Designing Your Mosaic Floor




Introduction: Designing Your Mosaic Floor

About: 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 art with their hands, minds, and hearts !

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 . . .

Step 1:

. . . One step at a time.

Step 2:

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

Step 3:

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

Step 4:

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.

Step 5:

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

Step 6:

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 !

Step 7:

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.

Step 8:

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.

Step 9:

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

Step 10:

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.

Step 11:

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

Safety is our number one priority.
Use safety glasses.

Step 12:

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

Step 13:

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

Step 14:

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

Step 15:

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

Step 16:

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

Step 17:

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 !

Step 18:

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

Step 19:

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.

Step 20:

The Ring of Fire are completely set on this wall.

Step 21:

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

Step 22:

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

Step 23:

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

Step 24:

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.

Step 25:

Notice the blending of colors and transparency among the pebbles.

Step 26:

Pebbles are always align outside the line drawings.

Step 27:

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

Step 28:

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

Step 29:

All the side and dorsal fins are completed.

Step 30:

A close up of one of the kois.

Step 31:

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

Step 32:

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

Step 33:

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

Step 34:

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

Step 35:

The completed grouted circle.

Step 36:

Why do the pebbles looks mudded and cloudy ?

Oh No !

What happened here ? !

Step 37:

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

Step 38:

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

A clean up is needed.

Step 39:

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 !

Step 40:

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.

Step 41:

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

Step 42:

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

Step 43:

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

Step 44:

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

Step 45:

. . . on the floor like this.

Step 46:

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

Step 47:

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.

Step 48:

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

Step 49:

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

Step 50:

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

Step 51:

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

Step 52:

The cutting and gluing of background tiles.

Step 53:

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

Step 54:

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

Step 55:

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 !

Step 56:

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

Step 57:

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

Step 58:

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 !

Step 59:

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.

Step 60:

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.

Step 61:

The beginning of a cloudy day.

Step 62:

With a chance of showers.

Step 63:

The resurrection of a tiled floor.

Step 64:

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 !

Step 65:

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.

Step 66:

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. "

Step 67:

. . . But first, we need special bookcases .

Thank you instructable makers for your time and attention.

See ya in the next instructable !

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1 year ago

Hi. Congratulations. The hard work really shows. The flooring looks like a masterpiece. I can imagine the passion you had while doing it. Can you please tell how did you polish in the end and do the tiles hurt if we walk bare feet.How did you stick the tiles to the floor. If we do the same thing directly on the slab or PCC then what would be the procedure.Thank you for the detailed post and pictures. Can you please post a latest picture. Would love to see how it looks now.


Question 2 years ago

how did you keep the cut tile edges from being sharp to walk on? did you have to sand each tile?


Question 2 years ago on Step 11

What was the source for all your materials?

KanPo Studios
KanPo Studios

Answer 2 years ago

Hi Ssteele3.
Everything you see in the instructable was bought at the local hardware store. If you're from the USA, the tiles in the graphics are from Home Depot in particularly the design that depicts the three different shades in one tile. I needed a tile with such a theme to "describe" a single day: night - twilight and daytime. Save alot of money using one tile with three different colors. It's a huge tile. It measures 22" by 22". Thanks for the inquiry.


3 years ago on Introduction

Hi! This is very inspiring! As i am buying an old house right now, i want to do a mosaic in the small entrance hall! Question: Do you know if it's possible to stick all the tyles on a net grid, and then place it on the floor? So i wouldn't have to sit on the floor for days and weeks, but could work on the mosaic at a table?

KanPo Studios
KanPo Studios

Reply 3 years ago

Hi Alex. Happy Holidays .
Yes you can. Absolutely! Make sure your foundation or subfloor are rock solid. On one of the slides you notice I made surgery on the table and metal chair so I could be "closer" to the floor. You can design everything and attach the tiles to the grids and then slap everything down on the floor. Let me know how it comes out. Thanks.


Question 3 years ago on Step 15

How do you recommend transferring the design on paper to the subfloor/substrate?

Mary AnneC3
Mary AnneC3

5 years ago

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!

KanPo Studios
KanPo Studios

Reply 5 years ago

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.


5 years ago

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?


Reply 5 years ago

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


5 years ago

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

KanPo Studios
KanPo Studios

Reply 5 years ago

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


5 years ago

Do you grout the tile on the wall?

So very inspiring!

KanPo Studios
KanPo Studios

Reply 5 years ago

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.


5 years ago

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
KanPo Studios

Reply 5 years ago

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 ! ! !


5 years ago

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
KanPo Studios

Reply 5 years ago

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 !


5 years ago

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