Everything You Need To Know About Mosaic Tiles
In the world of tile, if there’s one style that has stood the test of time (literally), it’s mosaic tiles. These beautiful tiles have traveled through centuries, leaving an imprint wherever they were placed. While times have changed, one thing remains true; mosaic tiles are a design staple and a must-know when it comes to creating a unique space. This is exactly why we’re outlining every single thing you should know about mosaic tiles in our blog post today. Read on and get inspired.
In this guide, we’ll cover:
- What are mosaic tiles
- A brief history of mosaic tiles
- How mosaics are used today
- The types of mosaic tile
- How to cut and install mosaics
- How to use mosaic tile in your design
- The various mosaic color options available
What are mosaic tiles?
Let’s go over the basics first. Mosaic tiles are any combination of tile sizes, shapes, colors and materials set on a sheet for easier installation. They are typically known as an inlay pattern with tiles smaller than 2”x2”. Mosaics also come in an extremely large variety of styles; from basketweave and chevron to mini brick and arabesque.
Commonly these tiles are made from glass, natural stone, or metal. Though, you can find elegant styles that include shell or mother of pearl.
A brief history of mosaic tiles
When we said mosaic tile have traveled through time, we weren’t kidding! The history of mosaic tile designs go all the way back to ancient Mesopotamia. Yes, 5,000 years ago people were creating with the earliest forms of mosaic tiles. They combined natural materials that they had on hand, like stone and pebbles, to create flooring. How wild is that?
Shown Above: Roman mosaic depicting a boat on the River Nile (National Museum of Wales)
Though, as the years passed, and civilizations became more advanced, the use of mosaics shifted. In Ancient Greece, mosaic tiles were first seen as not a material for living necessity but as a decorative statement on walls or ceilings. They created stunning geometric shapes and developed realistic scenes of people in daily life with early mosaic tile. This mosaic artwork was found in Ancient Rome as well where it was used to depict everyday life (as seen above.)
In later centuries, from the 4th century until the Renaissance, mosaic tiles were used as a form of religious expression and could be seen adorning the ceilings of churches.
Come the Renaissance, mosaic tile art was traded for elaborate paintings, putting pause on the development of such pieces. Then, on the tailend of the 20th century, the Modernist movement brought back the beauty of mosaic tile as seen in the vibrant works by Antoni Guadi.
How mosaics are used today
Shown Above: Custom mosaic mural art
While mosaic art still exists today, and here at MIR Collections are huge fans of it (check out our Alma Collection), there are more modern developments for homeowners and designers alike to incorporate mosaic tiles in bathrooms, backsplashes, kitchens and pools.
We’ll go over the various ways you can apply mosaics into your interior design projects in a later section, but we want to emphasize that there’s really myriad ways to use mosaic tiles!
Thanks to advancements in technology, mosaics and their various material combinations are now placed on either a mesh-backed sheet or paper-backed sheet. This creates such an ease of installation for you.
With mosaic tiles you can create beautiful artwork that is durable and low maintenance. Longevity and durability are truly where this tile type shines in the modern day.
The types of mosaic tile
Glass Mosaic Tile
One of the most well-known types of mosaics are glass mosaics. This is with little wonder since the natural sheen and luster of their surface captivates. Glass mosaic tile come in a variety of tile styles; transparent, opaque, mirrored and stained glass. With their natural ability to bounce light around a room, the glass mosaics are fool-proof in creating a design that’s tantalizing. What’s more, glass is extremely durable and can handle daily wear and tear while still maintaining its beauty. So, glass mosaic bathroom tiles and kitchen tiles are sure to stand the test of time and handle all exposure to all elements for a tile option that’s as functional as it is beautiful.
This means your client can enjoy the look for years after it’s installed!
Natural Stone Mosaic Tile
Shown Above: Indi Carrara hexagon stone mosaic tile from Bali Collection in kitchen backsplash
Natural stone mosaic tiles are inherently classy and supremely sophisticated. These mosaics are the traditional types of tile that were used back in Ancient times, so they carry a sense of timeless elegance with them. The beauty of natural stone mosaics can be whittled down to the variety that they offer. There are so many stunning options like carrara mosaic tiles, calacatta mosaics, wooden grey mosaic tiles and bardiglio mosaic tiles. Thanks to the stone’s inherent variations, no two tiles will ever be the same, which means every space will have a personal touch…Just like the Ancient Greeks enjoyed.
