How To’s

The Basics:

Q: What safety precautions do I need to take?

A: Creating mosaics calls for fundamental working safety methods: You should always wear eye protection when cutting mosaic products or mixing grout. Always bear in mind that mosaic products are frequently sharp. You should keep all your products out of reach of children. A dust mask should be worn when mixing grout. Grout can be an irritable product when in contact with skin; you should therefore wear suitable gloves.

Q: How do I start mosaicing right now?

A: For an interior project which will not be in contact with moisture, it is really straightforward:

1. Draw a basic outline of your chosen design on the face of your support. These can be copied from a preferred design or taken from a book or an internet source.

2. Determine the size of the tiles which you will require depending on the level of intricacy of your chosen design. You should always start by laying a few of the tiles together in order to ensure that the colours look right when combined.

3. Glue the tiles to your support one at a time with adhesive whilst ensuring that you gaps remain consistent and do not exceed approximately 2-3mm.

4. Once the glue has set for around 24hrs, the whole project can be grouted.

More complicated designs may require the use of fibre glass mesh; this can be used by laying the mesh over the chosen design and gluing the tiles ones by ones according to the design visible under the mesh. The whole mesh and tiles can then be stuck to the support in one operation using adhesive or cementitious grout.

Outdoor projects or mosaics which will be exposed to moisture will require a suitable support (treated for outdoor use) and will need to be sealed in order to ensure a longer life span.

Q: How do you grout a mosaic?

A: Start by mixing the grout according to the directions on the packaging (you should always wear a mask in order to avoid inhaling dust). Once ready, the grout can be spread into the gaps between your tiles, remove any excess with a large sponge. We do not recommend using a rag as this will undoubtedly catch on any sharp edges. The sponge should be rinsed after every pass in order to avoid build up although make sure that it is not dripping wet. Ensure that you keep the sponge flat to avoid removing the grout from within the gaps.

The grout should always be kept somewhat damp whilst it cures in order to avoid cracking.

Grouts:

Q: Where can I learn about grouts and how to use them?

A: All grouts should have instructions for use on the packaging; the important part is getting the water ration correct and wearing protective equipment when handling these substances.

Q: Once my mosaic was grouted, some glue showed up, what went wrong?

A: You must always ensure that any excess glue is thoroughly cleaned up before applying any glue. One good way of achieving this is by misting the mosaic with water once the glue has dried for a day or so. After approximately 10 minutes, any excess glue still standing proud of the tiles will turn white. Once this has occurred, you will be able to remove the excess with a Stanley knife. Although being a time consuming operation, this method will ensure that no glue will show when the piece is grouted.

Q: I grouted my stone mosaic and now all the stones are stained by the grout. Can this be fixed?

A: It is extremely important to seal stones, marble and unglazed ceramic or porcelain tiles with a grout and tile sealant prior to grouting. This is due to the fact that these materials are all porous and therefore will absorb the grout pigments. If you wish to enhance the colour of stone or mosaic, you may want to consider using a stone enhancer instead of the standard sealant.

If you were not aware of this and have already grouted untreated porous surfaces, some muriatic acid may work to remove the majority of the pigments although this is not guaranteed. *Please follow the manufacturer’s guidance carefully when using this product.

Q: How much grout do I need for my mosaic?

A: Three factors will affect the quantity of grout you will require.

1. The area of the mosaic

2. The thickness of the tiles

3. The gaps between the tiles

As a general rule, 500 grams of grout should be sufficient to cover a 1m² mosaic project. This is however assuming that your tiles are no thicker than 6mm and your tiles are well spaced with no gaps larger than 3mm. You may to consider using a plastic sheet under your mosaic to catch any grout which may fall of the edge.

Q: What color grout should I use in my mosaic?

A: The colour which you choose to use is entirely down to preference. It is a good rule of thumb however to use a grout colour which will contrast the tile colour. The last thing you want is for your tiles to blend into the background after having put hours of work into creating your mosaic.

Q: Do I need grout with sand in it?

A: This is only the case if the gaps between your tiles are greater than 4mm. The sand will reinforce the grout and prevent it from cracking.

Q: My grout started cracking and crumbled. What did I do wrong?

A: Grout will crack and crumble if it is allowed to dry too quickly. This will happen in very hot temperatures or very dry times of year. To avoid this happening, lightly mist the grout with a spray bottle every so often until it has fully cured. Also be sure to mix the grout according to the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure the best mix.

Adhesives:

Q: What is the best glue to use indoors?

A: All There is no specific glue which is best for indoor mosaics, it really depends on the type of tiles you are using and the support they will be fixed to. We recommend using the Collal universal glue for most indoor applications unless children will be participating in which case, the non-toxic PVA version would be more suitable.

Q: What's the best glue for rounded tiles?

A: The best adhesive to use when little surface area is going to touching the backing board is Adesilex, this will enable you to push the marbles or round stones into the cement and ensure a much better adhesion.

Q: Which is the best adhesive for outdoor use?

