Glass tile are produced in a variety of shapes and sizes as well as color and texture. The shape, color and size of the glass tile are a result of the way the tiles are made. There are four predominate methods used when making glass tiles; smalti, which are usually small and are the basic glass tile for a mosaic, fused, which is made out of flat glass which has been cut into shapes and then fired to cause a very smooth edge, slumped, which is when melted glass is melted at low temperature in a mold and allowed to cool and curve in the process and cast, which is when glass of various colors are mixed and melted in a mold, forming the tile.
In making glass tile recycled glass is favored because the process uses less energy and new raw material. The recycled glass can come from many sources but old car windshields, colored bottles and jars and scrap glass make up the bulk of it.
The glass is mixed with a color mixture and made molten. Once the consistency has been reached the molten glass is poured on to a steel topped table and a form is used to press out the shapes, rather like preparing cookies. This method is used for making small glass tile which are used as mosaic. The individual tiles are put on sheets for easy installation. Larger glass tile can be made in the same way but due to the size of the finished glass tile, they must be annealed to remove any stress. Annealing is done over several hours to bring the temperature down gradually.
Recycled glass tile can also be made but crushing different color glass into a uniform size and melting the glass in ceramic molds. The results are quite varied even though the same colors were used to make each glass tile.
The installation of glass tile is different than the installation of ceramic tile. Glass tile is a rigid structure whereas clay tile are less rigid. Because of this glass will break easier during installation but once installed, there will not be any further breakage. A qualified installer will not have any problems because they have the correct tools to drill and cut the glass around power outlets and switches.
The finished installation will be grouted and caulked as would ceramic tiles and manufacturers of glass tile have many different tile grout colors available.