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FAQ

Mosaic Tile Questions and Answers

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Tile Questions

Can I use your tiles as a flooring material?

Can i use them in a bathroom? Are they water-proof? Can i use them outdoors?

Do you have any suggestions on polishing my tiles after the mosaic is finished?

Are the tiles heatproof for fireplaces?

Do you sell tiles by the sheet?

Mosaic Methods and Techniques Questions

What is the direct method?

What is the indirect method?

What method should i use for my project?

How do you grout around beach glass?

Mosaic Safety Questions

Is mosaic art suitable for any age?

Are there any safety guidelines i should follow when doing a project?

What precautions should i take when starting a project?

Grout, Adhesive and Sealer Questions

What is the grout line?

What is the difference between sanded grout and premixed grout? Which one should i use?

How do i grout my mosaic?

Do i need to use a specific grout for mosaic projects or can i use grout from a hardware store?

I grouted my mosaic and the grout dried one shade lighter. Can i fix this?

I don't see a wide range of grout colors and want a specific shade of grout. Can i change the color of the grout?

How do i pick out what colors to use?

My grout is cracked, why did it crack? Can i fix cracked grout?

I've finished my mosaic, but i left the grout to dry for a few days before cleaning it! How can i clean off the remaining extra grout that is stuck to my tiles?

When would i need to buy waterproof glue?

What glue should i use what is waterproof?

I have dried glue on my tiles, how do i remove it?

Do i need to seal my mosaic once it is completed? How do i protect my mosaic project that i spent hours making?

Mosaic Substrates, Surfaces and Bases Questions

What materials do i need to get started on a mosaic project?

What materials can i mosaic on?

Do i have to use purely mosaic tiles or can you use different types of materials in a mosaic project?

What other materials can I incorporate with mosaic tiles?

What can i use for an outdoor table base that won't warp?

Can I use your tiles as a flooring material? 
You can use our tiles in flooring applications. Our tiles will withstand the pressure of normal foot traffic, but they should not be used in areas of heavy traffic or under heavy weight (such as under a refrigerator or on a skateboard ramp). A more important factor to consider is the integrity of the substrate onto which you will secure the mosaic. If your floor substrate is uneven or flexible, this will very likely cause the tile to shift and crack. At the very least, this will cause the setting and binding materials to degrade and come apart. 
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Can I use them in a bathroom? Are they water-proof? Can I use them outdoors? 
Yep! Our tiles are impervious to water and will not absorb moisture and chemicals. They can be used in bathrooms, pools, bird-baths, fountains and such things. The main consideration you should have when using the tile underwater (or in any high-moisture environment) is to make sure that your adhesive and binding materials are water-proof. It is highly recommended that you use a Mosaic Sealer, as well. 
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Do you have any suggestions on polishing my tiles after the mosaic is completed? 
After your mosaic is finished and your grout is dried, you can use mineral or olive oil to polish your tile. Using a soft cloth, sponge or chamois, apply a few drops of oil to the surface of your mosaic and rub it in. This should give you a nice, shiny wet look which will enhance the color of the tile and grout. You may need to occasionally re-apply a coat of oil to restore this look. 
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Are the tiles heatproof for fireplaces? 
Our tiles are highly heat-resistant and are not resistant to thermal shocks. They can be used as fireplace-surrounds, trivets and similar projects. The main consideration you should have when using the tile in any high-temperature environment is to make sure that your adhesive and binding materials are similarly heat-resistant. 
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Do you sell tiles by the sheet? 
Yes we do. You will find these under our Bulk Buy Section. 
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Mosaic Methods and Techniques

What is the direct method? 
The direct method is when you glue your tesserae directly onto your substrate. 
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What is the indirect method? 
The indirect method is when you place your mosaic pieces onto a paper backing, mounting tape, or fiberglass mesh (right side onto mounting material). Once the tiles are set on one of these materials, you take the paper, tape, or sheet and glue all the mosaic tiles onto your substrate at the same time. This method is mainly used for large scale projects where you cannot always work in the area where the final mosaic piece will be placed such as large outdoor murals, bathrooms, etc. 
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What method should I use for my project? 
It really depends what type of project you are doing. The direct method is fine for small projects. Some people prefer the direct method since you can see the progression of your work and can adjust the individual pieces of tesserae or switch out the color for another right away. The direct method is best for projects that have curves, such as mosaic balls for your garden, vases, candle holders etc. 
If your project is relatively large, you may have no choice but to use the indirect method. Also, the indirect method is necessary if your project requires that you have an even surface such as a tabletop, or floor. Each method has its own advantage and disadvantage so it's really a judgment call sometimes of which method you prefer to use. 
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How do you grout around Beach Glass? 
Most of the time you won't. You can use a thick mastic base into which you can press beach glass, just make sure that the mastic doesn't squeeze out around the edges of your Beach Glass. 
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Mosaic Safety


