Grout and angled wall for mosaic tile?

kksmamaSeptember 24, 2013

I'm not going to install my backsplash myself. It is a mini brick mosaic of glass, marble, and mother of pearl.

I would like to think I can just trust the installer to choose the best materials and use them correctly. But even if John Bridge (assuming he was/is a real person with tile expertise) were my installer I'd have to double check his choices with GW, so I might as well know the right answers in advance.
Naturally I want grout that will in no way look or perform like porous, stainable, rough textured grout. And I can't quite imagine what should be done about the angle in the wall, which is about 135 degrees. I guess these tiny bricks have to be cut to form a smooth line on each side - and at the ends of the runs, as well?
Is the grout brand an easy decision, with a clear answer (like lower drawers vs doors) or something more complicated?
I have about 40 square feet, so if there is a grout made from hand harvested snail mucus that resists grape smudges for 17.6 seconds longer than "standard" grout, I'll go through the required spiritual cleansing rituals to gain admittance to the upscale tile store that has an exclusive contract with the noble eighth generation snail trackers. If there is a sealer, or pre-grout release product that has to be applied by the light of moon and with organic fair trade handspun cotton swabs, I'll clear my calendar. I'll even come up with a new way to trick my friends and family into choosing between four different shades of white (grey white! not tan white, not pink white, not yellow white) and then disregard their unanimous recommendation as I search for the right shade of 41.5% tinted gray (white grey! not muddy grey, greenish grey, or taupey grey). But I'd be so grateful if someone could give me a little nudge in the right direction by telling me what brand of grout (and other products) I need.

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Love, love, love the tile. DId I say I love the tile:) Thanks for sharing since I hope to plan my small master bath around it. Please read my thread
I did lots of research and will be sealing the grout with StoneTech Bulletproof Sealer I picked up on Amazon. When can we look forward to seeing this masterpiece?

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 8:50AM
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Mapei and Laticrete are the two major brands. I would ask which he is planning to use. I think both are supposed to be excellent, but in my limited area, Mapei was my only choice and my installer was familiar with that brand. I am not keen on big box products, but Lowes does sell a limited amount of Mapei.
Glasstilestore does have installation instructions recommending white modified thinset and non-sanded grout. You don't want to scratch that beautiful glass and shell!

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 9:04AM
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Thank you, Annalyn. I do remember your cautionary tale. I'll order the bullet proof. But what grout? Should I just call Mapei? Will I apply the bulletproof both before and after grouting?

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 9:18AM
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I didn't apply the sealer before because of the glass. I don't think any of the elements of your tile are porous, but you can ask many of these question on the John Bridge forum. They might even suggest a grout color/brand since they do this all the time. They are incredibly helpful!
I called tech support at StoneTech and they told me how to apply the sealer. Just be sure that your installer is familiar with glass!

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 9:31AM
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The best way to get a great tile job is to get a great installer. I would worry less about the grout and more about finding the right installer.

I have a theory that tile people are a bit like pastry chefs, meaning that they are artists. Those folks require respect, I've learned, to get the best out of them. They will supply the grout, suggest the right type, make sure the angle is perfect and listen to all your concerns and be sure they are addressed.

Helping them do their job before even giving them a chance doesn't engender a feeling of trust.

After the job is done sealer can be applied to the grout (it wipes off the tile). With mosaic the lines are so small it's hardly an issue. Even if you have a turmeric soup explosion on your counter, the backsplash should wipe clean. If not, there's Oyxclean.

This post was edited by rococogurl on Tue, Sep 24, 13 at 10:07

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 10:06AM
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I agree that your tile installation will only be as good as the installer. I had the best in my area and had to wait for an appointment. He was not at all insulted by my questions. I believe a professional is confident in their abilities and not afraid of a couple of questions like what are you using for thinset and grout? If you go to the John Bridges forum, the experts will disagree at times. I averted a disaster by being informed ahead of time and wanted to pass on this advice.
I do agree-bottom line--get a great installer!

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 10:37AM
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We have walls that are angled also. Are you redoing your floors too or have you already redone them? Can you tell me about your floors, I am just wondering how you handled the angled walls with your flooring. Our tile installer had a very very difficult time because of the angles. I agree get a great installer. And the tile for your backsplash looks very nice.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 12:07PM
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Thanks, all. One downside to using a GC shop is that I can't choose my installer, it will be one of his employees and "they are all good". IME, the more I know in advance, the better. I don't disagree with you in general, Rococogurl, but in this situation I need to verify, then trust.
Robinle, my 5" plank engineered wood floors run diagonal, which involves slightly more labor and waste but really works for the flow of my house.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 1:37PM
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Kks I would say you need to know what questions to ask before they start. One thing I would ask if you're supplying the tile, is how they will handle that angle, is the tile sturdy enough to miter without cracking? Is there enough extra to cover that? How do they select grout and who does that? Does the installer have mosaic experience with this particular material?

Have you called the tile source and discussed the angle installation in advance? Is there a piece of tile in the range that could be ordered on a worst-case basis? In case they can't mitre or it will be off.

Sure all the contractor's guys are "good." You'd maim him if he sent you someone 'bad.' That's not the question.

