typically requires more maintenance. You’ll need to clean your grout regularly (avoiding the use of bleach, which can affect the color of the tile), and it’s possible you’ll need to regrout your tile several times throughout its lifespan.

Of course, the biggest drawback of glass tile may be its price. Glass tile tends to be more expensive than other tile materials, especially compared to porcelain and ceramic.

Glass Tile Cost: Materials and Installation

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Considering that glass is one of the most expensive tile materials and usually requires professional installation, its total cost can be staggering. While estimates vary, here’s a general overview of how much you can expect to spend.

According to HomeGuide, a glass backsplash costs approximately $10 to $45 per square foot, including materials and installation. For a backsplash measuring 20 to 40 square feet, you could pay anywhere from $200 to $1800. For the materials alone, you can expect to pay $5 to $25 per square foot.

Angi (previously Angie’s List) estimates that a glass backsplash costs approximately $30 per square foot, including both materials and installation.

Architectural Digest notes that glass tile flooring can range from $20 to $100 per square foot for materials alone. Meanwhile, AD estimates that a glass backsplash costs $10 to $40 per square foot for materials and $20 to $50 per square foot for both materials and installation.

To give you some concrete examples, our most affordable glass tiles are from the York collection and cost $13.75 per square foot. Our most expensive glass tiles are from the Luxor collection at $46.40 per square foot. 

If you love the look of glass tile but find that it doesn’t fit your budget, one way to compromise could be to combine porcelain or ceramic and glass. You might use ceramic for the majority of your project and install a strip of glass tiles at the top for a coordinating accent, adding a unique touch to your interior design.

Applications for Glass Tile

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Glass tile is suitable for the following applications: 

In general, glass tile isn’t a good choice for flooring, especially if you’re considering large glass tiles with a polished or glossy finish. They tend to have a very low dynamic coefficient of friction (DCOF), which makes them extremely slippery. It’s usually recommended to look for tile with a DCOF of 0.42 or higher for the majority of residential and commercial applications. (Learn more about DCOF here.) 

However, mosaic glass tile can work for shower floors, pools, and entryways in most cases, as the grout between the small pieces of the mosaic can provide more traction. You might also look for mosaics with a frosted or matte finish for additional slip resistance.

We recommend looking at the “Specifications” tab on the product page of the glass tile you’re considering, as you can find the following information there:

  • Whether the tile is suitable for walls, floors, or both
  • If the tile is pool-rated
  • The tile’s finish (matte or polished)
  • The tile’s dynamic coefficient of friction (DCOF)

Glass Tile Installation Considerations

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We’ve mentioned that glass tile installation usually isn’t a DIY project, but it’s important not to hire just anyone to install your brand-new glass tile. General contractors who are ready to take on the project may not have the specialized expertise necessary for a professional-looking finished project. We recommend seeking out a pro who has plenty of experience installing glass tile for the best results.

When choosing grout for your project, you might want to consider epoxy, even though it usually comes with a higher price tag. Epoxy grout is often non-absorbent and non-porous, preventing mold and mildew growth, especially when mixed with antimicrobial products. It’s strong, long-lasting, and forms a secure bond with glass tile. Cement-based grouts, on the other hand, typically need to be sealed every couple of years. In addition, epoxy grout comes in a variety of colors and isn’t prone to discoloration.

Find Gorgeous Glass Tile at!

At, we have a large selection of porcelain, ceramic, natural stone, and glass tiles to choose from. Plus, we make it simple to shop for tile online with fast delivery, insured shipments, and easy returns.

Take a look at our product range here, visit our blog for more informational posts and DIY installation instructions, or check out our Pinterest page for interior design inspiration.

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