How to Make a Mosaic

Blue Mosaic by GaudiMaking a mosaic for a room like a bathroom, or for a table top or for outside is a challenge but rewarding task. You can plan it from scratch and get just the design you want.

First gather your materials: ceramic tiles, pieces of china or whatever you want to use in your project. You can buy small tiles if you are looking for a specific color or design or you can keep it interesting and make your own designs. Find yourself a flat, sturdy surface to work on.

Next get the adhesive you are going to use and the grout for filling in the table top once the tile pieces are glued in place. You can get the grout in colors too if you prefer not to use the standard white.

Some other tools you will want are several rags, a pencil, a marking pen, plastic putty knife, an old pillow case and the fun tool—a hammer. This is a project that is done easier outdoors or on a porch with good ventilation. Unless you are taking on a counter top or a wall mosaic, then you will need adequate ventilation in the house for the adhesive.

Plotting the Design

Unless you are making a free hand mosaic you will want to sketch out what you are going to make for a picture. Use paper the size of the picture you want to have on the project.

Now put the tile pieces, china or what have you, like clay pots in different colors into the pillow case; lay it on a firm surface and hit it with the hammer a few times. This will give you your mosaic pieces to work with. If you want them smaller then hit it a few more times.

If you have already bought small tiles for making your project, then you can skip the hammer bit, but it’s a lot of fun and a great way to get out your frustrations!

Laying out the Design and Applying the Adhesive

Take the paper with the sketch on it and lay it flat. Use the tile pieces from the pillow case or the pre cuts to make your design. Once you have the picture laid out, you can sketch the same design on the center of the table top with a marker so you can see it.

Once you have the design centered on the table top, you can start taking the pieces off the design on the paper one at a time, put the adhesive on the back of the piece and place it in the corresponding place on the table, adhesive side down. Press into place and continue with the rest of your design.

Finishing the Edges

Now take a contrasting color in mosaic pieces to use for the remainder of the table top, or just use random colors if you want to and glue the pieces one at a time, placing them almost touching so there is a little room between pieces until the whole table top is full of tile.

Now, let it dry for 24 – 48 hours. The next step once the adhesive is dry, is to mix the grout to a paste consistency unless you have the pre-mixed grout.

Applying the Grout

Take the putty knife and load it with grout. Spread it over the top of the whole design like you are frosting a cake, making sure that all the spaces in between the tile pieces are full. Once the whole top is covered take the putty knife and scrape off the tops of the tiles so you can see them.

Now take the rag you have (an old towel works well), wet it thoroughly and wring it out until it is just damp. Fold the towel and gently wipe across the top of the tiles taking care not to go into the spaces between the tiles. Rinse the rag often and keep going until you can see the tops of all the tiles.

Once this is finished let it dry for a day. The whole top will probably be a hazy white, this is ok now you can use a damp towel and rub it harder to remove the film that is left.

Finished Product

Your table is now finished in a top of your own design and ready to use. If drawing isn’t your thing, don’t worry: they look great if the mosaic tiles are randomly placed colors as well. You can hopefully see how to make mosaics from here and that this can be a fun project.

Photo by David Sim; Creative Commons Attribution License