What is Fire Glass?
Fire glass is a high-end decorative material that adds style and sophistication to any fireplace, wood stove, or outdoor fire pit. The main element that distinguishes fire glass from common sand or rocks is the refraction of light. Fire glass is specifically designed to maximize the amount of light reflected into your living space, creating an elegant atmosphere that caters more to entertaining than it does to heat generation.
Aside from having such a reflective surface, another noteworthy characteristic about using fire glass in place of other media for your fireplace is how much cleaner it burns. Since most people who use this type of decorative material will be doing so in some open flame application like a gas log burner (where there are no contaminants to “dirty” the glass), it’s safe to say that you will be able to breathe in much less smoke than you would otherwise inhale by using wood, coal, or even natural gas.
Types Of Fire Glass
1) Glas-Col Universal Fire Glass
This material is manufactured to be virtually identical in color and size to beach sand. It contains no binders, so there’s no risk of any chemical release into the atmosphere if it comes into contact with high heat. Many people are trying to maintain a more “eco” looking home will use this product as an alternative to natural stone like marble or granite.
2) FireGlass (TM)
Similar in appearance to standard glass marbles, this fire glass has many desirable features, including the ability to withstand temperatures well over 1000° F without cracking or shattering due to its proprietary manufacturing process. As far as style goes, it offers several different colors for you to choose from, ranging anywhere from dark almost-black to light pastel hues.
3) Fire Glass (by FireGlassess)
Although they don’t manufacture their products, they carry the brands you most commonly see in this industry; Glas-Col Universal Fire Glass and FireGlass (TM), along with others like Sandstone, Slate Stone, and Travertine.
4) Rubble Glass (TM)
This heavy-duty form of fire glass is made specifically for outdoor fireplace applications. As a result, there’s a higher volume of people using it at all times; its colored glass is mixed with crushed stone aggregate, making it less likely to break into small pieces that pose a choking hazard.
5) Sandblasted Beads
Although not technically classified as “fire”, sandblasted beads are sometimes used in the same manner that sand or gravel would be for filling your home’s fireplace. While they do not contain any actual glass, their low-density design makes them appear much more natural-looking when applied to a gas log burner.
6) Glass Marbles
Although there are many types of marbles on the market, this is one of the most common styles you’ll see used as fire glass for indoor applications like tabletops and electric fireplaces. It comes in several sizes and shapes, which are better suited for outdoor use than others.
7) Color of Fire Glass
Fire glass is widely available in a rainbow of different colors, although the most popular tends to be a clear or smoke-tinted look. Some fire glass products come with a slight bronze coloration, while others have been sprayed down with a coating or stain for an added dimension of visual richness. If you want to go all out on your fireplace and impress guests who drop by, then you can even find this material in several translucent varieties that allow light from the fire inside of the unit to shine through it.
8) Size of Fire Glass
The size of fire glass pieces can vary greatly depending on what you plan to do with them; for use in an open flame application like a fireplace or outdoor fire pit, you’ll want your pieces to be about 1/2″-1″ thick. On the other hand, smaller and thicker pieces work best for use inside a wood stove (where there is more of a controlled burn environment). However, without access to large-scale production equipment, it is difficult for retail sellers to offer bulk quantities at reasonable prices, so don’t expect to get a truckload delivered to your doorstep anytime soon.
Choosing Clean Burning Fire Glass
As we mentioned earlier, choosing clean-burning fire glass is important for safety reasons and so that you get the biggest “bang for your buck” when purchasing this type of decorative material. In addition, since it is known to release chemicals into the air when burned at high temperatures, certain states like California require that all fire glass containers display a special seal that certifies it has been tested for hazardous emissions (such as lead).
How To Install Fire Glass
Firepit glass installation is not much different from installing regular glass tiles on the ground floor; however, special care must be taken when creating your installation because the material itself cannot stand up to excessive heat as traditional tiling can. Follow these steps below:
1) Assemble Your Materials
Fire glass is available in several colors and styles, so be sure to purchase enough to complete your project. In addition, you’ll need fire glass, grout, masking tape (if required), tile spacers (optional), felt pen/marker (optional), a wet sponge, a bucket of water, mixing container, measuring cup, and sealant.
2) Mix the Grout
Follow the directions on your product packaging for the best results. Some products recommend adding water gradually, while others require all the components to be mixed at once. Keep in mind that you must thoroughly mix great products before starting this step. For example, if you are using a quick grout product, there will be no need for mixing since it only requires clean water to activate.
3) Prepare the Surface
Choose a well-ventilated, clean, and dry location for working. You want to make sure that there is no moisture or dirt on the surface you will be applying this product to. Leave any flammables at least 2 feet from your installation area! If you are using masking tape, place it around the edge of your designated work area where you would like your fire glass installed. This will prevent grout from seeping up under the tape, which can cause your tiles to stick together and not lay flat.
4) Insert Tile Spacers (Optional Step)
If you choose to add tile spacers during this step, make sure they are evenly inserted in-between each piece of fire glass. You can purchase plastic or rubber spacers at most hardware or home improvement stores. They should also be placed around the outside edge of your work area to prevent grout seeping under them, causing tiles to stick together.
5) Lay Out Product
Add fire glass into the desired location and evenly spread out using hands or other available tools (if you are professionally installing this product, a trowel is generally required). Ensure that all pieces are completely flat against each other with no gaps between individual pieces and ensure there are no chips, dents, or scratches in any of the glass. If any glass is not laying flat, use a tool to gently tap each piece until it sits flush against the surface with no gaps underneath it. Add more glass as needed.
6) Clean Up
Clean up any grout that may have seeped out from under the tiles before it dries. Use a wet sponge and a small dish soap to wipe up any excess for best results gently. If you are using an adhesive sealant (highly recommended), apply it now, following the manufacturer’s directions. Let this dry for at least 24 hours (or until it becomes firm to the touch). Once dried, sweep or vacuum your installation area thoroughly to remove all dust and debris created by sawing/drilling and mixing grout. This step helps protect the integrity of your fire pit glass floor over time by preventing harmful particles from seeping in-between tiles and escalating wear and tear. Your fire glass flooring is now complete.
Fire glass as a flooring option can be used as a cheap and easy solution for those looking to create a customized outdoor space. In general, installing fire glass is an easy project that should take just a single day to complete after you have all materials on hand. It’s recommended that you only use professional-grade fire glass since it has been designed for this specific application and will adhere properly with time. All other products are either made especially for indoor applications or aren’t created from the same heat-resistant materials, making them unsuitable for inside your own home!