Interest in creating beautiful works of mosaic art has grown amongst crafters and homeowners. Those new to the art of creating their own mosaic designs often wonder what is the best type of tile or glass to use based on the project. Tile manufacturers make mosaic tiles specifically for the application, but those aren’t the only type that can be used. There is a wide range of colors, styles and patterns available from craft stores, home improvement stores or even reclaimed items. Reclaimed pieces weren’t made with the intention of reusing them to create your own work of art, but they do add interest and are visually pleasing.
Crafty homeowners create a mosaic backsplashes, countertops, decorative tabletops, interesting floors designs or one of a kind flower pots. Ceramic tiles, glass tiles and other bits and pieces of ceramics and glass come in a wide variety of colors including all of the colors in the rainbow and beyond. Knowing what types of mosaic tiles work best and last will help preserve your project for years to come.
Vitreous Tiles for Mosaics
Vitreous tiles are a type of glass tile. The color permeates throughout the tile and typically does not darken or lighten in spots.
Vitreous tile comes in a huge choice of colors along with tile that has a specialized finished appearance such as gold and other metal based flecks or the finish can have a pearl sheen to it. The back of the tile usually has a raised design which helps to promote adhesion.
Vitreous tiles are the type of tile most often used for mosaic designs. They cannot be on floors because they will crack under the stress of traffic and they are also very slippery which would create a slip and fall hazard. Vitreous tiles can be used outdoors on planters, fountains or other decorative pieces, but have to be brought indoors if they are in an area that experiences freeze thaw patterns during cold months.
Smalti For Mosaics
Smalti is type of colored glass made specifically for mosaic designs. It is available in an extensive range of opaque colors.
Smalti is one of the more expensive types of mosaic mediums, but the colors are truly unbeatable, making the investment worthwhile.
Some craft store may sell a bag or box of smalti in a range of colors, which is the perfect starting place for a beginner.
Smalti is strictly used for decorative purposes such as picture frames, plates or pictures. Smalti cannot be used for floors, countertops or backsplashes.
Smalti cannot be grouted because the grout would mute the color of the glass. The grout easily becomes stuck in the tiny surface pores of smalti and severely detracts from its beauty.
Ceramic Tiles for Mosaics
Ceramic tiles are the type used for home projects such as floors, walls, shower stalls, countertops and backsplashes.
Ceramic tiles are easy to come by in both home improvement stores or reclaimed pieces from a demolition.
Ceramic tiles come in a range of sizes. Typically mosaic makers break the ceramic tile to make smaller pieces that are suitable for their project.
Ceramic tiles come as a single color or with a pattern. Some patterns are raised while others are painted or transferred onto the surface. Ceramic tile is available is many colors, but there are less color choices than other types and styles of tiles for mosaics.
Depending on the tile glaze, some ceramic tile can be used for floors. Some ceramic tile has a glossy glaze which can be very slippery, especially when wet, making them dangerous to use on a floor. They can also be used on backsplashes, walls, tabletops or other decorative pieces. Ceramic tile can be used outdoors in areas where a freeze thaw pattern doesn’t occur.
Natural Stone for Mosaics
Natural stone pieces come in a limited amount of colors because they are quarried from the earth. Some natural stones are extremely hard and others are very soft and porous.
Natural stone can be purchased in tile shapes and broken into smaller, usable pieces or salvaged from remodeling projects.
Soft natural stones such as limestone are easier to cut than hard natural stone such as granite. Most natural stone requires a wet saw or diamond dusted blade in a power tool to cut, making it a more difficult to work with medium, especially for those just beginning to create mosaics.
Natural stones can be used indoors or out. They are used on floors, walls or decorative accent pieces.
Types Glass For Mosaic
Many mosaic artists use pieces of mirrored glass to accent a mosaic.
Glass cannot be used on floors because it will break under the stress of foot traffic. Most glass mosaics are found on decorative pieces such as picture frames or wall pictures.
Millefiore glass pieces are long, thin rolls of glass that have a multi color design, and are sliced into usable pieces.
Millefiore is only used as a decorative accent within the mosaic. It cannot be used on floors or outdoors. Typically, millefiore comes in thicknesses that are not uniform, making it difficult to create a flat, even surface.
Pieces of Old China for Mosaics
A broken, chipped or cracked plate can be reclaimed and used in a mosaic design.
The piece of china has to be broken into small pieces before it can be used.
China is usually only used for decorative accents inside the mosaic and on decorative pieces inside the house. It cannot be used on floors because it will break.
Sea Glass for Mosaics
If you love to hunt down pieces of sea glass that have washed ashore and always looked for a use for these beautiful worn and weathered glass pieces – look no further – sea glass looks beautiful as part of a mosaic design.
Sea glass can be found in shades of greens, browns clear or white or the ever elusive cobalt blue.
Sea glass cannot be used on floors – it is only for indoor decorative applications.
Shaped Glass for Mosaics
Craft stores sell small glass beads in shapes that can be used as a part of a mosaic design.
Shaped glass comes in a wide range of colors and shapes ranging from geometrical to animals.
Glass shapes cannot be used on floors or outdoors. Glass shapes work well in decorative projects.