Advice >> FAQ >> Installation

Q: What is the difference between latex modified thinset with dry polymer versus a two part system?
A:A latex modified (dry polymer) thinset has an additive, pre-mixed in the bag with the cementitious powder. When hydrated, the dry polymer offers flexibility and bond strength to the thin set. A two part latex modified thinset involves the mixing of a liquid latex (aka milk) to a dry powder. Two part systems typically have a greater bond strength and flexibility.

Q: What is back buttering?
A:Back buttering refers to the application of a layer of setting material directly to the back of a tile or stone in order to achieve full coverage. By properly burning (forcing) in the setting material into the back of the tile, the opportunity for proper adhesion is enhanced.

The Marble Institute of America, the governing body of the stone industry, requires 100% coverage of setting material on the back of each natural stone tile, which is achieved through back-buttering the individual tiles.

When using the proper size trowel, back buttering of ceramic tile or porcelain should not be necessary. As long as you can achieve 85% coverage in dry areas, 95% in wet areas, back buttering is not required.

Glass Tile is typically translucent. Trowel marks and voids reading through the glass can be unsightly. Most glass tiles should be back buttered. This is the case for some mosaics containing glass, including our Hampton Blends collection.

Q: What is skim coating?
A:Skim coating involves the application of a thin layer of setting material to the back of an intricate tile or other item. Unlike back buttering, when skim coating the thin layer is allowed to cure overnight, providing a more rigid, easier to handle piece.

Q: What trowel size should I be using?
A:Unless otherwise specified by the manufacturer, the trowel size will be determined by the facial dimension and thickness of the tile being installed.

Q: What direction should "trowel comb marks" run?
A:For the installation of large format floor tiles in particular, it is important that comb marks run parallel to each other, with no intersecting or rainbow swirled areas which may trap air, leading to the cracking of corners of your tile. For more information on this topic, consult the National Tile Contractor’s Association video entitled "Trowel and Error."

Q: Should I be using sanded or un-sanded grout?
A:Unless otherwise specified by the manufacturer, the choice of sanded or un-sanded grout is determined by the size of the grout joint. Less than 1/8" use un-sanded grout, 1/8" and larger use sanded. When working with sanded grout, pay particular attention to not scratch the surface of polished stones or high gloss glass.

Q: What is the advantage of Star Quartz grout?
A:Star Quartz is a Urethane based grout that has no pigments in it. This product is easy to apply and stain resistant.

Q: What grout joint size should I be using?
A:This varies by product. The more irregular in size and thickness the product is, the larger the required joint for a successful installation. Be careful when setting products, especially glass, with a tight joint, as this may not accommodate expansion and contraction. Once you decide on the grout joint size to utilize, it is advisable to prepare a mock up to test functionality.

Q: What is a ‘soft joint’ and where are they used?
A:A joint that is filled with flexible sealant (caulk) and not grouted. Also known as Movement Joints, they are a requirement in every tile installation. See the TCNA Handbook for Ceramic Tile Installation, EJ171-09. Soft Joints have become critical for the success and longevity of a tile installation, and should never be omitted.

Q: How do I remove grout haze from my tile installation?
A:You should immediately contact your tile installer to rectify the problem. If he or she is unable, there are stone and tile care professionals who should be consulted. Depending on the tile or stone you have, there are many possible solutions.

Q: How should backerboards be adhered when used on the floor?
A:Backerboards should be screwed and glued to an approved sub-strate, according to the backer board manufacturer''s directions.

Q: Can "Green Board" be used in a wet area?
A:No, green board is not approved by building codes as a tile backer in wets areas.

Q: Are there special instructions for the installation of a shower pan?
A:Absolutely! Installers should consult the TCNA Handbook. All details as outlined in the handbook should be adhered. A leading cause of shower installation failures is the failure to pre-slope the shower pan prior to the installation of the pan liner. This, in conjunction with the proper protection of weepholes, will allow for proper drainage of the shower.

Q: What are weep holes?
A:These are holes in the drain assembly designed to allow the evacuation of water that penetrates the tile work down to the pan liner. A properly installed shower pan should be pre-sloped, directing sub-surface water to the weep holes, which should be protected with crushed tile or stone during the installation process so that they do not become clogged.