A: Although the Collal adhesives are perfectly suitable for outdoor use, we would recommend that Adesilex or a similar product is used, these types of adhesives are more likely to resist weathering on a long term basis. Whether opting for the Collal brand or Adesilex, it is very important to remember that thorough grouting and sealing of the project will ensure a much longer lifespan.

Q: How do I use Adesilex?

A: To use these various thicknesses, you would need to set them in Adesilex bonding mortar instead of using glue. The bonding compound can be spread on the wall or support you are using at a thickness of approximately 5mm and you will then simply need to press your mixed materials straight into it to the required depth. Do make sure to wear protective gloves and have a damp rag available to wipe off any excess cement which rises to the top.

Q: How do I put a mosaic on a wall and avoid them slipping off?

A: The best way to stick mosaic designs to a wall and ensuring that they will not slide down is using Fibre Glass Mesh. You will need to glue your tiles individually to the mesh whilst it is laid flat on your table (do make sure to cover your table with plastic or grease proof paper before hand). The easiest way to handle the tiles and mesh is to cut them down into 30x30cm sections. The collal glue can be used sparingly to glue the tiles to the mesh.

Once the glue has fully cured, the sheets can be fixed to the wall using tile-fix or adesilex. Once this has cured, the whole design can be grouted and cleaned up.

Supports:

Q: Can I mosaic on wood or plywood?

A: These manmade boards are a perfect support for most mosaic projects although if these are going to be used outdoors or in especially damp areas, you will need to ensure that they are treated adequately beforehand. The boards can be treated with various varnishes or paints but we recommend yacht varnish as this will provide the best long-lasting protection and thus avoid any damage to you piece.

Q: Can I mosaic wooden furniture for outdoors?

A: This can indeed be done but much care needs to be taken to ensure that all your efforts do not fall apart one year down the line. Wood is a material which is ‘alive’ and therefore needs to be thoroughly treated beforehand. We recommend at least three or four coats of yacht varnish in order seal the wood properly. Nowadays, it is rather easy to find metal outdoor furniture which you want to consider as the easier option.

Q: Can I mosaic directly on the brick outside of a building?

A: Setting mosaics onto brickwork is no problem at all as long as the brick is not crumbling, if this is the case, you may need to use a wire brush to remove any loose material. When gluing to such an even surface, you may want to use Fibre glass mesh in order to make the whole gluing process easier.

Q: Can I mosaic on my glass table top?

A: It is of course possible to do so but the weight of the final piece must be considered to avoid creating a safety risk. The glass can usually easily be replaced with a wooden substitute.

 

Indoor and outdoor uses:

Q: How do I make an outdoor mosaic last?

A: The best way to protect your outdoor mosaic pieces is to seal them with tile and grout sealer regularly. As timber decays when exposed to the elements, so do mosaics so make sure to treat it with the appropriate product too.

Tiles:

Q: How do I use materials of different thicknesses in a mosaic?

A: If you are planning on using various thicknesses in your project, there is a perfect way to enable you to set all the tiles to the same height in order to facilitate grouting. To use these various thicknesses, you would need to set them in adesilex bonding mortar instead of using glue. The bonding compound can be spread on the wall or support you are using at a thickness of approximately 5mm and you will then simply need to press your mixed materials straight into it to the required depth.

Do make sure to wear protective gloves and have a damp rag available to wipe off any excess cement which rises to the top.

Q: Can I use stone and glass mosaic tile together?

A: There is no reason why these materials cannot be used together, due make sure however that either the thicknesses are the same, or you sink your thicker tiles deeper into the adhesive to ensure a flat surface which will make grouting much easier and make the whole mosaic more appealing to the eye.

Q: How much tile do I need to cover my table or floor?

A: We always try to give approximate area coverage in the tiles description but as a general rule, a 30x30cm area can be covered using 225 20mm tiles or 841 10mm tile.

Cutting:

Q: How do I cut glass and glass mosaic tile?

A: As a general rule when cutting glass, the wheeled glass nippers are the best all around tool. Tile nippers will work on most vitreous tiles but you may find that it crushes other weaker glass.

Q: Can I cut glass mosaic tile with a tile nipper?

A: It is possible to cut glass tile with a mini nipper however wheeled nippers will work best as they do not crush the glass.

Q: How can I cut curved shapes?

A: Curves can be achieved through fixing small pieces together to form one although if the tile is big enough, you can chip away at it with cutters to try and achieve a curve.

Q: What tool do I need to cut porcelain and ceramic?

A: Tile nippers or sidebitters will work best for these materials.

Direct and Indirect Methods:

Sealing:

Patterns and Projects:

Q: How do I make a mosaic stepping stone? Do I need grout or glue?

A: Mosaic stepping stones are very rarely made from tiles stuck onto a stepping stone. The correct way to achieve this however is to create a mould of the stepping stone and pouring concrete into it. You will then just need to press your tiles into the concrete whilst it is still wet. Your mould can be made from anything ranging from a plastic dishpan to a cut down bucket.