Porcelain + Ceramic Mosaic Tile
Shown Above: Plume White Ceramic Mosaic Tile Shower Niche
Porcelain and ceramic mosaic tiles offer a wide range of styles for any space, thanks to modern advances in technology. These mosaic tiles can provide a sense of durability and lower maintenance. With a variety of colors and finishes, porcelain and ceramic mosaics can really invigorate a space with its own character and personality. The other thing to love about porcelain tiles? The fact that you can find marble look ceramic or porcelain mosaic tile, stone look ceramic or porcelain tile and wood look porcelain mosaic tile on the market too. Which means you can save a little money if you’re on a budget with a client project and still get that look/feel you love.
Shell Mosaic Tile
Shown Above: Square shell mosaic tiles adorn bathroom backsplash
Shimmer and shine for days with Shell Mosaic Tile. Shell mosaic tiles are definite show-stoppers with their eye-catching sparkly facade. Made with Mother of Pearl and other organic materials, shell tile creates a luxurious sanctuary in any commercial or residential space. Mosaic shell tile is perfect for backsplashes, bathroom walls, and fireplace surrounds (hello, fiery beauties!).
Medallions + Custom Murals
Shown Above: Gorgeous mosaic tile mural behind bathroom tub
As a wink to the past, medallions and murals made from mosaic tiles create stunning works of art in a commercial or residential space. Mosaic tile murals can glamorize living room walls, lobby walls, kitchen backsplashes and pools with their beauty. Mosaic tile medallions can create stunning focal points for living room floors or hotel lobbies. Or as seen above, glass mosaics can be used to create stunning displays as an accent wall in a bathroom.The options are as limitless as your imagination with mosaic tiles.
Here at MIR we are proud to offer one-of-a-kind custom murals and medallions that can reflect your interior style and define any home or business design. Email us at email@example.com for more information.
Waterjet Mosaic Tile
Shown Above: Groutless Shell mosaics behind bathroom vanity | Beautiful stone mosaic with brass inlay kitchen backsplash
The epitome of luxury and designer appeal, waterjet mosaics are fascinating tiles that can uplevel any project instantaneously. These mosaic tiles are primarily cut from stone (though other materials can be used) and embellished with metal or shell accents to evoke a truly sensational style in a space. You can find Waterjet mosaic tiles, thanks to the cutting process, can have a sculptural look which gives way to a seamless, dimensional design. A fit for any project that warrants a taste of luxury and longevity.
Recycled Glass Mosaic Tile
Shown Above: Epillet Bleue recycled glass mosaic on Bathroom Backsplash
Last but not least, there are recycled glass mosaics. A perfect choice for those that seek a sustainable option and care about the environment. Thanks to its durable nature, glass can be recycled multiple times without losing purity or quality. The beauty of that is even when your tiles have lived their life out, they can be sent out to be recycled and made anew! Aside from leaving a positive mark on the planet, recycled glass tiles also offer a wide range of styles so there’s little limitation in design. You can find herringbone glass mosaics, classic penny round glass tiles, recycled glass hexagon mosaics and so much more.
How to cut and install mosaic tiles
If you’ve made it this far, you’re likely wondering, how to cut a mosaic tile? We’re happy to let you know that it’s relatively easy to do.
Step 1: Prep Your Work Area
Before all else, it’s important to make sure that the surface for the mosaic tiles installation is clean and smooth. Nowadays, the underlayment for mosaic tiles is cement board applied over a plywood subfloor. We recommend cutting and scoring your cement board so that it fits the area you’re planning to place the mosaic tiles perfectly and evenly.
Step 2: Plan Your Mosaic Layout
Now for a little fun! Before you go ahead and install mosaics into a backsplash, floor or commercial space, you’ll want to plan the layout. To do this, draw intersecting perpendicular lines from top to bottom to identify the flow.
Step 3: Start Attaching the Mosaic Tile Sheets
Ready to start? Now that the layout is planned, it’s time to get laying! Start by applying a layer of thin-set adhesive to one of the layout quadrants. Then, begin to work in sections of about 2 to 3 square feet. To do this, used a notched trowel. Be sure to consult your tile and thin-set to see what size trowel to use.
Apply the first tile sheet in the corner of the first quadrant, carefully ensuring that it lays perfectly. Press and embed the tile to the thin-set. Hold and then release. Watch for any slip and sliding. You don’t want that.
Step 4: Fill in First Quadrant
The next step is to fill in the sheet. Continue to fill the quadrant in the same way you just did in step 3. Use tile spacers to ensure the spaces are all even.
