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My experience with glass and ceramic mosaic tile (with pictures of my finished work)


cilla2004's Avatar
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08-06-05, 05:22 PM   #1 (permalink)  
My experience with glass and ceramic mosaic tile (with pictures of my finished work)

I am writing my experience with ceramic and glass mosaic tiles, because I would have liked to have read something like this before beginning my project. Thank you for all the help from the tile forum.

Previous experience: 4 session hands-on tiling course in the spring with local Adult Ed.

Ceramic Mosaic Tile Floor: (bathroom)
This was a last minute change. The intent had been to put down vinyl tile, but after 3 applications of leveling compound, we could not get the floor level enough for thin vinyl tile, at least as I understand it. So as a stop loss measure, we chose to use ceramic tile, since the floor does not have to be as level when using thinset.
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We chose daltile Octagon & dot mosaic tile, readily available off the shelf at Home Depot (since this was a last minute switch, we went with readily available). This is a tiny bathroom, 31 sq. feet. We chose the white on white tile. There are several colors of Octagon & dot but I think they have phased out white on white, so we had to search at a couple of Home Depots. (http://www2.daltile.com/series.cfm?s=3&cat=5&series=85). I chose to put a design in the tile which required taking out about 8 “dots” (square tiles) per square foot of tile, which would be replaced by glass mosaic tile. So because of this design, I had to lay out the entire floor without the thinset, mark off the tiles to remove and then number the tile sheets as they had to be put back in the same order. (I used a grease pencil for the marking, although they have now renamed this as “china marker” since my childhood.)
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After the dots were removed it was time to actually lay the tile. I was the main tile layer and my husband was my assistant. It was helpful to have an assistant. First of all, I chose white thinset, since the tile is white. The tile required 1/4 inch trowel. That seems like a lot of thinset and it was difficult to keep the tiles flat. The tile comes in 1 x 1 foot squares. I started off using those little tile spacers which had been cut up so they could be used with octagon tile. I put them between the sheets of tile, but after about 6 square feet, I gave up as it was more trouble than it was worth. In fact those little cross shaped pieces of plastic which were cut to a line shape were getting caught under the tile and I had to remove tile to pick them out. I was constantly using a level to make sure the tile was level and I used a grout float to press down the tile to make sure they all got imbedded in the thinset. This grout float thing only worked somewhat, I would try a 9 inch paint roller next time to see if that works better.
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I made the mistake of not making sure the tile was level in the corner before I tiled to the door. So then I used a piece of plywood to place over the tile so I could reach the tile in the corner. This caused the tile to compress too low into the thinset. It was not so much that the tile was out of level, but the thinset came up through the tile, which we later had to remove. I didn’t spend too much time on this board; the rest of getting into the corner was accomplished by rock climbing between the door, the toilet flange and the shower stall, using the window sill as a hand hold. Better to get everything level before continuing to tile, so you can avoid these maneuvers. And best not to lay a board on top of wet tile.
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Because we put down tile with some of the tiles removed, we had to go back in and scrape out the thinset from the holes with a palette knife. (get this at an art supply store) My husband was trying to convince me that we really didn’t have to remove all the thinset from the holes because the mosaic tiles we were going to put in there were thinner than the field tile. I didn’t feel like arguing the point, (I have higher standards than my husband) so we left some of the thinset in some of the holes. (The next day) It turns out I was right, and we had to remove the thinset from the holes before placing the mosaic tiles. We used hammer and screwdriver to chisel out the thinset after it was dry. Hubby also thought everything could be fixed with grout, although I knew better. The answer was, it could not! I ended up chiseling out some (4) of the tiles which were lying at a bad angle and could trip someone. I found one of those plastic spacers under the tile, another reason not to use those spacers with mosaic tile. In placing the glass mosaic tiles, I laid out all the different colors on the field tile and used my grease pencil to label which color went where. I then used a palette knife to back butter the glass mosaic tiles. It took quite awhile (and patience) to get the tiles level and centered. The mosaic tile I was putting in were 3/4 in. square and the tile I removed was 7/8 in. square, so they were surrounded by extra room to be grouted later.
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Grouting took place after all the mosaic tile thinset was dried. Grouting was pretty easy and straight forward. It didn’t take additional effort to make sure the grout was off the glass mosaic tile, which ended up sitting a little lower than the field tile.
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There was one thing about the grout I wanted to mention. I originally did grout experiments and had chosen a light gray as the grout color, but after seeing how hard it was to lay it and having the white thinset ooze up between the tile, I went to Home Depot and chose the grout color closest to the color of the thinset, which is “Snow White”. So if the thinset showed through over the grout, you couldn’t tell the difference. This is what the floor looks like:
<br> http://mysite.verizon.net/ron-cilla/...ath/floor.html
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Glass mosaic tile (shower wall) 36” x 36”
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First off we used hardibacker 1/2 inch for the backing to the shower and green board above it. It turns out hardibacker ½ inch is not one-half inch, it is less than one-half inch and when it abuts the greenboard there is a difference in thickness which we had to use thinset to grade into it. Therefore, I would not use hardibacker half inch for the backing to the shower unless you are going put hardibacker all the way to the ceiling. I believe that wonder board is actually the ½ inch thick it says it is. (Hardibacker comes in sheets 3 ft x 5 ft.)
