scratched glass tile backsplash

cookiemonkeyJuly 1, 2010

Hi everyone,

I'm in a panic and wondering if I could get some advice. We are just about done with kitchen remodel. The backsplash just went in. It's subway glass tiles. Apparently my CG hadn't done much glass and after the final wipe, we noticed the glass had been totally scratched everywhere. We have about 44 square feet of scratched tiles. I just read few posts on this site (after we discovered the problem) and I'm assuming it was the sanded grout, but the joint size is bigger than 1/8" (so I still don't know what should have been done).

He wants to try a sealer to see if it hides the scratches. I think we need to redo it. If we have to buy more material, can I ask him to pay for it? I really don't know what to do. The whole kitchen is new and the backsplash looks just awful. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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I would ask them to redo it. I am looking for glass subway tile as well - should they not have used sanded grout? what brand/color is this? what color grout did you go with? so sorry you have to deal with this!!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2010 at 1:56PM
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I second the redo. Once glass is scratched, you need to either buff it out which would mess up your grout or remelt the tiles.

We also did glass tiles but have a texture to them that hides any scratches. It was recommended by our tile company to use sanded grout because it holds better. And I believe that if you have wide seams, that you need to use the sanded grout as well.

If he is insistent on sealing, have him do a test on either a sample scratched tile or on a few tiles underneath the cabinet. I doubt that the sealer will fix it and then you know that he knows too.

Good Luck!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2010 at 2:45PM
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Thanks, guys, for your answers. It seems like for the joint size of this tile, it has to be sanded grout, but I don't know what precautions need to be done to not scratch it. If/when we redo it, I'm going to have to find that out.

sydmad - I got the tile from Tile City in Simi Valley, CA and they call it Madelyn Glass. The tile color is called taupe. The color of the grout is natural grey. But even though the colors sound neutral both the grout and the tile have a lot of green undertones in them. So both are more of a grey green.

There were some websites that mentioned jeweler's rouge. We bought some and tried it on a little sample tile piece. It didn't seem to do much.

Thanks again, earth_pal and sydmad.


    Bookmark   July 1, 2010 at 3:04PM
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I have no advice to offer, just want to say I really like your backsplash and I'm sorry they were scratched! How disappointing! It is helpful of you to post about it though. Thank you and good luck with getting it fixed!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2010 at 4:26PM
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Sorry to hear about your backsplash. I never heard about a thicker spacing needing sanded grout vs unsanded for a smaller grout. When we ordered our glass tiles, we were told to only use unsanded grout or the tiles would be scratched. We never specified the tile spacings, it was just a blanket statement. Once we started putting it up we decided we wanted a very small grout line, so we ended up pratically just having the tiles touch.

I like the looks of your spacing, but I would recommend unsanded grout if you redo it. I'm afraid now matter how careful you are I bet it would happen again.

Our glass tile with super small spacing:

    Bookmark   July 1, 2010 at 4:41PM
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Gorgeous tile backsplash, theanimala!

Our tile came in sheets so the spacing was kind of predetermined. I read a post on the bathroom forum (i think) that said larger joint lines need sanded grout no matter what material it is. I don't think it said anything about what to use if it was smaller. But if we can get by without using sanded grout, that would be better. But I'm going to go do some more research since I'm clearly lost. I do think you have a very good point about just being careful no matter what, theanimala.

Thanks everyone for your kind words and advice. This forum is so great.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2010 at 6:08PM
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Ugh, what a bummer. That GC must know that he has to pull this out and redo.

Just because the tiles are sold on a backing does not mean they have to be installed that way, by the way. You could request a smaller grout line.

The GC should definitely pay for replacement materials.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2010 at 6:16PM
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theanimala - what tile is that - almost exactly what i am looking for! who makes it/what color/what color grout - LOVE it!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2010 at 6:27PM
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Sorry to see this happened.

It was on the packaging with the glass tiles we used that unsanded grout is required. It was also on the display at Lowe's where I bought the tiles, which grout to use, unsanded and what color for which tiles.

He will have to re-do at his expense.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 9:23AM
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Circus Peanut

You can use unsanded grout with larger groutlines; it's more of an installer's issue where it's more fiddly to fill those lines with less stout grout, but I don't think you have a choice with glass tile. It's definitely not impossible.

Alas, I concur -- those must be entirely redone, sooner the better before the mortar entirely sets. But console yourself that you've chosen a really gorgeous color!

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 11:13AM
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I just thought I'd post what we are going to do. The CG agreed to pay for materials. I'm going to have to eat the cost of the labor for the new installation. We didn't trust him enough to have him redo it. I'm trying to find some tile installers. At least now I know the right questions to ask the potential installers. Live and learn. sigh.

Again, thanks everyone for their advice and support. When it's done I'll post some pictures.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 3:11PM
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Our tile guy used a mixture of sanded and unsanded grout with our glass tiles (a mesh backed mosaic with predetermined grout lines). I don't recall the exact ratio of sanded to unsanded. Our tile guy is meticulous and was very careful when grouting and wiping off excess grout--there are no scratches (except one tiny nick that I caused within the first few days!).

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 3:38PM
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I'm glad it turned out not too badly; you're smart to let an experienced person do it next time.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 5:16PM
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