August 4, 2015 Guest Post
Mosaic tiles add life to any part of your house. Its colors and designs are attractive and vibrant. Making mosaics is no easy feat though. It needs a lot of focus because of the nitty gritty details involved in creating it. Here are some questions that are rarely asked about mosaic tiles but are crucial to the process of creating it.
What specific precautions should I take when doing a Mosaic project?
Yes there are! One should always have eye protection on, such as safety glasses. When nipping glass mosaic tiles, shards can sometimes fly in random directions if your nipping technique isn’t quite perfect yet.
It’s always best to do mosaics in a well-ventilated area as you start gluing or grouting your project. Wearing gloves is especially important when you start grouting for several reasons. The grout can dry out your skin, you would not want to wash your grouty hands in the sink since the grout can clog your pipes, and it would be really difficult to remove the grout from your skin once it has dried.
What safety precautions do I need to take?
Making mosaics requires basic shop safety practices: Wear goggles when cutting mosaic materials or mixing grout. Mosaic materials are often sharp. Keep out of reach of children. Avoid breathing the dust when mixing grout. Wear rubber dishwashing gloves when grouting to avoid irritating your skin. Don’t overload patio tables with mosaic materials so that the table becomes unstable (top heavy). You should also make sure that the table frame can support the overall weight.
What is the best grout to use? Sanded or Premixed?
Sanded Grout A mixture of portland cement, sand and special additives providing a dense, acid and alkali-resistant grouting material. Colored Sanded Grouts also contain color-fast pigments. Sanded Grout can be used in virtually any application, indoors and out, even when grouting on floors. Sanded Grout is a porous cement, which means that it can absorb liquid materials after it has dried. This can be good and bad: you can stain your Sanded Grout after it has set with a colored grout stain, or it can be stained accidentally with spilled liquids – watch out for that red wine and grape juice! See the section on sealing your grout for information on how this can be prevented.
Premixed (Unsanded) Latex Grout Our special blend of water soluble materials and acrylic-latex additives. Premixed Grout provides a smooth joint, without the graininess of Sanded Grout. Premixed Grout is not recommended for use on floors. Our Premixed Grout can be used in mosaics in which the grout line is up to 1/4″ in width. If you are using unglazed non-glass tile (such as ceramic or terra-cotta) you may want to use the Premixed Grout. These tile are prone to absorbing the moisture from your grout mixture and may become discolored. Premixed Grout has less moisture than a Sanded Grout mixture. As Premixed Grout is a latex-based admixture, it is not as porous as Sanded Grout. This means that it is less likely to become stained and discolored, but it is more difficult to tint after your grout has dried and set.
How do I mount mosaics on a wall?
Glue your mosaic tiles to fiberglass mesh at your work table. (Make sure your table is covered with construction plastic or parchment paper, such as used in baking, so that you don’t glue everything to the table. Most people cut the mesh in smaller sections, usually 12 inch x 12 inch, because it is difficult to handle sheets of mosaic larger than 1 sq foot. Most people use Weldbond (sparingly) to attach tiles to mesh. When the mesh is dry in about 24 to 48 hours, you are ready to mount this assembly to the wall. This is done by spreading thinset or mastic or Weldbond on the wall itself and pressing the mesh onto the wall. After this cures, in about 48 hours, you can grout the mosaic in place.
How do I polish my mosaic after I finish creating one?
After your mosaic is finished and your grout is dried, you can use mineral or olive oil to polish your tile. Using a soft cloth, sponge or chamois, apply a few drops of oil to the surface of your mosaic and rub it in. This should give you a nice, shiny wet look which will enhance the color and emphasize the design of the tile and grout for your floors. You may need to occasionally re-apply a coat of oil to restore this look.
How do I cut the precise shape I want from glass mosaic tiles?
Glass tile can be difficult to cut in a predictable shape due to the scoring on the backsides of the tiles. That is why you should cut the tiles upside down so that you can see how the embossed ridges might be affecting your cut. (Wear safety glasses as always.)
Here’s the more important information:
The pieces shouldn’t be perfect squares or triangle. The irregularity ensures a grout gap even when the tiles are pressed close together. More importantly, non-uniform squares will make the mosaic much more interesting visually than uniform squares. (Look at traditional mosaics if you doubt this.) Perfect squares make a mosaic look like it was made from a kit. A little irregularity makes a mosaic look more like hand-made art.
Tiles should never be “shaped” or custom cut. Instead, cut up about 4 or 5 tiles, and then select the piece that is closest in shape to what you need. You will find that you work faster that way with much less stress.
Andrew James Stevenson is an architect based in England. He is also a part-time interior designer and a father 2 beautiful daughters. He plays golf during the weekends and design layouts during the weekdays.