Q: What is the required ceiling slope in a steam shower?
A:According to the TCA Handbook for Ceramic Tile Installation: 2 inches per foot, in order to prevent condensation from dripping onto the shower occupant.

Q: Are there any special instructions for the installation of my mosaic?
A:Yes, perhaps many! First, you must determine the type of material you are working with: stone, glass, ceramic, porcelain, and any specific requirements regarding setting materials. Than, you must determine how the mosaic is assembled - face mounted (tape or paper) or mesh mounted (paper, fiberglass, dot mounted, etc). It is imperative to determine which is the finished face of the product prior to proceeding. It is important when working with mosaics to get an adequate bond, but not use too much setting material to cause squeeze through into your joints. Make sure to consult the instructions regarding the required cure period prior to removal of any face mounted tapes or papers.

Q: Is there a difference between a sealer and an enhancer?
A:Yes. A sealer acts to protect a stone, while an enhancer acts to increase the intensity of the natural color within a stone. Enhancers typically perform best on tumbled or other antiqued surfaces, and may also offer a level of protection similar to a sealer. Sealers should not change the appearance of your stone if properly applied. It is advisable to always test your sealer or enhancer on a left over piece or in a hidden area to ensure desired results.

Q: What is the TCNA Handbook?
A:Published annually by the Tile Council of North America, the TCNA Handbook for Ceramic Tile Installation is the industry guide for installation practices. Visit to purchase the latest edition.

Q: I want to install Artistic Tile’s Eden water jet mosaic. Are there any installation tips?
A:Eden is an asymmetrical product, designed to create a central rosette when properly installed. Install the Eden in groups of 4, rotating each piece 90 degrees clockwise around the center to create the proper flow.

Q: I love your Horta water jet mosaic. Do you have any layout tips?
A:In order to achieve a beautiful seamless installation with this product, it is supplied as an intricate interlocking mesh mounted sheet. This intricacy can lead to challenges with working in very small rooms or trying to create panels or medallions. It is not recommended to create small medallions on site with this product. Tell us what you need and we will custom make it for you. For larger jobs, provide us with the dimensions of your space, and we can lay out the mosaic for you, directing you where to begin and cut.

Q: How do I cut Azul Macaubas?
A:Azul Macaubas is an extremely hard quartzite, that requires a saw blade specifically designed for a material of this type, copious amounts of water, and tremendous patience to cut at a slow speed.

Q: What setting material do I use for clay-body ceramic tile?
A:Artistic Tile recommends the use of white thinset for the installation of clay-body ceramic tile. Mastic is only suitable for vertical dry applications.

Q: What setting material should be used for the installation of Frameworks Tear field tile?
A:Frameworks Tear field tiles have a hollow cavity that should be filled with a medium bed mortar during installation.

Q: What setting material do I use for Opera Glass?
A:Artistic Tile recommends Mapei Kerabond with Mapei Keralastic additive. Please see our Installation Guidelines for complete details.

Q: What setting material do I use for La Leaf Glass?
A:La Leaf Glass tile may only be installed with Mapei Planicrete W. Please see our Installation Guidelines for complete details.

Q: What setting material do I use for Jazz Glass?
A:Artistic Tile recommends Mapei Kerabond with Mapei Keralastic additive or equivalent.

Q: What setting material do I use for Oceanstone Blends?
A:Artistic Tile recommends Mapei Kerabond with Mapei Keralastic additive. Please see our Installation Guidelines for complete details.

Q: What setting material do I use for natural stone?
A:Artistic Tile recommends Latex-Modified White Thinset for the installation of natural stone. Please verify suitability of your chosen setting material for the installation of natural stone.

Q: What setting material do I use for porcelain?
A:Porcelain tile has a low absorption rate and requires a latex modified thinset or medium bed mortar, depending on tile size, to achieve bond. Artistic Tile recommends Mapei Kerabond with Mapei Keralastic additive or equivalent, dependent upon tile size and application.

Q: What setting material should be used for the installation of large format porcelain floor tile?
A:A latex modified setting material suitable for the installation of porcelain tiles is required in order to achieve proper bond. This may be a thinset or a medium bed mortar, depending on the required depth of the setting bed. Consult your setting material manufacturers instructions relative to your application.

Q: Where can I view a catalogue of all of your products?
A:We're happy to offer you our entire product catalogue here: Product Literature