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Unread 01-27-2020, 11:00 AM   #1
workingdog
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Help mosaic tile on stucco pizza oven

I am a total noob desperately in need of help with a project I started and am trying to figure out how to execute.

I've had a pizza oven for several years. They delivered in with a white stucco finish so that 'I could do what I want to it'. Now I'm realizing that stucco is not a great surface for doing anything else to. I've decided I want to mosaic tile the pizza oven. The oven and mosaic tile pose several challenges. First, the surface is curved and lots of it is vertical. The mosaic process is slow and can't be dry fit. So, I have to have something that will hold the tile in place while any adhesive dries. I'm using Mexican tiles from La Fuente. I think they are a terra cotta substrate, but I'm not sure.

I had tried several adhesives and finally settled on Loctite Power Grab because it is thick enough to hold a tile piece in place on a vertical surface. It worked great over the summer, but as soon as heavy rain came, it started to fail. Interestingly, it worked in some spots and failed in others, like some of the tubes of power grab were bad. Also, these spots not only failed on the stucco, they also failed on the tile. I used a cleaner and a wire brush on my grinder to prep the surface, but that made no difference.

I'm looking for 1) how I need to prep the surface - grinder? scoring? chemicals? 2) an adhesive that will allow me to lay individual tiles one at a time and work my way out.

Any help would be appreciated. I think I attached an image.
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Unread 01-27-2020, 11:47 AM   #2
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Welcome, Peter.

1. Grinder would be your best option for scarifying the surface for a ceramic tile application. I'm presuming you have a Portland cement-based stucco?

2. You want a thinset mortar that you mix from a dry powder in a bag. If you get one that has non-sag properties and an extended open time, you should be able to use it as you plan. Will say on the bag that it meets ANSI A118.4 on the packaging and if an extended open time mortar will have an E after that designation and if non-sag will have a T (thixotropic)after the designation.

But before you do any of that, how hot does the outside of that over get when in use?

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 01-27-2020, 03:15 PM   #3
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As stated, use a powdered mortar. Do not use any glue. You also need to remove ALL of that glue before you proceed
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Unread 01-30-2020, 09:36 AM   #4
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Thanks for the reply, I didn't realize there were any. Guess I didn't check to get notified.

I don't know what kind of stucco it is.

If the only solution is to use thinset, I think it will add so much time to the process I'm not sure it's worth it - especially if it won't fully hold a mosaic in place on a vertical surface.

So, maybe it's time to figure out a plan b.
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Unread 01-30-2020, 09:38 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CX, Post 2
If you get one that has non-sag properties and an extended open time, you should be able to use it as you plan. Will say on the bag that it meets ANSI A118.4 on the packaging and if an extended open time mortar will have an E after that designation and if non-sag will have a T (thixotropic)after the designation.
Thinset mortar will work if you get one of the right ones.
Quote:
Originally Posted by CX, Post 2
how hot does the outside of that over get when in use?
My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 01-30-2020, 10:23 AM   #6
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The surface does not get hot at all.

Looking at a lot of other posts on using thinset on vertical surfaces, everyone says that there no thinset that doesn't have a risk of slump. And I just can't risk slump.

One of the real problems with the broken tile mosaic is how slow it is. It takes about an hour to do 1 to 2 sq ft. Thinset just won't stay workable over that time without a lot of additional effort.

Another alternative would be to use 2x2 tile instead of broken tile to create the large scale pattern. That would go fast enough that I could use thin set and using a support on the bottom and spacers I could fight the slump - and it would go fast enough that I could do one entire side in a reasonable amount of time. And, I can dry fit the entire thing on a flat surface and then translate it up.

Then I thought, I could pre-glue the 2x2 tiles onto 12x12 mesh - lay the entire thing out flat on a table, glue it up, let it set, and then set the 12x12 mesh in thinset on the pizza oven really quick.

Any thoughts on those two options?
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Unread 01-30-2020, 10:46 AM   #7
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There are non-sag mortars out there that do not sag, Peter, and two hours of pot life is not uncommon in today's mortars. Find out what tile installation product brands are available in your area (a geographic location in your User Profile is often helpful) and contact them for a recommendation on the best option for your application. They all make at least one such thinset mortar.

