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Installing Mosaic Tile

Manufactured mosaic tiles come in sheets, mounted to a web backing.Christina Richards / Shutterstock.com

Manufactured mosaic tiles are sold in sheets that have multiple tiles mounted to a web backing.

Mosaic tiles may be glazed ceramic, unglazed ceramic, marble, or granite. Though classic mosaic is made from individual pieces of tile fitted together in patterns like a jigsaw puzzle, modern mosaics come on paper- or plastic-backed sheets that are typically 1 foot square. Because there are so many grout lines, a mosaic floor is slip-resistant even if the tiles themselves are slick.

Custom mosaic walls give this powder room artistic charm.LuckyPhoto / Shutterstock.com

Custom mosaic walls give this contemporary powder room a look of handmade artistry.

Prepping for Mosaic Tile

Some of the prep work for installing mosaic tiles is the same as for regular ceramic tile (see How to Install a Ceramic or Stone Tile Floor) and some is easier. Though the tiles themselves are unlikely to crack, the grout will crack if the subsurface is not very firm, so if you plan to install them on a floor, jump on the floor to make sure you feel very little flex, or call in a pro if you are unsure. [GARD align=”left”]

Remove any obstructions like plumbing fixtures and base shoe or molding. Take down any high protrusions and fill in large low spots; small indentations can be filled in when you apply thinset or epoxy mortar.

Installing out mosaic tiles is easier than ceramic tiles since you don’t have to worry about ending up with a row of narrow tiles. However, you do want the tiles to be parallel with visible abutting walls. If walls are not parallel or at right angles to each other, the tiles along one or more wall will not be parallel. Plan so these non-parallel joints are not highly visible. Snap two or more perpendicular chalk lines against which you will set the tiles.

Cutting Mosaic Tiles

Tile nippers are used for nibbling away an irregular cut along the edge of a tile. Photo: Goldblatt

In most cases, you need only remove some tiles from a sheet. Simply cut away the backing with a utility knife. If you need to cut an individual tile, use a nibbling tool. If the tiles are 1 1/2 inches or wider, you can use a snap cutter. For more about cutting tile, please see How to Cut Ceramic Tile.

Setting Mosaic Tile

It can be tricky getting all the tiles to stick without having mortar ooze up through the joints, creating a mess that is difficult to clean, so take your time to install them carefully.

Use a square-notch margin trowel for applying thinset mortar. Photo: Goldblatt

Use a square-notch margin trowel for applying thinset mortar. Photo: Goldblatt

Consult with your dealer to choose the right size notched trowel; usually, a square-notched 1/2-inch trowel is best. Use high-quality latex-reinforced mortar or even epoxy mortar. Mix a batch that is fairly wet yet firm enough so the tiles will not sink down into it. Spread the mortar with the flat side of the trowel and then comb with the notched side. This is discussed in depth in the article Applying Thinset Mortar for Tile.

Carefully set the mosaic sheets into the mortar; you cannot slide them more than a quarter-inch or so. Place a piece of plywood on top and gently press the sheets into the mortar. Every so often, pick up a sheet and make sure all the tiles are sticking to the mortar. If not, use wetter mortar, or press more firmly.

Remove any globs of squeezed-up mortar as you work as it will be difficult to remove them later without dislodging the tiles.[GARD align=”left”]

Grouting Mosaic Tile

Allow the mortar to dry completely and then apply grout using a laminated grout float. Holding the float nearly flat, press the grout into the joints. Tilt the float up and squeegee away the excess.

Use a large, damp sponge to gently wipe away the rest of the grout from the tiles, taking care not to dig into the grout in the joints. Continually rinse the sponge with clean water, and go over the surface several times. Where needed, apply a bit more grout. The next day, buff the surface with a dry cloth. For more about grouting, please see see How to Install a Ceramic or Stone Tile Floor.

 

Tile, Stone & Grout

Installing Cement Backerboard for Tile Flooring

Carefully planning the placement of cement backerboard is as important as meticulous installation.

The most successful tile floor applications begin with either fibrous cement backerboard or cement backboard that is mesh-reinforced, installed with special backerboard screws.