Step 5: Set The Tiles
Unlike traditional styles of tile, mosaics are prone to wave formation after laying. To avoid this, use a piece of plywood (8” square) and a rubber mallet. Tap the sheet down into the thin-set. Be sure to pay attention to the edge of the mosaic and make sure no rows are higher than the other and gaps are even throughout.
Step 6: Cut Sheets
As you approach the edges of one tile area, you may need to cut excess tile for an even lay. To do this, use scissors or a utility knife to cut along the mesh backing for a nice, even look.
Step 7: Cut Individual Tiles
As you go along laying the tile, you may need to cut individual pieces. This can be accomplished with a wet saw, if available to you, or a tile nipper.
Step 8: Complete Install
Once one quadrant is done, continue to fill the other three quadrants, using the same process outlined above and always starting from the center point outwards.
Step 9: Time To Grout!
After all the mosaic tiles have been laid and you ensured that gaps are even, edges are flat and no waves are on the surface, it’s time to grout. Follow the mixture instructions on your grout to ensure best results.
Once it’s mixed, use a rubber float to evenly distribute the grout on the surface of your mosaic tiles. This will take several passes. Don’t be shy; Be sure to use force to get the grout into the joints of the tile.
Hold the grout float at a 45-degree angle and alternate direction as needed until full coverage has been achieved.
Shown Above: Groutless South Sea shell tile kitchen backsplash
Interested in mosaics without grout lines? Our Shell Collections and the Sea Collection are the best options for you! These shell tiles luster, shine and captivate with a seamless, grout-free look. Explore both today.
Step 10: Clean It up
At last, we’ve laid the tile, cut the mosaic tiles and grouted the tiles…Now, it’s time to clean our workspace up! Allow the tile grout to harden and once it does, wipe the face of the tiles clean with a cloth to remove excess.
Step 11: Seal It For Good Luck
Since grout is porous, be sure that the file step you do is seal it. Use whatever type of grout sealer is recommended by the manufacturer of the grout used.
How to use mosaic tiles in your design
Mosaic tiles for backsplash
Shown Above: Montalcino natural stone mosaic tile from Tuscany collection on backsplash in kitchen
Using mosaics for backsplashes in the bathroom or kitchen is an easy way to instantly liven the space up. This is especially true in small kitchen designs or for bathroom walls. Using glass mosaic tiles, for instance, can not only add a sense of movement thanks to their ability to reflect light but create the illusion of more space. Alternatively, you can use stone mosaic tile on a kitchen backsplash or guest room bathroom backsplash to create a stunning sense of sophistication with little effort.
Mosaic tile for bathroom
Shown Above: Cordoba Silver Glass Mosaic Tile from Alma Glamour on bathroom wall | Rimini Mosaic Tile from Emilia Collection behind bathroom vanity
Want to use mosaic tiles for bathroom designs? Awesome. This is one area that the durability and variety of mosaic tiles really shine. You can benefit from using a glass mosaic tile on the bathroom floor as its non-porous nature will keep the tile from staining over the years or you can use glass mosaic tiles on a bathroom accent wall. We also love a good geometric natural stone mosaic tile behind a bathroom vanity to create a classic aesthetic.
Shown Above: Mosaic tiles used on waterline in pool and interior of pool
Whether your project is based in a location that gets sun year-round or withstands changing seasons, mosaic tiles for pools is always a good idea. There are a plethora of ways to use and enjoy mosaic tiles in pools. On one hand, you can use good ole’ glass tile or shell mosaic tile to create a sparkling pool waterline if budget is tight. On the other hand, you can order a custom mosaic tile mural for the pool and truly wow guests for years to come. Interested in the latter? Shoot us a message and we’ll happily help you!
Mosaic tile for kitchen
Shown Above: Agios Mosaic Tile on Kitchen backsplash
There are so many ways to style a kitchen, and luckily, mosaics are versatile enough to fill any design fantasy. The stunning use of porcelain tiles on kitchen floors allows the ultimate in durability and style ease. For instance, you can grab a wood look mosaic tile or a stone look mosaic tile and trick the eyes into thinking the real thing lays underfoot! Alternatively, you can use waterjet mosaic tiles on the kitchen backsplash to drive an overall lux living experience in the space. If using all waterjet mosaics is out of budget, try using a smaller amount for an accent wall above the oven range and install the rest of the wall with traditional subway tile!
