Glass tile accent strip - where and how wide?

biondanonimaAugust 10, 2007

First, thanks to everyone who has already given me advice and suggestions with tile - you guys are awesome! Now that I have figured out what tile I'll be using, I need to know where to put it!

I'm using 3x6 white subways for field tile up to wainscot height. A white chair rail cap will take the place of the black cap shown in the photo (the horizontal cap, not the random vertical - that corner will be tiled normally). I'll be using a 3-tile-high accent strip of blue glass mini-subways (1"x2") underneath the cap, then white subways to the wood-look porcelain floor (with cove base). This accent strip will completely encircle the room.

I want to do another accent strip in the shower, though, and I'm not quite sure what to do there. There will be glass shower walls so it will be visible at all times. That area will be tiled to the ceiling. I have considered using a 6-tile-high strip at eye level (dissecting the window), which I'm sure would be nice but maybe too blocky? I could do 2 3-tile-high strips instead...

I've also considered adding a single row of the glass mini-subways near the floor (on top of the cove base or maybe one row up), just to add a little visual interest and color down lower. Anyway, I'm totally open to ideas, so put on your design caps! Thanks everyone!!!!!!!

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Hi Biondanonima,
When I was in tile school (yes, it really exists) one of the things drilled into our heads was that "people want to see where they put their money". That's a humorous way of saying that accents, liners, decos and dots should all be placed so that they have maximum visibility and minimum interruption. For a shower liner, as you are suggesting, the accent would naturally fall between the clients "nipples to eyebrows". If the installer isn't able to meet the clients (as is often the case) then a presumption has to be made that they are of average height for this purpose.
In the past, when I've had an accented wainscotting and an accent running through a connected shower, I've often found that a narrower band above makes for a more balanced design. It's still a matter of taste however so if you prefer another look there really isn't anyone to tell you that it's wrong.
Best of luck,

    Bookmark   August 10, 2007 at 10:57PM
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Don't mean to highjack the OP, but can anyone say where is the best and least expensive place to buy these glass accent strips?


    Bookmark   August 11, 2007 at 3:23AM
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Hi Brutuses,
I'm sorry to have to say it this way but your question isn't likely to get you a useful answer. Consider asking "What kind of car should I buy?" and you'll see how it's far too vague to offer practical information over opinion.
If you are looking for this specific glass tile, then you'll want to check with your local distributors to find out what retail stores offer it in their showrooms. If you want something "like" this tile, then you can take your chances and browse the internet, hoping that the glass you purchase is attractive and suitable once you have it in-hand. If you are looking for information on glass tile in general, then I suggest that you browse this forum and ask questions when you find something appealing or confusing.
Best of luck,

    Bookmark   August 11, 2007 at 11:17AM
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Thanks Shaughnn,

I've actually changed my mind about the glass mini-subways as of today - I'll be using this 7/8" mosaic accent tile instead:

I am still planning on using a 3-tile-tall strip under the chair rail, but I think the square mosaic may give me a little more flexibility as far as accents. I could replace random 3x6 tiles with 3x6 pieces of the mosaic, etc. I will keep in mind your advice about keeping the shower accent narrower - perhaps 2 narrower bands instead of one wide one? Anyway, thanks again and keep the ideas coming!

    Bookmark   August 11, 2007 at 3:15PM
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OK, since I started with a stupid question I suppose I'll follow up with another. You'll have to excuse me as I know absolutely nothing about tile so here goes. Can you buy a 3 tile tall strip? How long are the strips? Can you buy strips of different heights? OK, I warned you!! LOL Thanks for taking the time to answer. You know what they say, if you don't ask, you won't ever know!! HA!

    Bookmark   August 12, 2007 at 12:33AM
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Brutuses, you may want to start a separate thread on this topic, but as you can see from the pics I've posted, mosaic tile often comes mounted on mesh. You can cut the mesh to make strips of any width you like. Some mosaic comes mounted on paper instead (the paper is attached to the front of the tile, not the back), and in that case you cut the paper to make whatever shape you like.

You CAN buy mosaic that's only 3 tiles wide or whatever, but it's rare to see it sold like that unless you're doing a custom blend (at least in my experience - tile experts correct me if I'm wrong). Listello mosaics are usually only a couple of inches wide, but in my experience they are much more expensive and intricate than a basic mosaic.

