Please help. Fractured Glass Tile. Need Opinions and Ideas.

platipus

LifeTime Supporter
Feb 25, 2015
376
Houston, TX
I've been posting my pool build updates for a while now. It's been slow going for various reasons, but we're finally getting to the end. We've run into something though that I am not really sure how to address and am curious what the thoughts of the collective are. So here we go....

A couple months ago I posted about the fact that a LOT of our clear/blue iridescent glass brick waterline tile was fracturing as shown here.



At the time, when I psoted about it, BigEinAZ posted this article about it which seemed to explain everything. Poor quality Chinese import tile that was subject to thermal shock fracturing.

http://www.aquatictechnology.com/editorials/failure_of_glass_mosaic_tile.htm

We ended up having all the tile torn out and our builder found a replacement from one of their normal vendors here in Houston (NPT). We felt comfortable that with a brand like NPT, we were going to be OK. The original tile came from an online vendor who was not interested in doing anything except saying this was due to a lack of expansion joints at every possible point. Our builder, his mason and the article BigE posted seemed to point at something else which seemed much more plausible to me. This was a quality issue with the tile itself.

The issue is that now the NPT tile is doing the exact same thing. The amount of fractured tiles are slowly progressing. We blue taped one whole area and the masons replaced those tiles and now there are fractured tiles again in that area again.

NPT has evidently told our builder that "this happens" but that it doesn't effect the "quality of the tile" or cause it to fall off.

Functionality aside, I'm curious what others would say here. It's kind of like getting a new car with dings all over it and hearing "yeah but it drives just fine". We chose glass tile because of the aesthetics. Now granted, you don't see the fractures if you are just looking at the pool from outside. If you stand in front of it and look, then it becomes evident.

I can't imagine that this happens all the time or there would be 100 posts about "don't ever choose glass tile..."

NPT also fails to mention this as a feature. "Sure it fractures, but that is part of the charm!" said no glass tile marketing material ever.


So my two questions here are:

Would anybody take this as-is to get the project complete and let it go? This is just what happens with glass tile and fractures are really not that big of a deal?

Is this an installation problem as well that is compounding the amount of fractures? Is it made worse because the mason did "X" or failed to do "Y" ?


Thanks
plat.
 

lumpy19

Well-known member
Jul 7, 2016
86
Niagara Falls, NY
I would not take it as is, I'd make a different tile choice. I'm not sure if the cracks go all the way thru the glass but if they don't I'd guess they eventually will and then they'd all have to be replaced anyway.
 

Marlahoutex

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Aug 9, 2014
2,550
Houston tx
Plat, I would not accept it. I know you've had a long build but as gorgeous as your pool is, I think you'd regret not having the glass tiles replaced. How much of the tile is cracking?
 

twinkiesmommy2009

Well-known member
Aug 12, 2015
1,680
Cypress
I agree with the others. If this were "common" we'd have heard of more instances. It seems that both of these are the same color tile or quite close. I'm sorry you're dealing with this and I know you must be feeling done. I would select something different or this would bug me for the life of the pool in a big way.


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platipus

LifeTime Supporter
Feb 25, 2015
376
Houston, TX
Kelly, thanks for that link. What I read from that is essentially, true clear glass tile is its own risk factor because of infrared light passage and the resultant heat loading and also no clear glass tile has been able to pass thermal stress test certification. Neat. :-|


The NPT tiles do not seem to be fracturing as bad as the Mineral Tiles ones were, but they also have not been up for as long as the MT ones either. The thing is both my wife and I really really like the clear tile look.

This is also meshes with a bit of the reaction from NPT when our builder asked them about it. One of the first questions was if it was clear tile....

What we are hearing is that functionally, this is not a problem. Aesthetically, we have a decision to make. Do we stay with the clear tile and live with some fracturing, as long as it is not going to impact any functionality, or select a different tile (and we looked at literally 100's of tile options before we arrived as this choice).

In all honesty, when you look at the expanse of the tile, the fractures do not jump out at you. It's when the sun is direct into the face of them and you are standing there looking at them specifically. If there is any shade on them or from a side angle, they go iridescent and it's almost impossible to see.


So for right now, at 11:16 am. On a Friday. We are leaning towards living with it if we can get a warranty commitment that if they do actually fail (break out) or get significantly worse in some way (actually chip) that we are covered. We need to mull this over a bit.

This is one of the pitfalls of having a very specific design vision I guess. If we were even a little marginal on loving the look of these they would be coming out....

