The number of homeowners opting for recycled glass tiles instead of the usual cement tiles for their home is now increasing.
These tiles are made from recycled glasses but do not underestimate them. When made well, they are as durable and beautiful as the tiles made from brand new materials. And because they are made of recycled materials, they help improve the environment.
There are two kinds of glasses that make a recycled glass tile.
Post-consumer glass refers to used glass bottles, jars and windows gathered from landfills or recycling centers and processed to serve a new purpose, to become a colorful and beautiful glass tile that brightens up one’s home.
It has a rustic appeal but only available in small quantities. Acquiring huge quantities of used glass products is still a challenge and because it is used, it is already contaminated with stains and dust, making the process complicated.
It is available in wide array of colors, patterns and sizes in small-scale artisan tiles stores.
Pre-consumer glass or post-industrial glass comes from what is left of another glass product manufacturing. In other words, the leftover glass from the making of glass bottles, jars or windows. It is what manufacturers often use because it is available in huge quantities and has never reached the consumers so it is not contaminated with dirt and stains.
Majority of recycled glass tiles in the market is made of pre-consumer glass because processing it is more convenient. However, some manufacturers create a few batches of glass tiles made of mixed pre-consumer and post-consumer glasses for a different look and effect. The mixture is usually composed of 70% pre-consumer glass and 30% post-consumer glass.
There are three ways to make a recycled glass tile.
First, is where glasses are gathered and sorted according to type and color. It is important to sort them out to achieve a uniform finish because different types of glasses react differently to high and low temperatures. When sorted, the glasses are cleaned and crushed. The crushed glasses are then mixed with metallic oxides to bind them together. The mixture is then poured into molds and baked in high temperature.
Second, the smalti method, is where glasses are melted to molten state. When glasses have reached that state, color is added. Then, the glasses are rolled out, cooled and cut into uniform pieces.
Third, the cast method, is where glasses are put into molds that already have coloring. Then, they are melted until binded. Then, pressure is applied to make the pieces tightly stick together.
Recycled glass tiles provide several benefits to the environment.
They reduce landfill wastes as discarded glasses are given a new life away from garbage. They also reduce energy use as tile manufacturers can skip the first few steps of tiles making. And lastly, they reduce carbon footprint.
It applies when glass tiles and other glass products like bottles and jars are made in the same place. This reduces the need to transport materials, hence reducing the use of fuel and emission of pollutants.