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Do it yourself

How to Install Mosaic Tiles

Mosaic tiles can be used on a wall to create a colourful background to a décor or simply to add small bursts of colour. These tiles are easy to install and harmonize well with other types of tiles. Here, mosaic tiles are used to create a backsplash in a kitchen.

Before you start

For better results, start by making sure the wall’s surface is flat, clean and dry. If there is paint, it is recommended to lightly sand the surface.
1

Prepare the surface

  • 1.1 - Switch off the power to electrical outlets.
  • 1.2 - Take out decorative wall plates and other accessories anchored to the wall.
  • 1.3 - Protect the countertop and other surfaces.

Buying the right number of tiles

Measure the area that will be covered with tiles and use our calculator to estimate the right quantity to buy.
Tile calculator
2

Draw reference lines

  • 2.1 - To determine the layout of the mosaic tiles, draw a vertical line in the centre of the area to be tiled.
  • 2.2 - Draw a horizontal line to mark the position of the first row.
3

Install a tile finishing trim

  • 3.1 - Install a tile finishing trim at the edge of the tiled surface with flat head nails.
  • 3.2 - Using a 3/16” notched trowel, spread a thin coat of tile adhesive over a small section of wall, to one side of the vertical line. Hold the trowel at a 45° angle.
  • 3.3 - Cover an area of 3 to 4 linear feet at a time.
4

Spread the adhesive

  • 4.1 - With the notched side of the trowel, make grooves in the adhesive. The grooves should all be made in the same direction.
  • 4.2 - Dampen the adhesive if it starts to harden.
5

Lay the first sheet

  • 5.1 - Lay the first mosaic tile sheet using the reference lines as a guide. Cut sheet to fit, if necessary.
  • 5.2 - Place tile spacers along the countertop so the tiles don’t rest directly on it. Later, silicone will seal the gap between the two materials.
6

Verify adherence

  • 6.1 - Gently push the sheet into the adhesive to make sure it adheres well to the wall.

Pro tip

If the adhesive squeezes up through the joints, remove the tile sheet, spread out the adhesive and start again, this time pressing more lightly.
7

Lightly tap the tiles

  • 7.1 - Lightly tap the tiles with a rubber mallet to make sure the sheets are firmly set on the wall.
8

Caulk the joints

  • 8.1 - Continue installing the first row of mosaic tile sheets, working from the centre of the wall outwards. Separate each sheet with tile spacers to ensure even spacing. The gap between each sheet should be the same width as the gap between the individual tiles.
  • 8.2 - With a level, check that the tiles are flat and even. Adjust with a rubber mallet if necessary.
  • 8.3 - Cover the entire surface, section by section.

Pro tip

To work around electrical outlets, cabinets or other objects, position the tile sheet around the object and take the necessary measurements for the cut. Then, use a tile nipping tool, a grinder or a wet saw.

To install individual pieces of mosaic tile, for example around an electrical outlet, measure the space to cover, then cut individual tiles from a sheet. If needed, wet the surface of the tile and cut to size with the tile nipping tool. Apply adhesive on the back of the tile piece and press in place.
9

Wipe off excess adhesive

  • 9.1 - When all the tiles are installed, wipe off excess adhesive with a damp sponge.
  • 9.2 - Wait 24 to 48 hours before grouting.

Pro tip

For natural stone or matte-finish tiles, apply sealer 30 minutes after putting up the tiles. The sealer will prevent the grout from sticking to the tiles’ surface.
10

Apply the grout

  • 10.1 - Mix the grout according to the manufacturer's instructions. The grout’s colour should be even and have the consistency of toothpaste.
  • 10.2 - Remove the tile spacers and dampen the mosaic with clean water.
  • 10.3 - Using a rubber grout float, work the grout into the joints. Hold the float at a 45° angle.
  • 10.4 - Apply the grout section by section, on a surface of 10 sq. ft. at a time. Don’t apply grout to gaps separating the tiles from another type of material, like the countertop or cabinets.
  • 10.5 - Remove excess grout.
  • 10.6 - Then, clean the surface with a damp sponge, working diagonally over the tiles. Rinse the sponge often, using as little water as possible so as not to dilute the grout.
11

Finish by applying grout and silicone sealers

  • 11.1 - After 24 hours, when the grout is completely dry, apply grout sealer to the joints.
  • 11.2 - Finally, after about 10 days, caulk the expansion joints with silicone sealer.