Making a mosaic design is the perfect way to express yourself when decorating the home. Mosaic artwork has experienced a huge resurgence in popularity and continues to grow. Tiles for mosaics come from a wide variety of sources both new and reclaimed which makes mosaic tiling an affordable hobby. Crafters and artists glue or adhere small pieces of tile to flat or relatively flat surfaces to create interesting pictures or patterns. Tile mosaics work wonders to transform a boring, tired surface into a focal point.
Mosaic art is a popular design element for a variety of surfaces in and around a home. Tile mosaics can be found on floors, walls, countertops, backsplashes, picture frames, tabletops, mirrors or flowerpots. Tile mosaic surface ideas are endless. Some mosaics designs are fun and fabulous while others are true works of art. Crafters and artists have a wide range of tile types to choose from when designing and planning a mosaic masterpiece. Tiles come as those specifically made for crafters and artists to tiles that crafters and artist turn into usable pieces. Some mosaic pieces are reclaimed from remodeling projects, some are picked out of the garbage such as a broken plate, tea cup or bowl while others are small found treasures on beaches or pretty flat rocks, pebbles and stones. The projects are endless as well as the choices for the type of tile or glass to use for the mosaic. The glues and adhesives are a bit more limited, but there are still many choices. Some types of glues and adhesives work well with a particular type of tile or glass while others work well with all types. Some glues and adhesives are simply a matter of personal preferences and some are a requirement.
Cement and Sand for Tile Mosaics
Cement and sand is often thought of as a material for home improvement projects – well it is, but it is also used for tile mosaic projects.
Home improvement stores sell bags of ready mix concrete that is suitable for mosaic projects. Typically concrete is best used for high traffic areas such as floors, walkways, sidewalks and patios because ready mix concrete is made to withstand impacts and changes in weather conditions.
Even though ready mix concrete is usually purchased in a large bag, you can mix and use only what you need, when you need it. Keeping it stored in a dry area, ready mix concrete will last for a very long time.
You can also use a ready to use mosaic cement.
Two Part Epoxy Adhesive
Two part epoxy adhesive dries to an extremely durable and long lasting one piece surface. Epoxy adhesive permanently bonds mosaic tiles to the substrate. Epoxy adhesive is appropriate for use indoors or out.
Epoxy adhesive can withstand changing weather conditions and high traffic areas. Two part epoxy adhesive can be found in both craft stores and home improvement stores.
Crafters and artists can apply epoxy in one of two ways:
Add equal amount of each part to a disposable plastic plate, cup or a piece of scrap tile. Mix the two part together, blending them thoroughly with a wood stick. Scoop up the adhesive with a flat wood stick and spread it across the back of the mosaic tile and set the tile in place on the substrate.
The second option is to buy a specialized glue syringe that can hold two narrow tubes of each of the two epoxy components. As use press the plunger both of the components are deposited onto the back of the tile. Simply set the mosaic tile onto the substrate.
When using two part epoxy adhesive it is necessary to start with a clean substrate and tile. Dirt, oils or debris can interrupt the adhesion.
Waterproof PVA Glue
PVA is the shortened and commonly called polyvinyl acetate. PVA starts as a white, off white or yellow glue and dries to a clear bond, making them perfect for glass tiles because you will not see the glue through the tile. Most are familiar with PVA glues as they are the same type of “school glue” we all used. The difference is PVA for tile mosaics should be of a waterproof variety.
PVA glue typically has no trouble bonding to most substrates. It is the most common glue for smaller tile mosaic projects such as picture frames or mirror frames. PVA Glues are not usually suitable for kitchen countertops or backsplashes.
Some PVA glues can stand up to weather and temperature changes especially a carpenter’s wood glue, but PVA glues are best for indoor use on no traffic surfaces. More of a type tile mosaic you should just admire rather than use.
PVA glues are applied straight from the bottle or with a small paintbrush.
Water Soluble Craft Glue
Ok – now you are wondering why you would every need a water soluble glue – if you are making your mosaic on a some type of backer board or paper pattern, the mosaic tiles will have to be transferred at some point. Using water soluble craft glue allows you to work on a mosaic design, glue the tiles in place and not have to worry about them being knocked in to, knocked over or disrupted in any way.
Typically crafters or tile artists draw out their design on paper or wood or other backing material, glue and place the tiles. After the design is completely, you can use very warm water or white vinegar to break the glue bond from the temporary substrate and clean the tile. The mosaic crafter or artist will then press the cleaned tiles in concrete or apply a stronger adhesive and set them in their permanent place.
Some crafters will also hold the tiles in place by laying strips of low tack masking tape over the mosaic creation.
Self Adhesive Mesh Backing
Self adhesive mesh backing have a protective layer of plastic over the sticky adhesive side. Crafters usually lay the backing over the pattern or draw the pattern directly onto the sticky adhesive side and press them in place.
Using a self sticking mesh allow those working with mosaics to set the entire piece onto a substrate or transfer the tiles one by one to their permanent home.