Your Guide To Mirror Tiles

This is a simple guide for deciding whether or not mirror tiles are the right product to put in your home. My goal is to provide as detailed a webpage as possible, helping you understand all the considerations, starting with design and ending with maintenance.

I'll also talk in detail about the pros and cons of DIY v. professional installation.

Table Of Contents

Some Things To Consider About Mirror Tiles

When it comes to using mirrored tiles in a home installation, there are a few things worth reviewing. Here are some drawbacks of choosing mirrored tiles over other reflective surfaces:

Affordability vs. Installation Costs

  • Mirror tiles are small, making them easy to warehouse and ship. This makes them readily available online and in stores at inexpensive prices.
  • However, while the tiles themselves are cheap, the installation process can be expensive. Mirror is a fragile and difficult building material to work with, requiring skilled labor for a polished look.

Continue reading the next section for important factors to consider before beginning your mirror tile project.

Mirror Tile Project Considerations

1. Distortion: All mirror tiles have distortion, primarily due to the glue used to bond them to the surface. This creates a high spot in each tile. While thicker glass reduces distortion, it's almost always present.

2. Installation: Mirror tile installation is unique compared to other tiled products. Experienced tile setters might not have the specific technique for mirror tiles. Techniques that work for ceramic tiles might not be effective for mirror tiles.

3. Cost: Despite being inexpensive, the complexity of installing mirror tiles can make the overall project cost comparable to, or even more expensive than, using a single large mirror.

4. Fragility: Mirror tiles, especially those made from thin glass, are fragile and susceptible to breaking due to impacts or heat exposure. This is a common concern for all glass products, but it's more prominent with thinner glass.

a classic case of mirror distortion...

Design Phase

Mirror Tiles: A Quick Summary

Pros Cons
Affordable to buy Installation can be complex and expensive
Can create unique and stylish looks Susceptible to distortion and breakage
Easy to cut and shape for custom designs Require careful cleaning and maintenance
Can be difficult to match perfectly

Choosing The Right Mirror Tile

Antique mirror tiles or aged mirror tiles are a popular look for achieving an artistic aesthetic for your mirror tile project.

This style is available online, though it's important to make sure that you pick the right style of antiquing. Antique mirror comes in many styles with many color inflections and designs.

Make sure that you're selecting a product that has the same aesthetic as the inspiration that you're looking at or look that you like.

It's a good idea to order samples of any product that you'd like. Also, find out whether or not the pattern on the mirror in the case of antique mirror repeats or is unique for each tile. Sometimes, a repeating pattern can have a unique look that isn't desirable for many people.

For many colorful mirror tiles, I would make sure they're not plastic or acrylic. As most colorful mirror tiles you'll see online are actually acrylic. Acrylic can have issues and be complicated to work with.

Attribute 1/8" Glass Mirror Tiles 3/16" Glass Mirror Tiles 1/4" Glass Mirror Tiles Acrylic Mirror Tiles
Cost Low Medium High Low
Bending (Distortion) Low Very Low Very Low High
Weight Light Medium Heavy Very Light

Choosing The Right Shape Mirror Tile

Standard Mirror Tile Sizes:

  • 12 inches by 12 inches
  • 11 inches by 11 inches

These sizes are more related to manufacturing processes than aesthetics.

Other Available Sizes:

  • Subway tile style (small rectangle): This size is commonly found at home improvement stores like Home Depot and Lowe's. It's a popular choice for both ceramic and mirror tiles.

Tips for Choosing Mirror Tile Sizes:

  • Pay close attention to the size of mirror tiles used in inspiration photos.
  • Consider how different sizes would look with the other products in your project.
  • Verify that the desired sizes are available for purchase, as online inspiration photos may feature sizes not commonly sold.

Remember that the size and shape of your mirror tiles can significantly impact the overall look of your project.

