Image of mosaic tiles

Your comprehensive guide to mosaic tiling

There are many types of tile that are referred to as mosaic and there are a vast range available.

Mosaic tiles have become a common reference term for smaller tiles on a mesh backing. Some mosaic sheets can be 6mm thick porcelain while others are a delicate 2mm thick glass.

Smaller, thinner glass tiles tend to come with more issues than that of larger, more substantial mosaic tiles. These slim, fragile tiles can sometimes run into cutting and fixing problems.

Here’s what you need to know to create the perfect mosaic tile effect…

Top tips: Fixing mosaic tiles

  • Glass tiles have a frustrating tendency to shatter, so wearing protective glasses and gloves is essential
  • Use a very small notched trowel to prevent adhesive coming up through gaps in the grout
  • Avoid the common misconception that mosaic sheets should be laid in a brick pattern – this likely started because workers couldn’t line up the tiles and wanted to distract the eye!
  • Preparation is key: ensure walls are perfectly flat and perfectly true as this will affect the finish

An introduction to paper faced mosaics

Traditional single mosaic tiles are in the region of 22mm squared, with each sheet averaging 30cm squared.

However, companies, like Bisazza, make mosaic tiles that form pixelated pictures. These pictures come on what’s known as a paper faced mosaic. These mosaics can use individual tiles as small as 10mm squared!

Paper faced mosaics are a little more specialist, not using mesh on the back but instead a brown paper face as the name suggests. This means the tiles are laid blind and rely on the numbers on the paper for directional alignment.

An experienced tiler would lay in the region of 10 sheets at a time and, before the adhesive can dry, they’d soak off the paper to reveal the pattern. A sharpened pointing trowel would then be used to adjust any lines of the individual tiles.

The work of a good mosaic tiler can be seen when they finish a job – you shouldn’t be able to tell the tiles were ever on sheets.

A bad tiler on the other hand will not have adjusted the lines correctly and you’ll see a halo effect around each grouted sheet, also known as haloing. You’ll also likely spot squares everywhere.

Mosaic tiling is not for amateurs or the faint hearted among us so, if you’re unsure of how to proceed, then get in a qualified professional who will be able to ensure things flow smoothly.

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