Pool-safe mosaic sheeting systems

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					residential feature

Pool-safe mosaic
sheeting systems
A guide for choosing mosaic systems
for swimming pool installations

        his article first appeared in Tile Today   Pacific (BDAP) investigated a number of             That message was repeated in clause
        magazine (Issue 62, February 2009).       mosaic tiling failures which were initially     1.1 – Scope, which referred to Part 4 of
        SPLASH! is reproducing it because of      difficult to diagnose. The results of Peter’s    the British standard BS 5385 “For Tiling
its value in describing issues relating to the    investigations were published in Tiling at      in Situations where there are Specific
various types of sheet mosaic construction.       the Deep End which appeared in issue 28 of      Functional or Environmental Conditions”.
   In the previous edition of Tile Today          Tile Today.                                        Today, Tiling in Wet Conditions (continually
(Issue 61), Sydney based wholesaler Tilenet          We will also consider a number of key        immersed) is addressed in Appendice ‘E’ of
launched ‘hot melt’, a new system designed        factors which are essential in regards          AS 3958.1 – 2007. While this is excellent news,
by Spain’s Reviglass to adhere glass              to successful installation of mosaic in         readers should be aware that the standard
mosaics to one another. The manufacturer          swimming pools.                                 is a guide which often defers to precise
claims that the ribbons of hot polyurethane-         Before we take a brief look at some of the   manufacturer’s instructions, simply because
based glue are 100 percent compatible with        main points raised by Peter Hartog in Tiling    instructions provided by a manufacturer will
thin set tile adhesives, typically used to fix     at the Deep End, it is worth noting that in     frequently cover specific applications of a
mosaic in fully immersed conditions.              2002, AS 3958.1 Ceramic Tiles – Guide to        product in a certain set of circumstances that
   This article focuses on the various            the Installation of Ceramic Tiles made no       the standard cannot predict or fully address.
techniques manufacturers employ to sheet          specific reference to tiling in pools. Indeed,      Therefore, an informed decision should
or mount mosaic. Interest in this issue           the preface to that document stated that        be made about correct material selection
increased substantially in 2002 when              the standard does not apply to “specialised     and fixing techniques, because if a failure
Peter Hartog of Building Diagnostics Asia         applications such as swimming pools.”           occurs, experts may argue that AS 3958.1

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                                                 The hot melt system by Reviglass features a strip of
                                                 polyurethane, which precisely bonds each piece of mosaic

                                                                                                                                       The dot-mounted system
                                                                                                                                      popularised in Australia by
                                                                                                                                   Renaissance Tiles, distributors
                                                                                                                                        of Ezarri’s recycled glass
                                                                                                                                     mosaics, fully complies with
                                                                                                                                      AS 3958.1 2007. The Ezarri
                                                                                                                                      system is fully guaranteed

