A Brief History of Mosaic Tiles
Mosaic tiles are everywhere – we’ve seen them, whether on the church’s floor or an intricate mural your Nan’s bathroom. The tiny squares of ceramic marvel appear to have been in use for an period of time, yet a lot of people don’t know their origins. If you’re one of them then read on as we’re going to dig a little deeper into the mosaics’ back story…
As you’d expect, the history of mosaic tiles is entwined with that of its bigger brothers; ceramic tiles as well as porcelain tiles, first appearing around 4,000 years ago in the Mesopotamian period. The first mosaics were quickly created from ivory shell and stone, and were used by artists to create portraits and likenesses of gods and kings.
At the time of 200 BC though it was 200 BC, the Roman Empire was in full flow and brought an array of revolutionary technological processes and aesthetic ideals. Craftsmen quickly realized there was a lot of money involved in making the small ‘tesserae’ (or uniform) ready-made pieces that artists utilized to make mosaics, and so that’s what they did! In the next few years, these little blighters were everywhere . Roman artists made use of tiny pieces of stone (marble in particular) to make sprawling floor mosaics that depicted the lavishness and splendor, the debauchery and squalor in Roman life.
As history moved along into the Byzantine period, so did the positioning of mosaics, shifting from ceilings to floors, walls and floors. In this period, glass was increasingly used, with the creation of elaborate glass tesserae, also known as’smalti’, often backed with gold or silver leaf for extravagant-ness. A majority Byzantine mosaics featured religious themes and they were usually seen in cathedrals. If you’re ever visiting Ravenna in Italy it is possible to visit Ravenna’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites there and take a look at some exquisite examples.
The following wave of mosaic growth occurred during the time of Islamic empires (such as the Ottoman Empire) which had a huge influence and extended from to the Middle east to North Africa in its splendour. Islamic mosaics generally featured a religious theme running through them and utilised numerous different-shaped tiles, with geometric shapes being the preferred method of creating patterns and designs.
In the latter half of the 1800s and in the late 1800s, the Art Nouveau movement was really gathering velocity with the likes of Anton Gaudi and Josep Maria Julol really shaking things up and bringing more vibrant organic mosaic art something that the famous and the good looked to replicate in their residences. The use of mosaics set the stage for how they are seen and utilized in contemporary settings up to the present day.
Why Should You Use Mosaics
Cost effective, easy installation, and ability to design your own custom designs . These are just three reasons why DIYers and renovators around the globe are in love with mosaics. Whilst domestic installations don’t tend to have an excessively artistic approach ie. the creation of large-scale murals, mosaics do allow for some personal expression, be it through borders or accents, or through a personal message inserted into walls. But, visit any luxury bar, hotel or even a public space, and you’ll see mosaics employed in many innovative ways, outdoors and inside.
At first glance, mosaics could appear like a real problem for the posterior to set up but they’re actually not. The most common misconception is that you need to meticulously apply grout to each mosaic but that’s not the situation for any of them. Mosaics come in tile-like square panels held together with a fabric mesh that are attached to floors and walls exactly the same way you would fix ceramic or porcelain tiles (more about adhesives later).
They can be cut by cutting tools into any form to be able to fit into the space you’re installing them and once they’re down the grout is placed to fill the gaps between the pieces and wiped off with a damp sponge, as you would do with larger tiles! Instructions on how to install mosaics on floors and walls can be found further in this guide.
Mosaic Colours & Types
Our mosaic selection knocks most other tile retailers’ into the cocked hat. You’d stay here all day long if we told you about the most popular tile selections (hey we have a lot of people love many from our tile selection). However, we wouldn’t have been in the right position should we not let you know about a few top-quality tiles that make a stunning addition to bathrooms or kitchens, as well as on walls and floors, regardless of the style you prefer to use.
Mosaic sheets measure big, 300 x 300 inches in size and come in a square format of tile-lie. The number and size that the tiles (the tiny pieces of tile which make up the mosaic) will vary widely. For instance glass mosaics such as Alaska Glass Mosaics generally feature identical square chips, which are around the size of 23mm or 48mm square, whereas something like Nice Stoneglass Mix Mosaics sport like modular-like chips that are available in an array of sizes, and all in one tile.
