Special Report : Glass Tile

Crews place the joints in waterline tile and on a corner, using a sealant that closely matches the grout in color.

Crews place the joints in waterline tile and on a corner, using a sealant that closely matches the grout in color.

Though mesh-mounted glass mosaic tile is easiest to install, the industry is moving away from its use in pools and spas, considered one of the toughest environments for the material to withstand. On this installation, the tiles came off while the mesh stayed in place. Spillover and vanishing-edge walls, which are subjected to wet-dry/hot-cold conditions, are particularly vulnerable to problems.

These tiles show cracks and stresses purposely induced in a manufacturer’s lab for testing. The black glass shows internal stress caused by the incorporation of incompatible raw materials. In the green tile, a thermal-shock crack developed when staff brought the tile to a high temperature, then soaked it in cold water. On an actual installation, these cracks generally are clean and run all the way through the tile. The purple glass has experienced a strain during annealing, a process by which cooling is controlled. Each glass formula has its own annealing point, which must be observed to avoid these stresses.

These tiles show cracks and stresses purposely induced in a manufacturer’s lab for testing. The black glass shows internal stress caused by the incorporation of incompatible raw materials. In the green tile, a thermal-shock crack developed when staff brought the tile to a high temperature, then soaked it in cold water. On an actual installation, these cracks generally are clean and run all the way through the tile. The purple glass has experienced a strain during annealing, a process by which cooling is controlled. Each glass formula has its own annealing point, which must be observed to avoid these stresses.

Though some professionals believe that all glass is created equal, others contend that the quality of ingredients and the manufacturing process can make all the difference. Here, a batch of cast glass tile has just been scored and tapped apart into separate pieces.

These tiles show cracks and stresses purposely induced in a manufacturer’s lab for testing. The black glass shows internal stress caused by the incorporation of incompatible raw materials. In the green tile, a thermal-shock crack developed when staff brought the tile to a high temperature, then soaked it in cold water. On an actual installation, these cracks generally are clean and run all the way through the tile. The purple glass has experienced a strain during annealing, a process by which cooling is controlled. Each glass formula has its own annealing point, which must be observed to avoid these stresses.

Questions have begun to emerge about the use of recycled glass in tile. But manufacturers who have long included it their process maintain that recycled material can be incorporated into a durable product, so long as the components are compatible.

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