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Vanity Top Loose Mosaic Installation

Like all tops a 3/4 plywood start with plumber cutting hole for the sink. I traced the outside of the sink before removing.

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Next is a layer of Durock. One of the many, many tasks your grinder with turbo blade can do for you.

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Kerabond Keralastic is my mortar, I use nothing else. It does what any specialty mortar does - only much better.

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The W D 40 is for spraying the trowel for easier clean up later.

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100% mortar using a small v - notch trowel to bond the Durock.

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Using 1" roofing nails it's installed flat with no voids. 1" nails stop in the plywood.

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This is a unusual step. The carpenter cut the plywood too short. (The finished tile should be out as far as the knobs.) So, we had to add a 1-1/4" strip on front. You need to pre-drill the Durock.

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This top gets a back splash and as most times the wall is freshly painted. Take Kerabond / Keralastic using a putty knife or flat side of the trowel to put a thin coat of mortar where the back splash tiles are to be set. Allow to dry for awhile, best over night. Then you are bonding the tile to dried mortar instead of paint. Mortar will not bond to paint unless you backbutter the wall and allow it to set up.

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All tiles are fit for size BEFORE bonding. Front tiles and top of back splash are bullnosed. Know what your top, wall or whatever is going to look like before you mix any mortar.

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We're ready to go. A piece of plywood with a factory edge will hold up the tile until it sets overnite.

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Since you pre-cut all the tiles the installation goes relatively fast. You can get really screwed up here if you don't remove the loose tiles and keep them in order. Its also important to comb mortar uniformly and the same every time, with no thin spots.

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2" verdi empress tumbled mosaics. Install about 6 rows using a small dollop of mortar to the back of each tile. Try not to press down, just lay the tiles in place until you've finished the 6 rows. Using a level for a straight edge, firmly hold down the level as you gently push down the tile with a flat grout float. The straight edge keeps the tile nice and straight for the next courses. It gets pretty flat but check tiles for lippage by touch and feel.

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Next 6 or so rows. By holding down the straight edge you can pat down the tiles to a level plane. Lightly sponge off any excess mortar. Putting a small dollop of mortar in the middle of the back of each tile is best for moving tiles into place and not getting in the joints.

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Moving along. Notice mortar extends all the way and on top of the face tiles. Clean gently with a utility knife. Kerabond / Keralastic cleans up easily the next day.

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Close up of top. The tiles get pretty close. The grout joint will be bigger because the grout rides up on the beveled edge of the tile.

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This really goes fast even with back buttering. The back splash mortar is dry enough to start when you've finished the top.

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Of course it will be much darker when sealed.

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Next day after plywood strip is removed. One of the big advantages of Kerabond / Keralastic is it's slow drying. Next day be careful cutting the mortar between tiles as you can disturb them. After 2 days, no problem. Time of year (summer heat, for instance) makes a difference.

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The first thing you do is take the tiles off the matting. Do you really want poorly paid chinese people of all ages installing your tile. Just think how much cheaper mosaics would be if they came loose.

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We're ready for the back splash with the pre-bullnosed tiles in the pan. Recently I've discovered it's best to Durock tape the top and back splash for waterproofing and protect against movement.

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These tiles are slightly different in size and thickness. The dollop makes up for the thickness and the wedges make up for size. The key is to have a straight top bullnose. Split the space with the other 2 tiles. It's not much anyway and will look great after grouting. Very important. Put fresh mortar on dried and back butter back splash tiles. Always fresh mortar to fresh mortar. Filling the void with mortar is for waterproofing.

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I try to mix up the colors contrasting as much as possible.

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The wedges need to stay in overnite.

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Tiles grout differently. In this case with tumbled Verdi Empress I grouted the tile as flush as possible and allowed grout to dry.

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I'll grout the top bullnose piece after the top and back splash are finished. It's best to grout top with grout and wipe off wet.

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You can see the dry grout on the left and the cleaned right side. This is accomplished with a nylon pad. You have to rub pretty hard and the grout will clean up off the tile.

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This is how the tiles were bullnosed. Verdi Empress, not real hard, not real soft stone. Anyway it's real easy Handmodeling by Ray McKegney.

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Finished grouted top. Unfortunately it can't stay this way. It has to be sealed and will get darker.

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Close up of the grout size, looks and are bigger that how the tiles were set. The grout rides up on the bevel of the stone.

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