How To Create A Mosaic From Tile In Your Bathroom

Mosaic tiling in the bathroom combines the best of form and function! Read ahead to learn how to create your own mosaic.

Take a look around your bathroom. How many surfaces are covered in ceramic tile? If your bathroom is like many, then most likely the floors, counters, shower and tub areas, the sink splashback, and maybe the wall next to the shower are covered in a boring pattern of repeating square tiles. That boring tile does serve a practical purpose by waterproofing the surfaces to prevent damage. So keep the tile---but scrap the boring pattern. A mosaic in your bathroom is not only as durable and waterproof as tiling, but it also is a beautiful, colorful, long-lasting work of art.

Planning Your Mosaic

Do you envision an expansive mosaic, covering the entire bathtub area and wrapping halfway around one wall? Do you want to install a mosaic on the floor of your standing shower? Or do you imagine a smaller project such as a splashback or countertop? Here are some questions to ask yourself as you begin to plan and design your mosaic:

1. What condition is the room in? Can the potential mosaic surface support the extra weight of tiling? Is there adequate ventilation and drainage (dampness provides the environment for mold, and standing water deteriorates tiling)?

2. Are you building the mosaic into the initial design of the room, or are you adding a mosaic to an existing bathroom? How will the mosaic work with the rest of the bathroom and the other fixtures?

3. Do you own the property or rent? If you rent, how does the property owner feel about a permanent mosaic? If you own the property, consider how future potential buyers, if you ever decide to sell, might feel about the design. If these are concerns, then consider a portable mosaic, such as a removable shelf or vanity mirror, which you can then take with you if you ever move to a new home.

Being small, self-contained spaces, bathrooms lend themselves well to themed d├ęcor, especially the popular ocean theme. But there's no reason to stop there---do you imagine something whimsical and light-hearted, elegant and classic, or modern and sleek? Mosaic designs can express all of these moods and more! Do a little research, and draw inspiration from artwork, fabrics, pottery, nature, and, of course, other mosaics.

Begin sketching out your ideas. It is a good idea to sketch on paper the same size as the completed mosaic, but if you plan to mosaic an entire wall, this might not be feasible. When you have a sketch that you like, you may want to make several copies and color it in with colored pencils to help you decide which colors work well together.

Splashback Project

One easy way to add mosaic to your bathroom is with a sink splashback. It is not only functional, being water resistant and providing a protective covering for the wall, but is also a unique piece of art in an unlikely. It is sure to be a conversation piece in your home!

You will need the following tools and materials to make a ceramic tile backsplash:

-A hammer

-Tile nippers

-An old steak knife

-Medium-density fiberboard cut to fit the mosaic area exactly

-PVA adhesive

-Water-resistant grout

-Screws and screwdriver

-Mirror plates

-Rubber gloves

-Dust mask

-Safety goggles

-Charcoal pencil

-Ceramic tile

First, break up the tile into small pieces (called tesserae). Use the hammer to break up large pieces of tile quickly, then trim the pieces into the desired shapes with the nippers. Many mosaic artists prefer to cut up all of the tile for a given project at one time, so that you do not have to stop mid-project to make more tesserae.


For your protection, wear a dust mask and safety goggles whenever you are breaking up tile.

Next, "key" the fiberboard by running the steak knife back and forth across the surface. This will help the tiles adhere to the board. Then, sketch your design in charcoal on the board. Place a handful of tesserae on the board and move them around until you find color combinations that please you. Keep experimenting until you are happy with the results, and take all the time you need---it's a pain to remove tiles once you've glued them down!

Now, begin gluing your tesserae, one at a time, until the entire board is filled. Allow the glue to dry for at least one hour. After the glue has dried, use a craft knife to scrape off any glue that seeped onto the surface of the tiles. Now you're ready to grout! Select your desired grout color, and mix according to the manufacturer's instructions (you can also add food coloring or acrylic paint to tint the grout). White grout can quickly become dingy if it is in a damp environment, so a darker grout is often a better choice for the bathroom.

Put on the rubber gloves, and spread the mixed grout over the entire surface of the splashback. Frequently, wipe off the excess grout with a slightly dampened sponge. Make sure that the grout evenly fills the spaces between the tesserae. When finished, allow the mosaic to dry for 24 hours (or the amount of time specified in the manufacturer's instructions). Then, clean any traces of remaining grout from the tile surfaces. To attach the splashback to the wall, screw the mirror plates into the back of the board, and then hang the splashback on the wall.

You can use this same method to cover a wooden shelf or cabinet in mosaic. However, slightly different techniques are required to cover walls, floors, and countertops. For example, different adhesives must be used with different surfaces, and you will need to be more concerned with creating perfectly smooth surfaces than with a splashback or shelf. If you desire a large installation such as a floor, wall, or countertop, there are numerous how-to books on mosaic available at your local library, or look online for additional information. Finally, don't rule out consulting an expert for assistance with the design and installation of a large, permanent mosaic. It might be more expensive than doing it yourself, but you can trust that the results will be professional.

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