Let him know you have expensive material and you are prepared to be a PITA. I tell them I'm calling to nudge them. That I'm fussy. If I can get them laughing about how particular I am I find it can go a long way towards getting what I want.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 4:11PM
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That is super helpful, Rococogurl, thank you for formatting those questions for me! I guess maybe I had better make my way to the John Bridge forum to investigate how angle walls are handled, and call the Glass Tile store as well.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 6:10PM
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I'd honestly be more concerned with how the angle is handled than grout. With multi-material mosaics each one can cut differently as each material is different.

They should be able to get an angle but it's never the easiest thing because the tiles have to meet & match perfectly. I would expect that would mean 1/2 tile on each half of the corner -- so it looks like a single tile. I'd surely ask in advance at Bridge. Making that come out exactly is no easy thing. They might want to start there and work towards the corners where a different cut might be less noticeable as it's adjacent to molding or dying into the wall.

I learned this because I had a 4 color tile design on my splash and it was handmade tile and not even in size. It also had to turn a corner.

It might possibly be the setter wants to put a vertical line of pencil pieces over the corner and tile up to it. That slightly blunts the edge. They could use pencil pieces from the range (if they exist). Or, they could do a line of single mosaics of one material cut off the mesh (not as nice but acceptable if done well). Only way to know how it will cut is if someone had worked with that exact mosaic before.

But I wouldn't want to have the setter come to that realization with wet thinset on the wall IYKWIM. Or think a crappy looking or uneven joint there will be ok when it certainly won't because it wasn't discussed and they started at the back.

If someone tells you bullnose should go there, tell them you think it's too "bathroomy" and what else can you do?

Might be a good idea to loop in the contractor in advance. He likely isn't focused on any of these issues. I'd ask if he could look at the time and the angle and tell you how it will look and if any special tile pieces might be needed.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 6:46PM
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Thank you, Rococogurl. For a little while there I hoped this would magically be easy and I wouldn't have to learn or do much to get awesome results...go ahead and laugh at me, it was an absurd thought!
Anything that can go wrong, will. It isn't the normal way of my life, but it is the way of the kitchen remodel so far.
I don't think there are any special pieces available, but I'll do more research tomorrow by calling the glasstilestore. Starting from the angle and working out to the sides makes a lot of sense, as does being prepared for any absurd suggestions like bullnose.
I really appreciate the help, learning the right questions is the hardest part of getting good answers.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 11:15PM
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I found the store reluctant to give too much information other than what was indicated on the site. As one young man there explained, he has seen tile installations in their store, but they don't install it.
I think your best bet is to post on John Bridges forum/advice. Post a photo of your tile and angled wall, and state your concerns. Their experts are so generous with their time and so very patient with questions.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 11:56PM
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I used AS basics, ceramic custom color, in a kitchen. They have tons of specialty pieces. I had drawn the 2x4" subway 'splash to scale and discussed the tile-in window over the sink with the tile contractor.

Based on his calculations of the windows and what he spec'd I ordered a ton of bullnose. Then he called and started screaming at me that the pieces were wrong. They weren't. He was. It should not have been bullnose and I didn't need anywhere near the quantity. I now use some of the pieces as paperweights.

The marble was gorgeous and he gave me marble window sills. He was a nightmare and I learned never to take corners and angles for granted.

It will come out well -- you will see. You're way out in front of it and can have the conversation ahead.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2013 at 6:24PM
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Holly- Kay

KK, I love your writing style. You crack me up!

    Bookmark   September 25, 2013 at 7:37PM
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Thanks for the backstory on the bullnose paperweights, Rococogurl.
Annalyn, I'll definitely visit John Bridge in the next few days.
Holly-kay, thanks! I'm glad it gave you a smile. I've decided that for my own mental health I have to work a little harder to find the humor. I don't see how this job is ever going to get finished, so I might as well enjoy my new life as a person who is having a kitchen remodeled instead of waiting to be someone who has a remodeled kitchen. I felt like this when one of my pregnancies went way, WAY past due (more than 5000 minutes) - I eventually gave up and accepted that I'd be pregnant "forever". "Forever" only lasted a few thousand more minutes, but they were easier ones.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2013 at 8:05PM
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We wrapped a window and a wall in similar (maybe the same?!) tile. I would make sure your GC knows that's it is imperative that you have an installer who has done your type of work in the past. A great installer should be able to educate ou on the products needed; if they just say "whatever you want ma'am" I'd move on to the next contractor.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 4:00AM
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Too beautiful and too funny!

I think the snail grown grout will do fine but only if the moon is a quarter full and is waxing not waning.

Love the combination of materials in your bs. My mother of pearl bs makes me happy. It looks different every time the light changes. Some pieces truly sparkle.

I hope you love yours too.
Good luck!

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 11:12AM
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Your bs tile is amazing!
And you are too too funny.
So who is John Bridge and what is that forum?
I hope all goes well on your install.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 1:12PM
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Thank you all. Having a place to vent and crack up is a great help. I'll be out of town more than I'm home this month, so the snail's pace at which my kitchen is being finished will slow considerably. It is fine, we'll soon be into fall weather and can cook outside.
I did look to a specialty forum for detailed advice, but when I tried to post this message with the link to it I got a pop up screen asking me not to mention it! I really appreciate the encouragement to find experts there, however, and will be taking their advice. Thank you.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2013 at 1:26PM
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