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New Things I Learned Using Self-Adhesive Mesh


If you haven’t heard of it yet, mesh is now available with a self-adhesive option. This means it is made of fiberglass mesh fibers with an added adhesive coating that is sprayed on one side of it. 

The great thing about this mesh is that it can eliminate the messy step of using thinset to glue your tesserae to your mesh. In years past, the old process was this:

  1. tape your pattern to table
  2. tape clear plastic wrap over pattern
  3. tape mesh over top all this
  4. use thinset and glue your tesserae down over mesh 
  5. remove unwanted thinset from around tiles so grout will fit in
  6. after dry, lift mesh with tiles off the plastic wrap and install

Using mesh with adhesive, here’s the new process:

  1. tape your pattern to table
  2. tape mesh over pattern
  3. press tiles onto mesh
  4. lift mesh off pattern and install

Many times I used the “old” process while creating a community mosaic project with students of different schools.  As you can imagine, having students apply thinset on the back of their tiles was quite a messy problem. Lots and lots of thinset everywhere. Lots and lots of cleaning it away so the grout could fit in between tiles. In other words, lots and lots of time wasted on this clean up.

Since I switched to the self-adhesive mesh, I wanted to share additional tips for those of you who might want to use it for a community project or just for yourself. So here are some tips:

Tip 1:  Use a pattern that has been sectioned prior to laying tiles. Cut your mesh to the size of your pattern. Sectioning makes it easier for students to work either individually or as a team.

Tip 2:  Use thin plywood boards to “slide” the sections onto after they are tiled so you can transport them easily when storing or when you install.

Tip 3:  Try to keep the size of the tiles you use in your project no smaller than 1/2”. Remember, the larger the surface of the tile, the better the “grab” it will have to the mesh. My best results come when using 3/4” tiles.

Tip 4:  Advise your students not to take tiles on and off several times. A lot of switching out will remove some of the adhesion from the mesh. Having a good, detailed pattern that takes any “guess work” out will help solve this problem.

Tip 5:  The time it takes to create a mosaic using this mesh will be much faster for the students. I was amazed at how fast they turned out their mosaic pieces, so plan accordingly. This is a good thing!

Tip 6:  When you install your sections, expect some of the tiles to pop off, just like they did when we were using thinset to glue them to the mesh; it just happens. Sometimes the students don’t press the tiles down or they just moved them around too much, so plan for having extra tiles available to replace any missing ones when you are installing.

I really enjoy using this mesh and think you will too. It saves time, aggravation, and produces much better results. 

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