10 September 2020

Ask the Expert

How to tile glass mosaics

Anyone who has ever visited a museum of antiquity or just been to the ruins of the UK’s surviving Roman villas has seen first hand the glass mosaics that have been preserved over the centuries, and even millennia.

Nobody can fail to be impressed by them. Lapis Lazuli, a precious stone resembling blue glass mosaic, was normally used to create these works of art. There is no reason why the glass mosaic tiles used in the home today should not have an equally long life span. However it all depends on the glass mosaic tiles being laid properly. This article provides a step-by-step guide to laying glass mosaic tiles in the home; it is a companion article to previous articles regarding how to lay tiles in the home. We will consider areas that are distinct and particular to glass mosaics, from cutting glass mosaic tiles to getting an even overall finish.

First things first

Unlike other types of tile with glass mosaic tiles each situation must be considered individually when regard to choosing the right adhesive and grouting. This depends on the humidity levels, the overall appearance of the finished tiles and the amount of wear and tear or in other words how robust the tiling must be.

GLASS MOSAIC INSTALLATION GUIDE

Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for more information.

 

DOWNLOAD

 

Step-by-step guide to laying glass mosaic tiles

Manufacturers instructions are all important when laying glass mosaic tiles for several reasons. Firstly, these tiles are generally more expensive than other generic tiles and secondly glass mosaic tiles vary in appearance and must always be checked. Remember that laying glass mosaic tiles in the bathroom shower tray is completely different from using them to embellish the kitchen splash back and therefore specific adhesive and grouting products apply.

What to expect when laying glass mosaic tiles

Nowadays laying glass mosaic tiles has been greatly simplified by pre-assembled mesh mounted panels of tiles. These can be customised by choosing the colour, size and texture of the tiles you want to feature for each specific situation. Once your specifications are finalised the design is put together. On delivery check each batch before commencing the tiling.

Substrate

After checking that the batches of glass mosaic tiles are all acceptable (remember some variation is acceptable and indeed will add to the overall effect). The surface onto which the tiles are to be laid must be even and perfectly level.

For flooring this means no more of a 2mm variation over a 2m linear length, if required a levelling compound on floors or can be used. While for walls it’s important to check that the backing material can support the weight of the glass mosaics, always check with manufacturer’s instructions.

Conditions for laying glass mosaic tiles

Surfaces must be solid, free from dust and thoroughly clean. Although there ere numerous adhesives and grouts on the market all require ambient conditions of between 5° and 30° C to ensure optimum results. Pay special attention to construction and contraction joints on walls and flooring.

Layout tip for glass mosaic tiling

 It is highly recommended to assemble the glass mosaic loosely on the ground before actually applying the adhesive to the walls or floors in order to visualise the overall design and pattern.

Apply the adhesive and lay the sheets of glass mosaic tiles

 Once the adhesive is mixed (always following manufacturer’s instructions) apply to the wall or floor in areas o approximately 1 square meter area sections with a notched trowel. Use rubber spacers to achieve an even distance and remember to pay special attention to the joints between the mesh assembled panels.

These panels of mosaic tiles can be shuffled into the correct position before the adhesive is completely dry to achieve a completely even spacing between the mesh mosaic panels that matches the space between individual tiles.

Grouting glass mosaic tiles 

The adhesive must be allowed to dry before grouting can begin. This required between 24 and 48 hours. As with the adhesive follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter, apply the grouting with a rubber trowel to avoid scratches.

Once the mosaic is cleaned thoroughly then apply the grout generously using the rubber trowel. The joints between the glass mosaics should be completely filled.

Depending on the drying conditions and the type of grout and before the grout is set clean off the excess with a wet sponge. Repeat till the mosaic is sparkling clean, then dry with a clean cloth.

Materials & tools required to tile glass mosaics

The following list although not exhaustive provides a rough guide to what is required for glass mosaic tiling both materials and tools:

Adhesive

The choice depends on the prevalent conditions of the area, i.e. whether there is humidity or running water.