Is mosaic art suitable for any age? 
Mosaics can be started at a fairly young age. While the glass edges can be sharp, especially after nipping, we advise that the younger children do simpler projects that do not require nipping as nipped glass tile can have very sharp edges and cut you. 
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Are there any safety guidelines I should follow when doing a project? What precautions should I take when starting a project? 
Yes there are! One should always have eye protection on, such as safety glasses. When nipping the tile, the glass shards can sometimes fly in random directions if your nipping technique isn't quite perfect yet. It's always best to do mosaics in a well-ventilated area as you start gluing or grouting your project. Wearing gloves is especially important when you start grouting for several reasons. The grout can dry out your skin, you would not want to wash your grouty hands in the sink since the grout can clog your pipes, and it would be really difficult to remove the grout from your skin once it has dried. 
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Grout, Adhesive, Sealer Questions and Answers

What is a "Grout Line"? 
A Grout Line is the empty space between the tile. This is where you put your Mosaic Grout. The width of your grout line may be a factor in deciding which grout you should use: Pre-Mixed or Sanded. Premixed grout should only be used if your grout lines are not wider than 1/4". 
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What is the difference between sanded grout and premixed grout? Which one should I use? 
Sanded Grout A mixture of portland cement, sand and special additives providing a dense, acid and alkali-resistant grouting material. Colored Sanded Grouts also contain color-fast pigments. Sanded Grout can be used in virtually any application, indoors and out, even when grouting on floors. Sanded Grout is a porous cement, which means that it can absorb liquid materials after it has dried. This can be good and bad: you can stain your Sanded Grout after it has set with a colored grout stain, or it can be stained accidentally with spilled liquids - watch out for that red wine and grape juice! See the section on sealing your grout for information on how this can be prevented. 
Premixed (Unsanded) Latex Grout Our special blend of water soluble materials and acrylic-latex additives. Premixed Grout provides a smooth joint, without the graininess of Sanded Grout. Premixed Grout is not recommended for use on floors. Our Premixed Grout can be used in mosaics in which the grout line is up to 1/4" in width. If you are using unglazed non-glass tile (such as ceramic or terra-cotta) you may want to use the Premixed Grout. These tile are prone to absorbing the moisture from your grout mixture and may become discolored. Premixed Grout has less moisture than a Sanded Grout mixture. As Premixed Grout is a latex-based admixture, it is not as porous as Sanded Grout. This means that it is less likely to become stained and discolored, but it is more difficult to tint after your grout has dried and set. 
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How do I grout my mosaic? 
You will need a few things once you start the grouting process. You will need gloves, a flat spatula or grout spreader, a sponge, a bowl of water, and several paper towels. It's also always handy to have "dental-type" tools, when removing excess grout from the nooks and crannies of the tesserae. 
Once your grout is all evenly mixed, you simply spread the grout onto your project using the grout spreader. Spread it evenly so that all grout lines are filled. Once you have filled all the lines, take a well-wrung damp sponge and start sponging off the excess grout. Clean your sponge in the bowl of water every once in a while and make sure it is well-wrung before you start sponging off the excess grout. If your sponge is too wet, you can ruin the consistency of your grout by making it too watery (which can cause cracking). Repeat this process until you've removed most of the excess grout off. 
Note: Do not pour the dirty bowl of water into the sink as the grout will harden and clog your pipes. 
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Do i need to use specific grout for mosaic projects or can i use grout from a hardware store? 
You can use grout that you can find at any local hardware store. The grout you use for mosaic projects is the same grout you can use for grouting showers and countertops. 
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I grouted my mosaic and the grout dried one shade lighter. Can I fix this? 
Yes, you can fix this as long as you used sanded grout. You can always take some acrylic paint and carefully paint on top of the grout. The sanded grout is porous, so it will absorb the acrylic paint. 
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I don't see a wide range of grout colors and want a specific shade of grout. Can I change the color of the grout? 
If you just can't find the shade that you need, you can tint grout to whatever color you would like. To tint your lighter colored grout to a different color, you can use powdered grout tints, acrylic paints, powdered tempera or even mix different colored grouts together. You can also experiment with any sort of dye powders. Just remember to test, test, test your grout mixture on a separate mosaic before you use it on that project you have worked so hard to finish! 
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How do I pick out what grout colors to use? 
This is really a judgment call. Grout can either make your tesserae standout, or mute them. It really depends what you want your grout to do. If you are using vibrant colored tesserae and want them to be accentuated, you'll want to use a subdued colored grout such as plain old white, ivory, or black. If you want your grout to complement the tesserae, you would then want to use the colored grouts. It really is a judgment call. 
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My grout is cracked, why did it crack? Can I fix cracked grout? 
Sanded Grout can sometimes crack if there is too much water in your mixture. As grout sets up and dries, the water in your mixture evaporates. If there is too much water in your mixture, the remaining grout will not be dense enough. This can lead to cracking, pin-holing or crumbly grout. When you mix your grout and water, the correct consistency should be a thick paste (like toothpaste, peanut butter) which will cling to your mixing/spreading tool; it should not drip or slide off. 

