How to Lay Mosaic Tiles

Tile mosaics have been popular for centuries, if not millennia. The colourful and simple method of designing a personal or public space never fails to make an impact, particularly when more intricate and specialised patterns are used. If you want to take a step back in time to achieve a strikingly modern outcome when decorating an area of your home, follow these simple tips.

What you will need

  •        Mosaic tiles
  •        Spirit level
  •        Pencil
  •        Tile adhesive
  •        Short length of straight wood
  •        Adhesive spreader
  •        Grout
  •        Rubber grout spreader
  •        Tile cutting tool
  •        Sharp trimming knife

1) Marking things out

If you are only tiling part of a wall such as a splashback in a kitchen or bathroom, you need to mark out where the tiles will start and finish on the wall. Get a spirit level and draw a pencil line to mark down the top edge. Obviously, this step is not necessary if you plan to cover a full wall, though a spirit level will give you a starting point to ensure the first few are straight. The wall itself must be flat, too; you cannot build up irregularly-shaped areas by using adhesive, after all.

2) Applying adhesives

Using the best-quality tile adhesive that money can afford, as well as a notched adhesive spreader, apply a thin bed of adhesive (3mm to 4mm deep) to the area being tiled. Hold it at a 45-degree angle and drag it through the adhesive so that ridges are of an even depth. Nonetheless, don't go overboard; when tiling a large area, only apply adhesive for two to four sheets of tiles at a time.

3) Laying the mosaic tiles

Take the first sheet of tiles and ensure you have them the right way up for the pattern you bought, then apply them to the adhesive in the bottom corner of the splashback or wall. Press them firmly into the adhesive, ensuring they are level and close to the edge. Use a short length of wood and tap the sheet level to the wall.

4) Working around obstacles

Keep applying tiles until you reach the end of the area, wall or an obstacle; for example, you could encounter light switches and plug sockets. Tiling around obstacles with mosaic tile sheets is much easier than with normal tiles, so don't worry.

As soon as you're less than one sheet from the obstacle, measure from the edge of the last full sheet of tiles before the obstacle to the near edge of the obstacle. Measure the height and width of the socket around this and transfer measurements to a tile sheet. Utilising a sharp trimming knife, cut out tiles inside your marks; don't worry if it is markedly larger than the socket. Spread adhesive for the cut sheet of tiles and lay it on in the same way.

5) Grouting

The final step is tricky, but extremely important. After leaving the tiles to set for a minimum of 24 hours, you must apply the grout. Good quality waterproof grout is best, and necessary in bathrooms and kitchens. Apply the grout as per manufacturer's instructions, using a rubber-edged grout spreader; also consider using a grout float to smooth over the sheet. Clean excess grout from the tiles as you go along using a damp cloth. Leave grout to set for a short while and then use a grout shaper or thin piece of dowel to neaten lines.