Mother of pearl tile backsplash

sparky16February 6, 2013

Hello there...it's my first time posting. My husband and I are going to be tiling our backsplash ourselves. We have a beautiful white mother of pearl tile. What should we use to adhere it to our walls? Most sites I've looked at just say to use a modified thinset, but my husband's concern is that the tile is sooooo thin. How do you keep the thinset from squeezing out between the tiles? Do you just use a really small trowel? Any help or experiences would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!!

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eieio-5

The instructions that came with my mop tiles say to use a 3/16" trowel. My tile will be installed on Monday (!), so I don't have an example to show you.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 7:53PM
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sanjuangirl

I have no idea :), but would love to see photos of yours since it's one of my favorites!

Here's some pretty examples.

Modern Kitchen design

Contemporary Kitchen design by San Francisco Interior Designer Artistic Designs for Living, Tineke Triggs

Traditional Kitchen design by Orlando Interior Designer Pathfinder Group Designs Inc.

Contemporary Kitchen design by New York Design-build Paul Lopa Designs

Good luck! I'm sure that some of the GW diy members can help!

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 8:00PM
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sanjuangirl

A oh,,,, just found a mesmerizing close up!

Mediterranean Bathroom design by Calgary Interior Designer www.hughesdesines.com

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 8:02PM
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luckymom

We're doing the same MOP as the last pic- it's small (1/4" x 1/2") and thin. We were recommended Laticrete modified thin set- I think it's 254 Platinum in white. The bag is in the truck with hubby at work or I'd look... and yes, very small toothed trowel.

What color grout did you decide to go with? I was told to use white, but some photos I've seen using pure white seem to wash it out.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 9:44AM
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pricklypearcactus

Generally you use a smaller notched trowel for smaller tiles (not the ones with giant square teeth like you use on the floor). The notches are what control the depth of thinset. (You put it on with the flat edge and then putting the trowel at a 45 degree angle, you scrape the excess off to leave a layer of thinset a consistent thickness.)

I've only done large format tiles, but sometimes the thinset does squish up between the tiles. Clean the grout lines as you go. In the past I've cleaned floor tile installations up after the thinset dried with a grout saw (little hand held tool that fits between the tiles to saw out the hardened grout), but I think that would have a high potential for damaging your tiles, so you need to clean as you go while the adhesive is soft.

I'm not certain what product you should use to install the tile. Can you check with the tile store? I know some tiles are sensitive to the thinset behind (for example, I think you use white rather than standard gray behind glass tile and marble too)

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 10:38AM
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wi-sailorgirl

We're doing a very thin MOP 1x1 mosiac tile as well, but we're having our regular tile guy install it. I showed it to him to make sure the thickness wouldn't be a problem and he said it would be fine, but I know he said that we definitely have to use a white thinset, so that's all I can be helpful with. Please do show pictures though.

This post was edited by wi-sailorgirl on Thu, Feb 7, 13 at 12:12

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 11:06AM
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sparky16

Sanjuangirl...thanks for the pics. I'll try to upload some of ours once we're done.

Luckymom...thanks for the info on the thinset, I'll look into it. We haven't decided on a grout color yet. I do remember reading (on here?) that someone said the same thing about the white grout 'washing out' the tile. I think they tinted some grout and regrouted it. I definitely don't want to grout twice, so I'll keep that in mind and choose carefully ;)
Let me know what you go with.

Thanks all for the help and info...I'll keep you 'posted' on progress.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 12:13PM
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pharaoh

Best is to avoid grout!

You can get groutless tiles. With MoP this looks really nice. You dont get the squeeze out and the nastiness of grout later on.

