User installed paper-facing for glass tile? [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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04-30-2015, 11:47 AM
We are redoing a tiling project using 1”x1” glass tiles on a 3' x 3' shower pan. The original installation took advantage of the 12” x 12” paper-faced tile to facilitate tile placement. The paper was released a few minutes after installation by moistening the exposed top surface of the paper. For reasons that are almost too painful to discuss, the epoxy thinset mortar did not set up, despite being mixed properly. All the materials have been removed, cleaned, and we're now ready to tile again.

We would like to reattach tiles to an approximately 1' x 1' backing (or, more correctly, topping) to facilitate tile placement, as before. The tiles are already coated with a sealer (Aqua Mix “Sealer's Choice Gold”). We want the temporarily attached material (paper or whatever) to be easy to release, so tile alignment can be adjusted before the epoxy thinset sets up (this is important). We have tried many types of paper (kraft paper, brown paper, newsprint-like paper, etc.) and glues (diluted, full-strength, water-soluble, spray, etc.). We have yet to figure out the secret combination of paper and adhesive that works. Either the tile doesn't release from the paper or it falls off.

Can anyone suggest a strategy or technique for a temporarily attached tile backing material?

Thank you.

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Houston Remodeler
04-30-2015, 04:17 PM

1- The glass tiles are sealed ? :scratch:

2- We make our own with 2" wide blue painters tape. Its fast but a tad pricey. Some Pro's here use clear contact paper.

04-30-2015, 04:24 PM
So, if you would have to individually put them on the backing before setting, why not just set them?

04-30-2015, 04:30 PM
Somebody help me out here, what was that stuff they had down there at the Mapei event last year? :confused:

Clear carpet something???

CX? Paul? Anybody?

Would that work here? :idea:

04-30-2015, 04:52 PM
Thanks for the feedback.

Tiles were sealed as we were (perhaps overly) concerned about removal of stray epoxy thinset after everything hardened up.

The pot life of the thinset may not be long enough to place over 1,000 individual tiles. The epoxy thinset comes in factory sealed plastic bags (Part A, B, and C) that when mixed are a quantity to do the entire job. I talked with the manufacturer about dividing up the bags, so we could make smaller batches, and they rather strongly discouraged this. And this stuff is not cheap!

This afternoon I continued to look for adhesive options. Aside from what has been shared in this thread, I came across a 3M product that may be useful:
3M Repositionable 75 Spray Adhesive

It is available from Amazon and the customer reviews are very enthusiastic (although the reviews I skimmed did not use the product for tiling).

Scotch appears to have a similar product:
Scotch Spray Mount Repositionable Adhesive
which is available from Staples.

Houston Remodeler
04-30-2015, 05:37 PM
Carpet protector they sell at home burrito.

Some of the older tile setters may remember the days before paper backing or facing was invented and those tiles were all set by hand.

Might be just as fast and more accurate considering the small space.

04-30-2015, 05:55 PM
what about gluing them to a mesh backing like 2x2 come on.

04-30-2015, 06:03 PM

That would be too easy! The glass tiles are a very interesting mix of mostly blue/green colors that range from opaque to rather transparent. A mesh set into the thinset would be visible from above.

Carpet protection film is an interesting possibility. I notice that eBay and Walmart online are sources for smaller quantities of this material. I'm just not sure about the relative strength of the adhesive (too strong? not strong enough?).

04-30-2015, 07:04 PM
what about gluing them to a mesh backing like 2x2 come on
In my experience paper-faced glass is translucent enough that you would be able to see any sort of mesh or similar mounting method through it after setting, that is why it is paper-faced.

Being that it's only 9 sq.ft. I would look at time and aggravation vs. the chance I might need to buy a second pail of epoxy. I still would lean toward just setting it.

04-30-2015, 09:03 PM
Carpet protector

Thanks, Paul.

I would give that a wirl, just saying. :gerg:

This ( is grouted up after placement with that carpet protector. This (, fifth pic down, was before placement. Set all the tile pieces and stretched a piece of carpet protector over and picked it all up.

04-30-2015, 11:34 PM
You can make the glue for the paper with flour and water. I've done it with byzantine and venetian glass mosaics. 2 parts flour to 1 part sugar. Mix the 2 with water to a thick paint like consistency. Put the mix in a bowl that can be nuked. Put it in the microwave till it's relatively hard, nothing runny left. Put the stiff mix in a blender with water and blend to a paint like consistency. You have your glue:)

Tiger Mountain Tile Inc
05-01-2015, 09:49 AM
Can I ask why it's necessary to use an epoxy? It seems to me that epoxy isn't encouraged for glass installation because of it yellows over time and it isn't flexible enough. Why not a high powered thinset?

05-01-2015, 12:12 PM

I was afraid someone was going to ask this question!

We discovered that 1"x1" glass tiles are something of a challenge to use in this application. Because the tiles are beveled, the area that is bedded in the thinset is at most 3/4" x 3/4". Further, the non-porous nature of glass makes it a less effective bonding surface with many adhesives. Include the fact that the tile system must withstand being drenched with water and both the pressure and some amount of suction from bare feet and you have a fairly demanding environment.

On the first go-round we used TEC Super Flex Latex Modified Thin Set Mortar. Because the tiles are semi-transparent, we knocked down the ridges left from the notched trowel. After a couple of months use, individual tiles started coming up from random locations. The tiles came up cleanly, leaving all the grout and thinset behind. At first I epoxied them back in. When the problem kept on, I stripped the tile, prepped the pan, and started over.

In the second pass we wanted to make sure the glass tiles would adhere well. I used a silicon carbide bit in my Dremel and scuffed the bottom of each tile. I chose Latacrete Latapoxy for the thinset. This stuff costs a fortune. The short version of this story is that the Latapoxy was mixed correctly, but the epoxy never set-up. I believe the bag containing the epoxy hardener had a slight opening and the volatile active ingredients in the hardener evaporated prior to use. The end result was that I had to remove the tile, remove the failed epoxy, and prep the pan again. I'm a chemist by training and have used epoxies for almost 50 years. I used all my skills to understand what went wrong and to recover from this. If anyone finds themselves in a similar situation, I can provide information about how to dig out from this very ugly situation.

I now have one last set of epoxy components sufficient for our third attempt at setting the tile. While I really enjoy home renovation projects and this project is coming out great, I am past ready to be done with this.

05-14-2015, 11:15 AM
Paul, when you say carpet protector ( do you mean like this stuff?

Have you actually done it? I have a bunch of that laying around and if so, I might have to try it.