How would prof. tile setters prefer to install mosaics and inserts? [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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Katherine C
05-20-2006, 12:16 PM
I've been working with tile mosaics for a while now and people have asked to buy inserts for showers, backsplashes, etc. and I'm considering selling these but I would like to know if anyone has any point-outs as to preference of backing, fixatives, etc. I've only used mesh with Gorilla Glue and have had no problems with this method as of yet.

My concern with the Gorilla Glue is that it expands and gets foamey(sp?) and in some cases covers the tile piece back completely, not allowing it to interact with the thinset when placing on the wall.

Also, how does anyone out there feel about the sticky paper, stuck to the front of the insert?

Any input would be greatly appreciated!!


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05-20-2006, 01:54 PM

I would prefer mesh on the back before sticky paper on the front. The only reason is that I would be able to see the tiles to see if I need to move them slightly before drying.

My two cents worth.

Good luck with your new venture.


Madison Mike
05-21-2006, 04:20 PM
Me too, I prefer dealing with mesh back over paper front any time. Another thought to consider: Have you tried using a small amount of thinset and applying the mosaic to a piece of Kerdi? I read the tile teachings of wiseman Bridge, and i think that's one of his ideas.

Madison, WI

Katherine C
05-21-2006, 06:25 PM
This is the best forum I've come across, the help is terrific and very much appreciated. :bow:

I've added a picture so you can see some of my work, (hopefully I've done it correctly), I call the artwork "A Man's Home is His Castle, But Home is Where Your Family Is" inspired by the families that went with hubby on the crusades, I'm a history buff!

I think I'll try the Kerdi method. What kind of thinset do you recommend? I don't know anything about Kerdi, I'll have to check old threads to see what comes up and their web page. I like the idea of being able to control the varying thickness' of the tile and stone with thinset, as opposed to thinner glues. Are there other membranes out there that can be used or is Kerdi the only one? Where can I buy it?

Does the membrane get stiff, like fiberglass, after you put thinset on it or does it remain flexible? Not that it matters I guess, unless it can crack or something? I plan on making a number of these, sized specifically for "behind the stove" applications and will take pictures, post on my web sight, and then have to stack and store them, so they need to be sturdy enough to maintain the tile design during storage and shipping.

Thanks for your input, greatly appreciate it!

05-21-2006, 08:00 PM
Nice work, Katherine. Next time center up the field tile (from left to right) with the stove opening. Starting with half tiles at the bottom is fine. :)

05-21-2006, 09:08 PM

I'm in business making some fairly complicated mosaics. The best thing I've found is to glue the pieces directly to the fiberglass mesh using weldbond adhesive. I havn't used the Kerdi. The sticky plastic stinks, stickey paper may work fairly well on the face side of the pieces.
good luck,


Katherine C
05-21-2006, 10:13 PM
Ya, the field tile really bugs me, I came off the right hand corner with a half tile and I'm so used to it now that I don't notice it anymore. . . . until I took the picture, Uhhhh, so frustrating when you do stupid stuff. :bonk:

Maybe I'll rip the whole thing out and start over, or could I just tile over the existing? I like what Emily Tholberg(sp?) does with backsplashes, great pictures on John Bridge's web site!

Katherine C
05-21-2006, 10:20 PM

Do you use all same thickness tile or stone? What I've had to do with granite, slate and some porcelain tile is to grind of the back to even it up with the thinnest tile I'm using. I could try to use all the same thickness, but so far I haven't been able to do it.

05-23-2006, 12:06 AM
same thickness......IMPOSSABLE!!!!!!!!!!

I don't find it critical to make the mosaic perfectly flat on anything other than a floor piece. I avoid natural stone, and slate only when very little cutting need be done. There's a number of ways to get a mosaic flatter,
Here's a few:

You can grind off the bumps (and only the bumps) of the thicker tile and leave them on the thinner, loosing 1/16 inch difference in thickness.

You can also glue the mosaic to the mesh piece at a time, morter it, then morter 1/4 inch hardibacker, then press the backer to the back of the mosaic, flip it, and carefully work it flat with a large flat thing. This would raise the entire piece 1/4 inch, which creates a neet look. This takes a hell of a lot of practice.

Good luck

Katherine C
05-23-2006, 12:44 PM
I was looking at past post's and found one where you thought you might try the Kerdi / thinset method for mosaic's, did you try it? If so, how did it work out? I'm thinking that that would be a great way to install and also handle the thickness issue.

I've looked at some of your work on different threads, very nice! I can't believe you weren't using a bandsaw for some of those cuts. I also was going through the "which saw to buy" thing and ended up with the dl 5000. I originally bought a Gryphon, what a joke that was (and waste of $300), trying to cut porcelain was like trying to cut ceramic tile with my teeth. So far I like the 5000 a lot, which saw did you end up getting?

