Installing glass tiles can be a tricky process and we recommend that first-time tilers start with a small project like a simple mosaic wall hanging.
Installing glass tile requires the proper tools, patience, and extra care. Why? Because most glass is transparent, anything underneath will show through, so it is important to take extra steps to purchase the correct materials and install your glass tiles with care and diligence.
Prior to Starting: Make sure you have all materials purchased beforehand. Avoid multiple trips to the home improvement store by being prepared.
1. As with any floor installation, you want to carefully prepare the substrate (subfloor) or backspash. Make sure the area is clean, dry, free of dirt and debris, even, and crack/damage-free. Uneven or cracked surfaces can be easily patched with a joint compound and drywall tape, just make sure you let it dry for at least 24 hours before applying the tile.
Sponge and water bucket (You need a sponge that's going to be able to withstand the abrasion of the tile and grout, and be big enough to hold comfortably.)
2. Lay out the tiles without securing them to the floor, so you can determine which tiles need to be cut. This step is especially important for mosaic tiles because you can get creative with the color variation and pattern.
3. Mark the tiles and either cut them yourself with a wet saw, or bring them to a professional.
4. Now it’s time to start applying the tiles. First, mix your thinset mortar in a half-gallon bucket. Make sure it’s the right consistency; it should stick on the wall and not slide down it. Apply the mortar in sections. Once the mortar is even and about ¼” thick, place the tiles firmly down. Many experts recommend using a vibrating technique where the tile is gently wiggled back and forth.
5. Position tile spacers between each tile. This ensures that the tiles don’t move while hardening.
6. Wait 24 hours. Now it’s time to grout. Mix the grout according to the instructions and gently remove the tile spacers and force the grout between each tile.
Using a grout float, spread the grout diagonally across the tiles, corner-to-corner. Make two passes and keep moving. Once the grouting is done, let it set about 10 minutes or so and then start wiping the excess with a damp sponge. Allow drying for 12 hours then using a sponge to gently remove any excess grout.
Expert note: Have an assistant ready to empty out your soiled bucket and grab fresh water as they clean your sponges.
7. Allow the mortar to dry overnight before applying the grout. Mix the grout according to the instructions (if mixing is necessary) and gently remove the tile spacers and force the grout between each tile. Allow drying for 12 hours then using a sponge to gently remove any excess grout.
8. A waterproof adhesive must be applied to your tiles. For best results, use a sealant with a high polymer base. Use a white adhesive, especially when installing transparent tiles to prevent your adhesive from showing through your glass floor or backsplash.
9. Clean the surface one more time with a damp cloth or sponge, and then enjoy your newly installed glass tile floor or backsplash!