Substrates need to be clean, stable, plumb & true, and also free of dirt, stains and solvents. Cement or cement board are preferred. New cement will be 90% stable within ten days of pouring, but further shrinkage and crystallization will continue, New cement substrates can be tiled over after ten days, if the substrate is first covered with a crack suppression membrane.
Prepare Substrate Surface:
Make sure the surface is smooth, flat, dry, perfectly clean, and without cracks before you apply the tile adhesive.
Cut Tile if Necessary:
For cutting small pieces of tile, use a mosaic glass cutter whose blades are shaped like small wheels. An alternative method involves scoring the tile lightly on its front surface, placing a thin wire underneath the score, then breaking the pieces apart using gentle thumb pressure on either side of the score line. If extensive cutting is required, a wet saw would be the preferred tool.
Apply Thin-set to Substrate:
We recommend using a white, acrylic modified thin-set mortar to hold the tiles in place. Some are available now in convenient pre-mix form. Avoid mastic adhesives which tend to yellow with age. If this is your first time and you’re unsure of yourself, experiment first on a small, non-critical or disposable surface.
Apply the thin-set using the notched side of a 3/16” V-notch trowel held at a consistent 45° angle to the surface. If the glass tile is transparent or the mesh backing is visible through the top surface, smooth the ridges with the trowel’s long flat edge, being careful not to remove any of the thin-set. (If you do so accidentally, simply repeat the first step.) You want the adhesive to be thick enough to provide a strong grip and even throughout: if too thick (i.e., more than 1/8”), uneven spots and shrinkage may result.
Installing the Tile:
Check to ensure that the mesh side of the tile sheet is clean and free of debris before installing the tile. Position the sheet as desired and press it firmly against the adhesive with the mesh side facing the contact surface. Using a hammer or mallet, lightly tap on a wooden block held against the tile sheet to make a tight, even bond with the thin-set. Remove any excess adhesive from the edges and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for curing time (usually 24 hours) before grouting and clean-up.
Seal Joints with Grout:
Un-sanded grout with a latex additive for increased performance and longevity works best with our glass mosaic tiles. Also consider adding an anti-microbial and mildew inhibitor such as Microban for protection against mold and mildew. For most tiles, white grout is an excellent choice but you may want to experiment with other colors for added effect.
The grout is applied using a tool called a rubber grout float. (Don’t forget to remove the transparent plastic sheet that covers the tile before applying the grout.)
Here too, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for applying the appropriate amount of fill between joints. Wait 10-15 minutes before sponging off the excess grout. Use a light touch to avoid digging out the grout between joints and rinse the sponge frequently to minimize smearing.
Don’t be concerned about the faint haze that forms as the grout cures. After a day or two, it can be easily removed by wiping the tiles with cheesecloth or other soft fabric. It’s also a good idea to mist the grout with a water spray for 72 hours after its application. This aids the curing process and increases the grout’s strength and resistance to stains.
To maintain the look of your tile, use neutral detergents for daily cleaning, and a slightly acidic detergent for special cleaning.