How-To Install.. February 03 2014

How-to Install Metal Tile on a Kitchen Backsplash or on Other Wall Applications 

Installing metal mosaic tile, including stainless steel mosaic tile, aluminum mosaic tile and copper mosaic tile, is nearly identical to the process of installing ceramic or glass tile. You can check out our 9-minute Tile Installation Video, and/or review the installation photos on this page that show mosaic tiles being installed onto a wall. Please note the same process also applies to installing mosaic tiles on a floor. The only difference is that the type of adhesive used to install metal mosaic tile on a wall or backsplash is different than the adhesive made for floor tile installation. This is merely a how-to guide and should only be considered an informational resource. The writer and publisher of this article is not responsible for any mis-installation, misuse, errors or damaged caused by the direct or indirect use of the content in this article.

NOTE: Because of the metallic nature of stainless steel tile you should ensure a qualified electrician carries out electrical work around metal tile.

REQUIRED INSTALLATION TOOLS AND MATERIALS FOR METAL MOSAIC INSTALLATION

  • Enough metal mosaic tile to cover the area that you require, we recommend ordering 10-15% more than you measure, to account for overages.
  • Enough wall or floor tile mortar / adhesive to cover the area you are going to be tiling. Mortar for standard ceramic porcelain tile is 100% compatible with our products.
  • Enough grout to cover the area you are going to be tiling (if the tile has grout lines). Use non-sanded grout to avoid scratching the finish of the tile. You can also use epoxy grout.
  • 5/32" V-notch trowel for applying mortar (other similar V-notch trowel sizes will also work).
  • A rubber grout float.
  • A couple of clean sponges and/or cheesecloth towels.
  • Two or three buckets, for water mixing the mortar and grout.
  • A wet tile saw / motorized tile cutter if there are any cuts to be made around certain obstacles. Most stainless steel is a ceramic base with a metal cap, not solid steel.
  • OPTIONAL - A flat wood block (a 2x4 around 6" to 12" long works well) and a hammer or mallet.

INSTALLING METAL MOSAIC MOSAIC TILE STEP BY STEP

Step 1 Step 2 Step 3 Step 4 Step 5
Installing Metal Mosaic Tile Step 1 Installing Metal Mosaic Tile Step 2 Installing Metal Mosaic Tile Step 3 Installing Metal Mosaic Tile Step 4 Installing Metal Mosaic Tile Step 5
Mix the adhesive as instructed on the package, then sing the flat side of a V-notch trowel apply the adhesive onto the surface. Using the V-notched side of the trowel apply adhesive to created a uniform level and give the tile something to grip to. Place the tile sheets onto the wall or floor, lightly pressing down into the adhesive. Your tile sheet may or may not have a paper cover. Continue to apply other sheets of tile next to each other, lining up the grout lines accordingly. You may also need to cut individual tiles to fit. To ensure each sheet is at the same level as the next, you can lightly tap a wood block on top of the sheets of tile near the edges.
Step 6 Step 7 Step 8 Step 9 Step 10
Installing Metal Mosaic Tile Step 6 Installing Metal Mosaic Tile Step 7 Installing Metal Mosaic Tile Step 8 Installing Metal Mosaic Tile Step 9 Installing Metal Mosaic Tile Step 10
If your tile is covered in a protective paper covering, wet it and then peel it off. If your tile is covered in protective plastic, simply peel the plastic off. Make final adjustments to each sheet to ensure the joints line up correctly. This needs to be done before the adhesive dries. After 12-24 hours, use a non abrasive brush or sponge to remove excess adhesive or paper that is still on the tile. Then wipe with a damp sponge. Prepare your non sanded grout or epoxy grout as instructed on the package. Then apply with a rubber grout float, forcing grout into the joints until they are full. After 15 min to 1 hour, use a cheese cloth towel or moist sponge to remove excess grout from the top of the tile (10 min in the case of the EMT_262-MIX-SM stainless steel tile, paying particular attention to the cleaning of the pewter accents), avoid applying to much pressure. This may have to be done 3 or 4 times to remove the residue.
Post Installation Cleaning Information / Grout Residue Cleanup

After the grout has cured (typically 12-24 hours; see non-sanded grout manufacturer's instructions), use a clean cloth or sponge to wipe the excess grout haze off the tile. Use an industrial alcohol cleaner to remove any excess glue from the surface of the steel mosaic tile. After the 24 hour period if you still have residue, use clean warm water and neutral PH cleaner designed for removing tile grout. If some of the tiles have black marks, you can use acetone or an adhesive thinner/solvent to wipe the marks away - Use with caution and follow the manufacturer's instructions.


CUTTING METAL MOSAIC TILE

Due to the small size of the individual pieces on the mosaic tile sheet, you can normally just cut through the joints between the individual tiles and the mesh backingand simple remove them to fit your tile sheet around an obstacle or at the end of a row. However in the case that simply removing individual tiles from the sheet will leave a large gap you will have to cut the tiles to fit. Although it sounds difficult, cutting metal tile isn't really that challenging. This is due to the fact that the vast majority of metal mosaics are actually porcelain / ceramic tiles covered with a 1-2mm stainless steel cap. The image below shows the typical structure of a metal mosaic tile, using either a flat metal piece or a cap cover made of metal.

 

Structure of Metal Mosaic Tile

 

The best method is to use a motorized wet tile saw. Because the tiles are so thin, you can often get by with a low grade, low cost tile saw available at most big box stores. These saws typically retail between $80-$100 for low use DIY versions, to close to $1000 for professional versions. Many big box stores and tool rental company's also rent tile saws. We must stress that tile saws can be dangerous, their diamond tipped blades are sharp, and the size of a piece of metal mosaic tile is often quite small, and thus it requires enough comfort and skill to cut the piece of tile while not cutting yourself. There is one tool that will NOT work for cutting metal tile, and that is a manual scoring tool that is typically used for cutting porcelain, stone and ceramic. This tool works on the basis of scoring the relatively soft surface of porcelain or ceramic, however metal capped tiles don't take well to scoring, so this method will not work. If you do not feel comfortable with these sharp, potentially harmfully tools its likely best to call a professional in to make the final cuts required to finish your tile job.

 

Cutting of Metal Mosaic Tile

 

FINISHING THE EDGES OF A METAL TILE INSTALLATION

A commonly asked question is "How do I finish the edges in my metal mosaic tile installation?".

We actually offer two types of stainless steel border edge tiles that should work for your project.

For the flat stainless steel border liner, please click here

For the stainless steel bullnose border liner (also called pencil edge), please click here.

-- You can also click on the border edge liner photos below to be directly taken to the corresponding product page. --

       

Otherwise, you could use a common tile edging strip. These strips, which are shaped like an "L" provide an ideal way to terminate the tile installation at the edge. These tile edging strips can be purchased at any local big box store such as The Home Depot or Lowes, and are also available at most stores that sell tile. Simply install the strip at the edge of your installation using the same tile mortar / adhesive that you are using for your tiles. These edging strips often are perforated on one side, this is the side that you set into the mortar, against the wall. The finished edge will be left exposed, and you will tile up to it, and then, grout up to this edge.

 

Edge of Metal Mosaic Tile

 

Backsplash Metal Tiles for your Stainless Steel, Copper or Aluminum wall projects