Large format glass tile - cracked - need advice from a professional [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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02-27-2008, 10:06 AM
Our bathroom remodel uses Ann Sacks Crystal Glass - in the small rectangular mosaic format and in the large 12x24 inch format. The large tiles are in a three wall bathtub alcove, with the small rectangles on the ceiling of that alcove. The tile work was completed last week.

The tile contractor - who has many years of experience and came highly recommended - had cut out the holes for the fixture wall - a hand shower and a faucet valve - prior to putting the tiles on the wall. They are not round holes that one would find with a round core type of drill. There is one 1 inch squarish hole for the hand shower and a very large hole that goes down through the edge of the tile - it is a 4 or 5 inch irregular cut - for the tub faucet valve. Both holes look like the edges were sort of chipped out.

Yesterday the plumber and general contractor (GC) came to install the plumbing fixtures on the fixture wall. About an hour after the hand shower outlet piece was placed on the wall, a vertical crack appeared in the tile. The plumber assured us that no pressure had been applied and that silicone caulk was the only thing sitting on the glass. So far the other tile with the larger hole and faucet valve is not cracked, but of course, no pressure from usage has been applied at this point. Although I asked about it several times, the tile contractor assured me that no crack suppression membrane was needed for this job.

Today the GC called to say that he and the tile contractor will come this afternoon and measure the hole placement in the cracked tile and will take one of the leftover tiles to a glazier in another town to cut out the hole and then will replace the cracked tile. I am assuming, but I don't know, that a coring bit will be used. I am concerned that other tiles may crack as the damaged tile is removed.

I guess my question is, what do you think about the plan to remedy this problem? How should these large sized holes be drilled? Or for that matter, the 2 small holes that the plumber drilled for the hand shower rail? They appear fine at this point. Do you think it is necessary at this time to remove and replace the tile that has the large irregular hole? Is that one likely to crack in the future? Do you think we should just remove all of the large format tile on that fixture wall and replace it with the small format mosaic shape? I guess I am asking, how can we make sure this problem is corrected in the best way for the long term.

Thank you for any advice you can offer. The tile, by the way is so beautiful. It is just a shame this had to happen.

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02-27-2008, 11:40 AM
Glass does not behave like ceramic tiles, but when it is cut, it may exhibit some of the same problems you see in tiles and other hard materials.

A diamond core bit and the round hole it makes puts far less strain on glass than cutting a square hole which causes 4 weak points: the corners of the opening. Like a square hole cut into a concrete slab or a ceramic tile, cracks are very likely to appear at the corners, and if so, the cracking often leads to breaking.

If a square hole has to be employed, the corners should be reinforced with galvanized or stainless steel. For large openings, I use 9-gauge stainless steel rod, bent and sized approximately 1-inch larger than the hole. for smaller openings, I will often use four 3 1/2-inch galvanized finishing nails. The bent rod or nails are embedded in the layer of thinset mortar just below the tile. I position nails at each corner at a 45 degree angle to the tangent of the two sides of the corner.

John Bridge
02-27-2008, 06:25 PM
Hi Patricia, :)

I'm not overly experienced with glass tiles, except for the smaller mosaic sizes. One thing we do recommend often is that you contact the manufacturer when there is a problem. It seems that each glass tile manufacturer has his/her own idea on how glass tiles should be installed. And truth be known, the glass folks probably do know more about the process than most ceramic tile setters.

I like Michael Byrne's idea about using reinforcing around cut holes. I've never heard it before, but it does make sense. And round holes certainly do a better job than square sawn ones. ;)

02-27-2008, 08:34 PM
I would get in contact with the tile mfg. IMO anytime glass tile that large are set I wouldn't do it without a membrane because of how much glass will move.

Dave Hessel
02-27-2008, 09:39 PM
What Jerry says. I would also be certain to use expansion joints in glass tile of that size.

02-28-2008, 07:17 AM
Might want to throw in a rapid set thin-set rated for glass also. Less Shrinkage.