Dealing with wet thinset when setting tile can be frustrating. Vertical tile always wants to slide down, and even tile on horizontal surfaces can moe around. Plus, it takes a long time for the thinset to fully cure so that you can begin grouting. But there is a product that eliminates the thinset step and lets you get right to grouting: Bondera.
What Is Bondera Tile Mat?
Bondera is an adhesive tile mat that is meant to be a substitute for thinset, mastic, or other wet adhesives when tiling. Bondera makes tiling of limited spaces such as backsplashes or counters an easy project. Bondera allows for tiling straight onto laminate or solid surface counters.
- Bondera is a double-sided, pressure-sensitive adhesive on a roll that acts as a substitute for tile thinset (mortar)
- Gridded, to help in spacing tiles
- Works in both wet and dry applications
- Shortens the time it takes to get to grouting
- Mold-proof and water-tight
- Lighter than thinset
Dry-Apply: Bondera's adhesive is dry, so there is no need to hurry to apply tile before the thinset dries.
Great Vertical Stick: Bondera adhesive tile mats helps eliminate the problem of tile-shift on vertical applications. Tile sticks immediately—no waiting and no need for plastic tile spacers.
Repositioning: The adhesive does allow for the tile to be taken up once or twice before the final setting. Repositioning is a plus for first-time tilers.
Backsplash Friendly: Best for backsplashes and other vertical applications, Bondera also can be used on countertops.
Thin: Traditional tile thinset can have a correcting effect on minor imperfections in the sub-surface. Because Bondera is a thin, adhesive mesh, it does not have correcting properties.
Low Durability: Bondera does not work for flooring or high-heat applications.
Small Tiles Only: The limit on the tile size is 6 inches square. Larger tiles are too heavy and will fall off.
May Be Visible: If you are laying translucent glass tile, the grid pattern may show through the tile.
The practice of applying mortar to make tile adhere to surfaces is thousands of years old. And while this process has worked well so far—visit Italy or Greece and see 2,000-year-old tile doing quite well—it can be difficult for the new tiler to learn it. Tiling can be an intimidating process, especially when you are working against time.
Tiling vertical surfaces adds another issue—gravity. The moment you press the tile into the mortar on the wall, the tile begins to slip downward.
Bondera TileMatSet from W.R. Grace is a sticky, gridded adhesive mat that you use in place of mastic or mortar. The best part is that it's dry. You press the tile onto this mat, wait a few hours, then grout. Contrast this with tiling with mastic or mortar and your wait time is measured not in hours but days.
Bondera TileMatSet does take into account the error factor, allowing you to lift and reposition after a few minutes. It also has a slightly mushy feel that lets you make microscopic adjustments without lifting the tile.
One positive thing about wet mortar/mastic is that it can help fill in surface deficiencies; Bondera TileMatSet will not do that. Because Bondera TileMatSet is so thin, it will require a perfectly smooth surface on which to apply the product.
Should You Use Bondera?
Is it possible to throw out this age-old practice of mortaring with the introduction of Bondera? No. Thinset has many positives. For one, thinset is less expensive than Bondera, on a square-foot by square-foot basis. Thinset works well for small applications like bathroom backsplashes. On a large scale, it would not be economical to use Bondera over thinset.
Bondera does work, and it can save you the accumulated time of spreading thinset, applying tile with spacers, and waiting for the thinset to solidify before you can grout. With Bondera, the instant you apply the tile, you can begin to grout. You can conceivably lay and grout an entire kitchen backsplash on a Saturday morning.
If you're a new tiler or nervous about laying tile, Bondera can be a great way to get started with the craft of tiling and to build up confidence. Bondera also works well for crafting or for other applications where weight is an issue. Thinset is a heavy material, and Bondera is considerably lighter than thinset.