How To: Install Mosaic Tiles

A tiled mosaic feature wall, border or splashback can make a real impact in any kitchen or bathroom. Adding an element of interest to a room’s décor, an eye-catching mosaic can compliment, contrast and significantly elevate an otherwise simple or understated interior scheme. Impactful and versatile, creating a luxurious and eye-catching mosaic is much easier than you may have thought. Here, our tile laying expert, explains how… Mosaic tiles are typically mounted on mesh backing and supplied in large strips or sheets, which allows you to cover a larger surface area without having to individually place each one – which is a great DIY hack; “Mosaic tile strips are a quick and simple option as you can simply attach a full sheet to the wall or floor like you would with a regular tile. “The small nature of these tiles also makes it far easier to fit around tricky obstacles like pipes, hardware, or fixtures in kitchens and bathrooms, which makes for a more seamless, cleaner finished look without the extra work of having to make too many cuts.” So far, so appealing, but how exactly do you make the cut with mosaic tiles? “If you are only tiling part of the wall, such as a splashback, you should mark out with a pencil where you want the tiles to start and finish. Hold a sheet of mosaic tiles up against the wall and trim off any rows that are above the pencil line. If you’re a tiling newbie then the easiest way to plan a mosaic splashback is to simply make it the height of one full sheet of mosaic tiles to avoid having to cut anything at all. “If you plan to cover a whole wall, such as a feature wall or a shower enclosure, you won’t need to mark out any edges, but I’d still advise using a spirit level to make sure that the first sheet of tiles is level for a perfect finish.” And now for the sticky part… "Using tile adhesive and a good quality spreader, apply enough tile adhesive to the wall to accommodate a single sheet of mosaic tiles. I always advise following the instructions on the particular packaging to determine the depth of the adhesive needed, but as a general rule of thumb, aim for around 3mm to 4mm deep.” “Once you’ve laid the adhesive, hold the spreader at a 45 degree angle and drag it through the adhesive to grooves. This process allows the adhesive to spread out evenly when the tiles are pressed into it.” So far so groovy, but how do you actually go about applying the mosaic tiles? “If you’re tiling a splashback, attach the first sheet of mosaic tiles at the far left of the area you want to tile, check it’s level using a spirit level, and work from left to right. If required, trim the tile strips before applying them to the wall, but remember that it’s always easier to plan your splashback around the size of a sheet of mosaic tiles to avoid making too many cuts. “If you’re tiling a full wall, take the first strip of mosaic tiles and apply them to the adhesive in the bottom left corner of the wall. Work from left to right and press the tiles firmly into the adhesive as you go along to make sure that the sheet is level and flush with the edge. It’s also advisable to use a small piece of wood to tap the tiles flat and level.” What about those obstacles and tricky patches? “As I mentioned earlier, cutting around obstacles can be far easier with a mosaic tile strip. Simply mark with a pencil and cut out the obstacle’s measurements accurately, and carefully, with a sharp cutting knife. Don’t worry about any gaps for now, just hold the sheet against the wall and make sure it fits. Spread the adhesive and lay the sheets as you would the others.” And then the waiting game begins? “That’s right. Leave the tiles to set for at least 24 hours before applying the grout. If you’re tiling a kitchen or a bathroom I can’t stress enough how important it is to invest in a good quality waterproof grout. Apply the grout as instructed on the packaging using a grout spreader, making sure that you clean any excess grout as you go along. Let the grout dry for a while before finishing it off with a grout shaper to tiny up the grout lines. Let the grout set before giving the tiles a good wipe over with a damp cloth. Any excess grout on the face of the mosaic tiles should wipe off fairly easily.” And that’s it? “Yes, that’s it. If you’ve got to that stage, congratulations, you’ve just created your first mosaic and you can now sit back and enjoy your create talents!” For more advice and to stock up on all your tiling essentials, click here to find your local Tile&BathCo showroom