Material 1&1: Cement adhesive for the direct method

Since I am always being asked what adhesive we use at school for the direct method, today I would like to tell you about this.

If you you look at the photos I post in the section Spilimbergo 24/7 you see that we do not work directly in the mortar but our thin set is formed of an adhesive.

Huh? Yes. This cement adhesive is a powdered adhesive containing a high content of cement. At the same time the cement adhesive forms the mosaic surface.

We use the cement adhesive in combination with powdered brick and an elastifying latex dispersion (instead of water), which makes the grout more resistant to cold and stress. The mixture is therefore suitable for interior and exterior mosaics. The curing time depends on the ground and is about 2 – 4 days.


In school and in Italy in general a brand that starts with M and ends with APEI is ubiquitous. As we work almost exclusively here with their products, I am seduced to pass the product names to you unfiltered. But as I don’t want to be taken as their press agent, I’ll name you some products of two other manufacturers on the way. Depending on where you live, these are certainly to be found easier.

Mapei Kerabond (available in gray and white ) + Mapei Isolastic
More information at

Knauf Bau- und Fliesenkleber C1TE + Knauf Kleber- und Boden-Elast.
More information at

Laticrete Permacolor grout + Laticrete 4237 Latex
More information at


Mix 1 part of latex dispersion with about 3 parts of cement adhesive until you receive a toothpaste-like consistency. The collar should neither be too moist nor too dry. It should shine but not be too liquid.

If you want to use colored adhesive just add color pigments or brick sand. But don’t exaggerate (don’t use more than 7 %), otherwise the adhesive ability is impaired!


We bath each tessera in the adhesive (using tweezers) and form an evenly closed mortar bed bonding together the little pieces and at the same time creating a base for the mosaic. The stones should be fixed about 2/3 in the glue – a bit like your teeth in the gums.

For processing of the adhesive you have about 8 hours time. When the glue starts getting dryer, you can stir it with a few drops of latex dispersion to make it smooth again.

Depending on the size of the mosaic, this should be reinforced in retrospect to a network and / or placed on a stable surface. See the next item.

Underground / stabilization of the mosaic

There are various possibilities to stabilize the mosaic created with the cement adhesive described herein.

Work directly on firm ground

The easier way: Your directly work on a stable surface. Suitable wood panels such as MDF work well for interior purpose. The very light and flexible honeycomb or sandwich panels are suitable for outdoor use. If the wood is too smooth, you can carve it with a cutter before placing the mosaic.

Provisional underground with subsequent fixation

This is how we work mainly: Either 1.) on a glass fiber net in an appropriate mesh size (depending on the size of the tesserae you want to use). The net (under which we lay a a nylon as non-adhesive base), together with the cement adhesive forms a solid surface. Even if the mosaic breaks its parts will stay together. Or 2.) work directly on the nylon foil (polyethylene). The mosaic dissolves from the nylon after drying.

The final mosaic is glued to the solid base. For this purpose you can also use the cement adhesive described here.

You have questions or comments? I look forward to receiving them!



Join the Conversation


  1. Hi.
    One of the most exciting posts so far and for that I am so very grateful.
    When you talk about the latex dispersion are you referring to the Mapei Isolastic?
    I look forward to your next post and to images of your work.
    I hope the exams went well.
    Best wishes

    1. says: miriam

      Hey Luis, thanks I am happy that you find the post useful.
      Yes, I refer to MAPEI Isolastic and was recommended LATICRETE 4237 Latex + KNAUF Kleber- und Boden- Elast. by these companies when asking them for similar products.
      Exams went well, thanks :-)
      Cheers, Miriam

  2. says: Brenda Wilson

    Thanks very much Miriam for these little insights into the work at Spilimbergo .. I always really enjoy your postings. I wonder if you could tell me the name they use in Italy for those metal ‘thumb tacks’ as shown in the blog picture … I have tried several times to search for them on the web and have tried tracking them down in Ravenna but just can’t find them … perhaps because I don’t know the name. Hopefully see again you next year in Ravenna for the Festival.

    Best regards

    1. says: miriam

      Hey Brenda,

      nice to hear that you enjoy reading my posts! Do you mean the “pinze” or “pinzette” with which you take the little tesserae? Or the little palette knife, the “spatole” with which we spread the glue and reach the most difficult points? If you are not sure about the wording maybe check this website You can’t order as a private person but maybe search for the tools you need in English in their product catalogue and then look up the product name in Italian.

      Did that help? If you need any further assistance let me know!

      Hope to see you again soon!
      Best wishes

  3. says: Luis Ponce

    Hello Miriam

    Question, what paper do you use for the base?

    and at the end of putting the mortar in the mosaic, it comes off easily?

    Thanks for your post, it is very useful information for us :)

  4. says: Alex

    Hi Miriam thank yo so much for your insight!!! If thickness is an issue für the area, what is the minimum thickness of wood you would use? Thank you very much.
    Sincerely Alex

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