                                                                                                                Artistic Stone, in conjunction with its glass
                                                                                                            supplier, spent a considerable amount of time
                                                                                                            and resources developing a pool safe meshing
                                                                                                            system, which has been stringently tested
                                                                                                            by the CSIRO. The Artistic Stone product
                                                                                                            fully met the tensile strength adhesion
                                                                                                            requirements of the 21-day water immersion
                                                                                                            strength test AS 4229.2 (Int – 2003).
                                                                                                                In the light of Peter Hartog’s original
                                                                                                            findings, it is obviously important to ascertain
                                                                                                            if the sheeting method employed to mount a
                                                 The Trend Australasia clear film system permits the         particular product is suitable. Kieron Wiley
                                                 fixer to view each piece of mosaic as work progresses       of Artistic Stone commented: “There are still
                                                                                                            some mesh mounted mosaics on the market
                                                accelerated by heating. If a sample of tiles                which use unsuitable meshing procedures
                                                is placed in a plastic tray of water and                    and these products must be avoided.”
                                                warmed in a microwave oven, conversion of                       However, it is clear that a high number
                                                the backing adhesive to gel becomes visible                 of locally manufactured and imported
                                                after a few minutes. Conversion is activated                mosaic products can be used effectively in
                                                by water. It is completely unrelated to any                 immersed conditions, providing they are
                                                components of tiling adhesive mixes other                   installed in accordance with the guidelines
                                                than water.”                                                laid down in AS 3958.1 2007 or specific
                                                   BDAP concluded, “In practice, the backing                instructions stipulated by the manufacturer.
                                                mesh glue initially acts as a barrier coat
                                                between mosaic tiles and thin-set tiling                    Sheeting systems
                                                adhesives. It prevents these adhesives                      Ceramic, glass, metal and natural stone
                                                bonding to the tiles.”                                      mosaics are assembled on sheets, to
should have been followed in preference to         Reactions to BDAP’s findings were swift.                  facilitate ease of handling. Mosaics can be
manufacturer’s instructions, or vice versa.     In a relatively short period of time we                     adhered face-down to paper (paper-faced
                                                supplied more than one hundred copies of                    mosaics), or the back is glued to nylon
The catalyst                                    Peter’s article in one form or another to                   adhesive strips, or nylon fabric net (nylon-
The aforementioned article Tiling at the Deep   architects, pool builders and members of                    backed mosaics).
End, described how a number of mosaic           the industry.                                                   Paper-faced mosaic leaves the back of the
tiling failures occurred in swimming pools as      Hartog was astounded to discover that                    mosaic completely clear, providing a good
a consequence of using mosaic which was         similar problems had arisen in the past, and                opportunity for creation of adequate adhesion.
adhered to the backing mesh with excessive      had only been eradicated when “producers                    Mosaic mounted on mesh or other materials
amounts of inappropriate glue.                  of glass and ceramic tiles changed their                    may be problematic in immersed conditions
    Peter Hartog’s company BDAP conducted       backing mesh glues and the problem                          if the sheet backing in any way precludes
extensive tests which determined that “the      seemed to go away”.                                         development of adequate adhesion.
mesh adhesive film when exposed to normal           A number of responsible importers and                        According to AS 3958.1 Section 2, this
moisture in a range of mortar and adhesive      local producers of mosaic reacted to BDAP’s                 situation may arise when:
paste mixes, slowly expands to become           findings by conducting their own tests to                    a) The exposed areas of individual mosaic
an insoluble white gel up to 1.5 mm thick.      determine that the glue used to mount their                     tiles are not sufficient to permit the
When the bedding is saturated, the swelling     mosaic did not pose a similar problem.                          bedding from making contact over an
of the gel is discernible after 50 hours and    Everstone and Decoramics, two local suppliers                   adequate proportion of the area of each
complete after about 100 hours. It can be       of mosaic, reviewed their sheeting practices.                   mosaic tile;

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“In practice, the backing mesh glue initially acts as
a barrier coat between mosaic tiles and thin-set
tiling adhesives. It prevents these adhesives
bonding to the tiles.”

b) The strips or net or the glue used to bond     a fixing method or a specific type of mosaic.
   them are the types that will deteriorate       The following guide is intended to provide an
   in service or are not compatible with the      understanding of some of the popular mosaic
   bedding medium; and                            mounting systems that have been developed.
c) The glue is spread on to the backs of
   individual mosaic tiles instead of being       Paper-faced
   confined to the strips or net.                  As stated earlier, the chief advantage with
The standard also includes the following:         this method is that the back of the mosaic
“NOTE: In the absence of any advice from          can make clean, unobstructed contact with
the tile manufacturer, the exposed (glue-         the ceramic tile adhesive. One drawback
and mesh-free) areas of individual mosaic         is that the fixer cannot see the face of the
tiles should be a minimum of 80%. Refer to        mosaic until the paper has been moistened
Clause for tiling adhesive coverage.”     and removed from the face of the mosaic.
   A number of reputable manufacturers of            Various glues are used to adhere paper
glass mosaic, including Bisazza, successfully     to the face of the mosaic, some of which
mount their mosaics on mesh. There is nothing     can only be removed after sponging with
intrinsically wrong with adhering the back of     hot water. Replacement of defective pieces
glass mosaic to mesh. In Bisazza’s case, they     of mosaic or pieces misplaced in a blend,        Clear film
have a tried and tested system which is covered   which are revealed when the paper is             This system relies on adherence of the face
by a guarantee. They also provide a specific set   removed, is a time consuming task.               of the mosaic to a clear plastic film. The
of manufacturer’s instructions which must be                                                       tile fixer has the advantage of being able
consulted and applied in conjunction with the     Mesh-mounted                                     to observe each sheet of mosaic as work
broad guidelines published in AS 3958 Part 1.     Every piece of mosaic can be clearly seen        proceeds. Once installation is complete the
As previously stated, the standard will usually   before sheets are fixed. As previously stated,    fixer removes the clear film by peeling back
defer to manufacturer’s instructions.             check that glue used to adhere the mosaic        one corner of the film and removing it from
   Any person engaged in the selection            to the mesh is not applied excessively. Talk     the face of the mosaic.
of a mosaic for installation in immersed          to the manufacturer or his supplier and             Film-faced mosaic technology is
conditions should first speak to the               follow their installation instructions to the    being used by a number of international
mosaic supplier or manufacturer and an            letter. In the absence of specific instructions   manufacturers, including Trend Australasia
experienced fixing specialist before selecting     refer to AS 3958.1.                              who produces mosaics which are frequently
                                                                                                   used in pools and spas. Trend actually
                                                                                                   assembles most of their imported mosaics
                                                                                                   in Australia. The chief advantages are
                                                                                                   maximum contact between the back of
                                                                                                   mosaic and the ceramic tile adhesive, and
                                                                                                   the capacity to accurately customise blends
                                                                                                   and vignettes.

