Getting the picture about how to lay a mosaic
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Laying mosaics is not as difficult as I feared. As is often
the case, preparation is the key and it is essential that the place where
they are being laid is level, clean and keyed in ready. Ideally a mosaic
should be placed on a bed of fresh concrete or render. This is the sequence
we followed when fixing our mosaics.
Having decided on the location for each mosaic, rotate them until they are
correctly orientated - try to get them to line up with columns or windows or
centralised as appropriate. Mark the finished position on the concrete with
a wax crayon or charcoal pencil.
Peel off the polythene backing from the mosaic being careful to set aside
any loose chips of marble. These pieces can be fixed later; just keep them
to hand for the moment.
Mix up a sufficient quantity of adhesive in a bucket - enough to do no more
than a single mosaic. If you prepare more than that the adhesive will set.
You may find that hiring or buying a paddle mixer (a simple attachment that
fits in any drill) is a good investment.
Using a shark-toothed spreader, apply the adhesive generously to the
concrete surface (do not apply it directly to the mosaic). Cover the entire
area where the mosaic will go.
Lift the mosaic (this may take two or more people depending upon its size)
and place it over the adhesive orientating it to match the marks you made
Using a block of wood, mallet or similar heavy blunt object, carefully tamp
down the mosaic starting at its centre and working outwards. Make sure that
the finished surface is as level as you can get it - use a spirit level to check
this. Wipe off any surplus adhesive.
If the mosaic is to be mounted on a wall, you will need to fix timber
supports underneath and on one or both sides of the mosaic. If it is a large
circular one (eg a medallion) then you may even need to fix a central timber across the face
to hold it while the adhesive sets (usually under 24 hours).
If there any broken pieces, now is a good time to fix them. Use any
proprietary solvent-based household glue and cut the marble with pliers or,
better still, with a disk or tile cutter.
When the adhesive is dry, apply a good quality tile grout, cleaning the
mosaic if it has become dirty or gritty in any way. Grouts come in
different colours - choose a light coloured grout unless the mosaic is to be
surrounded by tiles with a dark grout. Only choose a dark grout if you are
absolutely sure that this is what you want as it will make the mosaic look
very stark and its image even more disjointed.
Grout is a powdery wash that is applied over the whole surface of the
mosaic. As a result, it has to be cleaned off within a few minutes of it
being laid. Use a clean cloth and a damp sponge for this. Make sure that you
don't let the grout dry on the face of the marble pieces as this will prove
increasingly difficult to remove without resorting to acid - something to be
avoided if possible as it will mar the image since it dissolves the marble.
Finally use a proprietary polish (this can be purchased from hobby stores,
the mosaic supplier or shops selling tiles) to clean off any remaining
residue of grout.
Have fun laying mosaics!
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