I'm currently working on a Celtic peacock out of Uba Tuba, porcelain, and travertine, I'll post a pic when I'm done. How 'bout you, watcha workin' on now?

05-23-2006, 01:50 PM
I've been working on a 18" X 22" mosaic using mainly glass mosaic tiles (for our shower) that I cut into small pieces for that extra detail. I did a lot of inquiry first from a couple of mosaic artist's boards to get proper info on how to, etc. Regarding different thicknesses, I was told to use some thinset instead of the Welbond behind those pieces that are thinner as the thicker thinset will allow a little "pillow" to push out the piece and keep it more on the same level as the majority of the pieces. I guess you'd have to leave the openings for where you're going to put in the thinner ones till you have some thinset mixed up so you can do all those pieces at the same time and use up the thinset once, without having to constantly mix up little batches. (Using thinset ONLY as the adhesive is not uncommon by many artists - it's apparently an excellent "adhesive" also.) Hope this helps.

05-23-2006, 10:00 PM

I'm in no big rush to try the kerdi. I havn't heard anything about it that sounds better than the mesh, and any time morter becomes involved with my stuff my prep and cleanup time is x 10. The glue and mesh have done me really well so far. I'm gonna put another mosaic on my sidewalk, give it a couple of weeks, and use my truck to burnout on it and see what happens. Sounds like a good test for the mesh.

Well, I've seen the DL 3000 in action..... sucks. Gryphn, even worse. Bill Vincent uses a 5000, but I doubt it's his mainstay of business, just for an occasional trick work where the slow cutting is excuseable. I've been looking into the DL 7000 and a real expensive German band saw from construction complete, but I'm not convinced that the quality of the cuts is much better than what I can do now, even if faster.

Thanks for the compliment. I look for your other work.
As for my current stuff, I just finished one that beats down everything I've ever made, but it's too early to show it. Here's one from a while back you might like....

Katherine C
05-24-2006, 12:09 AM
Hi Jerimiah,

I've been timing my work and so far I can make about $30 + an hour. My goal is $60. I love doing this and the tax write-offs are great for a business and that was what my goal really was originally, but I'd like to at least earn back my tools soon, so I'm into speed. I GREATLY considered the 7000 and maybe I should have spent the extra $500, I just don't know yet. I've been able to go so much faster with the 5000 than with anything before, so this feels like heaven. Ya, this is art and all that. . . but reality check, right now it's just to earn a few bucks and justify my time while I'm having all this fun!

My website store is under construction and I've considered talking to a few artists to create a consortium on the net, what I need is variety and hits so I can creep up the priority list for all the search engine's, thus the consortium.

It's fun talking to someone with similiar interests, I don't know anyone who does what I do, (other than this forum), so thanks for your input and support!

Getting raspberries on my fingertips from all this typing,

Katherine C
05-24-2006, 12:10 AM
PS I love the turtle, it's beautiful!

Katherine C
05-24-2006, 12:14 AM

Are you mounting directly to a wall, or are you using mesh or something like that? I'm using mesh currently and I'm not sure how thinset would work with that. I've used thinset when mounting directly to a wall and that does help with tile thickness variations, right now it's the mesh situation that I'm dealing with, for creation in one place and time, and installation another.
Thanks for your input,

05-24-2006, 02:25 AM
I think kerdi & epoxy is the hot ticket...I actually used Noble Ts before Kerdi was around so I've had time to de-bug it. The mesh is good too, it's just slower for me.

05-24-2006, 05:29 AM
This may be a dumb question: But how do you keep the mesh from
sticking to your work surface when sticking down the mosaic pieces?
Obviously I've never done a mosaic :scratch:


05-24-2006, 05:55 AM

The castle is really neat. Such creativity!!! Would you mind taking a look at my thread? I have questions regarding 1x1 glass mosaics (the cutting of).

Since you have so much experience with mosaics I would greatly appreciate it. My thread is "Almost done thanks to this forum" Logon name improve2.

Thanks in advance!!! :)


05-24-2006, 06:58 AM

$30 an hour? I WISH i was making that. When I add up the time and materials, labor comes to like mininum wage! It's slowly paying off, though.
As for the questions...
I've been sticking with fiberglass mesh and using weldbond adhesive. I use very little glue to allow the maximun amount of bonding between tile and morter. When i finish the mosaic in the mesh, up to 16 square feet, I just grab the mesh and lift it to where ever it needs to go. Anything bigger I keep secured to plywood and gently scoot it. I've never had a problem with the thinset bonding, and if you question it, do what I did.....experiment. Coat the back of say, 20 small pieces with weldbond, time to cure, and mount of a couple of bricks with thinset, give a few days to cure and see what happens. I've found it bonds quite well. What's your website?

Use parchment paper under the mesh, and weldbond glue to fasten the tile to the mesh. No problem.


How do you use the Kerdi? Do you screed a layer of morder before you start? How well does it bend and flex?

