When remodeling a kitchen or a bathroom, choosing glass tile can bring countertops back to life. It is not that much harder to install glass tile than it is regular tile, except for a few details. It is important to carefully choose and install the tile because it is going to be there for a long time.
Step 1 - Prepare the Surface
Before you begin the tile installation, the countertop must be prepared to receive the thin-set. If an old countertop was removed, a new counter has to be rebuilt with plywood that is free of paint or glue.
Deciding how to make the edge of the countertop has to be done before laying the tile. Installing a wood molding all around the counter is an easier option to prevent breakage than making it of glass tile.
Step 2 - Prepare the Mix
You should use a special glass tile mortar specially formulated to stick well to glass tile. Mix some of the mortar in a pail until it blends into an even white nonliquid paste. Use a sponge to wet the plywood before applying the mortar. Otherwise, the plywood will absorb the water from the mix and cause it to dry too fast. Since the glass tile is transparent, the white color of the mortar will be seen through the glass. A different color can be obtained by mixing some sanded grout within the grout.
Step 3 - Install the Tile
It is better to apply about three foot square of thin-set at a time with the straight edge trowel than to do the whole countertop to prevent the mixture from drying out before using. Install the tiles starting at the edge of the countertop going towards the backsplash wall. That way if a cut has to be made it will be against the wall.
Using spacers is important to make sure the spaces are nice and straight between the tiles. It is better to use a sanded grout to fill the joints on a countertop so the spaces between the tiles should be not less than 1/8 inch. The joints should be cleaned of any excess of thin-set between the tiles with a wet sponge.
Step 4 - Apply the Grout
After the installation is completed, the tiles must be allowed to dry for 24 hours before removing the spacers. When ready, mix sanded grout with a small amount of water in a pail. A mixture that gets the consistency of Elmer's glue works perfectly.
Apply the grout with a soft rubber trowel and let dry for about 10 to 15 minutes. Then clean the tiles with a sponge twice. If wood molding needs to be installed at the edge of the countertop, it must be done before applying the grout. Then the wood trim can be finished with a lacquer.
After the excess grout is cleaned off, the joints between the tiles should not be touched to avoid marks being made in the soft grout. It takes another 24 hours before it gets completely dry.