Fixing Glass Tiles

Glass differs from other types of tile in the unique way it reflects light. Most glass varieties have the colour fused into the back of the tile giving them a sense of depth and intense colour. Glass is not absorbent making it a practical choice for bathroom and food preparation areas.


It is essential for all areas to be clean, dry and free from any residues which may stain white adhesive. If not already carried out, check through the tiles prior to fixing. Shuffle the batch to ensure that shade and marking variations are well mixed. Some edges may have small chips or flaws, these tiles are best kept for cuts. Be careful when handling glass as any broken tiles will have sharp edges that can easily cut hands.

Fixing to solid and waterproof backgrounds:

It is important to thinly butter the back of each tile with white adhesive to ensure both proper adhesion and an even tone of colour. Depending on the depth of the tile use a 3 or 6mm trowel to comb an adhesive bed of approximately one square metre. Press the buttered tiles firmly into the trowelled adhesive using spacers to regulate the grout joints as required. It is important to apply only as much adhesive as can be covered within its working time. Remove any excess adhesive with a damp sponge, rinsing frequently with clean water.

If the glass tile is being used as a decoration and is thinner than the surrounding tiles, then layers of adhesive should be applied to build up to the required depth. Applying one thick bed of adhesive to fill up a depth difference will result in the tiles cracking as the adhesive dries and contracts.

Pressing glass tiles into a trowelled bed of adhesive without covering the back first will result in an uneven blemished appearance. For the same reason dot and dab fixing is unacceptable and will leave the tiles prone to cracking.

Fixing to Timber Backgrounds:

See Preparing Timber Backgrounds and treat accordingly. Once the timber is ready to take tile, follow the method for fixing to solid and waterproof backgrounds.

Cutting and Drilling:

To cut the tiles use a glasscutter (ensuring the wheel is oiled) to score the tile along the required cut line. Place the score mark directly over a small diameter piece of material, such as wire or small nail, and apply even downward pressure on either side of the required cut. Alternatively you may use a sharp ceramic tile cutter.

It is imperative that all cut edges should be smoothed with a sanding stone to remove the stresses from the cutting process. Failure to do so may result in the tiles cracking after being fixed.

Drilling unfixed tiles should take place on cardboard upon a flat rigid surface. Drill bits should be Tungsten Carbide or Diamond Tipped. Mark the tile where the hole is required. Overlay with masking or electrical tape. Mark the tape to match your existing drilling point. Repeat 4 – 5 times until a sufficient guide point has been made to prevent the drill bit from slipping until it has bitten into the surface of the tile. Using a variable speed drill on a low speed rotary setting (NOT hammer action) start to drill allowing the drill to do the work. Do not exert excessive pressure as this will only serve in burning out the drill bit.

If the required hole through the tile needs to have a neat edge or there is a complex shape to be cut, it may be necessary to use a water jet cutting service. This method of cutting uses a precise jet of water at extremely high pressure to erode an accurate line through the tile. It is recommended to use this method where any pipes or fittings through the tiled surface do not have blanking plates to mask the edges of any holes.


Fine textured grout is recommended for use with glass tiles. Flexible admixes should be used in the correct proportions where appropriate. Follow the manufacturers instructions, remembering that glass can be scratched by hard or abrasive objects.

Remove any excess grout with a damp sponge, rinsing it out frequently with clean water.