Mosaic tile accent wall
Shown Above: Sofia waterjet mosaic tile on accent wall in bathroom
Whether you’re crafting the ultimate space for a hotel lobby, restaurant bar, a residential bathroom or a feature wall…Mosaic tile options work extremely well for any of these designs. Chevron mosaic tiles, for instance, add a playful design that creates a sense of depth. Florwal waterjet mosaic tiles, on the other hand, have a contemporary-meets-classic look that is bound to catch the eye. There’s no right or wrong way to go when it comes to decorating an accent wall and the best part is that all mosaics work here; from recycled glass mosaic tiles to metal mosaics.
Mosaic tile for fireplace surround
Shown Above: Majesty Collection decorating the fireplace surround in residential home
It’s lit! The fireplace surround, surprisingly, is a perfect match for mosaic tiles of all materials and finishes. Thanks to their ability to withstand heat, and their easy installation process, mosaic tiles can transform a fireplace from blah to wow in no time. Think how stunning a bright, handmade ceramic tile would look on a fireplace in a residential home or how mesmerizing a marble waterjet mosaic tile would be in a hotel lobby? Truly beautiful.
Shown Above: Beautiful mosaic tile adorning the facade of an outdoor fireplace
What’s more, because mosaic tile is so durable, this tile can also be used outdoors! Just like the design above, you can create a cozy little space on a residential or commercial backyard patio where people can gather through the seasons.
Mosaic Tile for floors
Shown Above: Dog with Fiore -2 Mosaic Tile on Floor | Pietra Floreale Mosaic Tile on Floor
Another way to use mosaic tiles is on floors. The areas for placements can span from residential entryways and living rooms to restaurant floors and hotel hallways (interiors and exteriors.) There’s really no place that these tiles can’t work! We love the idea of using a shimmering glass mosaic tile or sophisticated stone mosaic tile on an entryway floor to create an unforgettable first impression. You can also really add a sense of movement with a chevron glass mosaic tile or floral mosaic tile on floors in any room.
Mosaic tile for shower
Shown Above: Habersham basket weave tile (shower pan) & Parma Calacatta Bluette Mosaic Tile (shower wall)
The next area of mosaic tile application is the shower. Ah, the endless design options you have in this area with mosaic tiles! You can create a gleaming, shimmering space with glass mosaic tiles. Whether you want to use a subway glass mosaic tile to make a more traditional design or decorate with a waterjet mosaic tile to make an elegant design…You can’t go wrong. If budget restraints occur, try to mix things up; use a natural stone mosaic tile on the shower floor and a subway tile on the shower walls.
Mosaic Tile Commercial Spaces
Shown Above: Alma glamour:Custom pizza Oven with gold Alma mosaics | Ronda Gold in a movie theater bar
Last, but not least is commercial spaces with mosaic tiles.. These are stand-outs for any space that wants a luxurious, everlasting unique design. With a striking appearance, and uncapped variety, mosaic tiles find home in any commercial design.
The options are endless. For example, you can use colorful glass mosaic tiles to create a unique brick oven in a pizzeria as seen above or on the facade of a counter space in a movie theater.
MIR’s Most Loved Colors of Mosaic Tiles
Now that you’re an expert in all things mosaic tiles, let’s go through some of our favorite color mosaic tiles options here at MIR.
Glass Mosaic Tile
Shown Above: Green glass mosaic tiles bathroom backsplash with Alma Collection
If customization is your strong suit then our Alma Collection is a must-use. With hundreds of colorful mosaic tiles to choose from, you can create your own mosaic mural art or craft a colorful mosaic tile backsplash, accent wall or kitchen design in no time. You can explore green mosaic tiles, blue mosaic tiles, mixed color mosaic tiles and black mosaic tiles all in this one collection.
Blue Mosaic Tile
Shown Above: Piet Twilight blue glass mosaic tile on backsplash
If there’s one mosaic tile type that adds both depth and intrigue to a space it’s blue mosaic tiles. These mosaic tiles come in myriad shapes; blue square mosaic tile, blue hexagon mosaic tile and blue chevron mosaic tile. The only thing that you need to decide is where to place them!
Our favorite is the Piet Twilight blue hexagon glass mosaic tile. This tile has it all; subtle patterns, covetable high gloss shine and a contemporary appeal.
