How to fit a mosaic border

Bathroom with mosaic tiling

You will need:

Measuring tape
Sheets of mosaic tiles or border
Craft knife
Acrylic primer
Spacer pegs
Tile cutter (pliers or scribe-and-snap cutting machine)
Tile pincers for nipping off the edges
Tile adhesive
Tile adhesive trowel
Rubber mallet
Piece of scrap board or wood
Grouting squeegee<
Grout shaper (optional)

Mosaics come on a backing mesh, so measure up and work out how many sheets you need. Allow an extra five to 10 per cent in case of damage. Cut sheets into strips of the height you require or use a ready-made border strip.Mark the height of the border on the wall, then make a pencil mark 3mm below this. Use a small paintbrush to paint acrylic primer onto the wall between the existing tiles and your pencil mark. Leave to dry.

Work out placement of tiles, using spacer pegs between sheets the same size as the gap between mosaics. Apply a thick coat of tile adhesive in marked area. Press mesh backing firmly onto adhesive, supporting mosaic on a clean trowel. Tap into place using a mallet against the scrap board to bed tiles in. Wipe off excess adhesive. If tiles have a paper facing, remove it before the adhesive is fully bonded by swabbing with a wet sponge. For Cellophane-faced tiles, remove the film after the adhesive has set.

Leave tiles for 24 hours, then mix grout and scoop onto squeegee. Cover one linear metre at a time, working well into joints; clean off after 10 minutes using a damp sponge. For a neat finish, run a grout shaper along joints.

Use the right adhesives

  • Consult your tile supplier to get the right adhesive for the tile material. Glass may need a specialist adhesive.
  • Grout is available ready-mixed or as a powder. If using waterproof epoxy-based grout, mix a little at a time.
  • All-in-one ready-mixed adhesive and grout are better suited to repairs.
  • If using stone or slate tiles, these need to be sealed before grouting.
  • Use a grouting sponge rather than a rigid spreader when grouting glass tiles; a rigid one could scratch the glaze.
  • Work on one metre at a time so the adhesive is still flexible while you fix the tiles. If the surface isn't flat, take off the tiles and remove some of the adhesive.
  • Finish any joints that meet the bath or washbasin edge with silicone sealant or with tile-fixing trim.

Tiling the side of a bath

The material you tile onto is vital in ensuring tiles stick firmly. ‘Make sure the bath panel is construction board, such as PCI Pecidur, Marmox or Wedi, not MDF or hardboard, and include an access panel for plumbing. After tiling, this can be sealed with silicone,' advises Paul Maitland, Technical Advisor at Original Style. The border and main tiling need to be mapped out and applied at the same time. Measure carefully to avoid having to cut the tiles at a corner or at the join for the access panel.

Alternative borders

  • Mosaics don't just come in squares; look out for rectangles and circles, too.
  • Multicoloured mosaic borders come in a strip on a backing sheet.
  • Stone or ceramic borders made from intricate rectangles and triangles mean you can put up a pattern that's been designed for you.
  • Consider a traditional dado rail moulding to finish your tiles.

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