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help w/tile installation

updated tue 30 sep 08


Jeannean Hibbitts on thu 25 sep 08

For my kitchen countertop I used a matte celadon porcelain tile, and
sponge-brushed lemon oil on the top of the tiles before grouting. It kept
the grout from sticking to the tile top and made clean-up a breeze. It
didn't affect the grout at all.

I'm following this thread because I have a brick-faced wood-burning
fireplace in my living room that has four recessed areas that are screaming
for handmade tile (it's a 1916 Craftsman), but I was planning on just
slapping some thinset directly on the brick and then setting the tile. I'm
sure thinset mortar is somewhat different from brick mortar, but is it so
different that it won't stick to the brick? After all, the bricks are stuck
one on top of another with mortar.

I guess the only way to know for sure is to test it. Which I think I'll do
this evening. I'll let you know what I find.

Spider Hole Pottery and tile testing workshop
Astoria, Oregon
... where I stuck some handmade tile on the painted stucco wall outside my
front door, just using tile adhesive, and so far it's sticking. We'll see
what happens when it starts raining sideways in November and that area gets
drenched. It'll probably pop off, but it's what I had, and I don't really
know til I try.

Jeannean Hibbitts on mon 29 sep 08

Thursday evening I took one of my handmade stoneware tiles, slapped some
tile adhesive (not thinset mortar) on the back, and stuck it on a piece of
brick. I didn't moisten the brick beforehand. I checked it over the weekend,
and that puppy is stuck tight.

I don't recall if the installation in question was going to be close enough
to the opening of the fireplace to be subject to high heat. I should have
thought to build a little fire on my patio and toss my test tile/brick into
it, to see if (or how) high heat would affect it. Maybe I'll do that when I
get a chance. I don't think I want to toss it in my fireplace, since I don't
know what all is in that tile adhesive and I don't want any fumes in my

My conclusion thus far is that one doesn't need backer board to install tile
over brick. Granted, I'm REALLY inexperienced in tile installation, but I
don't see the point. I understand using it over plywood - I used it on my
new countertop (2 thicknesses of plywood and 1 of Hardibacker - you could
dance on that countertop) - but I don't understand the need when one is
installing tile directly onto brick. What am I missing here? It seems to be
making a simple task more complicated than it needs to be. I suppose if the
brick has a really smooth face, one might need to rough it up a bit (or use
a little TSP, as when prepping a high gloss wall for new paint?) so the
brick has some "tooth" to hold the adhesive or thinset.

..... my 2 cents' worth.....

Spider Hole Pottery
...where I'm packing up to fly off in the big silver bird to Minneapolis
tomorrow for a business conference, and hoping to make it to some pottery
venues in my free time....

James F on mon 29 sep 08


One potential problem I can think of is that without the backer board=2C gr=
outing the tile would be a bear. You would keep working in the grout forev=
er as it fell back into the mortar lines between the bricks. I seem to rec=
all that the original post stated that the tiles would not be grouted in th=
is instance=2C but I would venture that most tile installations are indeed =
grouted. Also=2C the tile would be subject to breakage from impact whereve=
r it spanned a mortar line gap (yes=2C it would likely have to be a substan=
tial or well-placed impact).

For whatever it's worth...


> My conclusion thus far is that one doesn't need backer board to install t=
> over brick.=20

> I don't understand the need when one is
> installing tile directly onto brick. What am I missing here?
> ..... my 2 cents' worth.....

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