Thanks all.
plat
 

kellyfair

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Jun 29, 2016
2,925
Tampa, FL
If it were me, I think I'd keep them. I have stained glass that has fractured like that and it hasn't changed the beauty or function of the piece. Granted, I'm not dealing with water. But, I just don't see those pieces shifting to allow water in behind them.
 

bmoreswim

Mod Squad
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Jul 16, 2012
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Here's a quicky...that annoying clump of grout on the left side of the picture bothers me 10 times more than the cracked tile. I can see where the charm of it would increase over time. Though I can see initially being put off by it. I'm more of a natural guy and appreciate how things weather over time, assuming again that it has no effect on functionality. As the volume of cracked tiles increases, which presumably it will, the effect will become more balanced and less obvious.

I have certainly seen numerous glass tile cracking threads over the years. And far fewer about regular tile. I liken it to plants (which I often do). Would I rather have a plant that needs constant attention because it's needy/not sited well, or one that is native or at least thrives in my micro-climate?
 

platipus

LifeTime Supporter
Feb 25, 2015
376
Houston, TX
Here's a quicky...that annoying clump of grout on the left side of the picture bothers me 10 times more than the cracked tile.
LOL at that clump. Pictures taken before cleanup. I don't have any doubts the builder and mason will have all of that kind of stuff cleaned up.


UPDATE:
I spoke with one of the main guys at NPT. Basically, they said they stand behind their product and that they don't think this will affect functionality of the tile (i.e. it won't fail and start to break out). If I want it swapped out though, they will work it out with our builder and change us out to another tile selection. He also said that knowing the issue now, if we decide to keep the tile, they will note it (and I said if we agree we'd want this in writing) and if 5 years down the road or whatever if we had a true failure situation, that they would also work with us then. So kudos to NPT. This is not the experience or response we got from Mineral Tiles....


Thanks
plat.
 

bmoreswim

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That is good to hear (and get in writing).
 

TortugaCat

Bronze Supporter
May 29, 2016
82
Boston, MA
What about trying the same color tile in a smaller format, like 1x1? Perhaps it would be less likely to fracture?


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Plazaglass

Bronze Supporter
Sep 24, 2015
70
Atlantic Beach, FL
I've been fusing glass for more than 20 years and had considered making my own pool tiles. After some research, I decided against it, but I have the article below bookmarked. The article is a few years old, but knowing the nature of glass, there may not yet be any definitive answers.

Special Report : Glass Tile| Pool Spa News | Tile, Best Practices, Codes and Standards, Building Technology, Joints, Salvaged Materials, Installation, Recycling, American National Standards Institute, Tile Council of North America
 

platipus

LifeTime Supporter
Feb 25, 2015
376
Houston, TX
What about trying the same color tile in a smaller format, like 1x1? Perhaps it would be less likely to fracture?
We did actually look at square tile options. Ultimately it still came down to the aesthetics. We liked the look of the rectangular offset pattern. It reflects a repeating design element in the entire pool/patio (Spa tile, patio floor tile, deck travertine, fireplace stone tile face, etc...) It's a bummer that it become an issue, but I think we're good with the trade-off given the situation as long as the guarantees are solid.


I've been fusing glass for more than 20 years and had considered making my own pool tiles. After some research, I decided against it, but I have the article below bookmarked.
Could you even imagine something that custom? Well, I mean obviously "you" can Plaza because you work with glass and thought about it, but for the rest of us....


Thanks
plat.
 

Plazaglass

Bronze Supporter
Sep 24, 2015
70
Atlantic Beach, FL
Could you even imagine something that custom? Well, I mean obviously "you" can Plaza because you work with glass and thought about it, but for the rest of us....


plat.
Just for fun (and off-topic), here are some I made that I thought we might use on the edges of the steps, but I think we'll be able to see the steps without markers. These are about one square inch. Sorry for the lousy iPhone photo :)
smalltiles.jpg
 

sdpool

Gold Supporter
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Oct 3, 2011
1
I have Lightstreams and probably 30-40% of the tile is cracked. Do I like it? No. But I have learned to live with it.
 

platipus

LifeTime Supporter
Feb 25, 2015
376
Houston, TX
Just for fun (and off-topic), here are some I made that I thought we might use on the edges of the steps, but I think we'll be able to see the steps without markers. These are about one square inch. Sorry for the lousy iPhone photo :)
View attachment 54105

Just WOW!!!!! Out of curiosity, from a production cost perspective, what would the price be per sq/ft for something like that?



I have Lightstreams and probably 30-40% of the tile is cracked. Do I like it? No. But I have learned to live with it.
Bummer to hear that. This is beginning to sound in some ways as the plight of the glass tile pool/spa owner. Also I feel privileged to have started a thread that got your first post after 5 years!!!!


plat.