The best price I've found for customizable glass mosaic is She has a ton of colors, shapes and sizes and you can design your own blend. She will also make your mosaic any width you choose, so if you know you just want a 3-tile strip, she'll save you the trouble of having to cut it. I strongly suggest buying sample packs of any tile you're considering, though, because the colors don't always read on the computer - they are drastically different in real life. also has good prices and will do custom blends. Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 12, 2007 at 8:31AM
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Hello again,
Biondanonima, (got anything easier to type?
Replacing a whole 3x6 tile with a block of 6 mosaic pieces might not be the way to go. There's no symmetry and it might end up looking more like a "patch" than a deliberate design choice. That being said, if you plan on installing this yourself and you want to have fun with your tile saw try an "Eternal Key" pattern.
Basically, trim the width of one mosaic piece(with joint) from the long and short edges of your tile. Polish those cuts with a tile stone to give them a better finish. Then, install these at your shower accent level with the mosaic alternating up and down to create crenelated appearance. Just a design concept inspired by a 3AM feeding.
Most tile suppliers will only sell mosaic in full sheets. This is generally one square foot but some manufacturers produce sheets which are 1'x2'. To get the strips you've asked about, you would have to cut down full sheets to the dimensions desired.
Best of luck,

    Bookmark   August 12, 2007 at 8:41AM
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Shaughnn, most people shorten my user name to Bio, LOL! Anyway, I agree with you that replacing individual bricks might look weird/patchy - it was just a thought. Could you explain what you mean by the Eternal Key pattern? I'm not able to visualize it. Do you mean you trim the 3x6 tiles to 2x5, and fill in both sides of that tile with the mosaic? So that the 3x6 tile basically has a mosaic border on two sides (mosaic in an L shape)? So, if there were a 3-tile-wide accent strip, you'd take one of these bordered subways with L-shaped mosaic above or below it at intervals (with the long side of the L against the strip) so that the short side of the L sticks up or down and the long side increases the thickness of the strip to 4 tiles?

I think I'm confused! Is there a place where I could see a picture of this online?

    Bookmark   August 12, 2007 at 9:27AM
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I'm pretty sure this is what he means (the 3x6 of the subway is outlined darker so that you can see how the pattern is made). I personally am not crazy about the proportions of the pattern (too spread out) but it's kind of a sick (in a good way ;) ) idea anyway.

I'd use a 2x2 as the insert instead of a subway cut down to 2x5 to give it a more square proportion (or a tile cut down to 2x2).

But I am not sure that's the look you're going for, which is a bit more clean and a bit less fussy in your small "vintage inspired with modern materials" bathroom. Personally I would stick with a 2" high border of mosaic. A 3" high would look like you replaced a row of subway with the mosaic whereas a 2" high would read like a listello. I'm torn on whether to put a single row near the bottom to help identify the base. At this point I am trying to figure out my base as well and I'm currently considering a 4x4 sanitary base with "something" on top of it (the base in the rest of my house is 8" tall) or just using a 6x6 square tile again with "something" on top of it (probably a 1/2" x 6" liner - and then the question becomes do I do that in white or black. Leaning toward white at the moment).

Maybe in the shower if you're not running the strip into it, you can just do a picture frame of the glass mosaic or something on the "big" wall. I would not do any inserts of the tile anywhere in the subway field.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2007 at 11:05AM
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kgwlisa, thank you! The picture helps immensely. Do you have a program that does that for you? Is it something that can be downloaded?

Anyway, I was just looking at a bunch of old threads for ideas and I realized after looking at several that have two choices: either stop the accent strip and chair rail at the right edge of the window and the right edge of the sink, or continue the wainscot height strip AND chair rail all the way around the room. Originally, I had planned to continue just the mosaic tile (no chair rail) into the shower, but because the chair rail is going to line up with the windowsill, I think it will look really dumb if I continue the colored tile but not the chair rail in the shower area. Duh. So, I need to order a bunch more chair rail or figure out a different plan for the shower area. I love the idea of doing a picture frame type thing on the big wall, though - that would be a good solution AND I wouldn't have to order any more chair rail!

I agree with you about the 2" border under the chair rail rather than the 3" - actually, I would even consider doing 4", but I think you're right that 3" will just look like I replaced a row of subways. I am definitely interested in using a single row above the cove base to accent it. I had also considered running a single row at the same height as the bathtub edge, and continuing that all the way around the room, but I wasn't sure how it would look to have a row of tile running under all of my faucets and handles.

