Tiling Decorative Accents

mosaic tile

If you're at all uncertain about how skillful you are at installing tile, any one of the projects in this section can help you get started and develop confidence. While you're busy honing your skills, you'll be creating an object that's both useful and decorative.

Projects in Decorative Accents
 

Start small
These projects range from a few easy tasks, such as tiling a small tabletop or house numbers, to more complex endeavors, such as adding a border to a tiled floor. You can finish many of them in a little over an hour, none will take you more than a weekend, and everything is very affordable. Even a border need not be expensive if you purchase mesh-backed borders and less expensive field tiles. Let the border carry the design.

But don't limit yourself to these projects. The same techniques used to tile a birdbath with homemade mosaics work well with other items: flowerpots, window boxes, outdoor furniture, and mirror frames, to name just a few.

Like any new activity, learning to install tile seems formidable at first, so start with an easy project and progress to something more complicated.

An old adage about spreading mortar may well have been around since the Egyptians decorated the rooms of the pyramids: "It's all in the wrist." What this age-old saying implies is that successful tiling involves developing a feel for the material and working in a rhythm that is both pleasant and productive. The best way to develop that feel is with practice. Make yourself some practice pads (2x2-foot pieces of hardboard or similar inexpensive material), purchase some cheap tiles (get "seconds" or anything that's on sale) and mix up a small batch of thinset mortar.

Spread the mortar on the board with the straight edge of the trowel, holding it at the proper angle. Scrape off the mortar and try it again, until you can apply it in a relatively level coat of the appropriate thickness. Then practice combing out the mortar until you get just the right ridges. When you have that step mastered, practice setting the tiles in the mortar with a slight twist. Then check your work by taking up the tiles to make sure their backs are completely covered with mortar. When you feel ready to move on, practice grouting the tiles.


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