3 Problems with Glass Tile Backsplash (Explained)

Glass Tile Backsplash

I love home improvement projects! Any opportunity I get, I take – given my bank account allows it. Whether it’s changing the living room’s wallpaper or painting the patio floor, there always seems to be a project underway. 

Last spring, the kitchen backsplash became the focus of my attention. Compared to the wooden version I had before, the glass tile surface is low-maintenance, easy to clean, and looks great with the existing decor, but…

Although there is much to love about glass tiles, you may encounter a couple of issues when used as a backsplash. They fall easily to installation mistakes and are expensive, not forgetting the amount of work needed to keep the surface gleaming.

We are aware of the benefits of glass tiles, but what about the problems? Here are the top three issues you will encounter if you are planning to install a glass-tiled backsplash.

1. Off-the-Chart Prices

The first time I received a quote from the glass supplier, I nearly dropped the project. Although I am a big fan of lustrous surfaces (and really wanted glass tiles), I was surprised to learn the high cost of my choice. Unlike other materials used in backsplashes, glass tiles come with a slightly hefty price tag. 

Typically, they are priced depending on size. Yes, regardless of style and brand, the dimensions of each tile will determine how much you pay. Different sellers will quote prices per square foot. But what is the difference between a $5 and a $30 product? Well, a lot, as it turns out. 

The following discrepancies bring the price variation.

  • Quality (or, in other words, durability)
  • Design. Tiles with intricate patterns cost more than plain, smooth ones. You will also have to dig deeper into your pocket for customized pieces.
  • Production costs, including the manufacturing process and raw materials
  • Availability – Do you have to import, or can you buy locally?

Tips and Tricks

But does it mean that these glossy types are reserved for only deep pockets? Not really. Some numerous manufacturers and vendors offer affordable quality types. You can find simple designs that cost as little as $5. You can even purchase glass mosaic, wall tile designs for about $10 – $15.

Ensure you come up with a budget plan to manage funds. Remember to account for the cost of installing wall tiles and shipping fees before selecting tile for your kitchen or bathroom renovation. Contractor rates vary depending on the amount of labor involved and the scope of the project. 

Consider designs that cost less such as incorporating a glass tile inset or accent border to a stone or ceramic backsplash, if your budget is limited. Individual tiles are also less expensive to install than mosaic mesh sheets since they require less grouting and take less time to complete. This helps you save a bit on labor costs.

2. Installation Demands

It comes as no surprise that the most prevalent problem associated with glass tiles arises from poor installation. Unfortunately (or fortunately – depending on which side of the spectrum you stand), the fixing of glass tiles is a bit more complex. Inadequate skills and experience are leading precursors for a bush-league outcome.

Based on anecdotal evidence, most people complain of visible black lines along the edges of the tiles after setting. Although it’s unavoidable that some show-through occurs, it is possible to minimize the extent of exposure.

Use a notched trowel to apply the thin-set to the surface. Ensure you “backcomb” to level out the ridges and even out the bed. Any imperfection of the substrate would show through the transparent glass, and you won’t be able to get the thin-set to be smooth. 

Tips and Tricks

The best way to avoid this problem is to work with highly-skilled professionals. Suppose you want to create a backsplash with glass tile and other materials; you may need to engage a remodeler and a designer. 

They will collaborate to ensure that concept and design come together to form a cohesive wall covering.

3. A Cleaning Nightmare

The glass tile backsplash is a low-maintenance solution that works for any kitchen or bathroom. The main purpose is to protect the walls from splashes. But, If you’ve ever had to clean the grease out of a window, you can relate to what I am about to say. Glass has to be cleaned and buffed. Otherwise, they will show every water spot, smudge, smear, or streak. 

And if you have kids and the backsplash is installed in a place where they can reach, you may have to clean more often to get rid of all the tiny handprints and smudged fingertips. 

However, come to think of it, I’d rather these miniature stains end up on a backsplash. After all, isn’t it easier to clean compared to wallpaper or a painted wall? What do you think? 

Tips and Tricks

Anyway, if you’re not too keen on intense cleaning, do not put the glass tiles in places like the bathroom or on walls that are within your child’s reach. Remember that you may wipe away the dirt, but you cannot get rid of surface scratches and grooves.

The ever-present grout joint also needs to be scrubbed, so the surface remains spick and span. To minimize your work, opt for tile sealant. With this product, you can easily maintain a clean backsplash. Sealant coats each tile’s surface and protects the stone from stains when food or dirt splatters on the surface.

Can I DIY Glass Tile Backsplash Installation?

Installation by an adequately-skilled expert is a must. Not to burst your bubble if you were considering going the DIY route. The process is a bit different from work involving ceramic or porcelain tiles. 

Since glass is transparent, the adhesive can be seen through the tiles. This means there is no room for screw-ups. Any form of shoddy work will show in an instant. You may end up incurring extra costs to fix the mistakes.

This might be one of those times most DIYers have to accept that we might not be able to replicate the perfection we see from the tutorial video. So unless you absolutely have to DIY, take the expert recommendation and hire a professional installer. Keep in mind that getting a professional-looking finish is challenging when it comes to DIY glass tile installation.

Just like looking for a handyman, word of mouth is a trusted source of referrals. Anyone who has had backsplash work done with glass tiles recently can give viable recommendations. The Internet is another excellent tool for finding reputable specialists to help. 

Make sure you verify the credibility of the tile setter. I combined the power of both. A neighbor proposed the company they used, but before I settled, I perused online for reviews and testimonials.

The Bottom Line

Glass tile backsplashes are still trending (thanks to their versatile benefits and eye-catching beauty). Compared to other materials, glass is durable, stain-resistant, and inspires an aesthetic appreciation wherever they’re installed. 

As long as you’re prepared to tackle the issues that come with a glass tile backsplash, go ahead and install a backsplash to bring some shimmer and sparkle to your kitchen or bathroom. 

Have you recently had a glass tile backsplash installed or remodeled? Kindly share your experience.