Thinset Grrrr.....

loribee2June 20, 2011

I've just special ordered the Mapei Ultraflex 2 from Lowes. I've been using Laticrete, because that's the brand they carry in my store. However, for the last two days, I've been re-attaching tiles that keep falling off my latest mushroom!

Questions for the experts:

Mapei Ultraflex 2 calls itself "mortar". But the term "mortar" and "thinset" in this case are the same, right? This is basically the adhesive I would mix to stick my tiles on the concrete base I've created?

And, what should I do if I start grouting this thing and additional tiles pop off? I've been running my fingers over the thing for two days, looking for loose tiles, but I don't trust that something won't pop off when I go to grout it. How do you handle that? Do you clear the grout away from that area and reglue it? With what? And if you do that, do you need to wait for the glue to dry to finish the grout in that section?

What a pain in the rumpus!!

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texaswild

My dear. When you use Ultraflex II, you won't have tiles falling off - PERIOD!!! Yes, Ultraflex II is a polymer modified MORTAR. It is a THINSET that already has the admixture (fortifier) added to it. I've recommended this wonderful ADHESIVE every since I joined this forum. I wouldn't dream of using anything else. Yes, I have used it for grout on exterior pieces, but it is NOT necessary. It was my way of ensuring that each tile is extra safe.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2011 at 8:45AM
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Calamity_J

Just to add to what Slow said, Yes you can just re-attach the pcs, with mortar, then you have to wait till it dries to be able to grout. Slow and I are working on her wonderful(pics just don't do justice to it!!!!) wall and will post some pics!

    Bookmark   June 21, 2011 at 8:58AM
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loribee2

Thanks ladies! And I should be fair, the Laticrete I've been using is the pre-mixed in the tub. The floor guy at Lowes said even the Laticrete powder they do offer would be better for what I'm doing. Moral of the story: The pre-mixed is very convenient, but not good for mosaics.

I've got a 10-day wait for my Mapei to come in, so I guess I'll be spending the weekend making more concrete forms.

I appreciate the advice! And I can't wait to see some photos of what you all have been doing this week!

    Bookmark   June 21, 2011 at 9:05AM
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concretenprimroses

My lowes doesn't carry it so I thought I was out of luck. I didn't think of special ordering it. Meanwhile I have a bag of regular thinset in my trunk. Is there any reason wh this won't owrk?
Kathy

    Bookmark   June 21, 2011 at 5:12PM
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loribee2

The guy I talked to at Lowes seemed to think my biggest problem was that I was using pre-mixed thinset. He felt that powdered thinset that must be mixed with water has better adhesion than the ready-to-go stuff. He'd rattled off several brands he thought would be fine. I went ahead and ordered the Mapei, mostly because having already dealt with popping tiles, I wasn't going to take another chance on something that didn't come highly recommended.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2011 at 5:39PM
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nanatricia

I do not want to go against slow but I have used the other ts and have not ever had any problem with it.I do not have a bigbox store here.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2011 at 10:15PM
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Calamity_J

Everyone has their favorites. I've also used regular powdered thinsets, but always added the admixture - latex liquid - to it for better adhesion. CONCRETE - of course yours w/work - just be sure and add the latex mixture. The ready-mix stuff is for interior tiles only IMO.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2011 at 8:02AM
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texaswild

Good grief!!!! CALAM must've signed in and stayed logged in on my computer. Anyway - the above message is from SLOW. I've just returned from taking CALAM to the airport, and the house is sooooooo lonely. What a wonderful week we had.
SLOW!!!

    Bookmark   June 22, 2011 at 12:57PM
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Annie29

Hi I am new to mosaics and really found all of your posts very helpful. I went in search for the Mapei Ultra flex 2 and could not find it in my home town of Kenora Ontario. I did find it at a Rona store in Winnipeg manitoba. Unfortunately they were out of the grey but the guy said they had a the grey in the Mapei ultra flex 3. The bags says it is good for both indoor and outdoor uses so I am going to give it a try.
A question I have for all of you is how do you apply the thin set? by a V notch and if so what depth 1/8" of 1/4"? Also when you are placing a pattern on rock and you do not want the thin set outside the pattern who do you this? piece by piece? Thanks in advance. I have included a photo's of what I will be putting on a rock found by the river.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 10:47AM
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barbfrizzell1955

Because I am thinset challenged myself, I have no advice for you but just wanted to say that I love what you are doing!

