MusselBound Adhesive Tile Mat

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Even though it appeals to DIYers, pros will love the quick and easy approach MusselBound gives to tiling accent areas and shower walls.

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File this under "products to make your life easier." MusselBound Adhesive Tile Mat is the latest product in the adhesive tile backer category and offers some benefits over similar products, according to president and technical director Terry Jones. Fun fact: Mussels produce among the world's strongest bio-adhesives and are being researched for use in everything from surgical adhesives to false eyelashes. Though Jones says that MusselBound doesn't incorporate the naturally occurring adhesive, the bivalve has severed as inspiration for the product and its name.

Improving on Convenience

While adhesive tile backers have been touted for their efficiency and cost-effectiveness in tile accent installations, Jones says MusselBound works to improve on some areas where other products were lacking, primarily their workability.

"MusselBound as the unique ability that, prior to it being firmly pressed in place, it's very forgiving in its repositionability," he says. "You can apply it to the wall, and if you don't like how it is, you can pull it back. You have a lot of forgiveness when it comes to repositioning, both with placing the adhesive on the wall and placing the tile on the adhesive."

Once the material and tile are firmly in position, they're not going anywhere. MusselBound has 15 times more shear and peel strength than competitive products and meets industry standards for tile adhesion. Installers and their clients will also appreciate that MusselBound's adhesive is continuous, while others are applied to the tile backer in a pattern, which can result in a minimum tile size limitation. "In some cases, if you're using small tile and it doesn't land right on the pattern, you're out of luck," Jones explains. "With continuous adhesive, you can apply the smallest hand-laid mosaic you'd ever want to try."

Simple Installation

It's no surprise that MusselBound and other products in the category open up a world of DIY opportunities for homeowners, but Jones says he's received numerous testimonials from professionals who were wary of the product's too-good-to-be-true allure. "Once they realized that it offers a get-in, get-out solution, especially for small jobs like backsplashes, we got some really positive feedback from the contractor side," he says. The price point didn't hurt either. At about $1.80 per square foot, the material costs slightly more than traditional thinset mortar, but comes with much more convenience and no messy cleanup.

The installation is as easy as the website promises: Apply the sheets to the wall, peel off the facing layer, and place the tile. MusselBound is a plain white mat, so it won't affect the look of glass tile, and any grout can be used with the material. The sheets can go directly over a variety of substrates, including existing tile or laminate, so demolition can be all but eliminated in some cases.

MusselBound is ideal for backsplashes, shower walls, countertops, and other accent areas (think stair risers or breakfast bar footrests). However, the 1/32-inch sheets are not leveling materials, so MusselBound is not recommended for use with flooring. The product is available at Lowe's.