Make Mine A Mosaic!

Mosaics are a fabulous way to bring colour into the garden. They can be used in many ways: as paving stones, as decorations on walls and furniture, and for brightening up dull pots. They also stay there all year ‘round, so unlike Dahlias and Petunias which have downtime, you can rely on brightly coloured mosaics and tiles to add bright colours to your garden all year round.

Choosing Colours
The colours you choose will depend upon the effect you want to create. You might be looking to fulfil a particular colour theme, or you might prefer a multi-coloured pattern.

Cool Colours
Blue or green and shades in between, like yellowish blue, pale purple, turquoise blue, etc. These make us feel calm, peaceful and relaxed. Because they recede into the background, they can be used to create a sense of depth.

Light Colours
The palest pastels create a feeling of rest, liquidity and airiness. These colours can even be almost clear or transparent.

Dark Colours
Contain black or brown. They make things seem smaller and more serious. They draw attention and create emphasis.

Pale Colours Contain white, cream or pale yellow. For example, light blue, pink, lavender and soft pastels. They are romantic, gentle and calm.

Bright Colours
These include red, orange and bright yellow. Pure colours without any grey are friendly, exhilarating and cheerful - they draw the eye and add a sense of fun.

Where Can I fit a Mosaic in my Garden?
You might not have room for yet another garden feature – but why not brighten up an existing one with a mosaic or some coloured tiling?
Think about:
  • Creating a verandah mosaic
  • Posts and poles can be transformed into features with some funky tiling
  • Garden seats can be works of art when a mosaic is splashed over part of them
  • A garden tabletop can be the talking point of your next BBQ with your own mosaic on it
  • Pots and planters with even the dullest plants can be bright and lively mosaic vehicles.
Creating Your own Mosaic
You can make a mosaic from from a range of different coloured materials such as:
  • Broken tiles
  • Coloured pebbles
  • Coloured glass (even old marbles!)
  • Pieces of brick or terracotta
  • Broken crockery
You can also use any combination of materials. The size of the pieces you use will also influence the effect you create. Let your imagination be your guide!

There are many different designs you can use in your mosaic. They can be formal or abstract, or even shaped to make a realistic picture.

Colouring Your Mosaic
A mosaic can be made from just two or three colours, or from every colour in the rainbow. Dark coloured pieces can be used to create lines or borders around the mosaic. You can arrange the colours in a random pattern or shape them to create different designs.

Tile Adhesives
Whether making mosaics or laying tiles, you will need a durable adhesive.
  • For fixing tiles to tiles, pottery, metal or rigid plastics : epoxy resin
  • For fixing tiles to concrete, bricks stone or wood: pva paste adhesive
  • For fixing tiles to softer materials such as soft or flexible plastics: contact adhesives

Epoxy Resin Adhesives
These are made by mixing together the liquids from two different tubes and can be used as a filler or to stick tiles down. Once mixed, they become a powerful adhesive that is resistant to water, heat and stress. However, epoxy resin must be used soon after mixing. Even if left in a sealed container, it will become hard and useless within an hour or so. It is sold under a variety of brand names, eg. Araldite.

PVA Paste Adhesives
PVA glues can also be used as filler or to stick tiles down. They are reasonably resistant to water, heat and stress. However, they are not recommended for heavy outdoor use. They can be used straight from the container and will keep for months after opening if properly resealed.

Contact Adhesives
Because the surface can remain sticky, contact adhesives are not suitable as a filler between tiles, but are quite effective as a tile adhesive. They have good resistance to water, heat and stress. Like PVA adhesives, they can be used straight from the container and will keep for months after opening if properly resealed.

How to Cut Tiles
The best way to cut tiles is with a purpose-built tile cutter. This will give you a clean cut (almost) every time. If you don’t have a tile cutter, you can still make clean cuts.

If you are comfortable using an angle grinder, you can make cuts with a masonry blade. This will allow you to make freeform cuts where a tile cutter usually only allows you to make linear cuts.

Alternatively, use a sharp object to score the tile along the line where you want it to break. You can do this on both sides of the tile. Then carefully snap the tile. (Be prepared to have a few failures while you get the hang of this technique.)

Setting Tiles in Concrete
Tiles will provide interest to dull grey concrete, but you will need to take care when putting them in place. You will need PVA glue or a strong mortar mix made with fine sand. It is possible to buy pre mixed bags of mortar mix, so if you want the easy answer, simply ask at your local hardware.

Sealing and Weatherproofing
Glazed ceramic tiles are waterproof and will not need sealing. However, if you are using terracotta or unglazed tiles and they are likely to take some rough treatment (eg. walking on, splashing from a salt pool, heavy wind and rain etc) you can provide added protection by covering them with a sealant.

You can use either a surface sealant (these come in either matt or gloss finishes), or a penetrating sealant that soaks into the tile. Most mosaics will require some sort of sealant to protect them from the elements. A surface sealant is best for this job.

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