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 12:16PM
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silvamae

Arghhh! My entire post disappeared. Let's see. I said how beautiful the picture of the bird is. Then, about thinset, how I use it for outdoors on stone, I mix it up in small amounts and I butter the back of the tess, piece by piece. Then I use thinset as my grout, and I mask off the design with blue painter's tape. Below is a link to an article I wrote about mosaic garden stones.

Here is a link that might be useful: How-to-Mosaic-Garden-Stones

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 6:43PM
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loribee2

Oh yes, that is a gorgeous piece you are working on!

I apply thinset using several different methods depending on what I'm doing. I don't v-notch very often because the Maipei Ultraflex dries extremely fast. I can never seem to get the tiles on fast enough if I've first spread the whole base with thinset. I do v-notch when doing the indirect method of mosaics, because I'm laying the entire piece down at once.

When dealing with larger pieces, I do what Silvamae does and butter each piece. For a very long time, that was the only way I applied thinset.

Lately, I have been mixing my thinset just a little thinner so I can put it in a plastic bag and pipe it like icing. I'm doing that mostly because I've started experimenting with ball chain in my mosaics, and that seems to be the best way to get a nice line of thinset to set the ball chain into.

As for grouting a stone or brick, I don't mask off the outer edges. I just wipe the grout off clean around the edges using a damp sponge. Masking is probably easier. I'm just too lazy to do it. :-)

    Bookmark   August 26, 2014 at 12:26AM
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murraysmom Zone 6 OH

Wow! What a beautiful piece!

    Bookmark   August 26, 2014 at 3:30PM
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nicethyme

one of the other things to remember when adhering thinset to concrete is to pre-wet your surface, either with water or a concrete bonding liquid. concrete is porous and will suck the moisture from thinset very quick so just wipe a wet paint brush over it as you work

    Bookmark   August 26, 2014 at 5:19PM
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concretenprimroses

The bird is gorgeous. I hope you post a pic of it when its on the stone.
Kathy

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 6:11PM
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Annie29

Thanks for all your comments. As i was reading them all I was wondering if this idea might work...I seen on a you tube video a lady using contact paper to be able to pick up the piece she was working on all at once (many piece of glass) and then she laid it down in the bird bath she was working on, the thing that made this work for her is after she pull the contact paper off she continued to lay out more glass around the main subject. I was wondering if when I put the contact paper on and was able to flip it over if I could add the thin set to the glass now and then place it on the rock??. I would guess that after I pull the contact paper off I would now have to clean out the thin set between the glass....this might be a lot more work....hmmmm

    Bookmark   August 28, 2014 at 1:29PM
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loribee2

What you're describing is the indirect method of mosaic. I've used two methods, both with mixed results.

On this garden pop I made, I used clear contact paper, sticky side up with the heart pattern underneath, taped to the bottom of a stepping stone mold. I then placed the tiles face down onto the contact paper and poured the mortar over it. Let it dry for a day or two before unmolding it. If cured properly for that period of time, the mortar is still soft enough to be able to clean the surface with a damp sponge and get a nice smooth finish. You can mix a little extra mortar and spread it over the top if you have gaps to fill in. Cure for another week or so before actually using the item.

On the little owl below, I used brown paper made specifically for indirect mosaics. I ran it through my printer to print the pattern of the owl on the paper (in reverse). I then used a mix of 50/50 Elmers glue and water to adhere each tile face down on the paper, being careful to use the right amount of glue. Too little, the tiles won't stick well enough for the rest of the process. Too much, and you can't pull the paper off to save your life.

Let the tiles on the paper dry completely. I then used a v-noch trowel to spread the thinset over my concrete base and carefully pressed the owl onto it, paper side up. To get the paper off, you use a wet sponge to soak the paper and it will peel off. As for when, I've tried two ways, both letting the thinset dry for a good day before I try taking the paper off, and taking it off while the thinset is still moist. In the latter, you have to be very careful not to shift the tiles while you're trying to get the paper off. You also have to be careful not to use so much water soaking the paper that you dilute the thinset underneath. If you do take the paper off while the thinset is wet, you would be able to add tiles as you've mentioned. However, I would not try that with contact paper. Contact paper is way too sticky. You would never be able to pull it off the tiles while the thinset is wet.