Premixed (Unsanded) Latex Grout The most common reason for cracking, pin-holing or slumping with Premixed Latex Grout is inappropriately large grout lines (see above). As Premixed Grout is latex-based, it will shrink when it dries. If the grout line is too wide (more than 1/4"), the grout will shrink to a size smaller than the width of the grout line. This results in cracking, pin-holing or slumping. 
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I've finished my mosaic, but I left the grout to dry for a few days before cleaning it! How can I clean off the remaining extra grout that is stuck to my tile? 
Ah, now that can be an ugly, messy problem! If you've tried scrubbing with a damp sponge or towel and you just can't remove all of the remaining bits of cement, try mixing up a solution of vinegar and water. After coating your mosaic with this solution and letting it sit for a few minutes, use a flat razor blade or spackling tool to scrape off as much of this leftover grout as you can. 
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When would I need to buy waterproof glue? 
Waterproof glue is necessary when your mosaic project is outdoors, or used in showers, kitchens, or anywhere that can get the tiles wet. 
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What glue should I use that is waterproof? 
A thin set mortar (which is similar to cement) can be found at any local hardware store if waterproof adhesion is needed for your application. This is what is typically used in shower stalls, and back splashes. 
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I have dried glue on my tile, how do I remove it? 
If you have dried glue on our glass tiles, you can simply take a q-tip and dab some acetone onto it. Rub carefully, and the glue should come right off. 
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Do I need to seal my mosaic once it is completed? How do I protect my mosaic project that I spent so many hours on? 
You can, but it is not absolutely necessary. As grout is a porous material, it can become stained or discolored from food or liquid. A grout sealer is often used to protect the Mosaic Grout and the surfaces of porous tile (such as ceramic) from staining. It would be a good idea to seal the grout if your mosaic will be used as a counter or table top, especially if you are using one of the lighter colored grouts. If your mosaic will be in an area of heavy foot-traffic, a sealant might be a good idea as it will not only protect from discolorations, but will also make you're cleaning and maintenance much easier. If you do apply a sealer, it is a good idea to wait for approximately one month before applying it to your finished piece. Your grout will have residual moisture for some time after application and it must be given time to wick through before you seal the surface. If not, your grout may become discolored and lose its integrity. And of course, make sure that the surface is clean and dry before you seal! 
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Mosaic Substrates, Surfaces, Bases

What materials do I need to get started on a mosaic project? 
You'll probably want to start out with at least one book on the art. We currently carry a vast range of Mosaic Books . Most of them have 'How To' sections that teach you the basic ideas and techniques. They also cover the different media that you can use to create a mosaic project. There are a number of places where you can take a mosaic class or you can just jump straight in and learn as you go! 
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What materials can i mosaic on? 
Basically, you can mosaic on anything. You can almost mosaic on anything. Common surfaces that you can mosaic on include top of tables, walls, primed-wood, mdf, acrylic, wedi boards, etc. The two main things consider when selecting a substrate is to make sure that it is solid enough to support the weight of your mosaic and to make sure that it is stable enough so that it will not change size and shape due to moisture and temperature changes. Remember that an unprepared wood surface will often warp, expand and contract. This is the most common reason for the grout of a finished mosaic to crack. One way of minimizing this is to choose a thicker wood or to mount it in a frame or onto a backing material. Cardboard would not be a very good idea. 
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Do I have to use purely mosaic tiles or can you use different types of materials in a mosaic project? What other materials can I incorporate with mosaic tiles? 
Sky is the limit when choosing what other tesserae you'd like to use when creating a mosaic project. You can always mix up your projects by using beach glass, pebbles, beads, stained glass, smalti, etc. 
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What can I use for an outdoor table base that won't warp? 
Hardibacker, Wonderboard or Wedi Baords are a great choice for this. They are construction-grade products that you can buy at most hardware stores 
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