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Recycled Glass Tiles

By: Hsin-Yi Cohen BSc, MA, MSt - Updated: 2 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Recycled Glass Tiles Recycled Glass

For those who like the look and function of ceramics, granite and marble but wish to choose a more environmentally-friendly alternative for their flooring, recycled glass tiles is a good option. Not only does it have all the advantages of those materials but it also combines them with the advantages of glass. Recycled glass tiles can be used a variety of internal applications and allows you combine artistic flair with innovative technology and a commitment to the environment and a sustainable future.

Why Choose Recycled Glass?

Although many recycling schemes now incorporate glass bottles, a high percentage of glass still often arrives in landfills and as glass is incredibly durable, it does not break down easily over time. Thus recycling and re-using glass is a great way to reduce the waste in landfills, while obtaining a versatile, durable material that can be used in a variety of settings, from road surfaces and storm water drainage systems to reflective paint, fiberglass insulation and of course, decorative tiles in the home for walls and flooring.

Recycled glass tiles are a fantastic eco-friendly alternative to ceramics, stones and other synthetic materials as not only do they use up material that would otherwise be clogging up landfills but it also uses a more energy efficient method of manufacture – in fact, each recycled glass tile can need less than half the energy needed to produce a traditional ceramic tiles and even less than a quarter the energy needed to produce a traditional cast-glass tile.

Manufacture of Recycled Glass Tiles

Recycled glass tiles can be made from a range of sources. Some manufacturers use broken and discarded glass from window manufacturers, other use any form of waste glass which is not normally recycled as part of domestic collections. The glass is either crushed into a sand-like texture and mixed with other ingredients, such as minerals, to change or add colour or it is melted down in furnaces and then the molten glass is stamped into shape, followed by hand-trimming and grinding into its finished form. The first method, which produces a form of “sintered glass” requires much less energy than standard glass, which is produced via the second melting method, and also much less energy than the firing method needed to produce a ceramic tile.

Advantages of Recycled Glass Tiles

There are many distinct advantages to choosing recycled glass for your home, whether as splashbacks, wall coverings or flooring in bathrooms, kitchens and other suitable areas. Not only are you reducing the waste in landfills and choosing an eco-friendly resource, you also get a durable, easy-care and unique product that adds style and beauty to your home. Recycled glass tiles come in a myriad of colours and textures, as well as matte and glossy finishes, and are stain-resistant as well as being inert to chemicals.

Use and Care

Recycled glass tiles can be used to replace traditional ceramic tiles in any situation the latter is used around the home. In particular, they are more stain resistant and chemical-resistant than porous ceramic tiles and so are ideal for use in places that are prone to high moisture, such as bathrooms and kitchens. Recycled glass tiles can also be used outdoors and special pavers made of a combination of concrete and recycled glass are available for the garden.

Care should be taken with installation as glass tiles in general require more finesse than standard ceramic tiles and it is best to find a builder familiar with the differences in installation. Points to consider include:

  • Making sure each tile is knocked down and smoothed for comb marks after the coat of thin set is applied; otherwise unattractive marks will be visible through the glass.
  • Ensuring that an even, deep layer of adhesive remains after smoothing the thin set, so that each tile is secure and supported.
  • Overall, taking more time and care as recycled glass generally requires more installation time and more attention given to the tiles before they are secured in place.

One thing to note is that glass tiles can be incredibly slippery, especially in wet areas, so it may be a good idea to use smaller tiles in these rooms as the additional grout joints will provide considerable extra traction and therefore, the maximum slip resistance.

When cleaning glass tiles, avoid any cleaners that are abrasive or which may contain chemicals that might scratch the surface. A normal glass cleaner can be used.

So for those who like to combine an environmentally-responsible attitude with stylish design, recycled glass tiles offers a world of choice.

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