Start by snapping chalk lines to indicate where the joists are located. The idea is to lay the backerboard sheets so that no joints coincide with joints in the subfloor. Also arrange the sheets to avoid four corners meeting in the same place. Leave 1/8 inch between backerboard sheets and 1/4 inch between the sheets and the base of the wall.

Once you have mapped out your plan, you are ready to cut and install the backboard. tile-backerbord

1Sweep the floor until it is free of dirt and debris. Lay down a backerboard sheet, measure and mark it top to bottom for the cut, and then subtract 1/4 inch.

2With a straightedge against the mark, score the line with a cement-backerboard knife. Turn the sheet over, hold one side down, and pull the other side up. Place the sheet on its side and score the reverse side along the same line as the first. Snap the sheet back to separate the two pieces. Sand the edge with a tile stone if it is very rough.

3Mix thinset mortar and, after sweeping up, apply it to the floor with a 1/4-inch square-notched trowel.Place the sheet on the mortar according to your schematic. Where there are joists below, drive screws every 6 inches or as specified by the manufacturer. Drive screws along the edges every 4 inches (or as recommended by the manufacturer) but only where the edge clears a joist by at least 2 inches.

4When you have laid all the backerboard, tape the joints with fiberglass mesh tape. Spread a fine layer of thinset mortar over the tape with a trowel. Feather and smooth it to create the most level plane you can. Allow the thinset to dry and harden completely before tiling.

NEXT SEE:

Featured Resource: Find a Pre-Screened Local Tile Flooring Pro

Tile, Stone & Grout

How to Remove a Popcorn Ceiling

Though popcorn or acoustic ceilings were once popular in homes and apartments, the bumpy look of popcorn ceilings quickly dates a home today. A very common home improvement is to remove a popcorn ceiling.[GARD align=”left”]

Before you jump into this project, however, it’s important to consider whether the ceiling texture might contain asbestos. Popcorn ceilings applied before the 1980s may contain asbestos, a fiber that is harmful when airborne. If you ceiling contains asbestos, you should leave removal to a professional asbestos abatement contractor.

If you’re unsure whether your ceiling may contain asbestos, you can buy a mail-in asbestos test kit for about $35. With this, you carefully scrape a small piece into a plastic bag that seals and send it to a mail-order certified testing lab.

 

How to Remove a Popcorn Ceiling, Step by Step

Begin by preparing the room for the mess, then move on to the removal process.

repair a ceiling fan breaker

Turn off the circuits that supply electricity to the room.

1Because you need to spray water onto the ceiling to remove the texture, begin by turning off the power to the receptacles and light fixtures at the circuit breaker panel.

Tape protective drop cloths to the floor, and then the walls.

Tape protective drop cloths to the floor, and then the walls.

2Protect the floor, baseboards, and lower parts of the wall by spreading heavy-duty plastic sheeting or water-resistant drop cloths across the floor and extending it about 18 inches up the wall. Tape the edges of the sheeting to the wall with blue painters’ tape.

 

3Run 1 1/2-inch painters’ tape along the top of the wall, about 1/4-inch down from the ceiling. Drape the walls with plastic sheeting, taping the top edge to the painters’ tape along the top of the walls. Then unroll rosin paper on the floor to keep the floor from getting too slippery and make cleanup easier.

 

Use a garden sprayer to wet the ceiling with water. Photo: Chapin

Use a garden sprayer to wet the popcorn ceiling with water. Photo: Chapin

4Working in 2-by-2-foot sections,  use a garden sprayer to apply water to the ceiling, and then scrape the texture off with an 8-inch-wide drywall taping knife. Wear safety glasses and a dust mask.

8-inch Drywall taping knife is handy for scraping the ceiling. Photo: Marshalltown

8-inch Drywall taping knife is handy for scraping the ceiling. Photo: Marshalltown

 

5Once you’ve finished scraping the entire ceiling, remove the plastic from the walls.

Leave the plastic sheeting on the floor until you gather and dispose of all of the rosin paper and wall sheeting.

Ceilings

Wallpapering Around Corners & Obstacles

Wallpapering into and around corners requires special techniques and particular attention to detail because most walls are not plumb.

