5 min read

Glass Tile Vs. Ceramic Tile: Which Is Best For Your Pool?

Custom glass tile spillway spa

These days, a lot of homeowners are looking to enhance the setting of their environment. More specifically, the one main feature which would draw a lot of attention: the pool.  

However, they don’t want to see a pool as something to just swim in. Many new pool owners desire a feature that is aesthetically beautiful and reflects a sense of their own personal style.  An easy way to achieve this is through the type of tile that you install. 

By choosing the right tile, you can easily make your pool the special centerpiece of your backyard. However, for those who are in the market for tile, there are just so many options to choose from. 

With the many types of tile products on the market, both glass tile and ceramic tile remain the most popular choices. 

J Designs Pool and Spa is a 14-year-old family business based in Los Angeles. While we specialize in the installation of both glass and ceramic tile pools, we want to help you decide which is best for your outdoor oasis. Because the decision on how to dress up your pool area is based totally on the type of setting that you feel would fit your home perfectly. 

By the end of this article, you will know the differences between glass and ceramic pool tiles in the following areas: 

  • Appearance
  • Installation
  • Durability
  • Maintenance
  • Cost

With all this information on both glass and ceramic pool tiles, you can make the final decision on which one would be best for your pool.




Glass tile has a reputation for being the most beautiful when it comes to the overall appearance of your pool. Coming in a variety of colors, this tile can be molded into different shapes, from mosaics to tiny pebbles. Being glass, it echoes the transparency of the water, offering depth and a serene look to your pool. Also, being made of recycled glass, this particular choice is 100% eco-friendly, which has a large influence on customer decisions. 



Ceramic tile, while no slouch in the appearance department, does not offer the transparency that glass tile would. They are usually opaque, so all of the color is on the surface, and would not give the same depth to your pool as glass would. However, like glass, they come in a variety of colors, shapes, and patterns. 



While both types offer an aesthetically beautiful look to your pool, it is GLASS TILES which are more popular among homeowners in terms of appearance. With the transparency of its material, the water in your pool will have a gem-like shimmer, and the depth it offers makes it seem as if you are swimming in the Caribbean. 



Before we continue, it’s important to say that the installation for both glass and ceramic tile is very labor intensive and should be done by a professional. Please refer to the Tile Council of North America, who performs tests on all types. 

Also, when you hire an installer or manufacturer, they should provide you with a data sheet before you begin your project so you can read more about the materials you are going to use. 

Here is a sample data sheet from American Glass Mosaics for reference. 

Tile mock up



Depending on the size and shape of your glass tile, the installation of it is substantially more expensive and requires more labor. Unlike ceramic tiles, glass requires more waterproofing coats, which could mean more time and effort and, more importantly, money. 



The less expensive of the two to install, ceramic tiles are more popular strictly for that reason. It doesn’t require as many installation procedures, which will save you money on labor costs. 



While both pool tiles require an intensive installation process, CERAMIC TILES win in regards to taking less time and labor to set up for your pool. However, please note that ceramic tiles are slightly water-absorbent and probably won’t hold as much water as glass tiles.




With glass tile, you can expect a long 20 years of durability. However, with this specific tile, you have to be careful of potential scratches, especially if placed around high-traffic areas of the pool, such as the steps. 



Lasting about 5 to 10 years in good condition with the proper maintenance, ceramic pool tiles have a shorter span of durability. 



Both pool tiles can give you a finish that can last a long time, but GLASS TILES lead the charge with a shelf life that can last you twice as long. Do know that any material that you use for your pool can be durable as long as it is well installed. Be careful of your water having what we call “bad chemistry” which will essentially strip the quality of your pool tile and require more money to maintain and fix any damages or wear. 


You wouldn’t buy a Ferrari and take it to your neighborhood mechanic to get an oil change or check for engine trouble. No! You would drive it to the Ferrari dealership where you would be assisted by those who have specific knowledge of how your car is to be kept in good shape. This same philosophy applies to your pool maintenance as well. 

Whether it be glass or ceramic, you should only trust those contractors with expertise in the materials of your pool, not someone without that knowledge. 



Much easier than the installation of glass tiles, is maintaining them. Being non-porous and less susceptible to discoloration, glass tiles require a simple periodic cleaning to remove any minerals that stick to the surface. 



Even when coated in a special glaze, ceramic tiles still absorb water. Because of this, they are subject to discoloration and the buildup of bacteria over time. This can drastically affect the amount of labor costs that might go into maintaining its beauty. 



While essentially less expensive to install, ceramic tiles might rack up costs in terms of maintenance, which could add up over time. With this in mind, GLASS TILES are much easier to clean and keep their iridescent luster. 


We saved this section for last because when it comes to a lot of homeowners, the cost will always be the deciding factor when it comes to what type of pool tile they would like for their project. It’s an important element that cannot be overlooked and we will be giving you the most accurate and up-to-date price ranges based on the market today.  



Glass tiles are currently priced at $20 to $50 per square foot. 



Comparatively, ceramic tiles are priced between $5 to $25 per square foot. 



CERAMIC TILE is the less expensive option for your pool. However, please know that depending on the size and shape of the tile, the price can increase exponentially for both glass and ceramic.

That is why it’s important to conduct your research, refer to your pool builder and take a look at the Tile Council of North America’s website, for comparative pricing. 

Which Tile Is Right For You? 

Now you know the key differences between glass and ceramic tiles, including the installation and costs. With this, you have the tools to help you in making the best decision when it comes to what materials to use for building your dream pool. 

In general, both glass and ceramic tile would be excellent choices to bring beauty to anyone’s backyard oasis. 

If you are looking for material that is less costly and easier to install, then your best bet would be ceramic. Glass, however, is the more expensive option, but has an advantage over ceramic tiles in terms of appearance and maintenance. 

As professionals who have been working in this industry for 20 years, we know the excitement that comes from enhancing the look of your home. We believe at J Designs that any material can make your pool a piece of art, as long as it’s done right. 

If you’re a California resident who would like to know more about your pool materials and their installation, please get in touch with one of our professionals for a consultation

If you don’t want a consultation, but would like to know more, please check out this related article:


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