L‘Antic Colonial recommends one of the following Butech adhesives:

 

ONE-FLEX +

 

ONE-FLEX + is a cement-based, highly polymer modified, high strength, flexible tile adhesive in accordance with BS EN 12004:2007 for a C2TE cement based adhesive, with improved performance, excellent non-slip properties and an extended open time.

one-flex
 

SUPER-FLEX S2 RAPID

 

Single part, flexible, fibre reinforced and fast setting cement based tile adhesive, according with EN12004 C2 F S2. It is especially formulated for its enhanced adhesion and flexibility making it ideal for areas where slight movement or vibration can occur.

 

POLITECH PREMIUM

 

POLITECH PREMIUM is an easy to use and handle R2 T type reactive resin adhesive, in accordance with EN 12004, particularly recommended for maximum bonding strength and deformability. It is suitable for most wall tiles and substrates used in construction.

 

Grouting material

A fine micro-grain, porcelain effect variety preferably. Remember to coordinate the colour with the glass mosaic design. If in any doubt we recommend the L’Antic Colonial web which provides suggestions for the colour and type of grout that works best with each mosaic.

Depending on the mosaic models, L‘Antic Colonial recommends one of the following Butech grouts:

 

COLORSTUK RAPID N

 

COLORSTUK RAPID N. is a CG 2 type highperformance cement-based grout, in accordance with EN 13888, for grouting joints up to 15mm.

colorstuk-rapid-n
 

COLORSTUK ESPECIAL N

 

COLORSTUK ESPECIAL N. is a CG 2 type very fine grout, in accordance with EN 13888, for grouting joints up to 4mm.

colorstuk-especial-n
 

EPOTECH AQUA

 

EPOTECH AQUA is a new line of epoxy grouts for tile joints. Two-component epoxy putty with no organic solvents. It is waterproof, it has outstanding chemical and mechanical properties and it is easy to apply. Specially recommended for application on mosaics and ceramic tiles with relief.

 epotech-aqua

 

Tools

 

NOTCHED TROWEL

 

Which provides the adhesive greater grip between the mosaic panels and the substrate.

notched-trowel
 

RUBBER TROWEL 

 

For tapping down the mosaic panels into place and applying grout to ensure that no damage is done to the glass surface when grouting.

rubber-trowel
 

BUCKET OF WATER

 

Abundant water will be required for glass mosaics.

bucket-of-water
 

SPONGE

 

To remove excess grout.

sponge

 

FAQs regarding glass mosaic installation

It’s difficult to avoid the need for cutting tiles when carrying out a tiling job, even for small glass mosaics. Tools required will depend on the type of tile and the type of cut. For small cuts use tile nippers, larger glass tiles will need to be cut with specialist equipment using either a dry or wet cutting machine.

Yes in fact glass mosaic is easier to maintain than other materials for the shower floor. Choose a small tile as the increased area of grouting provides better grip under foot. Remember to use an anti bacteria and make sure the tray substrate is waterproof before commencing tiling.

Remember that although glass mosaic is robust and long lasting it is brittle so care must be taken when cutting. Whole sheets or panels of glass mosaic tile will require a wet saw to cut successfully. A continuous crown diamond tip saw will give the best results. Mark with a pencil along the line to be cut and then gradually cut with the radial saw using increasingly deeper insertions.

As with other types of tiles grouting cannot be carried out on glass mosaics till a period of between 24 and 48 hours has elapsed after laying the tiles. Use a rubber trowel to spread the group and a damp sponge to remove excess material.

For day to day cleaning do not use abrasive cleaning products, soapy water using a PH neutral soap is ideal.

A diamond tipped drill bit with water supply is recommended for optimum results in drilling the tiles for hanging mirrors, lights or installing shelving.

hive-square-grey

HIVE SQUARE GREY 30X30X0.6

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