Beauford sandstone flooring by Polly Harbinson Design

Back buttering is a technique used to adhere tiles to a substrate and helps to avoid problems long term.

Terms of the trade: Back Buttering

The term ‘back buttering’ refers to the process of applying an adhesive to the back of a stone tile with a trowel to ensure proper adhesive coverage. This technique allows the adhesive to fill the voids and hollow areas that are naturally present on the back of the tile before it is laid on the surface.

In addition to the thin-set mortar applied on the back of the tile, a layer is also troweled on the substrate surface before the tile is placed into position.

Reasons for back buttering

There are a number of reasons for the using this method when laying tiles. These include:

  • Enhances the bond: it serves to fill any voids and provides full coverage to ensure the tile has optimally adhered to the substrate. This is particularly important for large format tiles.
  • Ease of installation: in hard to reach areas, troweling thin-set mortar can be difficult. Back buttering eliminates the need to trowel these areas.
  • Avoids lippage: it can help avoid lippage where one tile sits higher than another.

Back buttering isn’t used in every application and while it is a time-consuming process, it can be an effective way to install stone tiles and ensure long-term durability.