Ceramic Tile Mural at St. Paul Union Depot Achieved with TEC® Products

Constructed in 1926, St. Paul Union Depot is a relic from the golden age of rail travel – when train stations were not only transportation centers, but also works of art. “Trainscape,” a new tile mural in its carriageway, was installed with TEC® products and hearkens back to that era, visually capturing the excitement of traveling by train.

In the 1920s, as many as 20,000 travelers a day passed through the neoclassically designed St. Paul Union Depot, which has been described as the most important rail passenger station west of Chicago. After a full restoration in 2011-2012, it now serves as a major transportation center and event venue for the Twin Cities, and will soon offer expanded retail options. A striking tile mural in the carriageway, designed by Brian Boldon and Amy Baur of Minneapolis-based Inplainsight Art and completed in September 2013, welcomes those who arrive to the Union Depot by car, taxi or van with a panoramic, visual journey through St. Paul’s history.

The 6.65-by-146.5 foot installation, composed of 10-by-20 inch porcelain tiles with glass relief elements, depicts contemporary views of the rail system folded in with historical images of locomotives and the local landscape. To install the mural, contractor Jan Hohn, of Hohn & Hohn, Inc. turned to TEC® Roll-On Crack Isolation Membrane, TEC® Super Flex™ Ultra-Premium Thin Set Mortar and InColor™ Advanced Performance Grout.

Although InColor™ grout was the last product Hohn applied to the mural, it was actually the first one she selected. Hohn found out about InColor™ grout, which became available in June 2013, shortly before she began work on the project. After discussing the product with a TEC® product representative, she decided to use it on “Trainscape” because its high-strength, crack-and shrink-resistant formula works well on exterior installations, like the carriageway.

“Once I decided to use InColor™ grout, it was an easy choice to use all TEC® products for this project and, of course, receive the warranty that the TEC® system provides,” says Hohn.

InColor™ grout, in charcoal gray, artfully accentuates “Trainscape,” matching the hues of some of the depicted trains. Hohn also appreciates its easy to install qualities, as it spreads smoothly and cleans up easily.

“InColor™ grout was easy to work with, allowing us to finish grouting in one day,” says Hohn.

TEC® Roll-On Crack Isolation Membrane forms a uniform surface over the mural’s cement board substrate. Crack isolation was an important factor in the carriageway, since Minnesota’s freeze/thaw climate could cause the substrate to expand and contract.

TEC® Super Flex™ Ultra-Premium Thin Set Mortar in gray adheres the mural’s tiles directly to the TEC® Roll-On Crack Isolation Membrane. A polymer modified mortar with patented bonding formula, Super Flex™ mortar is approved for both interior and exterior use, and works well with the porcelain tile used on “Trainscape.”

The mural was completed in September 2013.

For more information about TEC® visit tecspecialty.com.


TEC®, InColor™ and Super Flex™ are trademarks of H.B. Fuller Construction Products Inc.

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