Introduction: Designing Your Mosaic Floor

Picture of Designing Your Mosaic Floor

Hello everyone. A couple months ago my wife and I decided to install a brand new floor to an old house we recently purchased.

A custom made mosaic floor.

We hope this project will motivate anyone into a remodel of a floor . . .

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. . . One step at a time.

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This was the bedroom of a married couple in their 80s. They raised a family in this house for 30 years.

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My wife and I will have a different function for it.

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It will be a library room with a spectacular custom made mosaic floor, wine/liquor bar closet and a custom made wall to wall bookcase.

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Living in the tropics, our design needed a water theme related to our natural environment.

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Astronomy and a river were our choices. I love astronomy and my wife, as a child, had a river for a backyard. Some people are so lucky. A river for a backyard. Wow !

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We've designed the sun with 15 rays. Inside the sun will be the water planet - Earth.

By the way , this mosaic floor will sit on a concrete floor. Those foot square tiles are the originals.

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To test the overall size circle placement on the floor with the future placement of bookcase, chairs, we made sure that when walking into this room the sun burst circle will be smack in the middle.

The small square tiles represent the earth's crust. The center round circle represent energy.

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Since time is not of the essence, we went the old fashion way (the traditional method), tile by tile by tile by tile !

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Our technical support crew for the installation from left to right are :
* Aranis Bayou
* Katness Everdeen and
* Juno Akemi
Thank you girls for being our north star.

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Cut and glue. Cut and glue. Coffee break. Tile nippers at local home centers.

Safety is our number one priority.
Use safety glasses.

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The fish design are based on the kois from Japan. They represent longevity, prosperity, and purity.

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Ten fishes : "The Power of Ten" is a term extremely related to the science of astronomy.

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A good design is strongly recommended. We need to see our errors on paper - not when tiles are cut.

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The glass pebbles are from your local crafting store. We'll use blue, clear and opaque for Earth.

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The tiles for the kois will be multi colored. Ladies if you want to protect your hands use comfortable safety gloves.

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The Boston Terrier is iron-casted. Has been in the family for 30+ years. Our door stopper and I "stole" it from my mom. Sorry mom !

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The fractured tiles are ready to be glued to the wall.

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The foundation tiles represent "The Ring of Fire" in honor of Chile and its wonderful people.

This is a great angle shot where you can see the height of the pebbles and tiles.

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The Ring of Fire are completely set on this wall.

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The craft paper represent the sketches for the local flora and fauna like the eternal benefactors . . .

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The dragonflies, butterflies, and the ever beautiful, Isabel Segunda, a local flowering plant.

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The commencement of the water planet. To avoid a blotchy pattern, set the pebbles apart by at least a 1/4 inch .

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Placement of pebbles within the circle is easier to place tiles around the pebbles than vice versa. It's impossible to cut pebbles by hand.

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Notice the blending of colors and transparency among the pebbles.

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Pebbles are always align outside the line drawings.

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See how nicely and easily the tiles are cut around the pebbles.

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The fluidity among the fish line drawings here is worth its merit when designing it on paper. Drawings plans has its purposes.

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All the side and dorsal fins are completed.

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A close up of one of the kois.

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A word on floor tile selections and meaning of tile graphics when viewed in home centers.

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Sanded grout with polymer is used when the spaces between the tiles are 1/8 of an inch to 1-1/2 inches wide.

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Not all tools and accessories look the same but these are the usual suspects usually seen at the scene.

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The grout has been prepared and is applied to the tiles and pebbles.

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The completed grouted circle.

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Why do the pebbles looks mudded and cloudy ?

Oh No !

What happened here ? !

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Don't despair, Savoir Faire is here.
All I need is Malamutt by my side.

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The black grout is making the crystal pebbles go thru a dirty snowball effect.

A clean up is needed.

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Here is where the patience of a saint kicks in. The artisan needs to clean very individual pebble. You really need a wire brush.

Because I was to damn lazy and late in the afternoon to get a wire brush at a local home center.

Your mind starts to drift away at looking at so many pebbles so close to your face.

Where is that coffee !

Artisans sometimes are so stubborn !

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Ok, let's get back on track.
The pebbles on the right side of the photo has been cleaned.

Notice the absense of knee pads - Sometimes you simply forget about them.

Thank you Malamutt for keeping me on track.

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Here's a close up view of muddy crystal pebbles.

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And another close up after the cleansing process.
Ah - That's better.

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The inner circle at this point has been completed. The next step will be to work on the background theme.

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The sketches for the flora and fauna. To skip this step of sketching, you can draw them directly . . .

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. . . on the floor like this.

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The satisfaction of craftsmanship in human society is as old as intellectual thought.

