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How to Cut Glass Tile

Installing glass tile can be tricky, but cutting it can be even trickier. People are always asking how to cut small glass tile without chipping it, cracking it, having the pieces fall into the wet saw trays groove or having it shoot out of their fingers when they cut it. From over the years of installing glass tile I have learned a few tricks. One of the most simplest is to make sure the smaller glass tile that are mesh mounted have a solid backing under it when you pushing it through the wet saw. Another thing you want to make sure you do is to have the glass tile held down so it doesn’t move around while cutting it.

Glass tile once wet on mesh sheets or paper backed glass tile sheets start to soften the glue, once that happens they start to fall off. Sometimes that isn’t a bad thing when you want to put them in one at a time, but can be annoying when trying to install a row of them mounted. In the first picture below you can see the wrong way and the trouble you will have by just sitting the glass tile sheet on the wet saw tray.  The glass tile once cut will drop down into the opening for the blade, it also chips when not supported 100% as it is being cut. If your wet saw has an adjustable head/motor you can raise it up and use a scrap piece of plywood to support the small glass tile.

In the rest of the pictures you can see my trick for cutting small glass tile with a mesh backing and trying to get a bunch very small pieces all the same size. I use a scrap ceramic tile or whatever field tile you are using on your tile project. I then blue tape the small glass tile securely to the backside of the ceramic tile. Then I make my cut mark on the tape and use blue painters tape since you can see through it and know right where the mark is on the glass tile. Then align up the mark to the blade on the wet saw and make the cut. The glass tile mesh barely gets wet but there is enough water on the blade to make a clean cut. After the cut I remove the tape to see my precise cuts that are dry and still attached to the mesh backing, ready to install into the modified thinset I am using to set the glass tile on the waterproofed shower mud floor.

Glass tile is becoming more popular in the areas like Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota, Orlando, Clearwater, Brandon, Bradenton & other largely populated area’s in Florida and other U.S. cities with homes that are stylish and keeping up with current bathroom, kitchen & backsplash tile trends.  People are having glass tile installed in the bathroom on the walls as an accent band, as a deco, on shower floors, back splashes and in pools. I wouldn’t suggest a opaque or paper face mounted glass tile install for a DIY job, glass tile is tricky and there are certain rules you need to adhere to from the glass tile manufacturer. One being the use of a highly modified white thinset.  Some require a crack anti fracture membrane, while some will scratch with the use of a specific type of sanded grout. And by all means Do Not Use Mastic or Premixed Thinset.

You also want to make sure you use the proper sized notched trowel or you could ruin your glass tile install with too deep of a trowel and thinset coming up through the grout joints, or not deep enough of a trowel and the tile not adhering or bedding properly to the substrate and becoming loose and ruining the installation. I would highly suggest you read up on glass tile or find a tile contractor that is familiar with glass tile, it’s special installation requirements, has done a fair amount of glass tile installs and has references.

The glass tile used in this install was Hakatai TA810 M China Blend

If your looking for an estimate in Florida on a glass tile project you have coming up, please Contact Us for a Free Estimate.

{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

trying to do tile March 21, 2010 at 9:28 am

I really appreciate you posting this blog. I was having a hard time cutting small pieces and couldn’t figure out how to hold them or stop them from chipping. Your method worked great. they was no was for me to hold down the small tile, I tried holding it with pliers and the tile still broke. Once I taped it down to a old scrap tile and cut them it worked great!
thanks again :-)

Steve Swatch October 19, 2010 at 8:52 pm

amazing… I can’t stop reading your blogs, there is huge amount of information.
Thanks for the wonderful website!

Sherry Patterson November 8, 2010 at 2:25 pm

I wish I had read your blog before I ruined quite a few glass tile. Thanks for the info, I can now finish my bathroom project with a little more confidence.

Ceramictec November 8, 2010 at 2:37 pm

Hi Sherry,

this is why I like to write blogs so it can help people “trying” to do their tile or make customers understand why it’s good to hire a professional that understands glass tile is different then regular tile.

Dave October 14, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Great blog! I just have a quick question for you (I see this was posted over a year ago) But I have just installed glass subway tiles in my shower and need to drill a hole to put up the rod for the shower door is there a specific bit that should be used? Also what do you recommend for temporarily marking glass tile (so I know exactly where to drill)

Thanks for any suggestions you can give,
Dave

Ceramictec October 14, 2011 at 2:53 pm

Hi Dave,

they make Glass Drill Bits for glass tile, a web search should show them or try a hardware store.
as for the marking a Sharpie will do the trick.

Faith October 17, 2011 at 9:22 am

My husband and I are thinking of installing a glass tile backsplash in the kitchen. The tiles we like are a mosaic grouping on mesh, each tile being approx 1.4 in by 2 in. My husband thinks it won’t be necessary to get a wet saw to make the cuts we need because of the size of the tiles… Is he right; will a glass cutting tool do the job?

