How to Install a Glass Mosaic Tile Backsplash


Glass mosaic tiles are smaller tiles, typically an inch or two in size, and sold in a variety of styles and colors. Used as a backsplash, they protect the surface of a wall that's in danger of damage due to the proximity of splashing water from a sink or oil from a cooking surface. Due to the small size of glass mosaic tiles, many manufacturers provide them grouped on sheets of paper, held in uniform lines by a light adhesive. With these sheets, installing the tiles follows the same process used in installing larger tile types, with an application of mortar onto the wall and the mounting of the sheeted tiles onto the mortar.

  • Wash the wall where you're installing the backsplash tile with a pH neutral cleaner to remove dirt or debris using a scrub brush. Remove cleanser residue with a sponge dampened with clean water. Wait for the wall to dry completely before continuing.

  • Mark a guideline across the top of the area where you wish to place the tile with a piece of chalk. Use a straightedge and carpenter's level to ensure that the guideline is even.

  • Mix a batch of thinset mortar in a large bucket, adding water to the mix until it's the consistency of peanut butter. Use an electric drill with a paddle bit attachment to get an even mix throughout the mortar.

  • Spread the thinset onto the wall, working from the guideline downward and covering an area of about four square feet, where you plan to install the tiles. Use the flat of a notched trowel to create a layer of thinset about 1/8-inch thick. Tile the trowel to the side at a 45-degree angle and go over the mortar with the notches to raise ridges in the mortar's surface.

  • Roll the glass tiles onto the mortar, using the chalk guideline to position the tiles. Make sure the paper on the front of the tiles face away from the wall as you roll the tiles into place. Place new rolls of tiles spaced the same distance between individual tile rows away from attached tiles to maintain a uniform spacing. Cut excess tiles from the rows using a utility knife to cut through the paper fronting of the tiles. Use the directional print on the paper tile facing to keep the tiles consistent between rows, always aligning the direction of the tiles the same.

  • Tap the attached tiles into the mortar using the trowel to set them into the mortar base. Allow the thinset 24 hours drying time.

  • Take a damp sponge and run it over the paper fronting of the tiles, darkening the paper as it absorbs the moisture. Peel the paper from the tiles, revealing the glass tiles in place. Wait 30 minutes and then go over the tiles a second time with the damp sponge to remove any glue from the tile surface.

  • Fill the joints between the tiles with grout by placing a layer of grout onto the tile surface and pushing the grout into the joints with the edge of a grout float. Fill all joints except those between the edge of the tiled surface and any moisture-producing areas such as sinks. Fill the joints near the sinks with silicone caulk for increased waterproofing. After filling the joints completely, remove the excess grout from the tiles with a damp sponge within 15 minutes to prevent the grout from drying onto the tile faces. Wait 2 hours and then go over the surface of the tiles again with a clean lint-free cloth to remove any grout residue. Wait 10 days for the mortar and grout to dry completely.

  • Brush the grout lines with a layer of tile and grout sealant to prevent staining and increase moisture protection. Wait 48 hours for the sealant to dry before using the backsplash area.

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