You can’t just push paper into an inside corner and then continue pasting it onto the intersecting wall as this will more than likely result in a misaligned and wrinkled mess. Instead, cut the strip where the two walls meet and hang the resulting two strips individually.[GARD align=”left”]

For outside corners, you can paper around them and then use either of two methods as detailed below to hang the second strip, depending on how plumb the intersecting walls are. (For a strip that ends at an outside corner, trim off 1/8 to 1/4 inch of the corner edge to prevent it from fraying).

Covering Outside Corners

Measure for the second strip.

1Measure for the second strip

After papering around the corner, draw a plumb line on the second wall a strip’s width plus 1/2 inch from the end of the corner strip. Measure the space between the end of the corner strip and the plumb line in three different places.

Set the second strip.

2Set the second strip

If the distance to the plumb line is larger at the top of the wall, slit the second strip from the middle to the bottom. If the distance is longer at the bottom, slit the strip from the middle to the top. Overlap the paper so that the uncut edge will be plumb and then double-cut the overlap.

 

 

 

Cover Inside Corners

Measure for the first corner strip.

1Measure for the first corner strip

Measure from the last strip to the corner in three different places. The first corner strip should be cut to the largest length plus 1/4 inch. Put aside the resulting strip.

Set the first strip.

2Set the first strip

Butt the first corner strip to the preceding one and push it firmly into the corner.

 

 

 

Measure for the second strip.

3Measure for the second strip

Measure the width of the saved strip and then draw a plumb line on the intersecting wall that width plus 1/4 inch away from the corner. Place the leftover strip next to the plumb line and allow the corner edge to overlap the first strip. Apply a non-porous vinyl-to-vinyl paste to the overlap. Don’t worry about slight imperfections in the alignment of the pattern since such minor flaws generally go unnoticed in corners.

 


Wallpapering Archways

Wallpapering around an archway uses some of the same techniques as covering a solid wall.

Hang archway strips.

Hanging Archway Strips

Hang two strips of paper that are as tall as the archway and as wide as the jamb; make a horizontal cut from the inside edge to within an inch of the wall. Wrap the paper along the edge of the arch and down the jamb, smoothing out any wrinkles and bubbles as you go.

Trim and match the paper.

Trimming & Matching

Trim the paper on the archway with utility shears to within an inch of the edge. Cut small wedge shapes that extend 1/4 inch from the edge. Calculate half the length of the arch, and then cut two strips to that length (plus a quarter inch) and to a width that is 1/4 inch narrower than the jamb. Apply the paper from the top down, and double-cut the seam.

 

Hanging paper around openings such as windows, outlets, and fixtures is similar to hanging paper on solid walls and uses many of the same techniques.

Papering Around Windows & Obstacles

Fit the paper.

1Fit the paper

After you hang the paper around the window opening, trim it to about 2 inches longer than the width of the recessed area. Cut diagonal slits into the corners.

Apply matched side pieces.

2Apply matched side pieces

Smooth all the flaps down and then paste matching strips into each side, cutting each piece to about 1/4 inch narrower than the space.

 

 

 

 

Paper around large windows.

Papering Around Large Windows

Mark a horizontal line above and below the window, using a carpenter’s level aligned with a design element in the strip you’re starting with (marked “1” on the diagram). Hang strips according to the diagram, following the sequence 2A, 2B, 3A, 3B, and finally 4. You may need to make adjustments to strip 4 to match the surrounding pattern.

 

 

Paper around outlets.

Papering Around Outlets

Shut off the power to any outlet you’ll be papering over, and remove the faceplate. Paper over the space as if it were a solid wall. Then, use a utility knife to slice the paper from corner to corner. Trim the extra off and then fold the edges in. Replace the faceplate.[GARD align=”right”]

 

 

 

Paper over each faceplate.

Papering a Faceplate

Paper over each faceplate before placing the faceplates back on walls. Sand and prime the front and measure a piece of wallpaper that is 1 inch longer on all four sides. Apply vinyl-to-vinyl paste to both the faceplace and the paper. Hold the faceplate up to the outlet and attach the wallpaper so that it matches the pattern. With the faceplace paper side down on a table, trim the border down to 1/2 inch and cut off the corners. Fold the paper around the plate and smooth the edges into the back. Use a utility knife to cut out the openings for the electrical plug and then replace the faceplate.

 

 

Papering Around a Fixture

Slice the paper.

