How to Install Glass Mosaic Pool Tile
Glass mosaic pool tiles bring a splash of vibrancy to both residential and commercial swimming pool installations. Because they reflect natural light, they can give swimming pools a lustrous, shimmering appearance. They’re available in almost any color, size and pattern imaginable – allowing your client to achieve any aesthetic they desire. Below are the five key components to creating a beautiful and long-lasting glass tile installation:
1. Choosing Tile
Today, a mosaic glass tile installation does not necessarily require setting hundreds of tiles individually. Instead, manufacturers often create sheets of mosaic tile by bonding the individual tiles to a paper facing – which is removed before grouting.
Manufacturers may also create sheets of mosaic tile by adhering the backs of the tile to an open-weave mesh. This strategy holds the tiles together while allowing the adhesive oto come into contact with the tile backs. However, choosing a mesh-backed mosaic isn’t always simple. If a water-based adhesive was used to bond the mosaic tiles to the mesh backing, that adhesive could re-emulsify once submerged. If that occurs, the mosaic tile will end up in the bottom of the swimming pool – rather than bonded to its walls. To avoid this, confirm with the tile manufacturer that the mosaic glass tile and the sheet mounting method are suitable for submerged installations.
If your client wants a customized mosaic or selects mosaic tiles that do not come in sheets, consider using tile tape to create sheets of your own for efficient installation. Consult the tile tape manufacturer’s instructions for the best methods.
2. Cutting Tile
If the tile layout requires partial sheets, simply score the paper, plastic sheeting or mesh holding the tiles together with a utility knife as needed. If you need to cut the tiles themselves, use specialized glass mosaic tile cutters, as other cutters may shatter the small tiles.
3. Setting Tiles
Glass mosaic pool tile applications require polymer modified mortars. Look for a mortar specifically formulated for compatibility with glass tile, such as TEC® Super Flex™, to achieve a strong bond.
Your mortar’s color can affect the appearance of clear or translucent glass mosaics. White mortars typically produce the most pleasing and consistent appearance – allowing glass tile to maintain its natural luminosity. In general, a mock-up is suggested to confirm the final appearance of a tile-mortar combination.
Similarly, mortar ridges may be visible through clear or translucent tiles. To prevent them from marring a glass mosaic pool tile, use the flat side of the trowel to flatten mortar ridges before setting tile. You may also want to back-butter the tile to achieve a uniform appearance and proper coverage. When you set a back buttered sheet of mosaic tile, excess setting material may ooze up through the grout joints. Clean out the grout joints as soon as possible, because the longer you wait, the more difficult it will be to remove.
4. Grouting Tile
If the faces of your glass mosaics were bonded to paper sheets or to tile tape, remove them before grouting. Be sure that the tile faces are free of all adhesive residue.
Since some glass surfaces may be subject to scratches from sanded grout, follow tile manufacturer recommendations or test a small area prior to use to determine the suitable swimming pool grout. If your glass will scratch, use an unsanded grout. Consider TEC® Design FX™ grout – a ready-to-use grout specifically created for glass tile installation. Design FX™ comes in crystal, silver and bronze, to give glass mosaic installations an extra sparkle. TEC® AccuColor Premium Unsanded Grout can also be used with most glass tile installations and is available in more than 30 colors.
Caulk expansion joints with AccuColor 100® 100% Silicone Sealant.
5. Maintaining Tile
Your customer will undoubtedly be eager to jump into their newly tiled swimming pool, but advise them to wait 21 days before filling it to allow their mosaic glass tile installation to cure fully.
In general, glass mosaic tile is very low maintenance. It is naturally stain-resistant, and the use of a high quality grout will help the installation maintain its appearance. However, tile in even the cleanest pools will eventually accumulate calcium deposits and other residue.
Advise your clients that they should not bead blast their glass tile. Bead blasting may scratch the tile, compounding the dirty appearance your client wants to avoid. Similarly, they should not use a pumice stone to clean tile, as this may be too abrasive.
Dry soda blasting – a process whereby baking soda is propelled onto the pool tile – is often the safest method of cleaning glass pool tile. This process should be undertaken by a professional.
Chemical washes can also be used to remove lime, calcium and hardwater deposits. Remind your client to apply these with a soft cloth to avoid scratching, and follow product recommendations for pool drainage requirements.
Carefully installed and maintained glass mosaic pool tile can make your client’s pool a unique oasis. To learn more about the products and techniques that you can use to achieve a beautiful swimming pool, send us an email or call 1-800-832-9023, Mon-Fri 8 a.m.-5 p.m. CST.
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