                                                                                                   Hot melt system
                                                                                                   The ‘hot melt’ system launched by
                                                                                                   Reviglass utilises new technology,
                                                                                                   which allows mosaics to be mounted by
                                                                                                   adhering mosaics to one another using
                                                                                                   a ribbon of hot polyurethane based glue.
                                                                                                   The manufacturers claim that the glue is
                                                                                                   “compatible with the adhesive used in pools,
                                                                                                   ensuring 100 per cent bonding to walls.”

                                                                                                   Dot-mounted system
                                                                                                   The dot mounted system has been
                                                                                                   principally pioneered in Australia by
                                                                                                   Renaissance Tiles, the distributors of Ezarri
                                                                                                   recycled clear glass mosaics, which are
                                                                                                   manufactured in Spain at a factory which

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  Pool tiling demonstration
  at the Full Frontal Tile
  and Stone Expo
  Mapei Australia and Trend Australasia will
  present a special demonstration of pool tiling
  techniques at the Full Frontal Tile and Stone Expo
  at Darling Harbour. Aspects of set-out, cutting and
  adhesive selection will be explained as the work
  progresses. It will include many of the concepts,
  techniques and materials discussed in this article.
    The expo will take place at Sydney Convention
  and Exhibition Centre, August 20 to August
  22, 2009. For more information go to or call 1300 551 416.

has achieved ISO 9001-2000 accreditation for manufacturing quality
and efficiency.
  Dot mounting technology permits each piece of mosaic to be joined
together by PVC points which are applied to the reverse of the tile.
Significantly, the majority of the back of each sheet is free to make
maximum contact with the trowelled adhesive.

A system approach to tiling pools
Perhaps the most common belief in regard to tiling swimming pools
is that selection of a suitable sheeting system alone will ensure
success. While Edward Lowe, the Technical Manager of Bisazza
Australia, recognises the importance of choosing a mosaic that
is sheeted appropriately, he also recommends use of high quality
adhesive and epoxy grout, the appointment of a well-trained and
skilled installer, and adequate surface preparation.
   “Most pools today are grouted with cement, the same as they
were 20 years ago,” says Lowe. “While cement grouts in a constantly
balanced body of cold water work fine, the fact is that swimming
pool features today are significantly different than 20 years ago.
   “Unbalanced water, heated water and rapid water movement can
quickly damage cement grouts and adhesives to the point where
costly remedial repairs and even complete re-tiling may become
necessary after only a very short time. Although initially cost
effective, some of the generic fixing materials commonly used today
are not appropriate,” he says.
   “Bisazza now have high performance adhesives and grouts
designed for use in pools. These state-of-the-art products exceed
the highest standards of durability and aesthetic consideration.”
   Bisazza has designed and implemented the most comprehensive,
industry recognised mosaic training course. Participants in
the three-day course are provided with Bisazza’s installation
recommendations, advice about Australian standards and a hands-
on guide to glass mosaic pool tiling.
   “By investing in training, our objective is to help raise the
competency levels of installers, by adding complementary skill sets,
that are readily transferable and beneficial to industry,” Lowe says.

                                                              SPLASH! | 39

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