Quickstart Guide to Mosaic Tiling

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Info to supplement Ashe's Mosaic Basics Class.



  • Weld-Bond - for indoor applications
  • Thin-Set Mortar - for outdoor/all-weather/wet applications


I use powdered, sanded grout. It comes in a lot of colors without need for a separate cement dye.

Make sure you seal porous stone or ceramic before using colored grout, or your project may stain!

You don't really need to do all that rigmarole with sponges to apply grout; a dry paper towel works just as well if it's mixed correctly. Just wipe into place, flush with the mosaic surface, and wipe/brush off the excess.

Should be obvious, but do not wash excess grout down the drain.

Glass & Tile Sources

  • The Tile Shop, Sterling Heights, MI - can order "sample" sheets by the square foot

Vitreous glass colors available: amber mix, amber, noche, metro, parker, copper mix, autumn mix, sky mix, spring mix, water, windsor, ottowa

Tutorial: removing glass and tile from paper or mesh

  • Found objects - bottlecaps, broken china, beads, rocks or pea gravel

Much more than 1/8" thick and tile will be difficult to cut to shape.


Two different cutting tools, depending on your material:

  • Glass nippers (have wheels) - Harbor Freight has the best price locally
  • Tile nippers (have teeth)


I recommend a stiff surface, such as MDF. Plywood will warp due to the water content of the glue or mortar.

Test your adhesive to make sure there is a good bond. You may need to sand or roughen the surface.

Useful Accessories

  • Latex (or nitrile) gloves, paper towels, dropcloth
  • Disposable cup for stirring grout
  • Popsicle sticks or putty knives to apply mortar

Artistic Principles

Color theory: complementary colors "pop" - don't forget to consider your grout color

Tile is not paint, play with it: use tile patterns to create flow ("andamento"), outline main figures

Resolution: the amount of detail in your design is dictated by the scale of the mosaic and the size of the tile

Next Steps

I'm planning to establish a tile library at i3, following the model of the e-room electronics store. This way we can order bulk (discounted) tile, use what we need, and share our extras.

Take more/better classes: