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-   -   Paper faced glass mosaic installation - some questions (https://www.johnbridge.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=128018)

Kiva 09-07-2019 09:13 AM

Paper faced glass mosaic installation - some questions
Greetings! I realized I haven’t been on here in 6 years! Glad to see the forum continues to be the go to place on the web for tile.

We’re doing a shower and we ended up using our trusty GC for the project. He is expressing some concern about the glass mosaic we’ve chosen and i thought I’d reach out here for some clarification.

The tiles:


Kiva 09-07-2019 09:39 AM

Paper faced glass mosaic installation - some questions
Crud. Sorry about that. Continuing.





The concern is installation will result in so much thinset coming out between the joints as to be a giant pita and never look right. Our GC is a good guy (we’ve used him for a much larger project with great results, but no tile in that project). He is worried it will look bad and says he’s spoken to folks that have said they’ve refused to install this tile (?).

The thinset is Bostik But I don’t have the bag in front of me so will clarify ASAP.

We did a test section on some black board (the shower is curing from the mud bed).

We set it and lifted the paper pretty quickly since it was late. We definitely didn’t follow the exact procedure. However when we pulled the paper, it looked like this:


That’s a lot of thinset to clean.

So. Questions.

1. Correct installation procedure for this tile? He seems to think that the paper is removed next day abc thinset is scraped out then. Searching brought me to that video by Oceanside which miraculously had little to no thinset between the joints. Is that the correct procedure? If all that cleaning is just part of the deal with this material, tips on making it least painful?

2 These tiles appear to be ‘reversed beveled’ and look almost as if the paper is on the wrong side. I know it’s not, so is that just how these types of tiles are? I get the idea the GC has only installed the mesh backed decorative tile. He seems to be decrying all of the paper front material...

3. Another concern of the GC is all the air bubbles that are likely given the divots and such in the back. It sounds like this is mitigated by applying a dab if thinset in those spots?

The field tile is a 3x6 porcelain subway tile, FYI. Grout is an off white/gray.

Thank you fir your time.


Tiger Mountain Tile Inc 09-07-2019 11:16 AM

Bottom line is that this isn't an easy installation and if the GC isn't confident then you should go with someone that has experience with this type of installation.

The paper is on the correct side and it's to be removed same-day. Lunada Bay has good instructions and they usually include them with the materials. If not, their website should have instructions.

Here's a link to just one of their installation guides. It even has specific mortar recommendations.

Davy 09-07-2019 12:43 PM

Matt, let us know exactly where this glass tile is going. At first I was thinking it is covering the whole shower then you said the field tiles are 3x6 subway tiles. So, are the glass tiles just for a border/stripe?

If you look close, you'll see that these tiles are transparent, you can see thru them. Because of this, we usually use a notch trowel to spread the thinset and then flatten out the notches with the flat side of the trowel (or wide putty knife) so you won't see the thinset lines thru the tiles. This also removes a little of the thinset which keeps so much from pushing up in the joints. You don't want to remove all the thinset, just drag the flat edge of the trowel lightly, enough to flatten out the notches. It's hard to tell but your notch size might be too big in the picture. I would start with a 3/16 V- notch and see how that works. I'd probably use a non sag thinset for these in case you pull the paper too soon.

I usually let the thinset firm up, maybe 30-45 minutes before wiping the paper with a wet sponge. It might take several passes with the sponge to get the glue to release the paper. Sometimes the tiles will move slightly if you need to adjust one here and there. If you wait too long then you won't be able to adjust them. This is the best time to wash out any thinset that has mashed up in the joints. Your contractor is right, these tiles are a pain to set.

I've often thought the same thing. I might like the look better if the tiles were flipped over on the sheet.

Kiva 09-07-2019 01:42 PM

The tile is a decorative strip and back of the niche.

Our GC is a great guy. He doesn’t feel confident with material that is weird to begin with. He has some great skills (the mud bed looks fabulous - I mixed all the fat mud for that, btw. Ouch.). It also sounds like the material is just a pain no matter what.

