Fit for Purpose: Cementitious versus Epoxy adhesives for mosaic tiles

By Tal | 2018-09-27

Mosaic tiles remain a popular choice for commercial and domestic applications, with glass tiles enjoying particular favour. Consideration of the service area will determine the choice of adhesive, either cementitious or epoxy-based, as fit for purpose. 

General Service Conditions

Cementitious adhesives are well suited for general service conditions in domestic kitchen and bathrooms or as feature panels within a larger installation. A cementitious adhesive is also fit for purpose in commercial spaces that are used for general access such as mosaic splashbacks in kitchens and bathrooms for offices, retail stores or back office areas. For this type of installation, TAL Mosaicfix is ideal. It is designed for fixing ceramic, porcelain and natural stone mosaics onto walls and floors and can be used for fixing ‘fusion-type’ glass mosaics with tessera no larger than 100 x 100mm. This product can also be used as a grouting or pre-grouting of mosaics.

tiled mosaic wall in bathroom

TAL Mosaicfix Installation

For bonding and grouting of mosaics, apply the adhesive to the surface in a solid bed of 4 – 6mm. Immediately, FIRMLY bed the mosaics into the adhesive, ensuring that it penetrates (oozes) through the mesh-backing into the joints between the tesserae. Allow the adhesive to set for approximately 20 minutes to ensure that the mosaic sheets are not disturbed. Thereafter, fill the joints with TAL Mosaicfix. In this instance a ‘wet to wet’ bond between the bedding and grouting is preferred.

Commercial and Industrial Service Conditions

For installation areas where chemical resistance and good hygienic conditions are important, an epoxy adhesive and/or grout is required. These are largely commercial spaces such as abattoirs, breweries, dairies, hospitals, food and beverage production and preparation areas. An epoxy-based adhesive and grout is also indicated for areas that require a water-resistant product such as swimming pools, bacteria and mould-growth areas as well as, areas subjected to high-pressure hosing and steam cleaning, etc. For this type of application, TAL Fine Epoxy Mortar and Grout is recommended. This is a water-based epoxy, suitable for installing mosaic tiles as well as standard ceramic and porcelain tiles. It must be noted however, that an epoxy-based adhesive does not eliminate the need for a suitable waterproofing system for permanently wet areas.

 tiled mosaic wall in biltong shop

TAL Fine Epoxy and Mortar Installation

Application of an epoxy-based tile adhesive is slightly different to cementitious adhesive products in that the mosaics should be bedded into a solid bed of adhesive of 3 – 5mm. The surplus epoxy should be removed from the face of the tiles immediately. Grouting must not commence until the adhesive beneath the tiles has set sufficiently.

Fit for Purpose

A cementitious tile adhesive is suitable for most mosaic installations, in both domestic and commercial applications. An epoxy adhesive is usually considered a specialist product for very specific installations. Determining the requirements of an installation, with attention to what the required performance is, will ensure that the selected adhesive is fit for purpose.


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