Mosaic Surfaces And How To Choose What Works Best For You
(4 min read) Mosaic art can be applied virtually anywhere, from subway walls to bowling balls. Just like its undestroyable predecessor (paradoxical, but true), contemporary mosaic art should be able to captivate the attention, make a statement, and last wherever you decide to put it, regardless of the base.
You’ll notice I used the famously overused, favorite auxiliary verb of most politicians — “should”, meaning that, alas, in a lot of cases, the application of mosaic art is strongly dependent on its base. The base or substrate further depends on the location, use, cost, etc. Needless to say, that puts some additional pressure on everything surrounding the mosaic artwork itself, from the type of the adhesive to the tesserae.
Whether you are just doing a home project, starting out as a mosaicist, or just buying a mosaic artwork and don’t know where to apply it, you are bound to make some mistakes. Here are some bases and their pros and cons, so you can easily decide what to go for if you are starting a mosaic by yourself.
1. Often used, but not so great
One of the most commonly used bases among mosaic amateurs is most definitely plywood, precisely exterior and marine plywood. This sturdy base is made of thin sheets of wood veneer that are laminated together creating one flat sheet. However, although it is often used for mosaic art, plywood is susceptible to water damage, so it is not recommended as a base for mosaic artwork that will be placed in areas exposed to water. Also, plywood needs to be primed or sealed, and all of the plywood surfaces that aren’t mosaiced need to be painted.
One of the materials that are highly popular for craft projects and among amateur mosaicists is MDF or Medium Density Board. Made from compressed and glued chunks of sawdust, this cheap material is also venerable to water and it should be kept away from moisture, not to mention that the bonding agent used to create MDF poses a health risk to humans because it contains formaldehyde.
2. Great, great, great
Terracotta is a terrific choice for a mosaic art base because it is completely weather resistant. The only thing you should be careful about when using it is cleaning. We also strongly advise sealing your terracotta sheet first because it will keep it from absorbing the water and it will also keep the grout from drying out too quickly.
Cement is also one of the best surfaces to mosaic on, especially exterior mosaics. Mosaic tiles can be laid directly into wet cement or cement-based adhesives can be used later on. Once the cement is put into mold and dried, it needs to be sealed or primed before your start creating your mosaic design.
The glass base works extremely effective when you are using transparent mosaic tiles. Before starting you need to carefully clean your glass with methylated spirit. When mosaicking on glass you should make sure that mosaic tiles adhere with a smooth side onto the base with a lot of clear silicone.
3. THE BEST
The best option you can go for and avoid all of the tedious overthinking and mistakes is simply going for one of our marvelous mosaics or creating your own mosaic design with us. we have a comprehensive guide on how to properly install our mosaic artworks, so any possibility of mistake is avoided. Here is our awesome and simple guide for those of you who are ready to give your space an amazing makeover.
How To Install Your Mosaic Artwork
- Gently open your package and unravel your mosaic. The mosaic is mounted on a fiber mesh backing and wrapped with a protective film from the reverse. Gently remove the protective film without damaging the mesh and remove any excess glue. Should individual stones have become loose during shipment, glue them back using a solvent-based adhesive.
- Using your trowel, spread a thin layer of adhesive or white thin-set mortar across the surface you wish to tile. If you’re placing your mosaic on a vertical wall or ceiling, you can always glue it to a wooden board and secure the board to the wall. In the case of large wall installations, nailing little nails into the gaps between the stones for a stronger seal is recommended. If the mosaic is to be laid in a humid or wet room, the laying area must be made waterproof. A special sealing adhesive should be used.
- Gently place the mosaic and use the flat end of the grout float to ensure the mosaic is perfectly flat and well adhered to the surface. Remove any excess of mortar with a damp cloth.
- Wait for at least 24hrs for the mortar to dry out. Once the mortar is dry, moisten the tiles using a damp sponge, and spread your desired grout to fill the spaces between tiles using your grout float. Wipe down any excess grout, first with a dry towel, then a wet one. (Before applying the grout, make sure to glue back in place any fallen stone using a solvent-based adhesive).
- Once dry (will take approximately 24hrs), apply a marble and stone sealer.
- Take a step back and admire the space you’ve just transformed.