Shards of Glass
Imagine walking into the shower or steam bath, onto hundreds of shards of glass... Not the way anyone I know wants to start their day! Now imagine being greeted by shards of glass on the floor every single morning!
I was asked to investigate a product liability issue of fracturing glass tile in a steam shower. The contractor was being accused of installing the tiles incorrectly - tiles the homeowner provided. It turns out the tiles were installed correctly. The problem was the glass mosaic tiles themselves!
Glass mosaic tiles at rest will assume a temperature close to that of their environment. However, when subject to a blast of hot water or steam, the surface temperature is instantaneously increased. All the while, the middle and back of the tile are still at the room temperature.
The sudden expansion of the surface layer of glass, causes it to explode. Small divots of glass, like those caused from the impact of a projectile, pop off of the surface... and onto the floor.
Name Brand Designer
These tiles, while from a name brand designer who licenses her name for use on various products, are actually made in China. And surely from dubious quality raw materials and under loose quality control standards.
How do you prevent from becoming the victim of such inferior glass tile mosaics? First, think thin. The thinner a tile is, the faster it can respond to changes in temperature. The chances of such fracturing is diminished significantly.
Inquire if the tiles are rated for thermal shock to the extremes they may be subject to in a steam bath or shower (especially if you have a "instant hot" shower).
Or, obtain a sample and perform some rudimentary testing of your own at home. Heat them in an oven to the temperature of the steam bath and then submerge them into 75-80ºF water. Or chill them and then drop them into boiling water. Be sure to to protect yourself with the appropriate safety gear. If they crack... maybe you should delve deeper into their suitability.
Contact the author, Paolo Benedetti of Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 408-776-8220.
Visit his website at: www.aquatictechnology.com.
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