What make glass kitchen tiles so expensive?

It seems like glass is a cheap material, yet glass tile backsplashes are out of reach even for swells who install marble counters, fancy stoves, etc.

I can see that they need more handmade touches than window glass, but so does ceramic tile.

Some of the ones I’ve seen are fused glass (multiple colors of glass kiln-fused together). For those, the answer is: the glass is unbelievably expensive. All the glass used needs to have the same coefficient of expansion or the multiple colors will expand in the kiln at different rates, causing cracks. CoE-controlled glass is difficult and expensive to make because the various pigments have different chemical properties, but need to produce identically-propertied glass.

I made a couple of large fused-glass plates last year (about 14 inches round), and the materials alone cost me more than $150. Even if you buy the glass wholesale, it’s a lot different stuff than window glass. (And a good thing, too, since window glass would shatter every time you bumped it – tile glass is tempered or otherwise impact-treated).

You know I once was travelling in a Carribian island where the style was crazed glass. It was in every shop on the warf. I have a few of my favorite ashtrays out of it. At the time I thought they had done it with temperature, intentionally opening a hot kiln. But from what you say, it would be easier and more uniform just to line the ashtray with two mis-matched sheets of glass and they would create the same craze every time.

Art glass is not by any means, a cheap material. I have glass I paid $80 a sqare foot for.

Fused glass, like that the tiles are made from, goes through a rather complicated process.
There is no automation, it’s all hand done. Each of the glass tiles is, in fact, a piece of one of a kind art work.
I’m surprised they are as inexpensive as they are.