Here is a link that might be useful: MoP

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 3:01PM
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Mizinformation

Use the type of thinset or adhesive recommended by the tile manufacturer. Yes, adhesive will squeeze up between the tiles; when you set them, you slide or twist the tiles or sheets a little (a very little if in sheets) to settle it in and make sure it adheres. No biggie if the adhesive comes up -- just wipe the tile with a solvent-soaked rag as you go to clean up (use the solvent recommended by the adhesive manufacturer). There are lots of good how-to guides for installing tile online -- it's helpful to see tricks like how to use spacers, how hard to tap the tiles with a mallet, how to trim sheet tile for outlets and "weave" sheets together, etc. For delicate tiles like this, you may want to forego a mallet and just wrap a 12"-15" square scrap of plywood with some foam, and press gently instead of tapping. From our first DIY tile job, here's my two main learnings: Don't skimp on the thinset/adhesive (had to go back and chip out tiles that were wobbly), and don't forget to seal the grout. We got lazy and didn't get around to sealing, and yes, unsealed grout stains if oily stuff gets on it. Good luck and have fun! Tile is a really satisfying DIY.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 3:03PM
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sparky16

We've tiled before. We did our bathroom with porcelain tiles and Pebble tiles. We are both really happy with the way it came out. I guess my main question was if there were any tips or tricks people knew of when working with really thin tiles.
Pharaoh...thanks for the thought, but we already bought our tile and it needs grout. It's a whit mini brick similar to the photos above.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 3:58PM
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luckymom

I've got a urethane grout on order. Sort of a grey/beige color. Should have been in this week, but like most other things, it's late... Hardest part was finding unsanded that wouldn't need sealing. I read somewhere I can't name on GW about someone who was installing the MOP tile and she was told to seal the TILE before the grout was installed. I think we're going to see what the tile guy says, but I'm tempted to do it at least behind the stove. I forget what it's called, but they sell it at the orange big box store and it's for stone.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 6:20PM
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wi-sailorgirl

About sealing ... I have a sample sheet of our MOP mosiac tile for the backsplash and after reading something about sealing before installation, I sealed half of it with the 511 impregnator sealer as a test. That all went fine ... there was no color changes or anything, but then I proceeded to abuse the tile: wine, spaghetti sauce, grease, etc., and I noticed no difference whatsoever in how the tile behaved between the sealed tiles and the ones that weren't sealed. Stil not sure what I'm going to do but I guess I'd lean towards sealing to put in in the "it can't hurt" department.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 9:27PM
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luckymom

Yes, that's it, 511- the tile store where I ordered the grout had all sorts of 511 products, but not the impregnator. Like sailorgirl said, I'm going with better to at least try than do nothing theory (also why I've spent a small fortune on grout and paying a pro to install it). The fact I've read MOP reacts with carbonated beverages makes me want it sealed -sloppy soda drinking family. I find soda splashes everywhere. Took 25 years but at least I've broke DH of that habit, but the kids & grands....

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 4:19AM
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wi-sailorgirl

I should add, I have no idea if that was the right sealer to use, it's just what we had in the house. I didn't know that about carbonated beverages. I'll add that one to my test.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 9:37AM
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sparky16

Well, we did it! Here's a couple of photos of our new backsplash. We haven't grouted yet, but I already love it!!
Thanks for all your help.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2013 at 2:04PM
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sparky16

Well, we did it! Here's a couple of photos of our new backsplash. We haven't grouted yet, but I already love it!!
Thanks for all your help.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2013 at 2:06PM
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sparky16

Well, we did it! Here's a couple of photos of our new backsplash. We haven't grouted yet, but I already love it!!
Thanks for all your help.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2013 at 2:07PM
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cat_mom

LOVE!!!!!!!!!!

We were going to use MOP over the vanity in our MB, but then we saw the White Thassos mosaic tile we ended up using instead. Still love MOP. It looks fabulous in your kitchen! Can't wait to see it grouted and see your finished kitchen pics!

    Bookmark   February 18, 2013 at 3:46PM
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msrose

Looks gorgeous!

    Bookmark   February 18, 2013 at 8:28PM
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Mizinformation

Wowza! Great effect. Room jewelry.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2013 at 9:23PM
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sanjuangirl

Soo awesomely beautiful! Where did you find yours?

I'm looking at MOP diamonds from a local stone dealer, very $$$. Just found it on Amazon for $9 dollars less a square foot, but I'm afraid to order it without seeing it. I need 55 sq ft.

