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Creative Mosaic Tile Design Ideas and Install Tips

Who doesn't love the beauty of decorative tiles! There are so many stunning designs to inspire your home, but the prospect of installing those detailed patterns can be a little daunting - at first! Modern mosaic tiles are designed to make it easy to create these gorgeous patterns in your own home, thanks to pre-assembled designs! The benefit of decorating your home with mosaic tiles is twofold - you elevate your surroundings with the beautiful patterns these designs have to offer, while saving yourself the time it takes to install an intricate design by hand!

This Roman Flower Wooden Beige and Carrara Marble kitchen backsplash is a gorgeous example of why we love mosaic tile designs!

This Roman Flower Wooden Beige and Carrara Marble kitchen backsplash is a gorgeous example of why we love mosaic tile designs!

Our mosaic tiles come in sheets, with sizes varying based on the design you choose. Mosaic tiles are commonly mounted on mesh backing or with a paper facing, creating a thin and flexible panel with shaped chips of marble, glass, shell, ceramic, metal, or other materials adhered to one side. Since the patterns are pre-formed, you get to skip to the part where you trim and install them, rather than having to create a complicated tile layout or worry too much about how to recreate that beautiful mosaic kitchen backsplash design you saw on Pinterest!

Mosaic tile designs are incredibly versatile as well as beautiful, with patterns that range from intricate micro-mosaic designs that you would expect to see on a wall in Rome or Greece to pre-laid subway tile patterns that make installation easier than you can imagine. 


What kinds of Mosaic Tiles Are There?

If you’re considering designing with mosaic tiles - you’re in luck! There’s a design for almost every style of tile out there. We can start with the traditional subway tile layout with sheets of the classic rectangular tiles already laid out to minimize the installation time. Rather than setting individual subway tiles with this method, you'll lay out entire sheets of tiles, cutting down on the time and effort it takes to create a classic running bond or herringbone pattern.

You can still put a fun twist on this classic pattern with Blue Wooden Glass Subway Mosaic Tile in interlocking sheets!

You can put a fun twist on this classic pattern with Blue Wooden Glass Subway Mosaic Tile in interlocking sheets!

Timeless Penny Round tiles also fall under this category! You can count on almost any style of tile to include a mosaic option, from honeycomb hexagon patterns! A soothing bathroom design is on the horizon with these Bardiglio Penny Round & Carrara Dot Marble Mosaic Tiles!

A soothing bathroom design is on the horizon with these Bardiglio Penny Round & Carrara Dot Marble Mosaic Tiles!

The ever-popular lantern or arabesque tile is one of the most famous mosaic patterns - it makes installing the intricate designs easier than you’d imagine thanks to interlocking sheets that fit together! We love the warm tones in this Crema Marfil Arabesque Tile With Dots to create a French country kitchen or bathroom!

We love the warm tones in this Crema Marfil Arabesque Tile With Dots to create a French country kitchen or bathroom!

Micro mosaic designs are the closest to the traditional style of artwork where chips of metal, ceramic, porcelain, or stone are placed individually to create an intricate pattern. Thankfully, designs like our Bloom Micro Mosaic are already placed to create the look of a delicate handcrafted piece of art without the tedious process of setting each chip yourself! Take a look at our Villa Bianco Carrara & Thassos Micro Mosaic Tile to see how these sheets are patterned to mimic the cobbled flooring of a Roman Villa or the elegant wall art of a Grecian ruin.

Villa Bianco Carrara & Thassos Micro Mosaic Tile Design

Peel and stick tiles take the ease of installing mosaic tiles to the next level! You can recreate the popular picket tile look by simply peeling and placing these adhesive-backed sheets of aluminum and vinyl tiles like our Silver, Grey and Black Picket Peel and Stick Tile, or get the marble hexagon look with real Carrara marble!

Recreate the popular picket tile look by peeling and placing these sheets of aluminum tiles like our Silver, Grey and Black Picket Peel and Stick Tile


Where should I use Mosaic Tile?

This is the great part - these beautiful mosaic designs can be used almost anywhere you install tile! While some designs use very small pieces that aren’t recommended for heavy foot traffic, you’ll find that mosaic tiles are just about as durable as their larger counterparts.

These beautiful designs are best used anywhere you’d like to add a pattern to your home - making them extremely popular as a focal backsplash design for your kitchen, sought after as tiled fireplace surrounds to add a unique design to your living room, or as a creative accent like a tile rug or inset surrounded by field tiles!

One of our favorite ways to add a creative mosaic tile design to your home? Mother of Pearl! These stunning Mother Of Pearl Deep Sea Penny Rounds Mosaic Tiles add the shine of shell to create an amazing vanity backsplash - we love how the tiles were styled with gold fixtures for the perfect finish!

These stunning Mother Of Pearl Deep Sea Penny Rounds Mosaic Tiles add the shine of shell to create an amazing vanity backsplash - we love how the tiles were styled with gold fixtures for the perfect finish!

Don’t let the small chips in the design fool you - once the sheets are grouted into place, these tiles are no less sturdy than other types of flooring or wall coverings. This entryway uses Arches Wooden Beige & Bardiglio Marble Tile to create a warm and welcoming French country home aesthetic with a sturdy and high-traffic flooring option that is just as chic as the rest of the decor!

his entryway uses Arches Wooden Beige & Bardiglio Marble Tile to create a warm and welcoming French country home aesthetic

Since mosaic tile designs tend to be made of many smaller pieces, they increase the slip-resistance of tiled areas. This makes them great options for places that are prone to moisture, like entryways, bathrooms, or shower floors where you want a higher Coefficient of Friction. 


How Do You Cut Mosaic Tiles?

