What is Clear Glass Tile?
Clear Glass Tile is one of the most popular types of tiles among homeowners and interior designers. Because of clear glass tiles are translucent - you can see thru it, they have a shiny and luxurious look that opens unlimited possibilities regarding design.
You should not be afraid of using clear glass tiles if “shiny” or "glossy" is not your styles. Since they are available in a large variety of colors, you can pick a soft/quiet color, which will put some of its shiny looking away without losing the glossy glass appearance.
Although the definition of transparent/translucent glass is “allowing light to pass through partially or diffusely,” not all clear glass tiles are translucent in a way that you can see, for example, an object or your hand behind it. Clear glass is the material used to make these tiles, but they can have color or not.
There are basically three types of clear glass tiles: back colored, stained, and colorless.
Back Colored Clear Glass Tiles
Back colored clear glass mosaic tiles are by far the most popular in the market. The tiles are made of transparent/translucent glass usually from 4mm to 8mm thick, and they receive a coating/painting on the back during manufacturing, which is what gives the color to the tile. They are usually available mesh mounted on a fiberglass sheet or as field tiles such as subway 3'' x 6'', 4'' x 4'', 6'' x 6'', and even 12'' x 12''.
Important Note: Some white clear glass tiles have a green or iridescent tint/hue to it, and some are just pure white clear glass tile. Make sure to order a sample swatch before committing to a large purchase based on the picture online.
Stained Clear Glass Tiles
Stained clear glass tiles are made of transparent/translucent glass that is stained during its manufacturing process and then cut into multiple pieces. In this case, you can see throughout the tile even if it has a dark stain color, and that is the reason they are not mesh-backed; otherwise, you would notice the mesh thru the glass even after installed. Instead, they are mounted on clear-faced or paper-faced sheet.
Transparent Clear Glass Tiles
Transparent noncolored clear glass tiles are made of clear/translucent glass and do not have color in it. These type of tiles is exquisite and easy to work with if you want to give a special “touch” to a kitchen backsplash, bathroom, shower or swimming pool. Since they don’t have any color in it and are totally transparent, they can match any color from granite countertops to kitchen cabinets and easily blend into the design.
Stained and Transparent Clear Glass Tiles require more attention when installing because you can see what is on the other side of the tile, you can end up seeing the path made by the v-notch trowel – a tool used to apply tile adhesive on the wall when the installer is butting the wall. So it is recommended to use a white glue such as a quality latex-modified thin-set approved for use with glass or vitreous tile, and also knock the ridges down before placing the tile sheets on the wall. Make sure to press the tiles firmly against the wall with a grout float and take a look if there are any air bubbles after each sheet has been placed so you may correct the problem before the adhesive dries. This type of glass tile takes more time to install, but the result is absolutely worth.
Sal Diblazi – a professional tile installer based in the USA, posted this video with lots of tips on how to install transparent glass tile.