Anyway, THANK YOU for your suggestions and please let me know how you make your tile drawings - I need that tool!!!!

    Bookmark   August 12, 2007 at 11:52AM
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Thank you KGWlisa,
Yup, that's what I was suggesting but seeing your drawing I agree with you that it's too spread out. Anyway, that's why they put erasers on the ends of pencils, right? :) From this conversation, I'm starting to lean toward a base row of 4 tiles and a higher accent of 2 tiles.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2007 at 3:18PM
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Okay, here are a few sketches of possible ideas. I used powerpoint to do them, so please don't make fun, LOL!

Shaughnn, I really like your idea of using a 4" strip on the bottom - I think it will really make the cove base tiles pop. That or the first picture, with just a single strip on the bottom. I don't like the one with the 4" strip directly under the chair rail at all. Opinions?

    Bookmark   August 12, 2007 at 4:16PM
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Sorry bio, I use autocad to do my drawings (I'm an architect) and it's not very inexpensive OR user friendly.

Are you planning to use a 4x4 or 6x6 cove? I've been struggling with a similar design issue and I'm sort of leaning toward a 6x6 plain tile base (not the cove) with a 1/2" liner. Here's a drawing that I just did today (I have a few other options but this is the one I am favoring). I like how it frames the field of subway tile.

So I guess I would lean toward the first, but that's purely because I like the look of a thin liner over the base (after trying a bunch of different things out for my bathroom). I also like the look of two high mosaic with subway tile, but that's after doing it in my kitchen. I sort of like what I like and do what I like and get stubborn about it ;).

    Bookmark   August 12, 2007 at 4:49PM
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Tough luck for me on the autocad, but I think powerpoint will work well enough for my purposes, even if it is a little cumbersome. Anyway, I didn't realize that was your backsplash - I clipped it long ago as an inspiration shot! Anyway, that type of picture frame look is what I'm considering for the big wall in the shower if I decide not to continue the wainscotting into that area. I'll try to post a picture in a bit...

    Bookmark   August 12, 2007 at 5:22PM
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Okay, here's the idea for the large shower wall:

Now the question is, how/where do I stop the wainscotting on the walls adjacent to the shower, especially the window wall (pic below)? I want to tile that wall completely to avoid moisture problems. My plan was to use chair rail on either side of the window and have the chair rail line up with the window sill, so that the line of the chair rail would be taken over by the sill. The mosaic accent would just run straight under the windowsill/chair rail line. Will it look strange to just stop the chair rail/accent strip in the corner? I suppose I could run it into the picture frame, but I'm not sure how that would look either...thoughts? Here's the window wall, for reference:

    Bookmark   August 12, 2007 at 10:52PM
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I'm still not sure how to handle the area on the right side of the window. As you can see from the photo of the old bathroom, there is a "bump" in the wall right beside the window on the right, and then there's an exposed heat pipe in the corner. I need to go back to the war zone and check to see if the bump is there for a reason. If not, that wall will run straight to the pipe which would be great. If so, there will be a double bump in the new wall because I'm having a partition built to cover the heat pipe.

Here's a rough sketch of the window end as it might look with tile (I wasn't able to show the "bumps" though):

I am undecided as to whether I should tile that wall (including bumps) floor to ceiling, or just tile it to wainscot height. Will I have moisture problems if I do that, I wonder? Here's a rough idea of what that would look like:

I think I like that better but will I regret it, moisture-wise?

    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 9:54PM
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Love the green and black. We have a peach with tan accent tile trim, and a grey with burgundy tile trim. All I can think of is refinishing bath and walls in white and retiling floor. Not nearly as ambitious as you to plan on ripping out walls! How is project going?

    Bookmark   March 4, 2008 at 3:09PM
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for what is worth I see your present bathroom as unusually configured with lots of angles/ details in the small space. I would not want to accentuate angles and therefore will choose minimal visual disturbances. I also would choose one central spotlight where I could put my best tile/design and downplay everything else.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2008 at 5:45PM
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Bio's bathroom is pretty much done. She posted pics a while back almost finished - she was having issues with her tile contractor and I'm not sure if she ever posted completely finished pictures.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2008 at 6:24PM
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