Ceramictec October 17, 2011 at 2:53 pm

you can probably do it with a glass cutting tool and glass nips.
as long as you don’t need to make an “L” cuts.

laura October 26, 2011 at 8:26 am

What will happen if I used premixed thinset?

Ceramictec October 26, 2011 at 12:55 pm

pre-mixed thinset or mastic doesn’t dry correctly behind the glass tile since air cant get to it. thinset mortar drys with hydration and doesn’t need air but does benefit from it. and mastic or premixed thinset shouldn’t be used in a wet area like a shower.

Katie Walczak January 5, 2012 at 5:44 pm

Is there any way to polish or smooth the edge of a glass tile once it’s been cut? I am putting up a backsplash and the individual tiles are only .65″ x 1.85″. Some of the cuts I’ve made (just practicing) are not quite perfect. Can I polish them or at least gently round the edge?

Ceramictec January 6, 2012 at 2:38 pm

Hi Katie,
It’s very hard to polish a cut piece of glass. They do make profile wheels that can bullnose then. Its better to buy a metal or plastic tile edge.

Mike Perry January 24, 2012 at 5:23 pm

What saw blade do you recommend for your wet saw to cut glass mosaic tile?Thanks.

Ceramictec January 24, 2012 at 5:29 pm

I used on this project a slightly used MK Hot Dog blade for this glass tile.
On more delicate glass tile I switch to a MK-215GL Glass Diamond Blade.

Tom Loeffel June 28, 2012 at 4:34 pm

The info on cutting small mesh mounted glass is invaluable. Can you use the same cutting method with a table mounted blade versus the overhead mounted blade you show in your photos?
We are using a 5/8″ random stone and glass 12″X12″ mesh mounted tile. Is there something special I need to consider since the tile is a mix of stone and glass?

Thanks in advance, Tom

Ceramictec June 28, 2012 at 5:57 pm

Hi Tom,

its all in the blade and amount of water that hits the blade when cutting.
Your mixed mosaic probably wont have a problem. The travertine will cut easy but you need to worry abut the glass tile if its a painted back. The back coloring might flake of when cutting and you could try cutting the sheets upside down to stop it.

Jen July 16, 2012 at 8:42 am

Thank you SO MUCH for this post! We have been racking our brains on how to cut our 1′ x 1′ mixed mosaic tile sheets (glass, travertine, other stone, etc.) for our back splash in our kitchen. Unfortunately, the directions with the tiles did not say to “avoid using premixed thinset”…how much of an issue will this create? The tiles themselves are extremely small (similar to what you show in your picture)…what kind of issues might we run up against? Again, it is a mix of glass and stone.

Thanks for any info in advance!

Jen

Ceramictec July 16, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Hi Jen,

the only bad thing about pre -mixed thinset or mastic is that they wont dry good behind an impervious glass tile. The premixed or mastic doesn’t dry in the bucket because the air cant get to it. same would happen behind a glass tile. the good thing is with the mosaic you are installing is that they have lots of joints to help the glue dry, so give it a few days of drying before you grout.

Jen July 18, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Thank you so much for the info :) Fortunately, we will be leaving it for about a week before grouting….your info above is such a help! :)

Will July 28, 2012 at 12:40 pm

Hello Ceramictec,

I’m going to be installing 3″ x 12″ x 5/16″ painted backside glass tiles on three walls in my bathroom including some of it in the wet area. Part will also go around the wall dividing the tub area and the vanity, that wall is 2 x 4 with 1/2 rock on both sides, so I’ll need to cut down the glass tiles and am wondering how I’d get those edges polished up that will be exposed. I asked a glass shop and they didn’t have a 5/16″ profile on their polisher, not to mention the 3″ size going through could have been a problem. Might you have a suggestion on a solution? I could also put them in a vertical orientation and polish the long sides of the tiles if that helps. Much appreciate your advice here on your blog.

Ceramictec July 28, 2012 at 1:50 pm

If you can’t polish them, I would run a full tile as a soldier course around the perimeter edge so it has a factory edge finish. or you could use a pvc or metal edge.

Melissa September 5, 2012 at 1:52 pm

Does your method work on linear tiles that are clear but have a color paper backing on a mesh liner?
The color paper backing came off the tile while cutting and was applied to the wall. All of the edges look jagged. It isn’t pretty. My highly recommended installer (who has been doing this for years) said that is standard and there is no way around it. Luckily I haven’t paid him yet. :-)

Ceramictec September 5, 2012 at 4:48 pm

The paper is just there to help so the stuck mesh doesn’t stick to the face of the tile below it in the box. There is a type of glass tile called “paper faced glass tile” and it gets install with the paper on it, but I’m sure you dont have that if it peeled off easily. All glass tile cuts differently and your installer should know how to cut it correctly without it chipping. Some you can tape, some you need to cut painted side up & some you can use a stain glass hand held cutting tool.
Good luck.