He likes his customers to be happy. He’s worried he won’t be able to do it / the material will prevent us being happy with the finished product.

We tried to get somebody else to do the whole job but a series of normal project stuff messed that up, we live in the aftermath of the Camp Fire, so it’s really hard to get subs.

We may look at a different product. Stuff was expensive though.

Davy 09-07-2019 01:55 PM

Paper faced glass tiles have been around a long time. I understand he may not have the experience setting them, it's not something we install very often. Are the glass tiles thinner than the field tiles?

jadnashua 09-07-2019 04:08 PM

What color grout are you using? IF it's white, then there may be an alternative and that's to use a grout as the setting material. In that use case, you want the setting material to fill up the grout joints. Check with the tile manufacturer to see if they have any they think might be suitable.

Any voids on the back of the tile when setting will show through...you need to be VERY careful.

Kiva 09-07-2019 04:48 PM

Apologies. I was wrong about the subway tile size.

4.25 x 10 x .25.

Glass tiles are 3/16 thick

Kiva 09-07-2019 05:54 PM

I'll get the exact color of the grout asap, but it is an off-white / gray.

Davy 09-07-2019 06:35 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Okay, since the glass tiles are thinner than the field tiles, I have found it best to install the field tiles first, leaving the exact space needed for the stripe. Then mud the stripe area to make the glass tiles flush with the field tiles.

As you can see, I used a white board and some small pieces of tile as spacers to set the field tiles on. The small tiles are hard to see. I pulled the board and floated out the needed thickness.

Kiva 09-07-2019 08:24 PM

thank you. That makes sense to put in a holding piece and then do it last. If the GC is super uncomfortable, would it be unreasonable to propose having him just do the field and then have somebody else come do the mosaic? May not be worth somebody's time...

once you get the paper off, with the thinset being wet, aren't they going to move around a ton while you sponge out the thinset that seemed through?

Tool Guy - Kg 09-07-2019 08:35 PM

Hi, Matt. Welcome back. :wave:

These guys have you covered. Just thought I'd a little trick for your contractor. Some manufacturers have specific instructions on using their grout for both the setting material and grout. For instance, Tec Specialty Products allows you to use any of their cement based unsanded grouts mixed exclusively with their Xtra-Flex Addtive (no water or anything else allowed) mixed to a sticky peanut butter consistency. Having setting material that is the grout takes fear out of having to clean miles of grout lines. This might be just the trick to get your contractor to feel comfortable.


cx 09-07-2019 08:44 PM

And I know Laticrete has a similar grout-as-thinset-mortar system, too, if TEC is not readily available to you. I suspect some other manufacturers have similar systems, but I'm not familiar with any others.

thuffner3 09-07-2019 10:02 PM

Paper Faced Mosaics
1 Attachment(s)
As Davy said above, Create the area you require with spacers or ledger strips.
Fill this area with thinset to the required depth to allow your mosaic to come flush with the adjacent tiles.

Size your mosaic to fit.
Mix your thinset to a nice creamy but firm state.
Mix grout to a slightly stiffer consistency.
Set up a work board. Remix your grout and grout the backside of several pieces
Work quickly, Clean grout as you would for any grout installation.
Remix your thinset, spread with proper trowel, knock down ridges to a flat surface.
Using a large grout float or beating block set your glass as accurately as possible.
Grout your edges,and clean.
Depending on how comfortable I feel with the setting of the materials I may proceed to remove paper after several sheets.
I see and hear a lot of people suggest sponging the paper.
I like to use a spray bottle, for whatever reason it seems to saturate the paper more quickly without all the over working of the surface possibly moving tiles unnecessarily.
At this point you should be able to adjust any mis-alligned tile. Wipe clean and move on.
Remove your paper and again clean grout as normally would.
I've used this method on damn near every glass install I've done.
Haste is important but don't rush.

jadnashua 09-07-2019 10:04 PM

With the glass nearly transparent tile, both the grout color and thinset (if used) will change the appearance. So, you will want to do a mockup with both the thinset and/or grout to see if you like it. It will change depending.

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