How To Choose High-Quality Mosaics
The fact that our wide assortment of mosaics is inexpensive isn’t a guarantee that they’re of poor quality. Prices can vary significantly from high street where some retailers offer this kind of tile at close to double the cost of those sold through online retailers. The most effective way to judge which tiles are worth the cost is taking samples of tiles to evaluate their quality. If you get your samples, the finish should not be smudges, markings or scratches on the face, and when you’ve bought solid color mosaics, these colours should be clean and crisp and not faded.
Using Grout with Mosaics
As you’ll have gathered by going through this article, there are many mosaic designs to pick from. But did you realize that there are plenty of options to grout too. Although the selection of colors may not be like the vast variety of mosaics that are available but enough choices allow you to create your own unique style.
How To Install Mosaics
The process of preparing your walls for the full brunt of mosaic action is really not that different to prepping walls for normal tiles. A majority of mosaics come mounted on a mesh backing and are typically 300 x 300 inches in size. So, just as you would for ‘normal’ tiles, you’ll need ensure that the surface is level and primed (if it’s the render, plywood or plasterboard, or the screeds made of cement or sand that you’re applying onto). Application of Mapei Primer G using a brush or roller and allowing to dry for at least 2 hours prior to beginning tile for better adhesion to make a huge difference in this case!
Mosaics can be found in a variety of materials , including stone, travertine, glass, and marble. Regardless of what the tiles you opt for are made of, you’ll need to ensure that the floor you’re laying them on is even. It’s Mapei’s Ultraplan’s Renovation Screed that is a godsend for homes with uneven floors and can be easily applied using hand or pump, and then finished using an emery roller or trowel. After your floor has been smoothed (leave it to air dry for up to 24 hours) it’s time to lay your tiles. The same advice provided for when tiling onto render, plasterboard, plywood walls also applies to walls – so make sure that you’re primed to prime!
Find the centre of the floor or wall and draw a vertical and horizontal line with a pencil or a level. Dry lay your mosaic sheets, starting at the centre then moving towards the end of the wall/floor. If you want the tiles on either side to be cut to approximately the same size, do this by altering your vertical reference line.
It’s vital to realize that mosaics are difficult to apply directly on wall surfaces coated with adhesive due to the mesh backing’s elasticity is not as strong. It is likely that you’ll see the “tile” (made up of many mosaic chips) will flop about when it is handled. To prevent this from happening, we recommend using Mosaic Backer Sheets – inflexible grid-like structures made from plastic with are coated with a self-adhesive back. These meshes are connected to the self-adhesive sides and create a stiff ‘full tile’ that is much simpler to push into the adhesive for floors and walls. The use of backer sheets eliminates the necessity of pushing onto each mosaic chip separately and ensures that the pressure applied to the tile after pushing it in the adhesive has been evenly distributed and creates a flat, smooth surface.
Making mosaics is a little less difficult than cutting ceramic or porcelain tiles since you can just cut mesh back down to the desired size with the scissors of a stanley knife. If you are required to break through any of the chips , however (such as when you need to resize them to make room for gaps or corners) it is recommended to use a score and snap tile cutter, just as you would with ‘full’ ceramic tiles.
We’d suggest using Mapei’s Keracolour grout when making mosaics because this kind of grout is much more fine and will fit into smaller spaces more easily. But if you’d like to go with one of the grouts like Kerapoxy Design then that’s no problem, it’s just that you’ll find the installation process using a finer grout is quicker and simpler.
It’s highly unlikely that you’d tile an entire wall or floor using mosaics. However, in case of a mosaic piece being the final tile to be laid before the wall’s edge, counter-top and shower tray make sure to seal it with a matching silicone seal to avoid cracking due to movement. As previously mentioned mosaics are available in all sorts of designs and materials, the majority of them don’t require any after-installation processes. However, there are exceptions to this rule for natural stone mosaics such as marble or the travertine. They must be sealed with Fila Stone Plus Colour Enhancing Sealer to ensure they look stunning for many years to come.
How To Care for Mosaics
Once the mosaics have been installed, they are extremely easy to care for. Mosaics with satin or gloss finishesrequire just wiping down with a damp cloth and warm water and then dried or buffed with an incredibly soft microfibre or soft cloth to keep them looking at their best. For mosaics that have matt or riven finish, you’ll need the same procedure, but without the buffing.
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