Rob S September 15, 2012 at 9:02 am

Great post, thanks! We are installing adko 3×6′s and experienced the flaking problem until the tiles were cut upside down. Does the MK-215GL Glass Diamond Blade cut better? How?

Ceramictec September 15, 2012 at 4:52 pm

good to hear Rob. the glass tile blades have a finer diamond on them to cut glass tile smoother unlike a more aggressive diamond that chews through porcelain.

Mike September 27, 2012 at 3:17 pm

Thanks so much for your blog. I too have taken on the challange of installing a glass back splash and have gone through 2 12×12 sheets of 2×2 mosaic tiles trying to figure out how to cut them without shattering the glass to pieces. I guess I should have come to your site sooner and saved the $20 worth of tile I have distroyed. Your site has been more helpfull than any “expert” I have talked to. THANKS AGAIN!

Tim October 2, 2012 at 4:14 pm

Just did large bathroom in glass tile. Tile came with cardboard on back of it. I taped it to cardboard along line I wanted to cut and had no problems cutting with wet saw with glass blade.

Pam November 15, 2012 at 3:17 pm

Much appreciated advice from your site. I’ve had my glass tile in their boxes since last June, I think. I’m afraid.
1) that when I cut, glass will be flying all over.
2) cracking/chipping the glass.
I have a bag of Mapei called “Keracolor U”. It is unsanded grout with polymer, and is black in color because my tile is black. I also have sheet glass tile in misc black colors for accent. My husband brought up what he said is a wet saw…it is. I see where the water goes in the drawer beneath the saw. I dont know how to use it and not sure it has the rite saw blade (appears 2B 1/8 inch cut edge). Help?

Ceramictec November 15, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Hi Pam,

1 & 2 can be easily negated if you have a good glass tile blade.
as far as the grout and color, that choice is up to you.
if you have some small rinky dink wetsaw it might work,
but you need a good glass tile blade.
if you dont know how to use it you might consider hiring a pro.

joe January 4, 2013 at 11:23 pm

Great stuff!!!

Mike Dinko September 2, 2013 at 11:24 pm

I have spent countless hours searching the web for the best way to cut 3/4 x 3/4 mesh backed glass mosaic tiles, and this is the first site anywhere that has the “solution”. Your technique of using masking tape to hold the tiles in place is the holy grail for me!
I am a diy guy, but have never installed this type of tile.

They aren’t difficult to cut, but holding them in place while cutting and keeping them connected when they get wet is the problem. Also, with my saw, the table is smaller than the full tile dimensions, and while feeding the tile through, it gets snagged on every joint at the edge of the table. I can’t thank you enough for posting this!

One other thing, would you recommend a bridge saw if I only do this on occasion?

Ceramictec September 3, 2013 at 8:46 pm

Glad it worked out good for you Mike.
any regular type of wetsaw will work with this.

Cynthia S September 21, 2013 at 5:57 pm

I just bought a sheet of the inexpensive thin bling glass mosaic tiles to put around the edge of my beveled bathroom mirror. The mirror finish has worn off the back in a couple places, and these cover it just perfectly, with some room for the wear-off to continue. Of course, I need to fill in triangular pieces at the corners. Must I use a glass saw on this thin glass or might an exacto knife work?

Thanks!

Ceramictec September 21, 2013 at 6:19 pm

if its real thin try a small glass cutter and breaking nips.

Joann H. September 25, 2013 at 12:52 pm

HELP ……….. tiny glass tiles are falling off webbing after cutting them on the wet saw and getting the mesh wet making it difficult to work with. How can I make them stay on the webbing????

Ceramictec September 25, 2013 at 5:06 pm

Joann,

you will need to rip off single rows and cut the small tile separately if the water is re-emulsifying the glue on the mesh. it is sometimes easy to do the whole sheet, but not if the glue gets soft.

Linda August 9, 2014 at 11:33 pm

I am applying mosaic tile on mesh backing that are meant to interlock to the next piece. my first problem is cutting the edge that needs to be flush with the wall I have tried wet saw but they just fall off when cutting. my second problem is I’m not sure how to cut to fit around wall sockets. This tile is oblong and so being that said its impossible to cut the tile on the mesh can you give me a few ideas.

Ceramictec August 16, 2014 at 8:51 am

Hi Linda,

At the edges you will use the score and step method with a small tile cutter. You can even use a glass cutter to make the straight cuts. You can take the tile off of the mesh and cut them. Same thing around your outlets, cut the tile off the mesh and insert your sheet and then piece in the ones that need to be cut on the backsplash.

Good luck

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