How to make a mosaic

How to make a mosaic

You will need:

  • Sheets of mosaic tiles
  • Grouting/adhesive
  • Notched spreader
  • Squeegee
  • Tile saw or tile nibblers
  • Scissors
  • Clean cloth
  • Sponge
  • Timber battens
  • Masonry nails
  • Hammer
  • Spirit level

Tiling with attractive mosaics uses the same basic technique as normal tiles but their small size makes them ideal for tiling around curved surfaces or awkward shapes. The tiles are held onto a hessian or paper backing that holds them at the correct spacing.

Time to complete job: A two-sided shower enclosure should take a day to complete.
Approximate budget: Mosaic tiles cost from around £8 per 30x30cm sheet.

If you want to use mosaics on a wall that will stay dry, you could cheat and use vinyl paper with an embossed mosaic pattern that looks just like the real thing.

For more information see The Tile Association.

  • Step 1: Applying the adhesive

    Step 1: Applying the adhesive

    Start tiling from a bottom corner of the area to be covered. Because the tiles are very small, you should be able to adjust the spacing to minimise any cutting.

    Use a spirit level to nail a batten horizontally along the bottom edge of the tiled area. Nail the second batten at right angles to the first, along the left-hand edge of the area to be tiled. Check it's vertical with a spirit level.

    Spread tile adhesive/grout over about a half a square metre area in the corner formed by the two guide battens. Use a notched spreader to form even ribbons of adhesive.

  • Step 2: Laying the tiles

    Step 2: Laying the tiles

    Place the first sheet of tiles onto the adhesive and use small sliding movements to position the bottom and side edges along the guide battens.

    Make sure the tiles are firmly bedded into the adhesive by placing a piece of scrap plywood or MDF over the tiles and lightly tapping the board with a mallet.

    Check the surface is flat and smooth by laying a spirit level across the tiles. You may need to add a dab of extra adhesive/grout if part of the sheet is below the level of the surrounding tiles.

    Tip: If you need to work around an obstacle, use scissors to cut the backing sheet so that the tiles will fit.

  • Step 3: Grouting

    Step 3: Grouting

    Carry on tiling across the wall, working outwards and upwards, tapping a board on the surface of each sheet of mosaics to embed it firmly. Remove the battens when the adhesive is dry and grout over the mosaics with a squeegee.

    Wipe off any grout left on the tile surfaces with a damp sponge.

    Tip: You should be able to avoid cutting any tiles by compressing or stretching the sheets when you reach the edges of the area to be tiled. If you are forced to cut any tiles, use a tile saw or tile nibblers to form the shape required.

  • Step 4: Sealing

    Step 4: Sealing

    When the grouting has hardened, polish the mosaics with a dry cloth and squeeze a bead of flexible kitchen & bathroom sealant along the joint between the bottom row of tiles and the edge of the worktop, sink or shower/bath.