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Mosaic Tile  Designs Detailed Info for the Wilder Gulf Shores DAC-ART Project--(Page  15)
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 Mosaic Tile Design

mosaic shower design of an underwater scene

This page is to give detailed information on the procedures used to create the mosaic underwater scene shower interior in a Gulf Shores, Gulf Coast vacation home. The attempt here was to line the small shower with mosaics made from small glass tiles in the manner of the fabulous mosaics in Eastern Italy around Ravenna. The house itself is in an Italian style, and the shower being so small, the thought was 'well, let's make it interesting!' Go here to finished shower BIG.   Or smaller here.

Robert Underwood Built our shower enclosure

The shower area ready for mosaics to be applied.

Robert Underwood was contracted to ready the 34" x 36" shower for the mosaics with an old fashioned mortar bed. He was a pleasure to work with & did a good job.

Sand & seashell designs for the mosaic shower floor.

Mosaic shower floor tiles cut into sections.

I made the shells and animals as separate pieces on net backing and filled in with sand colored mosaic glass tiles, an an occasional colored tile. I used GOOP waterproof adhesive to attach the tile to the net backing. The shower floor mosaics were assembled into one piece on net backing and made to be slightly smaller than the shower floor dimensions. The first photo above shows the entire piece, lying on a concrete floor with wax paper underneath, about 30"x34". To see how the individual elements were made, click here on my original mosaics page.  I cut the floor into smaller pieces with cut lines radiating out from the hole for the drain (right center). Because the floor of the shower has a slight slope, the cut pieces did not go back together exactly. It was necessary to fill in with additional sand colored glass tiles due to the slope. It is advisable to cut the mosaic tile sections into manageable pieces for several reasons. One reason is that the weight of the tiles on the net backing tends to cause the net to pull and stretch, and even tear . Additionally, if using a  product mixed with water (Thinset mortar) to adhere the mosaic sections, the net looses it's stiffness and goes limp basically. This makes it very difficult to align the sections correctly. I later switched to a different method, keep reading!

Beach look mosaic tile design for the shower floor begins.

I began laying the floor mosaics in one corner and worked counterclockwise around the drain hole. Because the glass mosaic tiles were so thin, I tinted the thinset mortar to be a color close to the color of the grout I planned to use. It was hard to imagine that some of the thin-set mortar would not squish up between the tiles and show later. I used a pre-tinted liquid grout/mortar additive to tint the thin-set a 'sand' color. I used a small offset flat trowel to apply the mortar to the shower floor and small toothed trowel to run through the mortar for an even thickness distribution.  Using a pencil to outline the basic area of the next section to be installed helps you know where to apply the thin-set. Since it sets up and dries fairly fast, it is necessary to scrape and remove the thin-set where the next section of mosaics will go, so you don't want to have to work to remove any more than possible. I also found it handy to keep a vacuum nearby to remove all chips, flakes, scrapings, etc before moving on to the next section. I put masking tape, which   happened to be  blue, over the drain holes to prevent debris from falling into the drain during all this work.

Once the floor had all of the mosaic tile set in thinset mortar, I decided to go ahead and grout it since I would be using a different color on the walls  later. Afterwards, the floor was covered with a piece of cardboard, that I could walk on and pull out to shake off the crumbs during the rest of the mosaicing (is that a word?).

Completed shower floor mosaics.

Mosaic border around the shower enclosure made from glass tiles.

The mosaic border went up next. We had made the border ahead of time on net backing in one foot lengths, so it went up rapidly. I think the border does a lot to define and frame the area visually. It is flush with the mosaics on the walls and  on the raised curb on bottom since it is made from the same tiles.. I measured the width of the border and told Robert to make the curb that exact width with a 45 degree beveled edge so I would not end up with a sharp tile edge likely to catch on feet and break loose or cut feet.

I tinted the thinset mortar teal where I  attached the border.

Glass tile mosaics in lower part of shower applied with thinset mortar.

Since I wanted the sand colored tiles to come up the walls just a bit, and I was using sand tinted Thinset, I used masking tape to temporarily place the water look mosaic sections so that I could be sure that the two sections would 'mate' correctly. The thin strip of sand colored tiles, shown diagonally across the cardborad on the floor, easily distorted after making contact with the wet adhesive. The wet thinset looks much darker than it does after it dries.

Blue tinted thinset mortar was applied to the area where the first pieces of water mosaics were to go. It looks very dark when wet. I tried hard not to get any of the dark blue mortar on the 'sand' areas. It is still a very messy job. The mortar extending past the tiles had to be scraped away when firm enough to scrape, but before it set too hard, and vacuumed up.


Thin set mortar prepared for mosaic glass tiles.

Glass mosaic tiles applied to thinset mortar in the shower.

First course of underwater mosiac designs in the shower, left side.

Right side of shower mosaic designs.

I worked my way around the shower walls. Notice the color of the tinted thinset showing just beyond the tiles on the right photo vs. the color of the product when wet. It was necessary to apply mosaic tiles directly to bridge the corners and work up to the bordered edge.

Fish, plants, shells, in an underwater shower scene.

I was still using the tinted thinset mortar to apply the mosaics as I added the 'second row' of premade sections.

Moving up the wall with the mosaic design of an underwater scene.

At about this point, I realized that working with the tinted thinset was an unpleasant task and there had to be a better way. These photos look neat and tidy but working with it was a big mess and very time consuming.

I began to cut my sections of mosaics on net into smaller pieces and turning them over and applying GOOP adhesive to each individual tile on the back thru the net. I then ran to the shower and put the piece in place, pounding on each tile to insure good contact with the concrete backer board. I had to work fast as the GOOP skins over rather rapidly. Since the net was not coming into contact with water, it remained stiff and held it's shape so that the pieces of the puzzle fit together much more easily.

I went thru many tubes of GOOP, but if you shop wisely, you should be able to find it for about $3.69 a large tube (in 2001) at a discount store. It is sold under various 'flavors'--Household GOOP, Plumber's GOOP, Shoe Goo, etc but the only difference I have found is that the slightly higher Marine GOOP has an UV filter in it.

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