Laying Tile Tutorial

Glass tile surfaces are trending high now, and for good reason.  Available in an infinite combination of sizes, shapes, colors and finishes, they add drama and beauty while harmonizing with almost any room décor and style. On the practical side, glass tile requires low maintenance and  is quite durable and easy to clean. They also reflect light, giving a greater sense of space, and have a magical way of making a room come alive.

Glass tiles

While laying glass tile is not for the faint of heart, if you are an avid DIYer, follow this tutorial and transform your home with some gleaming glass.

This list of supplies includes tools you may not need for your particular job.

  • V-Notched Trowel
  • Rubber Grout Float
  • Grout
  • Thin-set Mortar
  • Carpenter’s Level
  • Tape Measure
  • 80 Grit Sandpaper/Sanding Block
  • Wet Saw


Design Time

Because of their size, glass tiles are usually prearranged on a mesh backing or occasionally with a paper face covering to speed installation. If these tile sections fit perfectly with your project, you’ll only need to cut along the mesh backing. If things don’t match or the tile sheet features a staggered pattern, you’ll have to use your own or a rented wet saw to cut the sections to size or create half-tiles to even the ends. With the tiles all set to go, the guidelines for the project need to be marked on the wall with a tape measure and carpenter’s level.

Wall Preparation

First of all, if the job involves covering an entire wall, especially in a high-humidity area like the bathroom, the drywall will have to be replaced with cement backboard since it can handle the weight and moisture. Otherwise, for smaller projects, if the wall has been painted, use 80 grit sandpaper or a sanding block to roughen the surface so mortar can penetrate into the wall and form a strong bond, then wipe with a dry rag. Unpainted drywall only needs to be wiped clean with a rag.

Going To Work

Using a thin-set mortar mix that’s specified for glass tiles, stir in water until a pliable paste is achieved. With the V-notched trowel held at 45 degrees, apply the mortar over an area that you think you can tile in 10 minutes. The trowel should create ridges running in a single direction to keep the mortar layer uniform at about one-eighth inch. Aligned with the guidelines, apply the tile sections and press them into the mortar with the grout float for an even surface. Give the mortar a day to harden before starting on the final phase.

Fill in The Gaps

The finishing touch involves filling the spaces between individual tiles with grout. With a splotch of grout on the grout float, place it at one corner of the tiled area and use it as a kind of squeegee to spread the grout. When all the gaps between the tiles are filled, the grout residue is cleared off by a moist sponge before it dries, usually within 10 minutes. After the grout has dried, roughly a couple of hours, the tiles are rubbed again with a dry cloth to clean off the remaining grout film. Finally, after a few days, add a coat of grout sealant to protect against moisture and stain and seal the outer edges with a bead of silicon caulking. If you’re still in doubt, here’s some extra help for this endeavor.

Erin Emanuel