1Slice the wallpaper

After turning off the electricity, removing the fixture, and covering it loosely with paper, slice the wallpaper from the ceiling line, baseboard, or corner, whichever is closer, to the opening.

Cut slits.

2Cut slits

Cut a series of slits from the fixture’s center to its outer edges until you can smooth down the paper around it.

Finish up.

3Finish up

Crease the edges of the slits against the wall tightly, and then trim them with a razor or utility knife.

 

 

 

Wallpaper around a thermostat.

Wallpapering Around a Thermostat

To paper around a thermostat, hang the strip from the ceiling line as you would for any wall.

When you reach the thermostat, smooth the paper down as close to it as you can without tacking it onto the thermostat as shown at left.

Make an X-shaped cut over the thermostat large enough for the paper around it to lie flat, but not so large that the paper will show cut marks. Trim the excess, and then smooth the paper.

 

Wallpaper & Wall Coverings

Wallpapering Around Corners & Obstacles

Wallpapering into and around corners requires special techniques and particular attention to detail because most walls are not plumb.

You can’t just push paper into an inside corner and then continue pasting it onto the intersecting wall as this will more than likely result in a misaligned and wrinkled mess. Instead, cut the strip where the two walls meet and hang the resulting two strips individually.[GARD align=”left”]

For outside corners, you can paper around them and then use either of two methods as detailed below to hang the second strip, depending on how plumb the intersecting walls are. (For a strip that ends at an outside corner, trim off 1/8 to 1/4 inch of the corner edge to prevent it from fraying).

Covering Outside Corners

Measure for the second strip.

1Measure for the second strip

After papering around the corner, draw a plumb line on the second wall a strip’s width plus 1/2 inch from the end of the corner strip. Measure the space between the end of the corner strip and the plumb line in three different places.

Set the second strip.

2Set the second strip

If the distance to the plumb line is larger at the top of the wall, slit the second strip from the middle to the bottom. If the distance is longer at the bottom, slit the strip from the middle to the top. Overlap the paper so that the uncut edge will be plumb and then double-cut the overlap.

 

 

 

Cover Inside Corners

Measure for the first corner strip.

1Measure for the first corner strip

Measure from the last strip to the corner in three different places. The first corner strip should be cut to the largest length plus 1/4 inch. Put aside the resulting strip.

Set the first strip.

2Set the first strip

Butt the first corner strip to the preceding one and push it firmly into the corner.

 

 

 

Measure for the second strip.

3Measure for the second strip

Measure the width of the saved strip and then draw a plumb line on the intersecting wall that width plus 1/4 inch away from the corner. Place the leftover strip next to the plumb line and allow the corner edge to overlap the first strip. Apply a non-porous vinyl-to-vinyl paste to the overlap. Don’t worry about slight imperfections in the alignment of the pattern since such minor flaws generally go unnoticed in corners.

 


Wallpapering Archways

Wallpapering around an archway uses some of the same techniques as covering a solid wall.

Hang archway strips.

Hanging Archway Strips

Hang two strips of paper that are as tall as the archway and as wide as the jamb; make a horizontal cut from the inside edge to within an inch of the wall. Wrap the paper along the edge of the arch and down the jamb, smoothing out any wrinkles and bubbles as you go.

Trim and match the paper.

Trimming & Matching

Trim the paper on the archway with utility shears to within an inch of the edge. Cut small wedge shapes that extend 1/4 inch from the edge. Calculate half the length of the arch, and then cut two strips to that length (plus a quarter inch) and to a width that is 1/4 inch narrower than the jamb. Apply the paper from the top down, and double-cut the seam.

 

Hanging paper around openings such as windows, outlets, and fixtures is similar to hanging paper on solid walls and uses many of the same techniques.

Papering Around Windows & Obstacles

Fit the paper.

1Fit the paper

After you hang the paper around the window opening, trim it to about 2 inches longer than the width of the recessed area. Cut diagonal slits into the corners.

Apply matched side pieces.

2Apply matched side pieces

Smooth all the flaps down and then paste matching strips into each side, cutting each piece to about 1/4 inch narrower than the space.

 

 

 

 

Paper around large windows.

