Terms of the trade: Back Buttering

The term ‘back buttering’ refers to the process of spreading a thin-set adhesive to a tile just before it is placed. The adhesive is applied with a trowel to ensure proper adhesive coverage. The technique allows the thin-set 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 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.

The objective of the back buttering technique is simple. Set the tiles in such a way as to reduce the possibility of movement and error. Each tiling project is different and unique so we encourage you to talk to a professional to see if this technique is required.


Back Buttering
Garrone Limestone natural stone tiles 

Reasons for back buttering

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

Enhances the bond:

As a technique serves to fill any voids. It also provides full coverage to ensure the tile has optimally adhered to the substrate. This is particularly important for large format tiles. Bond enhancement ensures that tiles do not move once they have been installed.

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:

Lippage is when one edge of a tile is higher than the tile next to it. It gives the surface an uneven appearance and can be hazardous. Back buttering avoids this and ensures all tiles are adhered evenly.

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.

Source: Safe Environment