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Tiling over swirled plaster

SphirosOKelli's picture

Hey everybody, I'm a new homeowner and I'm working on increasing the style and value of my home. I have found a gorgeous backsplash tiling that I want to put in my kitchen:

I've never done tiling before, and my home is wall-to-wall plaster. And it is swirled. My question is do I have to remove the plaster and re-board, or can I simply apply a tile cement over the plaster I have? Do I need to sand it smooth, or are the grooves useful for bonding as long as the cement is smooth? My walls look pretty much like this:

Thank you guys so much!

Well, since this is a kitchen (post #210472, reply #1 of 3)

Well, since this is a kitchen backsplash there's no real water issue (unless you're really sloppy when using the sink), so the primary issue is achieving a solid bond.

You say "plaster", but if this is a modern home it's almost certainly drywall, presumably skim-coated and given the swirl treatment.  Not that this is a big issue, but occasionally plaster suffers from separation bertween the layers, so you'd need to more carefully check for "integrity" issues if it's plaster -- look for cracks or bulges.  With drywall the only thing to check for is taped seams where the tape is coming loose.  Also, with either, the paint needs to be well-attached and not peeling.

It's hard to tell how deep the swirl marks are, but to be on the safe side you should probably lightly scrape the surface with a stiff putty knife, to knock off any particularly high ridges.  (Certainly no need to get it perfectly smooth, but you don't want a ridge that will keep the tile from sitting flat.)  Then a good quality mastic tile adhesive should do the job for you.  (There are religious arguments as to which type of tile mastic to use, so I won't go into that -- use what you're comfortable with.)

Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

Greetings (post #210472, reply #2 of 3)

Since you are working with glass tile you might want to skim coat the splash to smooth it out prior to applying your thinset.  Even tile with a backer, any ridges in the thinset will show through at the edges of the tile.  The extra step could make it easier as well as allow you to use a trowel with less pronounced grooves. 

you'll need to knock down the trowel ridges  in the adhesive as well b/4setting the tile.

when setting the tile, have a sponge float to press the mosaics flat.

consult your supplier or read up on setting glass mosaics, their a different animal than the usual ceramic field tile.


best of luck.

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