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10 tips to keeping mosaic sheets even, straight and square while installing


The situation: Mosaic tile layout. 1″ hex tile, dot connected. Custom layout, white sheets and black sheets. Making a black border and stars interspersed in the field. (Picture above second try; working third now.) We have laid this out twice and are working on the third rendition. Joints are a bear to keep even, straight and square. Is it just a matter of working with them as we install them to keep everything straight? We know that we can cut full sheets down and work the joints. We do not think there is a trick or technique, just time and patience. Are we wrong to think that?


Here are 10 steps that should help:

  1. A flat, suitable substrate is required
  2. Properly-mixed mortar.
  3. Clean substrate
  4. Key the mortar into the substrate with the flat side of the trowel.
  5. Select the trowel that when correctly used will apply adequate mortar to achieve 80% – 95% or hopefully full coverage (through any mesh) without ending up with too thick of a bond coat that will allow mortar to squeeze through the joints or allow the tiles to slump.
  6. Flatten mortar ridges with the flat side of a trowel.
  7. Set the sheets and individual tiles with care and patience.
  8. Don’t spread the mortar or knock down the ridges too far in advance.
  9. Plan for time, patience and care in setting the sheets and individual tiles. 
  10. Using large tweezers and small wedges can help hold tiles in position.

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