Congratulations on a beautiful backsplash!

    Bookmark   February 18, 2013 at 11:49PM
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sparky16

Sanjuangirl...we found it at glass tile store. I don't remember them having diamonds, but they have sheets of 1" squares you could turn on it's side :)
Their samples are pretty reasonable, too.
Thanks! I find myself just standing in the kitchen and staring at it wide-eyed.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 1:21AM
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luckymom

Beautiful!! Mines still sitting in it's box, but the grout came in. DH hasn't had a day to finish up the UCL- we've had Dr appt like crazy- between us and the dogs. Fingers crossed, today it'll get done.

What color grout are you using?

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 7:48AM
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HomeNoobie

THIS IS EXACTLY what I'm looking for! But i'm in Canada, and most online retailers won't ship to me :( Does anyone know of an online retailer that will ship to Canada? I'm looking for the mini-subway tiles. The store I visited here is charging $40/sqft uninstalled :( (sorry to thread hijack).

Your kitchen looks stunning with the new backsplash in! Amazing job - I'm so impressed that you did it yourself!

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 9:17AM
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wi-sailorgirl

So there were lots of questions about grout in this thread and I just learned something that may be of some help. The attached image is of a kitchen that I fell in love with after seeing it in Coastal Living magazine. So I called the tile company that provided the tile for it so I could get the exact same time.

Anyway, while I was ordering the tile, I asked about sealing and grout. First of all, he said it would be a good idea to seal with an impregnating sealer (because "it never hurts"), but said to stay away from anything that had a color enhancer in it. He said if it was appropriate for marble or granite, it would be OK for MOP tile.

Then I asked about grout. He said the color used in the kitchen in the photo is Mapei's "Avalanche," which he described as a "brilliant white." He said the desired effect for that kitchen was to sort of unify it and make it look a little more blended in. In other installations of that tile he has had customers use a very light gray, which he said worked to really make the tile stand out and "pop."

Anyway ... thought that might help someone. Sparky, your backsplash is looking great (even if I did have to stand on my head to look at the first picture :)).

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 2:50PM
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beekeeperswife

sparky, do you have under cabinet lights? If so, how does it look with them on? Does it go flat?

Thanks

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 3:24PM
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sparky16

Lucky mom...we picked a bone colored grout. Hoping it won't wash out the tiles. Looked ok in the store with the little grout color chip. We'll see.

Beekeeperswife...no, no under cabinet lights. We get alot of reflection on BS behind stove from the window across kitchen. As you can see in large BS picture it isn't quite as shiny, but still LOVE it!

I'll post more pics after grout.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 4:08PM
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sanjuangirl

Looking forward to your grouted photos. Would love to see yours too Sailorgirl!

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 9:46AM
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sparky16

Here it is. All grouted and done. We used a bone colored grout and I don't think the tiles look too "washed out". Really happy with it!
Thanks everyone for all your help and input!

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 12:15PM
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sparky16

Here it is. All grouted and done. We used a bone colored grout and I don't think the tiles look too "washed out". Really happy with it!
Thanks everyone for all your help and input!

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 12:16PM
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sparky16

Here it is. All grouted and done. We used a bone colored grout and I don't think the tiles look too "washed out". Really happy with it!
Thanks everyone for all your help and input!

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 12:17PM
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wi-sailorgirl

Not washed out at all. I think it looks fantastic!

Quick question for you: Were your tiles a little pitted on the surface? I just got our tile in and was a little surprised to see small pits in many of them. I'm wondering if that's just the nature of MOP tile. It's nothing you'd notice unless you were really examining them and I don't think they are deep enough for grout to get stuck in but I was curious if that's normal.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 12:47PM
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sanjuangirl

Thanks for putting pictures up! The grout made it even more lovely. It's really really beautiful and makes me really really want MOP! Your kitchen looks Sparkly and oh so lovely, Ohhhh la la!

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 3:14PM
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cat_mom

Spectacular!!!!

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 3:21PM
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scrappy25

gorgeous, does anyone know if online sources that carry this or local store in the Baltimore Washington area?

