Usually a soft cloth and water will do: because they are nonporous, glass tiles are typically very easy to clean. For stubborn dirt, commonly available commercial ceramic tile cleaners may be applicable – check with the manufacturer for recommendations.
The answer probably lies underneath the surface. For clues, look at the type of cracks. For example, if a crack has developed across two or more tiles, then it is likely that the substrate is giving way. If the cracks are isolated to individual tiles, expect the adhesive to have been applied incorrectly (too thick and too wet) and now the shrinking adhesive is causing stress on the glass.
Install glass tiles over stable substrates and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Our experience is that most installation problems can be avoided with the proper use of a crack-suppression membrane and thinset.
There is something chalky looking on the surface of my tiles. I haven't been able to remove it. Any ideas?
If the residue is caused by abrasion, it will be difficult if not impossible to remove. Glass tiles should never be scrubbed with abrasive tools or fabrics.
In some cases, minerals from hard water can leave a residue. Try white vinegar sprayed directly to the tile. Rinse and neutralize with baking soda. Some people have had good results with commerical toothpaste – though abrasive, it can be fine enough not to scratch tile. Test it on a less visible piece of tile first. If this doesn’t work, try googling manufacturers of descaling products like Descale-it and ask if the product is indicated for your tiles.
The pros sometimes use a 10% solution of muriatic acid. Caution: muriatic acid is a very strong acid. Keep the room well ventilated, wear gloves, and keep the acid away from exposed skin; rinse tiles immediately after use.
We have had some issues recently with glass wall tile cracking - seemingly randomly - after installation. Have you had any problems like this?
Post-installation cracking, particularly after a period (6 months is usual) relate to installation issues.
We have traced this problem to improper preparation work. The issue arises from the substrate that is unstable and needs to made level. Instead of securing and leveling the surface first and installing a crack suppression membrane just below the tile it is usual for the installer to apply a thick layer of thinset as a leveling compound directly below the tile. The glass covers the new leveling compound and appears proper. Unfortunately the thinset, which has now been applied as a “thick” set, shrinks and collapses as it cures. This procedure places a great deal of pressure on the glass that manifests as a crack within six months or so.
Although the cracks appear random, the glass responds to the compression of the thinset, and the weakest areas break first (any cut tiles, trimmed pieces and of course where the thinset is thickest).
Here are some hints that may give you an indication of what is happening below the tile:
- When a crack spans across two glass tiles, it is a clear indication that the substrate has given way below the tile and the substrate is unstable.
- When a crack appears in the middle of a tile and a gap or difference in level develops within the tile (carefully feel for it with your finger) it is an indication that the substrate has opened up and moved.
- If the crack runs through the middle of the tile, but no separation develops (you can’t feel anything when running your finger over the break) the substrate is compressing the tile. Often this crack appears not straight up and down but diagonally through the glass. The cause may be improper leveling described above.
- Any leftover tiles (control tiles) that spontaneously break cause concern. These breaks are rare but easily detected as they appear as large triangles that break off at the corners of the tiles. The condition is caused by improperly annealing the glass after manufacturing.