05-24-2006, 09:37 AM
The epoxy on the Kerdi is Touchstone t-2000. It's a setting epoxy that has a pot life of about two hours per batch. It also has a good degree of flex..much better than any highly modified thinset I've used, and because it's epoxy there is no problem with curing over kerdi even with glass. I set it as the floor demands. Usually over wonderboard, but have gone over ditra on many jobs. This a way I have been able to use ditra with mosaic- over kerdi,,,Not sure what Schluter would have to say w/ regards to my innovative use of their products,but I'm comfortable with it.

05-24-2006, 09:45 AM
These are being made over Kerdi

Katherine C
05-24-2006, 11:32 AM

My website is, (for some reason I'm not allowed to post with an URL so I'm typing out the dot, is there a rule against this?) however when you go there it will ask you "did you mean tileart(dot)com or (dot)net, and then further down it will say click on, at this point you'll only get my webhosting page of "Bluehost". But keep checking back to it, I'm hoping to get it finished in the next month. I have to set up a store with shopping cart (more complicated than I thought), take credit cards, ups shipping calculators, etc., etc. I also need some more "ship-able" (is that a word?) artwork, and gather pictures of past projects. So I'm JUST getting started with this venture.

It's important to me to get an "acceptable" mounting method for professional tile setters because I don't want return requests, or blame for installation failure if I'm to be successful in this business. I've used Gorilla Glue in the past and it has worked fine. . but . . I don't want to hear . . . "the tile is covered in glue, it won't stick to the wall. . . or there isn't enough exposed tile, the adhesion won't be good, what crackpot sold you this bad work". . . This is why all the questions on the front side.

Do you roll Wellbond, like with a small paint roller, over the mesh then stick "unbuttered" tile to the mesh, or glue on both?


Why the epoxy? Have you tried mastic with the Kerdi? I would guess that thinset would be easier and "leveling" of different tile heights. Also, do you just put glue on the tile piece and not on the Kerdi, I think if it was other than on the tile back, the Kerdi might get stiff? If you wouldn't mind, can you explain your process.

One thing about the mesh, it's a lot cheaper, but if using the Kerdi increases my speed and tile setters like it better, it will be worth the exspense, especially if I can use thinset to level tiles instead of grinding off the backs and my blades will last longer.

I'm assuming you meant Katherine, not Susan, thanks on the artwork! Cutting glass is easy if you have the right tools, however I've been known to use all the wrong tools to get the job done. Not knowing what you have available to you, my first suggestion would be to score, snap and grind, or depending on the glass, nip and grind. Tools to do this are pretty inexpensive, I've even used a "non" wet grinder, very carefully, to smooth glass and it worked fine. If you don't have a glass scorer, I'm sure you can pick one up somewhere close by. Or,. . . not withstanding any of these options, a stained glass place can easily cut the glass for you, just trace the area you are installing and they can fit to your tracings. Pay attention to details for the cutter, like cut to "inside the line, or out side the line, or just covering the line, etc.

Katherine C
05-24-2006, 11:36 AM
Just saw your pics, really, really, nice!

05-24-2006, 11:42 AM

I am so sorry to call by the wrong name. :confused: Thanks for the help. My glass is from Italy and I had it shipped. They didn't have the line here in the US yet when I did the order. I found a great little stained glass shop a few minutes from the house. They are going to cut the 1x1's for me so they fit the round drain and I took a twenty minute class, really ten but it took me twenty, bought the tools and I am ready to try this.

Thanks so much for the information,

05-24-2006, 01:15 PM

Ya, I know what you mean with the quality stuff. I'm trying to build a group of clients here in san antonio and austin. I'm not interested in selling all over the place. This also lets me keep dibs on where my stuff is going, and I get to oversee the installment.

With the glue and mesh, I place a small drop on each tile and set it on the mesh. my standard square tile piece is 1x1.5 inch, so I would put enough glue to cover about 1/5 of the back. With larger pieces, I use perportionally less, a few drops for a 1/2 sq ft piece of tile, thus guranteeing the maximum amount of morter touching each tile. I wouldn't roll weldbond over the back. All my research and experimenting has pointed me in this direction as dependable and tough. I wouldn't install anything with small, delicate work where high heels might rest 300 pounds on .5 sq inch of tile. Trask has interested me in his kerdi method, I'll be trying that very soon.


05-24-2006, 02:50 PM
Katherine, is your website

If so, try posting that URL now. ;)

Katherine C
05-24-2006, 03:52 PM
No, it's, however I'm letting everyone know that if you type it in it may ask you "do you mean or, and then further down it will ask or "".

I think this is because by web page is still being put together on my webhosting sight and hasn't been uploaded yet for viewing. When you do click on, the "BlueHost" page comes up, this is my web hosting sight.

Ya, a lot of annoying info that is boring me even as I type. I wish I could have got or .net, but those names were taken a long time ago.