Oceanside Glass & Tile
About 30 years ago Oceanside Glass & Tile (then Oceanside Glasstile) got its start in Oceanside, Calif., where it began building a reputation for making luminous glass tile. About 14 years later, it moved production to Tijuana, in Baja California, Mexico. As part of the United States-Mexico-Canada Free-Trade Agreement (USMA), the raw materials are imported from the U.S. into Mexico where trained, skilled workers in the 150,000 sq. ft. plant turn them into shimmering glass, which is then brought back to the U.S. for sale.
In 2016, Oceanside Glass & Tile (OGT) further expanded its capabilities when it acquired the assets and equipment of Spectrum Glass out of Washington state, and Uroboros, an art glass resource located in Portland, Ore.
Cast glass for mosaic tile
OGT makes two types of glass – cast glass is made from batch and is used for its tile products, primarily mosaics. This hot molten glass is melted in a furnace, ladled onto a flat surface and pressed “like a waffle iron,” said Vince Moiso, OGT President. It is cooled in a lehr, and afterwards it’s cut into mosaic tiles. The number one application for this 7/8″ x 7/8″ glass tile is pools, but Oceanside can make any geometric shape imaginable from its cast glass.
Dedicated to quality, all OGT glass tiles are properly annealed and quality-assured for a durable and long-lasting installation. Because of that quality, glass tiles from OGT can be submerged in water applications, installed outdoors in a freeze/thaw environment and utilized for most commercial installations.
Flat glass for art glass
OGT’s flat glass is the secondary part of the business that caters primarily to the art glass community. Using a 256 ft. lehr, one long sheet of glass 3 mm thick is cut into sheets and sold into the art glass community. It is fashioned into door panels for cabinet makers, front door privacy panels, art studios, stained glass windows for churches and pubs, and glass blowers. “Any glass gift likely uses our glass,” Moiso said. OGT has also participated in the Society of American Mosaic Artists (SAMA) conference since 2016.
OGT products are offered as in-stock and made-to-order, and are shipped within five days or less. “More custom products take four to six weeks,” Moiso said. “Larger projects can take eight-10 weeks.”
The OGT workforce consists of 33 people in the U.S. and several hundred in Mexico. Moiso said OGT is big on training and development. “We invest in people – time, resources and money. Many in our factory have come up through management.”
Favorite lines? Devotion mosaics – which uses OGT’s flat glass – offers a wide range of color, shape and size. And the Muse line has been a staple for pools, said Sarah Leffler, Marketing Director. But two new collections are gaining ground. Las Playas is an opaque glass perfect for baths or pools. And Las Islas offers beautiful Caribbean blues with some transparencies. “They are different than anything else on the market,” Leffler said. “They are hand-created, durable, with through-body color harmony in both collections.”
Growing demand, growing awareness of glass
OGT is very invested in expanding awareness in the community about glass tile and the proper specification thereof. “We are huge industry partners,” said Leffler. “We work with schools, and glass artists all over the world. We offer samples, and donate materials at trade shows. And we do the same for glass tile. Vince frequently lectures, educating designers, architects, showrooms, dealers, glass artists, installers that not all glass is made the same.”
For instance, Moiso said, “The unique aspect of our cast glass tile is that it can go outside in a freeze/thaw environment. It can be submerged, so it’s great for pool applications, commercial applications, and water features. Our tile products also get widely used for interior residential applications such as kitchen backsplash and bathroom shower walls.
“The color you can produce in glass cannot be replicated in any other format” he continued. “And for pool applications, water features, and showers – you can’t get that reflective quality with other materials. It is superior in many different ways.”
OGT is very visible though its network of distributors that includes Daltile, MS International, Surface Art, National Pool Tile, Ann Sacks, Walker Zanger and Materials Marketing nationwide, Moiso said. “We have key regional distributors like Garden State Tile, Ceramic Matrix, Virginia Tile, Chesapeake Tile, just to name a few. Our products can also be found in independent dealers in key geographical markets.”
In addition, OGT is on Material Bank and Shopify – as well as Amazon. “Twenty years ago, OGT was the only game in town, Moiso said. “We had a really nice run and were a leader in glass mosaics. That has changed – with ceramic, porcelain, metal, and stone mosaics – it’s a crowded space. It’s not just about glass any more.”
So OGT decided to go vertical with direct sales through Amazon, with a unique, dedicated line that is produced just for Amazon customers. “We live in an Amazon world-buy now and get product now,” Moiso said. “The tile industry tends to be a decade behind corporate America when it comes to stuff like that, but we are trying to get ahead of the curve.”
Courting the artisan installer
OGT provides comprehensive installation guidelines on its website and recommends setting materials that will provide success with its products. (Click the “Resources” tab at www.glasstile.com for installation PDFs, videos, technical support, and FAQs).
“We appreciate the artisan installer,” Moiso said. “We do a lot of testing on our products: TCNA testing and other testing. We offer Installation guides very specific to applications, and a lot of technical support.”
OGT produces paper-faced glass tiles to ensure 100% contact and bond. “The artisan installers know and appreciate that,” he said. “It reduces or eliminates their liability compared to soluble adhesive on the mesh. 1-2% of our sales in the tile product world are our products replacing failures. “Installation is as important as understanding the product,” Moiso continued.
But the market is growing, and traditional installers not well acquainted with the intricacies of paper-face installation are getting into the act. So the company is investing in R&D to engineer an appropriate mesh backing to ensure it can be submerged in pool applications.“It’s changed,” Moiso said. “I’ve been in the industry 25 years. Back then, ONLY artisans were installing glass tile. A smaller portion now are true artisans and larger portion are traditional installers. There is a large community that won’t use the product because it is paper-faced. So we had no choice but to develop a mesh back line. We are taking steps to make sure it’s right.”
As OGT visions what the future for glass tile is, it is also supporting a glass tile initiative being spearheaded by the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) that kicks off with a panel discussion at the Total Solutions Plus industry conference in November. This initiative is in response to the skyrocketing demand for glass in new and renovation projects, residential and commercial. Read more about this in the Technical section of this issue.
A bastion of glass tile manufacturing and partnership with the A&D community for over three decades, today Oceanside Glass & Tile is perfectly poised for the explosion of glass in the market. Aligned with legendary artisan installers like Jimmy Reed of Rock Solid Tile, and mosaic artist Angie Ré of Unique Mosaics, and dedicated to help educate tile installers and artisans about the opportunities that await in glass tile, for OGT, the iridescent sky is the limit.
Editorial Director and Senior Writer for TileLetter and TileLetter ARTISAN
Lesley Goddin has been writing and journaling since her first diary at age 11. Her journey has taken her through a career in publishing and publicity, landing her the editor position of TileLetter and its special publications in 2006. Her goal is to educate, inspire, recognize and encourage those in the tile industry -- especially the tile and stone contractor.