Depending on the design and the area of installation, you may get off easy! If the material is linear and installed in a straight line, you can do most of the paper or mesh trimming with heavy-duty scissors or tin snips. 

If you are going to be cutting through the marble, glass, or ceramic of your mosaic tile, there are a few things to consider to ensure the best cut and installation. 

Read our guide on the different tools you'll need to cut tile materials!

The backing on mosaic tiles can make cutting these intricate designs with a traditional wet saw a little more complicated. The backing itself usually does not have a rigid form and needs to be anchored when using a saw blade to ensure there are no slips that could damage your beautiful mosaic pattern. You can easily do this by using painters tape to attach your mosaic sheet to plywood and adjusting your saw depth to only cut the tile. 


How Do You Install Mosaic Tiles?

The basic steps for tile installation also apply when it comes to installing mosaic tile sheets! You can find our more in-depth tile installation guide here, but we wanted to cover the main differences between installing mosaic tiles and more traditional tile shapes.

How to Install a Mosaic Tile Design Backsplash

You can see how these sheets fit together during installation in this Home Depot guide!

  1. Locate the spot where you will begin your layout. Start in the center of your tiled area - to find it, run a measuring tape down the length and mark it with chalk, then down the width and mark where the two intersect. This is where you’ll want to place your first mosaic tile sheet.
  2. Lay out your mosaic tile sheets. This way you can ensure that full coverage is reached and sheets that need to be cut are trimmed to fit before applying your adhesive. If you are using decorative tile patterns, you can plan out the design or the direction of your mosaic layout in advance. Trim off any excess backing before laying your thinset to ensure the mesh does not interfere with your grout lines.
  3. Prep the surface. You want to make sure your underlayment is clean and smooth before applying your thinset to ensure that the flexible mesh backing does not cause bumps or ripples.
  4. Set your sheets. Begin to place your interlocking mosaic sheets on the thinset, starting at your center point and moving outwards in a grid towards the edges. Make sure you set the sheets after every few are placed - this involves using a mallet or piece of plywood to tap down on the surface of your mosaic sheets and ensure there are no air bubbles trapped in the mesh. Doing this regularly during your installation is the best way to make sure mosaic sheets are evenly installed.
  5. Grout smoothly and carefully. Mosaics with small tile chips will require smooth and even grout and sealant to ensure that even the most delicate design is fully grouted.
How to Set Mosaic Tile Designs when Installing

Better Homes & Gardens demonstrates how to smooth out mosaic tile sheets during installation! 

This step ensures that there are no ripples or bumps underneath the flexible sheets to make sure your installation is smooth and consistent!

You can improvise the tool used for this step, like the spare piece of lumber wrapped in carpet shown to smooth down the sheets!

How are Mosaic Tiles Assembled?

Part of the draw of mosaic tiles is that these gorgeous patterns come pre-assembled and ready to layout in your preferred configuration and install! Your mosaic tiles will likely arrive in one of two mounting options - either with a mesh backing or a paper facing. So what is the difference?

  • Mesh backed mosaic tiles - Mesh backed tiles are assembled with mosaic chips on top of a mesh grid. When installing mesh backed tiles, the mesh side will be installed face down onto your thinset mortar. As the mesh itself can create a small gap between the thinset and the back of the tile, you want to press firmly and twist the sheet slightly to ensure that the tile and adhesive achieve the best possible bond. Once you've shifted it back and forth to push adhesive between the mesh and the backs of the tiles, straighten out the sheet and place your spacers to ensure there is an expansion gap between sheets. When properly installed, the mesh should disappear into the thinset. If the grid is visible on top of the mortar, you may want to press the sheet into the adhesive further, to ensure the best bond between the thinset and the back of the tile.

Mesh Backed Mosaic Tiles have a Flexible Mesh attached to the BACK of the Tiles and will be installed Mesh Side Down

 Mesh Backed Mosaic Tiles have a Flexible Mesh attached to the BACK of the Tiles and will be installed Mesh Side Down

  • Paper face mounted mosaic tiles - Tiles that have a paper face mounting will ship with a sheet of paper on the TOP of the tiles. This can create confusion when unpacking the sheets, because the visible tiles that face out will actually face down when they are installed. Like mesh backed tiles, the paper keeps the mosaic pattern and individual tile chips in place for the installation process. Unlike mesh, these tiles have no backing that can create separation between the tiles and the thinset mortar during the installation process. This can make the installation process easier and improve the bond between the tiles and mortar. An improved bond reduces the chance of tiles loosening from the adhesive, or the risk of leaks into the substrate. Paper facing is usually considered ideal for tiles that will be submerged in water - including shower pans, swimming pools, fountains, and any other water features! Once the thinset has cured (approximately 24-28 hours), use a damp sponge to moisten the paper before peeling it off and revealing your beautiful new tiles! You can them grout them in place, the same way you would grout mesh tiles.

Paper Faced Tiles have a paper covering on the FRONT of the tiles that can be peeled away after the tiles are installed

Paper Faced Tiles have a paper covering on the FRONT of the tiles that can be peeled away after the tiles are installed.

 

Earthy home design with a wood look marble like our Enigma Wooden Beige Marble Mosaic Tile

Whether your style is glamorous with marble and Mother of Pearl waterjet mosaic tiles or more earthy with a wood look marble like our Enigma Wooden Beige Marble Mosaic Tile!


There are so many different materials and designs to choose from, that the hardest part is picking your perfect pattern! Our advice, start with a color, material, or primary shape that fits in with your decor, and use our Mosaic Tile collection search tools to narrow down to elements you know you like.


Having trouble deciding from there? Our design team is happy to help you go over options to style your tile choices with fixtures, finishes, and all of the creative details that go into an interior design you’re sure to love! Contact us to chat about how to find the perfect mosaic tile design for you!

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