Why Use Paper Face for Mosaic Installations?

The beauty of mosaics is evident to most architects, designers and installers. What is less obvious are the specification details and installation techniques that should be used to ensure an expert installation.

There are several types of mounting methods for mosaic tiles, and each has its strengths and weaknesses. Lunada Bay Tile and experienced tile installation professionals prefer paper-face mounting. 

* The biggest advantages of paper face tiles are being able to make adjustments during your set rather than the day after, and avoiding annoying sheet lines. 
** The sign of true craftsmanship can be found in the smallest of details. 


Paper-faced tiles are tiles with a paper covering on the front. The paper allows the tiles to adhere directly to thinset. The paper facing is removed with water after the tiles have been installed.

Hand installation with paper sheeting is considered the premium mounting method for experienced installers who follow the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) Handbook for Ceramic, Glass, and Stone Tile Installation. These standards are written for architects, designers, general contractors and tile installers in an effort to help professionals in the industry communicate clearly and ensure successful tile installations.

There are many benefits to the paper-faced mounting method. The paper allows a direct bond to the back of the tile while allowing for high degree of adjustability. Tile contractors are able to make adjustments during the set, rather than the day after, and avoid annoying sheet lines. The paper sheets also make it easier to negotiate radius conditions and other curving shapes.

  • Easy adjustment of individual tiles while mortar is still workable
  • Avoids annoying sheet lines
  • Ensures possibility of 100% coverage for best bond of tile to substrates
  • No material between the tiles and adhesive to weaken bond
  • No mesh material to feed and promote bacteria growth
  • Allows maximized bond to vitrified materials
  • Allows uniform mortar shrinkage and cure
  • No mounting material to be seen through transparent glass
  • Paper is easily removed with minimal water 20-30 minutes after installation
  • Entire process is easy to accomplish with a little patience
PRO TIP: When removing the paper face, leave some of the paper adhesive prior to grouting. The left-over adhesive on top of the glass provides a perfect grout release. No additional grout release will be needed.


The sign of true craftsmanship is seen in the smallest details, and paper-faced mounting of mosaics allows for a high level of detail during installation. 

TCNA provides information on A108.16, an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard that provides best practices for installing glass mosaic tiles, including paper-faced, back-mounted, edge-mounted, or clear film face-mounted tiles. The standard was published in 2005 and reaffirmed in 2020. Both the TCNA Handbook and ANSI A108-A118-A136.1 American National Specifications for the Installation of Ceramic Tile are available for purchase through TCNA and ANSI.

Paper + Patience = Beautiful, Reliable Tile Installations

See our installation guides and videos, including advice for removing paper face and making tile adjustments, at LunadaBayTile.com/Resources

You can click here for a downloadable PDF on the benefits of paper face.