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At this point, we are done with the design process. By now, you have a general idea where the flora and fauna might go. Off we go to the next phase.

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Here we have the first of many dragonflies and Isabel Segundas.

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The butterfly looking its best for the cameras. Always making a fashion statement.

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Here's an inset of an actual Isabel Segunda flower. They come in different colors also.

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General layout on the placement of the dragonflies, butterflies and the Isabel Segundas.

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The cutting and gluing of background tiles.

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The background has been designed to represent a 24 hour day cycle.

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Night is represented in the dark tile, the blue grey is the beginning of dawn, and the yellow tile is the day.

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Home Depot has a tile design with three different shades of colors on one tile. This is the tile you see here. Save money every which way you can !

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Here's a photo showing the day in three parts : night - dawn - day.

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Because the nature of tiling floors is painstaking, I cut the metal legs from an old table as low as possible to the floor.

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Making it easier on your back and knees when gluing, I cut the chair legs down as low as possible.

Think of it as a ceramic jigsaw puzzle : you pick from the table, paste the tile and place it on the floor all while sitting down !

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The mosaic floor will have a black grout which will provide a great contrast among the tiles and also represent the dark matter in the universe.

Long live Dr. Stephen Hawkings.

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The finished mosaic floor before the grout application. That dark abysmal area on the upper left is where the walk-in closet for the liquor bar will be.

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The beginning of a cloudy day.

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With a chance of showers.

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The resurrection of a tiled floor.

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Here's the mess behind the magic of a successful mosaic floor.

From the library room you walk into this open air terrace. That is, after I get rid of all this mess. Hah !

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After weeks of hard work the complete mosaic floor finished with a complementary color band above the fractured tiles. It represent the world's oceans.

Malamutt, of course, always the guardian.

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The Alexandria Library
at El Mirador Residence.

Is named after the largest and most significant library in the ancient world.

It has become a symbol of " knowledge and culture destroyed. "

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. . . But first, we need special bookcases .

Thank you instructable makers for your time and attention.

See ya in the next instructable !


Mary AnneC3 (author)2016-10-16

What a masterpiece! Thank you for all the steps involved. I have decided the only way I can have an affordable mosaic floor is to design and lay it myself. I love Moroccan tiles...I am looking forward to the journey! I have a cast iron bulldog identical to Malamutt that I purchased 30+ years ago in San Francisco!

Thanks Mary. Wow. Never thought I would here anyone say they owned one of those cast-iron bulldogs. I got mine from New Jersey in the early'70s. I enjoy picking it up just to sense the weight of it. It's the first thing friends talk about when entering the Alexandria library. Always on guard by the door.

Im in the early phase of designing another mosaic . This time its going to be a wall mosaic in the terrace. Its design around the famous phrase Tyrion Lannister said to Missandei and Greyworm, "The Imp's Delight" in reference to the fine taste and enjoyment of wine among your close friends.

Thanks alot for the comment.

MikeH44 (author)2016-09-11

This is awesome. I will definitely try something like this outdoors in the garden. What is the adhesive you are using to glue the tiles, etc?

MikeH44 (author)MikeH442016-09-11

Ah, cancel that, I just saw the answer way down the comments. Mapei tile adhesive.

ashishg15 (author)2016-09-04

Lovely... its a masterpiece... i would like to design something like this once I get possession of my home in Mid '17.

KanPo Studios (author)ashishg152016-09-09

Send me some pics Ashishg when your done with it.
Or better yet, make an instructables for us. Thanks for your comment.

Nanciani (author)2016-09-04

Do you grout the tile on the wall?

So very inspiring!

KanPo Studios (author)Nanciani2016-09-09

Yes we do. On this mosaic, its done on the sides and bottom. Since the riles on the wall represent the Chilean Andes mountains, there was no need to grout the tip.

For our terrace which you see toward the end of the insstructable where you see all the mess. Those walls there will be mosaic designs. The first design for the left wall will be a theme on the fine art of drinking wine among good friends. The right side wall we have to idea yet. Hah. Let's see what happen. Thanks for your comment.

Jdserrano1 (author)2016-09-04

Unbelievable! Spectacular! Insanely gorgeous! I'm kinda at a loss for words. The artisan in me knows what an undertaking this was, but the best thing is you can actually "feel" your labor of love thru this exquisite tutorial. Seriously breathtaking. I'm sure your pics are good because I can see a lot and your tutorial is just simply amazing but I'm absolutely sure they don't do justice for the finite piece. I'd do what others said, rope it off and show it off! I'm not sure I could walk on it but I bet it feels yummy under your bare feetsies! Just amazing, you guys are wicked talented! I'm very impressed by the design thought process to the tiniest of details. A feast for the soul and magic for the eyes! Wow!