I'm not entirely crazy about the indrect method. I have spent a ton of time on pieces that get ruined because the tiles shifted when I turned them onto my piece. I had to throw one away because I forgot to reverse the pattern and it mattered (it was a word!). I've had tiles pull off the piece when I've tried to pull off the paper. Then I've had pieces that just looked really horrible, and I didn't notice because I had been working with the piece upside-down.

That said, I don't NOT use it. Honestly, every time I make one of these owls, it sells almost instantly. And making the stepping stones using the first method I described is really fun. It is a good method to use if you don't want to have to cover the entire piece with tiles, as the concrete fills in the gaps when you pour it. Of course, it only works when you're pouring concrete into a mold.

If you want to put a piece on something already made, like a rock, I suggest the brown paper method, not the contact paper method you're describing.

What I haven't tried, that SILVAMAE uses a lot is mosaic on fiberglass mesh. I am very interested in trying it as you can still mosaic on top of a pattern, but it doesn't have to be reversed, and you can lay your tiles down on the piece without having to worry about getting the mesh off the tiles. It just gets mosaiced into the piece. I just haven't found the time to give it a try yet.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2014 at 10:10AM
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Annie29

Thanks for your reply loribee2. The last thing you mentioned about the fiberglass mesh does sound really interesting and I think I will research this out a bit. I am off on holidays next week and I want to get this project completed so I can put it outside and look at it every time I pull into my driveway.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 9:29PM
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Annie29

sorry it was sent twice

This post was edited by Annie29 on Wed, Sep 3, 14 at 10:50

    Bookmark   September 1, 2014 at 6:20PM
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Annie29

So, I finished my first mosaic on rock and I think it turned out pretty good, so of you asked for me to show you a picture of it finished and here it is. Other question I have for you amazing glass artists....Should I put a clear varathane or something like that on the rock?? My father-in-law said he put some on his rock that he used for his fire place and it brought the grain of the rock out really nice, but I want to be able to put this piece outside and I am thinking that the varathane will eventually peel, what do you think

    Bookmark   October 27, 2014 at 9:19PM
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loribee2

That's absolutely gorgeous! Beautiful job! I would leave it exactly as is. I personally don't like mosaics that have been sealed with varithane or something similar. I think it gives them a shiny "fake" look. Also, play up the grain of the stone too much, and it will compete with your lovely water bird. But that's just my opinion. I think it's perfect the way it is.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2014 at 10:20PM
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Annie29

Thanks loribee2. I went with the contact paper to place the bird into the thin set. I took out all the ferns and things that stick out to much the beak and head feathers and traced it onto the rock, put thin set only in that spot on the rock, picked up the bird all at once (contact paper) and put it into place. Had no problems peeling the contact paper off, thank god, I was a bit worried about the part. Then I spread out some more thin set where the rest of the glass would go, cleaned up any mess outside of the glass. The grout was hard to not be to messy...lol, lots of patience. In the end it is exactly what I was hoping for, other then it is almost winter here now so I think I will wait until next spring to put it outside. Thanks again for all your help and the others that gave me great advice. I will be doing more of these rock mosaic's.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2014 at 2:04PM
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silvamae

Wow, beautiful! I would leave it as is, I wouldn't put any shiny varathane-type stuff on it. But if you do want to seal it, you could spray it with Dupont outdoor tile and stone sealer. (Wipe off the tesserae after spraying.) It doesn't change the look of it at all, and it makes you feel better. I don't know if it's actually necessary, since you're dealing with glass and stone that don't need to be sealed, and the thinset mortar doesn't either.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2014 at 9:28AM
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Annie29

Thanks silvamae for your thoughts. I am leaning on the side of leaving it natural, I do have all winter now to think about it...lol. I can not wait to put it outside next spring and see it every time I pull up to my house.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2014 at 7:35PM
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nicethyme

that looks FANTASTIC! congratulations!

    Bookmark   October 31, 2014 at 4:14PM
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