Square 8" x 8" mirror tiles

Choosing The Right Edge For Your Tile

Tile Edge Options:

Edge Type Description Availability Price
Beveled Edge Commonly found online. Bevel width varies:
Smaller tiles: Around 0.5 inches.
Larger tiles: Around 1 inch.
Online Generally affordable
Flat Polished Edge Commonly found online. Online Moderate price range
Mitered Edge Available at local stores with glass edging capabilities. Local stores Pricier due to specialized finishing
Seamed Edge Available at local stores with glass edging capabilities. Local stores Least expensive due to "rough" look

Note: Online options for tile edges may be limited.

Bevel subway style mirror tiles

Choose The Right Finish For Your Tile (antiqued, Colorful, Clear, Etc)

Tiles: Glass vs. Plastic

  • "Tiles" can refer to both glass and plastic reflective tiles.
  • Glass mirror tiles typically come in 1/8, 3/16, and 1/4 inch thicknesses.
    • Thicker glass tiles are harder to bend and slightly heavier.
    • Thinner glass tiles are easier to bend and lighter.
  • Acrylic (plastic) tiles, even when thick, tend to bend and distort.
  • Many colorful reflective mirror tiles are acrylic because colored glass mirrors are hard to find.

Cost Comparison of Different Types of Mirrors

Type of Mirror Cost
Acrylic Mirror Less Expensive
Clear Mirror Moderately Expensive
Antiqued Mirror Most Expensive
Colorful Mirror Most Expensive

Building Phase

Communicating Your Ideas And Receiving Bids

When you are trying to figure out if a project is even worth doing -- or budgeting -- then making a plan for presenting the information to contractors is a great first step. See the checklist below for the information you will need to have handy when discussing this project with a professional

Checklist for Getting a Quote from a Professional

  • A photo of the space
  • An inspo photo for how you'd like the space to look
  • An inspo photo or drawing that shows the dimension of the mirror tile and look itself
  • Information about other construction going on in the location
  • The location of the space being worked on in your home (first floor, etc)
  • The type of wall (stucco, drywall, etc)
  • Overall size of the space
  • Size of each individual tile

Installation Considerations: DIY Vs. Professional

Criteria Professional Installation DIY Installation
Cost Higher - Professional fees and material markup Lower - Only material costs and tools
Timing Faster - With scheduling and experience Slower - Due to lack of experience and possible errors
Difficulty of Installation Low - Experts handle the process High - Requires skill, precision, and tools
Quality of Finish High - Professional quality and finish Variable - Depends on skill level
Warranty Usually provided by professionals None - Responsible for any fixes yourself
Customization High - Experts can handle custom requests Limited - Dependent on personal skill
Experience Required None - Handled by professionals High - Need to learn and practice
Stress Level Low - Managed by professionals High - Managing the project yourself

Professional Installation Costs

Factors Effect on Project Cost
Irregular shaped or large mirror tiles Increases cost
Antiqued mirror Increases cost
Complex shapes or tile patterns Increases cost
Fitting the tiles into an enclosed space (like a backsplash) Increases cost
Cut outs for notches, outlets, or any other fabrication Increases cost
Installing on a surface that needs to be prepped before mirror tiles can be mounted to it (like brick) Increases cost

DIY Techniques And Considerations

If you want to pursue the DIY route, the steps below are meant to sketch out the process. Each step has a description and then a link to more references. I use Youtube all the time to help understand how to do things. I recommend doing that!

Flat Surface

How flat the underlying (also called subsurface) that you plan to mount the mirror on will have a huge effect on how flat the mirror image will appear. A bumpy surface will be much more complicated to work with than a flat one. If you do not know how to evaluate your wall for flatness, then this may not be a great DIY project for you.

Tile Pattern (Fabricating Tiles)

The simpler the tile pattern the easier to install. That means using a tile that divides equally into the space that you will be tiling. This is by far the simplest way to install these tiles and make them look good.
If you do need to fabricate the tiles to make them fit the space, remember that achieving the correct "edge" to match the others will likely require specialize equipment that won't be easy to DIY.

