Fiberglass mesh tape is an important step in the process of installing ceramic tile, but not all tile jobs will require the use of tape. Whether or not you need fiberglass tape will depend entirely on your subfloor or wall board that the tile will be set on. You must also be sure that the tape you are using is made for the installation of tile.
Fiberglass mesh tape is made from a spun fiberglass yarn. It is then treated with acrylic chemicals that make it resistant to alkaline. Fiberglass mesh tapes are also waterproof. Depending on its use, there may or may not be adhesive applied to one side.
Fiberglass mesh tape is used in many industries, including medical, automotive, industrial and construction. Mesh tapes are used for their strength, resistance to moisture and fire, and insulating capabilities.
Not all mesh tapes are alkali resistant. When mesh tape is used for tile it is exposed to alkali found in the cement or thinset used to set the tile. The mesh tape would eventually rot or crumble due to the corrosive nature of alkali. An alkali resistant tape will not be affected by exposure to alkali.
You will not need fiberglass tape if your subfloor is concrete. A concrete subfloor is solid and does not have seams. You will need mesh tape if you are installing a cement board subfloor. Concrete board is purchased in sheets much like drywall. After installation there will be seams where the sheets of concrete board come together. The fiberglass mesh tape is used to cover the seams. Seams that are not taped will leave weak areas underneath your tile, possibly causing it to crack.
Tape every seam in the concrete board subfloor making sure that the entire seam is covered. Use the same thinset that you use for setting tile to securely adhere the tape to the seams. Do not apply a heavy uneven coat. Your thinset should be smooth and applied in a very thin layer. You will need to sand high spots and ridges before setting your tile.
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