ENVIRONMENTALLY Friendly Recycled Glass Tile Countertops
Glass countertops have long been a favorite to many when designing a space. Luckily the glass countertop can also be a part of your next green construction project. Recycled glass tiles are a very popular, easy and inexpensive way to achieve environmentally friendly countertops in your home.
These tiles are made from 75% to 100% recycled materials consisting of various components of post consumer and industrial waste glass materials. Recycled glass tiles offer many uses in the new green homes of today. They are frequently used as backsplashes, in showers, as flooring and of course, as counter tops. When mixed with proper pigments and aggregates, they can create outstanding results and can definitely improve the sustainability of your renovation or project.
Environmental impact of recycled glass tiles
Recycled glass tiles are considered quite sustainable as they are made up of mixture of post consumer and industrial glass waste. This proportion can range from 50% to 100% so it is important to ask your supplier for a detailed composition. Usually there is little to no colorants or oxides in recycled glass tiles and many tile manufacturers will use the original colors of the pre recycled glass in the future design of the glass tiles. Glass tiles come in a variety of colors and styles and many are handmade. If this is the case, be sure to select from a collection as shapes, sizes and colors can change quickly. Expect some color variations. The down side to using these tiles is of course the thin sets, acrylic bonding agents and chemicals inherent with the installation of these tiles Try and use an un sanded, water based grout to reduce VOC output. To reduce the footprint associated with these products try and find suppliers with 50 miles of your location and who manages their construction waste properly. The manufacturing process of "sintering" glass tiles is less intrusive on the environment and consumes less energy than the double fire techniques used for ceramic and porcelain tiles.
The installation process for recycled glass tiles is very similar to ceramic and porcelain tiles except that the curing is generally longer (4-5 days) for glass tiles. For wall mounting and backsplashes, Blazestone Tiles, a leading recycled glass tile company, suggests using a thin set with an acrylic add mix and using custom brand Versabond, Custom mega flex or Tex Flex. Be sure to apply a smooth coat to the back of each tile to ensure color and texture clarity and remember that whatever color grout is used, will affect the overall color. White is definitely recommended
Health Impact of recycled glass tiles as countertops
From a health perspective, recycled glass tiles are considered very hygienic. They are generally non porous and repel stains well. As recycled glass tiles are above all else, glass. They can chip, scratch and break. If this happens, bacteria, mildew and germs can flourish. This is also the case relating to grout but with proper cleaning and maintenance, these tiles are ideal for kitchens and bathroom application. In terms of air quality, be sure to use low VOC water based grouts for installation of these tiles.
There are several green tile adhesive suppliers today that offer products with zero to very low VOC emissions. Companies such as AFM Safecoat and Bostik offer a variety of adhesives and sealers which keep emissions down in the home resulting in a safe tile countertop for your family.
The Sexy Green Home Opinion
We really like what recycled glass tiles bring to the home. They are environmentally sound, 100% recycled from post consumer and industrial waste and have low VOC outputs when used with proper grouts and thin sets. They are resilient, replaceable and best of all recyclable. Some considerations for the homebuilder to ensure that your environmental footprint is minimized are to of course look for locally manufactured products and suppliers who use recycled or minimal packaging. It is important to note that one of the biggest environmental impacts to using these recycled tiles is the grout and thin set used. Demand that your suppliers carry VOC free or legible VOC emissions grouts, sealants and thin sets.