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How To Tile Without Thin-Set or Mortar

Updated on December 8, 2011

Creating a beautiful mosaic on a wall or adding tile to a wall or floor can quickly turn into a project with more work than you anticipated. Mixing and troweling messy mortar or tile adhesive is a job in itself. Although long touted as a beginner’s do-it-yourself project, tiling can be difficult. It takes a special touch and a knack for applying adhesive evenly to a substrate and then quickly setting the tiles and spacers. Unfortunately, many times the tile job does look like a do-it-yourself project. Tiling no longer requires messy mortar or thin-set adhesive with an adhesive tile mat.

Measure the area you wish to tile.

Cut the self-adhesive tile mat to match the measurement with a utility knife. Use a framing square as a guide for long straight lines.

Peel the protective film back three or four inches beginning at the edge of the mat.

Line up the edge of the mat with the edge of the backsplash, wall or floor. Press the mat to the substrate to achieve a bond.

Reach under the mat and continue to pull the film off the back. As you peel away the protective film, rub your hand over the tile mat to gain good adhesion.

Roll a hard roller over the mat.

Cut the next section, peel the protective film and set it tightly abutted to the first section with overlapping. Roll a hard roller over the second section. Continue to cut, peel and set the self-sticking mat until you cover the substrate you are tiling.

Dry lay the tiles and make cuts as needed with a tile snap-cutter, tile nippers or a wet saw.

Peel the protective film layer off the front of the tile mat. Peel the film off the mats that you will be able to set the tiles on that day.

Place the tile in position on the mat and run your hand over the tile, place a spacer and set the next tile. Keep placing tiles and spacers until the area is covered in tile. If a tile is not set properly, wedge a putty knife under the edge of the tile, lift it off and reposition it.

Mix grout and water in a bucket. Pick up the wet grout on a grout float and spread the grout over the spaces between the tiles. Press the grout into the spaces to fill them. Immediately wipe the tiles with a damp sponge to remove grout from the tile face.

Done! Half the time and half the mess.

Tile mats are made by Bondera. You can set tile on an entire wall, create a mosaic, tile a floor or tile half a wall with full size tiles or small tile.


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    • Escapes profile image

      Escapes 6 years ago

      These mats work really well, more expensive than thinset, but if you are looking to save time and a mess -- well worth it.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

      So glad to learn about this method as I have projects I want to do. Don't mind the messiness, but the time is another issue altogether. Thanks!