KanPo Studios (author)Jdserrano12016-09-09

Thank you Jdserrano.
I'm a architectural designer by training. A lot of drawing took place behind the scene. This is the third mosaic design in our home. The first one is the guest's room bathroom. I have a huge 5 foot white heron flying away as you open the door. The heron has a double message behind its design. When growing in New Jersey, my brother and I would watch every afternoon from school the japanese anime, G Force. It was a huge sucess in USA in the 70's. I made the heron to look like firebird phoenix you see when their plane metamorph into the mistical bird. I use colored pebbles to represent the vehicles of Jason, Mark, the princess and others. We are extremely aficionado of Sci Fi and Fantasy. Our designs reflect a lot of that.

On the mosaic floor, there's hidden messages that only my wife and I know their meaning. It's like the hieroglyphs of ancient Egypt: you can read the walls drawing by drawing BUT have no idea their true meaning behind them.

'till this moment we haven't crystalized the floor yet. I'm having thoughts about it. Like you said Jdserrano, I like the sensation under your feet under it when walked upon.

You guys can view the YouTube videos for the musical background and a small video at the end : type "bastones boricuas", then click my name, Ray Maldonado, and you'll see all our videos there up to this point.

I haven't uploaded anything lately to instructables because I'm waiting for our brand new toy , a Dell laptop. Hah !

Thanks for your time and attention to arts and crafts everywhere. Instructables Forever ! ! !

DorisC3 (author)2016-09-06

Thank you so much. I am working on my first mosaic on a 24 by 24 inch plywood. I was worried about the mud effect on the glass beads but now I take heart and just know that an artist must do what she/he must do!

KanPo Studios (author)DorisC32016-09-06

Hi Doris :
Go to your local hardware store or the big guys at the mall and get a steel brush. That's the brushes that our grandparents used to scrub their floors. They are about 8-10 inches long by 4 inches wide. Wait for the grout to be dried by 24-48 hours after the pouring. Carefully and consciously buy cement acid cleaner from the big boys at the mall. Use heavy duty gloves to apply. You could use a spray nozzle or apply it directly to the floor, or in your case, the mosaic panel. As soon as you start brushing, you'll see a super fine liquidy mud. This is exactly what you want to see. With a wet or damp cloth wipe it clean. You'll remember me every time you clean a panel from henceforth. Hah !

Please, send me a photo. Right now I'm working on a 6x4 feet mosaic wall mural on our terrace. The theme : The pouring of fine wine with good friends. Hopefully, it will be an instructable. See ya !

HelenaTroy (author)2016-09-05

awesome. can't think of any other word, I'm just totally awed. Hat's off to you, sir

KanPo Studios (author)HelenaTroy2016-09-05

Thank you Helena. Took about about 4 months to do on the weekends.
My wife said she wouldnt touch it. She was afraid she would ruin it. Hah !

HelenaTroy (author)KanPo Studios2016-09-06

To have the imagination to even conceive it, the artistry to plan it, the skill and patience to bring it into reality - I'd have fallen at the first fence!

shadath (author)2016-09-04

Ha...Ha...Ha Great Work

diggidy (author)2016-09-04

too beautiful to walk on. I would rope off the room like a museum piece.

ooohlaa (author)2016-09-04

Magnificent ... museum quality ... I have done intricate work with those round glass cuties and I found it EXTREMELY difficult to get the grout to be smooth around them, especially with different heights of adjacent tiles. Can you share any special techniques? I tried tongue depressors, sculptor and jewelry tools, paper towels, tissues, Qtips, fine brushes, toothbrushes, etc. It would hollow out too much or make scrape marks, etc. etc. I did two serving trays and quit from lack of technique.

Do you know that people have baked those glass tiles which gives them a fractionated spider web look, very interesting. Thanx so much, waaaay beyond excellent!

akanerd (author)2016-09-04

wooow!! and wow again! speechless. Amazing work.

pcardoso peixoto (author)2016-09-04

wow! i can say that the patience was worth... very beautiful job.!

followyourheart (author)2016-09-04

Fabulous job!! And your style of writing is wonderful.

LeslieW39 (author)2016-08-20

absolutely gorgeous!

cobourgdave (author)2016-04-24

A lovely design, lovingly carried out. A really excellent project and instructable. Congratulatios.

Thank you Dave. I'm glad you enjoy it.

bronb1b2j3. (author)2016-01-14

Just a beautiful work of art. Lovely, lovely, lovely. Thank you.

Thanks Bronb.

shazni (author)2015-10-16

Bravo! such a big task to take on! Fantastic work :-)

KanPo Studios (author)shazni2015-10-17

Thank you Shazni.

