Intro: Mosaic Tile Bar Front
This project was completed for a local bar in town, Alley Cat in Carrollton Georgia. It was opening in three days when we got word that they wanted a mosaic done for the front of the bar. My brother, Rory (instructable user rory_woj), his wife (Rhea), and various family members all pitched in to complete the project on time. The first step for use was coming to an agreement with the owner of the bar on the design. If you are makeing a mosaic for yourself you will not need this step. Also the step outlined in this instructable can be applied to a multitude of different projects (table tops, bird baths, bathrooms, etc. you name it).
Basic supplies needed to complete a tile job are needed and that information can be found else where on this website.
The tiles we used were from a warehouse near by. They had lots of old boxes of broken tiles or upopluar colors for typical tile project. They cut us a really good deal because of this.
In order to break the tile we used tile snips. This alows you to break the tile at the angle you need. Here Is a link to a set of tile snips. I have never bought a pair (mine were handed down from my grandad). You will find more information through a search, but I would not buy into different tile snips for ceramic vs. glass.
Other than that all you need is a little creativity!
Always remember to enjoy yourself :D
Step 2: Design
The frist step is really preparing a surface for laying your tile. For us this had already been done with hardibacker board screwed to the plywood front of the bar. If you would like more detailed information on this you can find it on rory_woj profile (granite countertop job) amoung various other places.
For us Rory, Rhea, and myself sat down over dinner and drinks and played with different designs, while meeting our clients constraints. This works as a great way to get your creative gears rollings to come up with a pleasing design.
This was sketched on a sheet of paper within a rectangle draw to scale. This allowed us to scale the drawing back up in order to transfer our sketch to the hardibacker. We simply drew it with pencil. I recomend drawing your lines very dark so they are not last once you begin aplying mortar for sticking the tiles on.
The final step in the desing process is coming up with a rough idea of what colors you want to use. And i mean rough when i say it because as you lay your tile the creativeness within you will begin to bubble and consume you actions. This will result in a final product unlike what you could possibly imagine and make it more fun.
Step 3: Laying Tile
Once you have transfered your desing and are pleased with it is time to begin laying tile this is the most fun part of the process.
It is a good idea to start with main shapes and after they are completed you can fill in the backround.
When creating a mosaic it will always look better the more consistant your grout lines are. This does not mean be any means to break out the tile spacers or an ruler or something and some variation can be nice, but massive gaps will not look good.
All these gaps are dead space which will be filled with grout. The grout lines should be thought of more like lines of a drawing to create teaxture and aid in defining shapes. In order to get the grout line spaced nice place your next tile up next to tiles you have already place and eyeball the line of the cut you want. Then get your tile cutters and line them up along that same line. It is better to cut it a litte bigger than you need if anything...you can always trim more off if you need to. Also if the piece does not work just grab another piece and cut it again. You can use the piece that didn't work else where.
With this particular project we had a very limited time frame to complete the project which resulted in the necessity to not take as much care in our grout line consistency. We had to meet the deadline. If you do not have a deadline take as much time as you please to create your mosaic.
Step 4: Grouting
This is the final step of the process. Techniques for goruting can be found else where on this site so i will not go into details; however, when grouting a mosaic it is a lot more difficult to clean the excess grout off the tiles. This is because of the 'random' edges of the tiles. It is necessary to remove as much as possible without removing any from between the tiles. We had to go back after the grout had dryed more to scrub each tile individually which allowed the grout to stay where it was needed.
After you have done this follow the directions on your grout pack as to when you can seal the grout. Extreemly necessary to matain the color of your grout and makes cleaning a lot easier!