How to Install Paper-Faced Tile

Unlike many mosaic tiles that have flexible mesh on the BACK of the tile chips, some may come with a paper covering on the FRONT of the tiles. While this may look unusual when your tiles are delivered, paper face-mounted tiles allow for better bonding to the thinset in places like pools, hot tubs, and other submerged areas.

The paper facing is easily removed with water once your tiles are installed, then peeled away to reveal the beautiful design! If you order a sample of our tiles, you'll see the front of the design mounted on cardboard to preview the color and finish, then the sheets will ship with paper over the front to make for the easiest installation process!

Step-By-Step Instructions

Step 1: Grab Your Materials

We recommend:
  • Laticrete Hydro Ban Waterproof Membrane
  • Laticrete Glass Adhesive
  • Spectralock Pro Premium Grout
  • V-notch Trowel
  • Rollers
  • Penetrating Sealer


    Step 2: Plan Your Layout

    Lay out the sheets of tile in an area the same size as where you intend to install the tile with the paper side facing up. This will help decide placement before installation. You should be able to see the edges of the tile on the sides of the paper, allowing you to see where the sheet ends and gauge how close you want the sheets to lie next to each other.

    Step 3: Thinset in Small Sections

    Spread a small amount of thinset where you will be installing your tile. Only use as much thinset that you'll need in a 5 minute time frame to ensure it hasn't set in between mounting the tile sheets. Always consult your tile installer regarding the tile material and the area of installation to determine what kind of mortar is best for your project.

    Step 4: Even Out Thinset

    Use the grooved side of the trowel to even out the thickness of the thinset, then use the straight side of the trowel to smooth out the ridges. Use a light hand when smoothing out the thinset. This step will prevent any thinset from seeping in between the tile sheets.

    Step 5: Press Tile into Thinset

    Press the sheets of tile into the thinset, making sure that the paper is facing you. As you work along the area adding the sheets of tile, place a flat board over the tiled area and lightly tap the board with a mallet to push the sheets into place. Continue this process until you have finished tiling the area.

    Step 6: Wait 15-20 Minutes

    Wait 15-20 minutes before removing the paper backing. Soak a sponge in water and wet down the paper backing, being careful not to saturate the thinset. The water will dissolve the glue that holds the paper to the tile. Once the paper is soaked, gently peel away the paper backing. The thinset will still be wet, allowing you to lightly tap or wiggle into place any pieces that need to be adjusted.

    Step 7: Wait 48 Hrs, Then Grout

    Allow the thinset to dry for 48 hours before grouting. Work in 10 minute sections, cleaning off the excess from the glass with a damp sponge as you grout. Make sure to rinse the sponge often during this process and move in a circular motion when wiping away the excess. Allow the grout to dry for 24 hours.