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This is our age of frequently-asked mosaic questions. It contains much of the information we have concerning mosaic materials and techniques, grouts, glues, mosaic tables, outdoor mosaics and related topics.

Q. - Can I use stone and glass mosaic tile together?

Ans. - The two materials have different thickness. If you are pushing the tiles into concrete or mortar then it doesn't matter. If you are gluing to a surface, the difference in heights will be visible. This makes grouting a little more difficult, but it hasn't stopped me from doing it on many of my pieces at the gallery. I wouldn't recommend this for floor mosaics.

Q. - What safety precautions do I need to take?
Ans. - Making mosaics requires basic shop safety practices: Wear goggles when cutting mosaic materials or mixing grout. Mosaic materials your tiles are less than 3/8" thick. I always set my mosaic on an old shower curtain or piece of plastic to catch all the wet grout that falls off the side as I'm spreading it. That way, I can scoop it up and use it. Otherwise you need a lot more grout because most is wasted.

Q. - How do I make a mosaic stepping stone? Do I need grout or glue?

Ans. - No. Most mosaic stepping stones are made by pouring concrete into a mold and pressing in mosaic tiles while the concrete is still wet. You can get ordinary concrete mix from a local building material store. Make sure you pick out most of the larger rocks before you mix it. You can use a plastic dishpan as a mold or cut off a plastic 5-gallon bucket. Make sure you rub Vaseline into it so the stone will come out later. :) Pour the concrete about 2 1/2 to 3 inches thick. Don't buy the stepping stone kits. They are boring and unoriginal. You can make beautiful stones just by collecting your own marbles, beach glass, shells, etc.

Q. - What color grout should l use in my mosaic?
Ans. - I always choose a grout color in contrast to the colors of the mosaic tiles so that the design is highlighted. Otherwise the individual tiles are lost to the eye, and the mosaic looks more like an ordinary picture and less like a mosaic made from pieces. I avoid situations like gray grout with gray tile. A nice red-brown grout works better in that instance. The key concept is color contrast.

Q. - I want to make a mosaic backsplash. What do I use for the backing?
Ans. - Concrete backer board from your local building material store. It's cheap and can be cut and broken by scoring with a box cutter. Either glues the material on the backer board and mounts the board to the studs in the wall or mounts the board and glue mosaic material to the board. In the latter case, you might want to glue the tiles to fiberglass mesh and then glue the whole piece of mesh to the backer. In either case, you grout the tiles in place on the wall.

Q. - How do I make an outdoor mosaic last?
Ans. - After the grout cures for 48 hours, seal the mosaic with tile and grout sealer from a local building material store.

Q. - Can I mosaic directly on the brick outside of a building?
Ans. - The brick is fine, unless it is old and slightly crumbling, and then you might need to buff off the loose material. You don't need the concrete board if you can glue directly on the brick. You will probably want to glue the tiles on mosaic mesh and then glue that whole sheet on the wall.

Q. - I want to put a mosaic in the middle of my floor. Do the tiles in my mosaic need to be as thick as the tiles around it?
Ans. - Yes. You want the surface to be even for safety and durability reasons.

Q. - My grout started cracking and crumbled. What did I do wrong?
Ans. - You shouldn't let the grout dry out as it cures. Lightly mist with a spray bottle, but don't let drops accumulate on the surface of the mosaic. Mix the grout according to instructions. It should be like moist dough when you start with no dry material or lumps.

Q. - How do I cut stone mosaic tile?
Ans. - Traditionally, mosaic stone is cut with a hammer and hardier (small anvil), but many people use a tile nipper. Here's the method I use: Since the stone doesn't break that cleanly, and the cuts often mar the finish of the stone, I design my mosaic so that as few pieces as possible have to be cut. Most pieces in the design are full squares, and the few pieces I have to cut are cut with a tile nipper or small hammer and small chisel. This means you should probably buy small pieces (such as 3/8" as opposed to 9/16"} to make your design.

Q. - I want to put a mosaic on an aluminum table for outdoors. Is this possible?
Ans. - Mosaic materials are heavy. Iron patio furniture is a better candidate because aluminum furniture is often thin and flimsy. You would need to make sure that the legs could hold the weight and the top is sturdy. If the aluminum top flexes even slightly, it will crack the grout.

Q. - How can I cut curved shapes?
Ans. - Look at any book on classical or Renaissance mosaics. They don't use curved pieces. The artists make curved shapes by putting small pieces together.

Q. - I saw some clear grout. Where do I get this?
Ans. - No you didn't. Grout is concrete. Obviously you saw some other product, probably silicon sealant.