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I ordered sheets of Carter glass mosaic tiles which are 3/4 inch tiles laid on a mesh 15 x 15 tiles per sheet, a little over a foot square. I would have liked to create my own blend of colors which you can do special order from a couple of companies, but they come face mounted with paper, rather than back mounted with mesh. I thought that face mounted would be harder (and someone on this board agreed it was). I decided to get one of the standard blends, in my case “china blend” and then create the colors with a tile border which I made. Picture of mosaic tile sheets. (http://www.tileshack.com/Merchant2/m...ory_Code=_STBL)
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One of the main reasons I chose to work with 3/4 inch glass mosaic tile is because you can buy a plastic grid – picture of grid - (http://hakatai.com/XQ/ASP/pg.product...d./QX/tek9.htm) that you can create the border, perfectly spaced and then face mount it yourself.
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I bought the kraft paper used to face mount my design, but never used it. Instead I read you could use clear Contact paper, which worked fine. <br>
I would say that it was much easier to lay these glass mosaic tiles than it was to lay the Octagon and Dot floor tiles. Perhaps partly because it was on a wall and not the floor and partly because the thickness of the thinset is only 5/16’, so there is not as far for the tile to sink into.<br>
My husband was also my assistant (and this was more needed here than in the floor tile laying). His job was to mix thinset, hand sheets of tile or border, cut the sheets to the correct size to fit and then a couple of times, actually cut a whole row of tiles in half so I could place them where I met the wall. <br>
What I learned. It makes a big difference when toweling the thinset that there is no additional thinset than the lines created by the trowel. Sometimes I got lazy and there would be a little line of extra thinset and that is the thinset that would end up coming up between the tiles. I did not use the tile spacers to separate the sheets of tile and that worked fine. I used a level after placing each sheet. It is much more difficult to move a sheet of mosaic tile than a 4” Florida tile if you do not place it in the correct place. <br>
If there was too much thinset that squished out of the mesh backed tile, you could always wipe it away. That is not true of the face mounted tile. That is where having any additional thinset under the tile causes a problem and it cannot be wiped away. That is where being patient and toweling precisely would pay off. <br>
The face mounted borders which I created a couple of months ago had a harder time being pulled off the Contact paper than the ones I created the day before. (I was trying to remove some of the contact paper to get some of the thinset out before it dried.)<br>
When making face-mounted borders, the contact paper needed to be trimmed back to nothing in the edge otherwise this caused problems with placement. (used an Exacto knife to trim the edges on top of some leftover wall board –another job for my assistant). <br>
When placing Contact paper face-mounted borders in the thinset, they must be placed in EXACTLY the right location. There is no removing these and starting again as they just come off the Contact paper. I ruined a couple of borders in the middle of tiling and had to take time to recreate them in the middle of my tiling. And you can’t really move them too much either, not like the mesh backed. Put them in the right place the first time.
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I thought it would take about 4 hours to tile a shower 36” x 36”, but it took more like 5 or 5 and a half hours to do it. I started too late, about 3:30 pm, so when it came time to end, I would have tiled higher, I was just too tired and it was 9:00 p.m. Sunday night. Had I started earlier I would have tiled up another 6 inches, perhaps. It took some muscle to tile the shower, so I was physically tired. Also starting late didn’t allow me to come back in a couple of hours and do a second cleanup of the thinset while the thinset was partially dried. <br>
Since there was extra thinset between some of the tile, especially in the face mounted border tiles, I bought a Dremel tool to remove it. I used the tool which looked like a CD to file between the tile. One must be careful as the tool will burn the glass, but it dug away the thinset well. I’m not sure I would do this again because today I see I have burned some tile in very obvious places. Probably better to use a chisel or grout knife.<br>
I grouted today and it took longer than I had expected, although no particular problems. Again, I chose “snow white” grout because it matches the color of the thinset. I could tell in a couple of places where the thinset shown through, not because of the color but because of the fact that the thinset was higher than the surrounding tile. The job is not perfect, but it looks pretty good, especially if you don’t look too closely. This is a basement bathroom, the other alternative was to put in a fiberglass shower which is sooooo ugly, so this is a major improvement over that. And I had lots of fun playing with the tiles. This is what the shower looks like:<br>
http://mysite.verizon.net/ron-cilla/...th/shower.html
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They sell caulk that comes in the same colors as the grout, so I bought some “snow white” caulk at a local tile store. I do not believe it is available at Home Depot. I am going to caulk around the outside of the shower where it meets the painted wall. And then in 3-4 weeks we are going to apply penetrating grout sealer according to the directions which will be one pain in the butt.

 
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waspnest's Avatar
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08-06-05, 07:10 PM   #2 (permalink)  
Wow - that looks really great!

Thanks for sharing your experience, too.

 
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08-06-05, 07:41 PM   #3 (permalink)  
Solidsurfaceguy
Beautiful Job

Very good job on your tile. Great color selection.

 
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08-06-05, 08:31 PM   #4 (permalink)  
irod
looks great- my husband is my assisstant too- we also have fun making a mess of our diy projects- but usually turns out ok in end- love the rock climbing- been there

 
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08-06-05, 08:54 PM   #5 (permalink)  
Cilla,
Nice job.

If you want to do the glass mosaics again, PM me and I'll let you in on the super secret way to avoid the thinset oozing up.

Bob

 
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08-07-05, 12:25 PM   #6 (permalink)  
playing with tiles

I didn't mention how much fun and hours of enjoyment I got playing with my mosaic tiles in my tile grid creating patterns.

Thanks for all the comments.

 
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