Installing A Glass Mosaic Tile Floor

With glass mosaic flooring, you can create a functional piece of art that is literally right underfoot. Read ahead for installation tips and methods.

Many mosaic artists use the direct method of application for small items such as picture frames and vases. In this method, the tile pieces are glued directly to the item, and the artist can easily and quickly correct design flaws because he or she can see the mosaic as it forms. This is, by far, the easiest method of mosaic application.

However, tile pieces are never uniform in size and shape. Mosaics made with the direct method of application have uneven surfaces, and it is vital when creating a floor mosaic that the entire surface be completely flat. Even slightly uneven surfaces could cause someone to trip. Therefore, when installing a glass mosaic tile floor, one must use an indirect method of application, such as the paper method or the mesh method.

Note: If you plan to add a mosaic to the middle of a tile floor, make sure that the mosaic tiles are the same thickness as the surrounding tiles.



Paper

The first step is to draw your design, full scale, on tracing paper (or some other paper thin enough to allow you to see through it). Flip the paper over so that you are working with a mirror image of your design. Now transfer the mirror image to a sheet of heavy craft or butcher's paper (unwaxed). It is helpful to actually color in the design with colored pencils, crayons, or markers---you won't be able to see the progress of the mosaic, so seeing a colored-in sketch can give you an idea of how your colors will work together and can help you keep track of your work.

Now, follow your design and glue the tiles face down to the paper, using a school glue or other water-soluble glue. Make sure to leave spaces between the pieces for grout. Allow the entire upside-down mosaic to dry completely. When it has dried, you can cut the mosaic apart into smaller sections for easier installation.

Next, pour a thin bed of thinset mortar into the installation space, then push the sections of the mosaic-on-paper into the mortar, so that the paper is face up. Work quickly before the thinset mortar dries! Let the mortar set, and then wet the paper to remove it from the tiles, leaving behind your mosaic.

Mesh

Another popular indirect method is using mesh or netting. With this method, you will also begin with a mirror image of your design. Place sheets of clear paper with adhesive (like Contact paper) over your design, sticky side up. Place the tiles face down onto the sticky side of the paper. Follow your design, and make sure to leave spaces for grout.

When you have finished placing the tiles, stretch mesh fabric or netting over sections of the mosaic, and brush strong glue over the mesh/netting and backs of tiles. However, take care to not let the glue drip in the spaces between the tiles because this will affect your grouting later. Next, cut apart sections of the mosaic, and use strong tile glue to glue down each section in the installation space (Weldbond is considered by most mosaic artists to be the best glue for fine tile work). When the mosaic is dry, peel off the paper.

Grouting

Grouting is the final step in mosaic installation. Before you can begin to grout, however, it's important to clean any excess glue off of the mosaic tiles. Use a sharp craft knife or box cutter to slice away any glue from the tiles.

Next, select your grout, which you can find at any home improvement store in the tile and bath department. Grout comes in several colors, or you can add food coloring to tint the grout to contrast with your design. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for mixing.

Spread the grout across the mosaic, working the grout into the cracks between the tiles. Periodically, use a slightly damp sponge to wipe off the excess grout from the surface of the mosaic. Rinse out the sponge frequently, but make sure to squeeze out the water thoroughly. Finally, allow the grout to dry, and then go back and finish the cleanup by gently scraping off any leftover grout on the tile faces. Now, step back and enjoy your installation art!

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