Installing a glass tile backsplash
Installing a glass tile backsplash, which is popular now for kitchens, is much easier than it looks.
The glass tiles are joined together into large squares by a textile mesh backing or paper front that holds the individual tiles in position and helps maintain even grout lines.
Before you begin work on the glass tile backsplash, turn off power and remove any faceplates in the backsplash area.
Prepare the surface by first washing it with dish soap and water and then roughing the painted surface with coarse grit sandpaper. If the paint is a dark color, paint it with a sealer/primer first. Dark paint could show through the glass tile.
Designing a glass tile backsplash
On a board or countertop, lay out the tiles in the desired pattern, leaving a 1/8-inch gap at the edges. Use a 1/8 inch dowel along the lower edge to maintain the gap.
Trim the tile sheets to fit and number them on the back in the order they will go to can maintain the pattern. Because the small tiles are carried on a mesh backing or paper front, it is extremely easy to cut the squares to size by cutting through the mesh.
If you need to cut a row of tiles, you can even use a tile saw as the mesh will hold the tiles in place as you cut.
Apply thinset using a ¼-inch V-notch trowel to the first area you want to tile, applying enough for three to five sheets. Start at the bottom and tile up the wall.
Spread the thinset using the notched side of the trowel then using the smooth edge with the trowel at a very small angle, knock down the ridges without removing any thinset. This should help prevent thinset from bulging into the grout lines.
Press the first sheets into position, using spacers that match the gap between tiles between the sheets. Align the sheets so the grout lines will be continuous. Using a piece of good scrap 2×6, gently tap the sheets to the wall to assure an even seating for each tile.
If the glass tiles are paper fronted wait 30 minutes and then use a wet sponge to dampen the paper. Pull from a corner diagonally across the tile being careful not to move the tiles you have set. Keep you hands wet as you remove the paper.
Stand back and look at the grout lines. Make any adjustments to tiles that have moved to realign them. Fill in smaller pieces around electrical fixtures or other obstacles.
If you need to do some fine tuning here, you can us a two-wheeled tile cutter to break individual tiles in half, then back-butter them and place them carefully, always maintaining the grout lines. When you’re satisfied, leave the wall for 48 hours to allow the thinset to set up.
Clean the glass tile backsplash with a sponge, chip out any thinset that may have bulged into the grout lines. Remove the 1/8 inch dowel along the lower edge and apply the pre-mixed grout.
Wet the tile with a sponge then use a tile float, working in smaller areas, to force the grout into the grout lines. Use the edge of the float to clean off excess then use a damp sponge to clean the tiles.
The sponge should not be so wet that it throws water off, but should be damp enough to clean the tile surface.
Use the flat face of the sponge, rinse frequently and keep going back over the surface until it looks clean. Caulk the perimeter of the glass tile backsplash for a clean edge.
Leave the wall for several hours then re-attach the electrical fittings with the ears on top of the tile, add the faceplates, and re-install the stove and other appliances.
—By Steve Sturgess. stevesturgess.com