BonSch19 (author)2015-10-14


KanPo Studios (author)BonSch192015-10-14

Thank you BonSch19.

cherieal (author)2015-10-04

Thank you! Beautiful work, great instructions. You have to win. Mahalo Cherie

KanPo Studios (author)cherieal2015-10-04

Thank you Cherie !

Wow, this is amazing! I can tell it look a long time but the results are well worth it!

Thank you Danger.
You have beautiful instructables as well.
For sure will do a few of them.

elynnp (author)2015-09-25

I am soooo inspired to create a mosaic piece now. Thank you for this wonderful instructable, it is magnificently beautiful. I don't believe I'll do anything quite as large, but I am def going to do one. Thanks for providing the push. I've been thinking of doing a mosaic for way too long a time.

KanPo Studios (author)elynnp2015-09-26

Thank you Elynnp.
Draw and sketch everything out - Visualize a couple steps ahead from the one you are at - This visualization technique keeps your ideas, steps, lists of go fors in a collective group - Take your time, you are not catching a late flight leaving your city - Would like to see photos of your projects when completed. Makers unite !

makalo (author)2015-09-19

so cool so beautiful

special art

KanPo Studios (author)makalo2015-09-19

Thank you Makalo.

caroline10 (author)2015-09-17

That is so beautiful!

KanPo Studios (author)caroline102015-09-17

Thank you Caroline.
It's in the concrete contest.
I would love your vote.
Thank again for viewing.

BKLaRue (author)2015-09-16

This is so cool and it's really very beautiful. Great work!


KanPo Studios (author)BKLaRue2015-09-17

Thank you BK.

NAR (author)2015-09-13

Amazing is the least that I can say!! Thanks for sharing, and for the great efforts you put in this job.

To be honest, I expected a final clear-epoxy layer, which makes the floor leveled and glass-like..

Thanks, and keep up the good work!!

KanPo Studios (author)NAR2015-09-15

Thank you Nar.
Lets see if I could get in touch with local contractors for bids.

JessicaMills (author)2015-09-10

Amazing work, very beautiful. I guess I could make something similar as a present for a friend of mine - this looks so good, that I think she wouldn't notice.

KanPo Studios (author)2015-09-08

Thanks Izzy.

lyzzydee (author)2015-09-08

What a fantastic floor !!

carir (author)2015-09-06

Beautiful floor! I have, what used to be known as a carriage house in my yard (when people still used horse carriages), that is has huge potential. I have been wondering what to do to make it even better than it is. Your project gave me an idea for the front of the fireplace. Thanks. I have always wondered if the glass peddles can take a lot of walking on them. Also, aren't they a bit hard on your feet? I'm from PR but now live in Minnesota. I have a lot of bits and pieces of stained glass so I'm planning to use them also.

KanPo Studios (author)carir2015-09-06

Hi Carir. Gracias por el viewing. Algun dia visitare a Minnesota !

Concrete floors, ceramic floors and mosaic, per she, are all hard floors to walk on. There's no cushion involved between them.

It all depends on the term "walking". What activities are we doing on them whether at work or at home. I wanted a floor to last a lifetime. The previous home owner had a wooden floating floor over a ceramic tile floor. Their were in their 80s. In PR, that's extremely rare to have a wooden floor over tile. Maybe they got tired seeing a ceramic tile floor. To me it was ugly so I made that metamorphosis.

As far as the pebbles go, if you have a floor completely covered with them, you'll be in deep deep trouble. Ladies sometimes wears high heels or stilletos and that's calling for a disaster to happen. It no recommended to cover a large area with them. They are strong enough to support average home traffic. In our house home traffic is define as my wife, me and three medium sized dogs! Wow. Some traffic, right ?

You mentioned stain glass on floor. I would do some research on that. I haven't worked with that. Check in the comments below. A maker did a front entry porch entrance with mosaic. Expectacular. I think might be sometime you like for the carriage house .I think he used fractured dinner plates. Let me know how it turns out.

carir (author)KanPo Studios2015-09-07

Gracias for responding. Here it's just me and my cat. My daughter visits once or twice a week. The carriage house's floor is painted concrete but what I would be using the stained glass would be in the front of the fireplace where there isn't foot traffic. I can understand the floating wood floor because my dad's house had tiles, which were UGLY. It's a separate building which I use as a estudio de arte. I would not try what you did in the entire room since the cottage is all one very large room, it would take me a year. My question was due to the rounded surface of the pebbles. Your floor is very beautiful so I want to do a similar design without the full star since the area is not very wide but quite long. As to Minnesota, it's a pretty state, mostly flat and very cold but I like it. Totally the opposite of PR, except for the heat and humidity in the Summer.

About This Instructable




Bio: KanPo Studios is a mixed media studio where its foundation is to experiment new ideas in techniques applications and promote and encourage others to create ... More »
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