Preparing and Bonding the Surface

Mirror and glass use a special kind of glue called mastic to bond to any surface. This glue is not like construction adhesive and is formulated to bond with glass products. Acrylics have their own special glues as well. I strongly recommend following all instructions when using these glues, including preparing the surface for bonding. If you do not, you will have issues with the tiles falling off the wall, which can be very hazardous.

Using Tile Spacers

Tile spacers are small tools that tile settings use to create even amounts of space between tiles. Glass tiles especially need to have some separation between one another because with out it, they will crack. I recommend using a 1/32" space at least when tiling the space. You can find tile spacers on Amazon for very cheap and they come in various thicknesses.
One tip is to use black paint to hide the space between tiles that will be visible. This will make each seam virtually invisible.

Tile spacers are small tools that tile settings use to create even amounts of space between tiles. Glass tiles especially need to have some separation between one another because with out it, they will crack. I recommend using a 1/32" space at least when tiling the space. You can find tile spacers on Amazon for very cheap and they come in various thicknesses.
One tip is to use black paint to hide the space between tiles that will be visible. This will make each seam virtually invisible.

Bonding Times & Surface Preparations

It's important to remember that mirror mastic has a very long dry time, and wont achieve full strength for up to 2 weeks. This means that you cannot instantly bond mirror tiles row after row without waiting for the mastic to at least dry a bit. This dry time depends on many factors, so it's hard to judge how long this will take. The best way is to do a test piece.
Also, it's a good idea to use black paint along the edges where the mirror tiles will meet so that they are not visible through the gaps in the tiles. This small detail is important, especially if you are using a light colored backer material.

Choosing The Right Subsurface

Remember that mirror mastic cannot bond to any surface. Also, many surfaces are not appropriate to bond mirror to because they will not be able to support the weight of the bonded mirror panels. It is EXTREMELY important that you read which surfaces your mastic is meant to bond with -- and also a good idea to test a piece to full cure to make sure the bond is very strong. Many mastics often have a primer layer that needs to be applied prior to the mastic itself. It is extremely important to follow these instructions to make sure the mirror tiles adhere properly.

Mirror Tile Installation Difficulty Scale

Relevant for Large Areas

Difficulty Level Description Score
Simple Small areas (< 2 feet) 1-3
Moderate Medium areas (2-3 feet) 4-6
Difficult Large areas (> 3 feet) 7-8
Very Difficult Very large areas, complex designs 9-10

Cleaning And Maintenance

Cleaning and Maintaining Mirror Tiles

Cleaning and maintaining mirror tiles is similar to cleaning any other glass surface.

  • Use a microfiber rag and everyday glass cleaning products.
  • Important:
  • Prevent moisture accumulation between tiles to avoid damage.

Tips to Prevent Moisture Buildup:

  • Use cleaning solutions sparingly.
  • Spray cleaning solution directly onto the rag instead of the glass.

This prevents excess cleaning product from getting trapped behind the tiles and potentially causing damage.

Durability, Replacements, Glass Cracking From Heat

Glass is a fragile building material that requires special care and attention.

  • Consider alternative materials in high-traffic areas.
  • For mirror tiles used as a kitchen backsplash, ensure they are far from heat sources like stoves.
    • Heat can cause the glass to crack, even from a distance.
    • Heat can also damage the adhesive.

Testing Heat:

  • Use a touch test to gauge the heat.
  • For precise measurements, use an infrared thermometer (available online).

Alternatives That Achieve A Similar Look

Alternative Materials for Achieving a Similar Look:

  • Larger mirrors (as opposed to smaller tiles)
  • Ceramic tiles (typically found in bathrooms and kitchens)
  • Porcelain tiles
  • Various other tile products

Highly Recommended Option:

Metal veneer (a thin layer of metal that is easy to install and visually appealing)

Other Classic Options:

  • Wood
  • Paint

This page was last updated on Monday, June 17, 2024