Papering Around Large Windows

Mark a horizontal line above and below the window, using a carpenter’s level aligned with a design element in the strip you’re starting with (marked “1” on the diagram). Hang strips according to the diagram, following the sequence 2A, 2B, 3A, 3B, and finally 4. You may need to make adjustments to strip 4 to match the surrounding pattern.

 

 

Paper around outlets.

Papering Around Outlets

Shut off the power to any outlet you’ll be papering over, and remove the faceplate. Paper over the space as if it were a solid wall. Then, use a utility knife to slice the paper from corner to corner. Trim the extra off and then fold the edges in. Replace the faceplate.[GARD align=”right”]

 

 

 

Paper over each faceplate.

Papering a Faceplate

Paper over each faceplate before placing the faceplates back on walls. Sand and prime the front and measure a piece of wallpaper that is 1 inch longer on all four sides. Apply vinyl-to-vinyl paste to both the faceplace and the paper. Hold the faceplate up to the outlet and attach the wallpaper so that it matches the pattern. With the faceplace paper side down on a table, trim the border down to 1/2 inch and cut off the corners. Fold the paper around the plate and smooth the edges into the back. Use a utility knife to cut out the openings for the electrical plug and then replace the faceplate.

 

 

Papering Around a Fixture

Slice the paper.

1Slice the wallpaper

After turning off the electricity, removing the fixture, and covering it loosely with paper, slice the wallpaper from the ceiling line, baseboard, or corner, whichever is closer, to the opening.

Cut slits.

2Cut slits

Cut a series of slits from the fixture’s center to its outer edges until you can smooth down the paper around it.

Finish up.

3Finish up

Crease the edges of the slits against the wall tightly, and then trim them with a razor or utility knife.

 

 

 

Wallpaper around a thermostat.

Wallpapering Around a Thermostat

To paper around a thermostat, hang the strip from the ceiling line as you would for any wall.

When you reach the thermostat, smooth the paper down as close to it as you can without tacking it onto the thermostat as shown at left.

Make an X-shaped cut over the thermostat large enough for the paper around it to lie flat, but not so large that the paper will show cut marks. Trim the excess, and then smooth the paper.

 

Wallpaper & Wall Coverings

Wallpapering Borders

A wallpaper border can lend an added measure of style to a room. If the wall had been previously painted, see Preparing Wall Surfaces for Wallpaper before starting. To place a border between two wallpapers, wait until the wallpapers are completely dry and then apply a primer sealer just to the area you’re covering.

Top border adds a decorative element to wallpapered wall.©Auremar / Shutterstock.com

Top border adds a decorative element to wallpapered wall.

Wallpapering a Ceiling Border

Draw plumb lines.

1Draw plumb lines

First, check the walls you’re bordering for plumb. If the walls are not plumb, subtract the width of the border from the shortest wall. Next, with the aid of a carpenter’s level, draw a plumb line on the walls.

 

Prepare the strips.

2Prepare the strips

If you are papering over vinyl wallpaper, use vinyl-to-vinyl paste and then book the border in an accordion fold, taking care not to crease it.

 

Hang the border.

3Hang the border

To keep the paper manageable, apply only an arm’s length at a time. Smooth out any wrinkles or bubbles as you go, and clean off any extra paste immediately. If the beginning of the next strip matches the pattern at the end of the first strip, simply paste the second strip right next to the first. If it doesn’t, overlap the strips where the pattern matches and then double-cut the seams. Use lap seams at the corners.[GARD align=”left”]

Making a Chair Rail Border

Set border guidelines.

1Set border guidelines

Using a carpenter’s level, draw border guidelines for the top and bottom edges of the border, allowing the lower guideline to overlap the existing wallpaper.

 

Hang the border.

2 Hang the border

Hang the border according to the top guideline. Using a straightedge or broad knife at the bottom edge of the border, cut the existing wallpaper with a razor or utility knife and remove the excess. Then smooth down the border and roll the seam.

 

Above & Below Borders

Draw guidelines.

1Draw guidelines

Draw a line on the wall midway between where you want the border to go. Hang the top wallpaper to just below the line and trim.

 

Finish the job.

2Finish the job

Hang the bottom wallpaper to butt with the wallpaper above. Then hang the border, aligning it with a design element of the wallpaper above and below.[GARD align=”right”]

 

 

 

Wallpaper & Wall Coverings

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