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 5:06PM
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williamsem

Sanjuangirl, I can't find the diamond MOP tiles on Amazon, can you link or post what they are called? I tried searching for many descriptions and can't find them. I have a sample from builderelements.com, but I haven't been able to find it anywhere else to compare prices.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 6:44PM
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sanjuangirl

Hi Williamsem

I found hexagons on Amazon. Here's the link:

http://www.amazon.com/Genuine-Tile-Hexagons-Backsplash-Bathroom/dp/B0071FFPR0/ref=pd_sim_sbs_hi_8

I also found diamond shaped white onyx.

http://www.amazon.com/DIAMOND-Polished-Mosaics-Bathroom-Backsplash/dp/B002LE0YJ0/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1362446685&sr=8-3&keywords=white+onyx+tile

I was using the square tiles on a diagonal to get the diamond shape with the MOP.

Sorry that I don't know how to post these as photos. :(

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 8:26PM
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islanddevil

Sparky Your backsplash is beautiful and I agree with the poster who said it's like jewelry! Can't wait to see more pics. Can you back up and give us a wider view of the backsplash in context? So pretty.

And sailorgirl, WOW that inspiration picture is something else. Can't wait to see yours also. I think we'll need a new thread for all of you using MOP.

I'm wondering how fragile it is. Would it survive getting knocked by a pot of full can?

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 9:40PM
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a2gemini

Sparky - nice name with the sparkly tile!
Great job on tiling your kitchen and it looks sharp!
Welcome to the ABB alumni club!

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 11:13AM
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sparky16

Here's another photo.
Island...It's hard to back up too much, it's a galley kitchen and my iPad doesn't want to shrink the field of view any smaller :)

Scrappy25...we got ours online at Glasstilestore.com

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 1:29PM
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ekling211

I just started putting my mother of pearl backsplash up..see pic. I got these for only $16.50 each at :http://www.tilecircle.com/mother-of-pearl-collection/mop04.html

As you can see they're rather amazing and in their pics they have them grouted with white, which is what I was planning on doing. I hope it's ok. I'll post after I grout.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 12:08PM
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Holly- Kay

I love the hexagonal MOP tiles!

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 8:03PM
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ekling211

I grouted it with the white grout. Since there's no sink/water there I made a very thin runny grout. Not a great pic but it does look really iridescent still with the white.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 9:50AM
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wi-sailorgirl

Love it with the white grout! Great job.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 11:21AM
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cat_mom

ooh-ahhh!!!

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 12:00PM
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kam76

Just beautiful! Ekling211 are they circle or hexagon? They look like circles to me. Love both these backsplashes. How are they holding up as far as cleaning etc?

    Bookmark   April 22, 2013 at 7:31PM
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islanddevil

Ekling so pretty. Are they penny rounds? Can't wait to see your's and sparky's final reveal pics.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 12:32AM
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TudorCity

sparky16, it's so beautiful, and just what I was hoping to do in my kitchen -- I came across these tiles over the weekend and I'm in love!!!

Would you mind sharing exactly what thinset, grout and sealer you used (color, name brand, etc.)? I have read a few threads on here saying that some of the products they used "dulled" the shine of the MOP, so I want to be sure I get exactly the right stuff!

Thanks in advance for the help!

    Bookmark   June 10, 2013 at 12:45PM
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tatwhit

Can anybody tell me how easy these are to cut, do I need special equipment, is it hard to get an even cut? Does cutting make the effect less even? I am debating about square tiles or subway tiles - I prefer subway, but wonder if square would be easier.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 12:14AM
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Tilecircle.com

Hello! I'm happy I just stumbled upon this post. Most of the pictures above are of our tile :).

You can use a wet saw or tile clippers to cut the tiles. If you are planning on installing the tiles yourself and have never installed them before, we would recommend the squares as there is usually less that will need to be cut.

As always, feel free to let us know if you have any questions. Below is a link to our installation guidelines.

Thanks!
tilecircle.com

Here is a link that might be useful: Mother of Pearl Installation Guide

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 10:05AM
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