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The Pros of Glass Subway Tiles

Updated on May 25, 2014

How to Cut Glass Subway Tile

History of Glass Subway Tile

Subway tiles got their name in the early 1900’s when New York City tiled the walls of the ticket office. Opened in 1904 the ticket office, located at the former City Hall subway station in New York City featured ceramic subway tiles, said to be durable and easy to maintain.The arches and high ceilings were covered with upscale Guastavino tile work.Traditionally a 3” x 6” tile was called subway as this was the original size, however today you can find hundreds of different styles and sizes. Although in 2500 BC glass can be found in some mosaics, the actual tile was not created until 3rd Century BC. It is not until the 19th century with the development of heat transfer dye treatments which provides the wide variety of colors and styles. A person can even have their glass tiles or glass tile murals custom printed. Although cutting glass tiles can still be difficult, procedures and the use of the correct tools can make it doable. Don't forget to keep a polishing tool on hand as well.

Mold & Mildew Resistant Glass Subway Tiles

Ceramic tiles are not resistant to mold and mildew and are capable of being stained. As ceramic tile receives it color through a stain process, with the right chemical or heat source, the tiles themselves can be altered in color. Glass subway tiles are stain free as color is done with the backing, and the tile itself is resistant to mold & mildew, making them the tile of choice for most bathrooms and kitchen back splashes. Glass is also waterproof and will stand up to high humidity. Most chemicals cannot damage these tiles however this does not include the grout. It is important to purchase the correct grout for glass material and use. If you are using the tiles in the kitchen or bathroom make sure the grout is combatable. Glass tiles also are heat resistant. Your glass tiles will not be damaged by placing hot pots and pans on them. They will not fade over time if exposed to natural light.

Durability and Shine of Glass Subway Tile

The cleaning of glass subway tiles is as easy as cleaning your windows or mirrors. Glass is impervious to water and can be wiped clean with minimal effort. Keep in mind water spots can and will develop on tiles not properly dried. A simple solution of vinegar and water works well for every day cleaning. Like a mirror, glass should be polished on occasion. A lint free cloth and simple glass cleaner will work fine. Glass subway tiles are frost proof and tolerable to sudden temperature changes. These tiles are also heat, fire and UV resistant making them the perfect protective finish for any and all outdoor projects.

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Light Quality of Glass Tile

The biggest plus glass tile has to offer, is how it reacts to light. Glass tends to reflect light, which provides the ability of the tile to enlarge a room. It actually pushes light away from the wall, unlike ceramic tiles. The translucent quality of this tile will be different depending on the light source. This tile leads favorable for soft accent lighting or with natural lighting. The subway design allows you control of the reflection of light. The tiles can be as small as one inch by one inc, or as large as one foot by one foot.

Thank you, Louis Comfort Tiffany

It was thank to Louis Comfort Tiffany that played a large part of introducing glass into the world of design. Although most know for his Tiffany lamp, glass mosaics gained in popularity. In the mid 20th century glass tiles were replaced with synthesized materials to appear more modern in homes, however commercially glass was always the number one choice of decorators. Architects have been designing with glass for hundreds of years, and no sign of changing in the future. Today glass beautiful and versatile tiles is an option designers will use. It has made its way back into the house market again.

Installation of Glass Subway Tile

Installation of Glass Subway Tile

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Installation of Glass Subway Tile

Although the installation of tile has gotten simpler, with the backing and spacers provided, glass subway tiles should be applied slowly and meticulously. For any and all cut edges, the tiles should be buffed and polished. Any and all chips, cracks, and flaws will stand out on the tiles. Also it is very important to make sure the surface that the glass subway tiles are being adhered to is properly prepared, primed and sealed. Finally take all the time needed to ensure a straight and evenly spaced placement for each tile. The installation of the tile can be as different as the stainless steel itself. Ensure to rad the instruction and use proper recommended material. These guidelines are true for all tile, however glass tile tends to show all mistakes glaringly.

Custom Made Glass Subway Tile

There are several companies that offer custom glass subway tiles. Designing a glass tile provides an opportunity to showcase your own personality in a particular living space. You can add a textured design to your kitchen back splash, or a custom made glass tile trim for your bathroom. Personally designed glass subway tiles can create a one of a kind patio table, or beautiful wall mural in your master bedroom. If treated properly glass subway tile has the durability to last a lifetime. The only limit to a beautiful customized tile feature, is your imagination and budget.


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    • Tile Printer profile image

      Debbie Bernard 

      4 years ago from Altavista, Virginia

      Another nice thing about glass tile is that it can be back-printed for backsplash murals. Custom printed tiles allow for favorite artwork and photos to become part of your décor in a unique and durable fashion. Custom printed glass tile is easy to clean and is extremely chemical and stain resistant.


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