glass tile
Photo: Anita Calero
Perhaps we wouldn't be so quick to chuck out all those empty wine bottles and water bottles and soda bottles and beer bottles if we knew what they were capable of. The people who make these tiles know. That's why they gather up your castoffs, clean them, crush them, and cook them, before bringing them back to life as something you're proud to display on your walls and floors.

Glass tile comes subtly or brightly colored; clear, iridescent, or matte; molded into shapes or textured with designs; even tumbled into nuggets like pebbles at the seashore. And when you use it to perk up a backsplash, line a shower stall, or bring depth to a floor, you're not only adding style to your house but also making landfills a little lighter.

Glass tiles can be used on walls and floors, or as accents in combination with other materials. Resistant to freeze-and-thaw cycles, they're also good for outdoor kitchens or lining the edge of a pool. The metallic sheen comes from the addition of earth oxides, such as chrome and copper, after firing. By Oceanside Glasstile (photo #1 at left). Field tiles, Approx. $2-$16; mosaics, Approx. $28-$48 per sq. ft.; Available through

These frosted tiles (photo #2 at left) are softer in both feel and appearance. Because of the sandblasted texture, they're more slip-resistant than polished tiles, which makes them good underfoot in wet areas. Approx. $50 per sq. ft.; mosaic tiles $25 per sq. ft.;

No, you don't have to place each of these individual glass pebbles by hand (photo #2 at left). They come premounted on 12-by-12 mesh sheets. Once installed and grouted, the seams are invisible. Approx. $20-$25 per sq. ft.;

Transparent tiles, like this emerald square and the cobalt one above (photo #2 at left), are beautiful but require careful installation, since any flaws in the wall or floor they're mounted to will be on display, too. For something different, try a border of teardrops on a wall of ceramic tile. Approx. $4-$12 per tile;

No added oxides or dyes are used to create these colors (photo #3 at left). Instead, each handmade tile comes out looking exactly like the glass ingredients that went into it. The "natural" look extends to the shapes, which in addition to the soft-edged geometrics here, also include free-form oak leaves and flower petals. Approx. $2-$11 per tile;
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