Pre-mounting your mosaic patterns on mesh is also a viable solution to my thinking. We've had discussions on the materials for that here on the forums a number of times and I know the materials are readily available. I would think making up your pattern while working on a nice, flat, horizontal surface would be a significant advantage, anyway.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 01-30-2020, 12:16 PM   #8
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Yes, the idea of doing the layout on a table is very attractive, but it does require me to essentially abandon broken tile mosaic. I'll search here to see what I can find about making my own mosaic sheets.

I did a search here and couldn't find anything useful, I just got too many hits to sift through. If you remember one, I'd love to pointed at it.

What I could find online is don't use something like Weldbond for attaching the tile to the mesh because it's not good for outdoors, use an EVA adhesive or something like liquid nails.

Now, one of the things I was thinking, is that you're really only using the adhesive to keep the tile on the mesh just long enough to get it into position and then thinset will be use to actually bond the tile to the the surface (with the mesh in between) and the adhesive is not of any use any more. Is my thinking correct?

So, here's my plan, dry fit 2x2 tile (or easy sections of 2x2 tile like cut in half diagonally that fit together easily and stay in a larger 2x2 matrix), use liquid nails to adhere 12x12 or 12x24 or 24x24 mesh sheets to the back. use a grinder on the pizza oven to scarify the entire thing (how much I need to scarify I'm not sure). Then thinset the mosaic sheets in place on the pizza oven. Then grout the entire thing. And ideally do the entire thing between rain storms - or over the pizza oven while I'm working.

Make sense?
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Unread 01-30-2020, 02:30 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter
Looking at a lot of other posts on using thinset on vertical surfaces, everyone says that there no thinset that doesn't have a risk of slump.
I think most on this forum would disagree with that. There are thinsets that will hold a 3/4" piece of stone vertically in place with zero sagging. Try a bag of Custom MegaLite and you will see for yourself. It will make your job very easy and will last.
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Unread 01-30-2020, 10:59 PM   #10
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Nevermind the mesh. Make it easy on yourself. A high quality non-sag will hold with far less sag than the Power Grab you used in the first place. If you’ve got easy access to Custom Building Products, use Jerry’s suggestion. If Laticrete is a easy to get, use Laticrete 255.

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Unread 02-23-2020, 04:33 PM   #11
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So, I appreciate all the advice, but I didn't use any of it.

I'm going to document what I did here in case anyone wants to try the same thing.

Doing the 2x2 mosaic live on the pizza oven was just too involved - to many cuts, too much time. I had to do a dry fit of the design and if I was going to do that, then using mesh was a no brainer as I could do the dry fit on the mesh and be ready to go. I got 3'x10' sheets of adhesive mesh, setup a work table, and set to work and ended up with this after many, many hours.

This is the top of the barrel. I also have separate setups for the front and the back of the 'barrel'
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Unread 02-23-2020, 04:35 PM   #12
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I talked to the tile supply shop about attaching the mosaic sheets to the existing smooth stucco surface. They said it needed to be roughed up a little and recommended a 5,000 psi pressure washer. I was only able to find a 4,000 psi locally, and it was marginally effective. All the squiggly lines in the pictures as the sand blaster.

But, to my surprise, my dewalt battery grinder with a masonry blade ate the thing up. All the straight lines are the grinder. I did the entire thing in 20 minutes. It was a mess, but then so was the pressure washer.
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Unread 02-23-2020, 04:37 PM   #13
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I'm hoping the surface is now rough enough for thinset to grab. I have some no-sag thinset. I'm going to cut the mosaic up into 18x18 sections and thinset them in place, starting from the top down. I'll post back how it goes.
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Unread 02-24-2020, 09:01 AM   #14
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much better than using tubes of loctite glue!

looks like you will be fine. just follow instructions for the mortar. I would recommend making a sample batch and setting some tile scraps on some scrap boards, just to get the feel and all (this is assuming you have never done it). also, don't mix the entire bag at once. I use a 5gal bucket and split up a bag of mortar into probably 4 parts (i like to work slowly)
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Unread 02-24-2020, 09:14 AM   #15
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Thanks Mike, I have used thinset before, but it's been ... almost 10 years. I like working with thin set. I'm hoping I can get one of my kids to help, a second pair of hands when up on top of the pizza oven will help.
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