Armchair Builder

Installing Tile with Bondera

It’s been over a year now since we completed our tile project with the Bondera product.  In case you don’t know, Grace Construction Products…the makers of the popular roof underlayment Ice and Water Shield, sell a product called Bondera that takes the place of traditional mortar for tile installation. We decided to use the product on a shower tile installation to see how it stacked up to traditional mortar.  Because it’s been a year now, we thought it would be good to write a follow up article to let you know how the material is holding up.  By the way, we have no affiliation with Bondera or Grace Construction Products, but they did give us the material to try it out for free.

What is Bondera?

It’s basically a rubber-like material that comes in sheets that has an adhesive on both sides.  The sheets are cut to fit and then the backing is removed to adhere them to the wall.  Then when you are ready to install the wall tile, you just peel back the paper on the face and set the tiles in place.

Manufacturer’s Claimed Benefits

Here are some of the benefits that are claimed by the manufacturer.

  • Easier, faster and cleaner for tile installation than traditional methods (i.e. mortar or mastic)
  • Self adhesive
  • Repels water
  • Mold resistant
  • Provides crack isolation

Our Experience with Bondera

Last year we published an article giving the details of our installation of Bondera in a shower.  The installation went pretty smoothly.  But as with any new product, it takes some getting used to.  When applying the sheets to the wall, you must be extremely careful in the positioning…once it’s up on the wall, it’s very difficult to move.  This is probably what allows the product to work so well after installation.  So here’s a few pictures of our installation…

Bondera Protective Backing

Removing Protective Backing from Bondera

Bondera Tile Installation

Bondera Applied to Wall in 12 Inch Strips

Bondera Tile Installation

Setting Wall Tiles onto Bondera

Installing Tile with Bondera

Tiles Set with Spacers on Bondera Adhesive Sheets

Tile Bondera Installation Complete

Back Wall of Shower Complete

Here’s what we liked about the product…

  • No Time Limit – Mortar sets up rather quickly once on the wall.  With Bondera, you have no time limit.
  • Less Mess – Mixing and applying mortar to tiles can get ugly and the cleanup is no fun.
  • Crack Isolation – If you have movement in the substrate, it’s good to have a crack isolation membrane…which Bondera provides.
  • Water resistance – For a shower, it’s good to have a secondary protection against moisture to keep it out of the wall cavity.
  • Stands the Test of Time:  Yes, after a year the tiles and grout are still in place from our Bondera installation.  There has been no sagging or movement of any kind.
  • Grout can be applied the same day as tile installation.

Here’s what we didn’t like…

  • Learning Curve – When installing Bondera for the first time, you will get frustrated until you get into a groove.  The sticky adhesive is so strong and it frequently sticks to itself if you’re not careful.  Also, tiles can be repositioned after setting them but once you push them into place it’s very difficult to move them.
  • Expense – This material can get expensive, especially if you don’t need crack isolation or waterproofing.  But for a shower, the additional cost may be worth it.

Limitations of Bondera

There are a few manufacturer stated limitations for Bondera.  This product is not recommended for installation on fireplaces, floors, exterior applications, or ceilings.  Also, if you are using a natural stone tile, you may need to allow the tile to dry prior to setting (most porcelain and ceramic should be ok however).  Slate tile is not recommended for use with Bondera.   You also need to make sure your surface is flat when using Bondera as opposed to mortar that can fill voids and minor surface imperfections.  One last item to remember…Bondera allows you to grout the same day as tile installation.  Actually, you must grout the same day as installation per the manufacturer.  So, if you don’t finish installing the first day, you may need to grout twice.


The Bondera product is perfect for do-it-yourselfers since you can take your time.  And now that our project has been completed for over a year, we can say the product does perform as intended.  The tiles are still firmly in place and we have had no leaks.  Be sure to check out the other Armchair Builder low cost bath remodel videos or click on tile installation articles below to get a quality job on your project.

Shower Tile Backer – Need to know if you can apply tile directly to your drywall?  Checkout this article for details on what to use for a proper tile backer.

Tile Backer Board Installation – Provides details on the proper way to install cement backer board.

Prevent Shower Leaks in Your Tiled Bath – Don’t create a tiled shower before you read this article.  Do it once the right way.

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