- Ideas & How-Tos
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Tiling a backsplash just got easier by doing away with conventional adhesives.
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Double-sided adhesive MusselBound mats replace mortar and bond instantly, letting you apply tile and grout the same day. Mats can be used with most types of individual tiles up to 12 inches square or mesh-backed mosaic sheets. Use the mats on clean, flat indoor surfaces such as backsplashes, countertops, and tub or shower walls. Avoid using them for floors, ceilings, fireplaces, steam rooms, shower floors, and surfaces that will be submerged in water. Mats don’t replace waterproofing products for tile.
Turn off electricity to switches and outlets in the wall you plan to tile. Patch or level surfaces as needed, then clean the surface using a grease-cutting detergent or trisodium phosphate (TSP). Check for loose areas and finishes, such as peeling paint.
Measure the height of the area to be tiled and cut an adhesive mat to length using a knife and straightedge. (You can use scissors in a pinch.)
Plan to install strips vertically instead of one long horizontal piece.
Peel the backing from the wall face of the first strip. Gently hold the strip against the wall and check that it’s plumb and level. If necessary, carefully lift the strip free of the wall to reposition it. Then lightly press the strip in place. Repeat for the remaining strips, but avoid overlaying the edges.
So long as the adhesive mats are pressed lightly in place, they can be repositioned. Pressing firmly creates the strong final bond. To understand the difference, cut a practice strip of adhesive and apply it to a smooth surface.
Carefully cut around outlet and switch boxes to remove portions of the adhesive mats covering them.
After all of the mats are in position, place a grout float against the mat and press for 5 seconds to anchor the mat and force out any bubbles and creases. Continue working along the mat until the entire surface is pressed in place.
Before applying the tiles, use a sponge and mild detergent to remove dust from the back of each tile or tile sheet. Allow the tiles to dry before applying.
Peel off the release liner one section at a time to expose the adhesive.
Lay 1/8-inch-thick spacers on the counter or surface below the tile and lay the bottom course of tiles. If your tiles aren’t self-spacing, leave spaces of at least 1/8 inch around each tile. After the tiles are in place, use the grout float to press tiles against the adhesive as in Step 5 of the previous section.
Grout must be applied within 24 hours of setting the tiles. Use a grout float at 45-degree angles to press grout between the tiles. Then clean the float and use it to squeegee excess grout off the tiles.
As the grout film begins to form a haze on the tiles, lightly wipe the surface with a moist sponge. Clean the sponge frequently as you work, but avoid wiping away grout between the tiles.
Allow the fresh grout to dry for at least 48 hours before applying a grout sealer.