Black Mosaic Tile
Shown Above: Gems Black Diamond glass mosaic tile on accent wall
With a moody appearance and far from dull style, black mosaic tile can instantly add a bold touch to any design. Plus, these mosaics come in myriad forms. You can find nero marquina mosaic tiles, square glass mosaics, black ceramic mosaic tiles at your design disposal. What’s more, you can use the black mosaic tiles on backsplashes to add a hint of mystery and depth to the design or add a touch of class with a hexagon black mosaic tile in a hotel lobby.
Our gorgeous Gems Black Diamond mosaic tile, shown above, is a perfect example of a black mosaic tile in design. With a high gloss appeal, this bold black glass mosaic tile will reflect light, giving a radiance to any space it’s placed. Design drama is the one thing certain when it’s used. With its durable body, the Gems Black Diamond mosaic tile can be used on kitchen backsplashes, shower walls or floors, and pools.
Neutral Colors of Stone Mosaic Tiles
Shown Above: Gibraltar Wooden Grey Stone Mosaic Tile
Nothing tops the beauty of stone mosaic tile. They’re classically chic and timelessly cool. It’s impossible to add a stone mosaic into your design and have regret. Plus, with natural variation in color due to the stone’s veining, you can breathe a unique touch into every design. From carrara marble mosaic tiles to calacatta mosaic tiles, there’s a world of stone to uncover!
Our top pick for stone mosaic tiles is the Gibraltar Mosaic tile. Made with Wooden Gray and Eastern White, this hexagon stone mosaic tile truly impact a space. It’s the perfect stone mosaic tile to dress up kitchen backsplashes, bathroom accent walls, hotel lobby floors and shower walls thanks to its modern-meets-classic body.
Metal Mosaic Tiles
Shown Above: Shaped Metal Circle Mosaic Tile Bathroom Backsplash
Shimmer and shine in style with metallic mosaic tile. These beauties can coat any backsplash, bathroom wall, accent wall or commercial lobby floor with a touch of sparkle. These mosaic tiles are like instant eye candy and bound to make a first impression. You can find copper metal mosaic tiles, silver metal mosaic tiles and gold metal mosaic tiles in a variety of shapes and sizes perfect for a new design project that craves an edge.
The MIR choice for metal mosaic tiles? Our Shaped Metal Circle Mosaic tile. This beauty is a bold silver color and dazzles under light. It can instantly transform any space from lackluster to stunning in no time.
Hexagon Mosaic Tile
Shown Above: St. Tropez Moonshine glass hexagon mosaic tile on home bar backsplash
Get geo chic with hexagon mosaics! These fun, contemporary patterned tiles can add a twist to your design. They add fluid movement and depth thanks to their unique bodies. Plus, they provide the easiest way to add character to a wall installation, bathroom, shower, or bar backsplash.
Add some flair and charm to your next project with our top hexagonal mosaic pick: St. Tropez Moonshine glass hexagon mosaic tile. With a marbled glass body, this hexagon mosaic tile is a seriously easy way to add stunning detail to a bathroom or backsplash. Complete with the natural appeal of a gemstone look and the versatility and durability of glass tiles…We’re sure you can see why it’s a must-use!
Gold Mosaic Tile
Shown Above: La Jolla Cove Gold mosaic tiles on bathroom backsplash | Burj gold mosaic tiles feature wall
Midas touch, delivered. Gold mosaic tiles are a sure-fire way to add instant luxury into any design. With their gorgeous radiant surface, gold mosaic tiles will add an eye-catching look wherever placed. There are so many mosaic tiles to choose from; gold and shell mosaic tiles, diamond gold mosaic tiles and arabesque gold mosaic tiles. The list goes on but one thing remains the same: positive impact is guaranteed.
Looking for a unique backsplash, feature wall or kitchen mosaic tile? Try our La Jolla Cove gold and white mosaic tile. This beauty sparkles and shines in the light thanks to its shell and gold leaf mosaic tile body. Want something more solid gold? Then our Burj gold arabesque mosaic tile can be a great match thanks to its pattern and dynamic movement.
White Mosaic Tile
Shown Above: Alaskan Pearl White Shell mosaic tiles on backsplash
Airy and light, white mosaic tiles are a classic for a reason. They give any space a facelift thanks to their brightening palette. you can also mix things up and give an unexpected twist on tradition with white shell or herringbone white glass mosaic tiles. There are countless style options for you to choose from so whether your design is trending timeless or trendy, you’re sure to find white mosaic tile that fit the bill.
Take for instance our Alaskan Pearl white shell mosaic tile. This gorgeous mosaic tile has a shell and white body that is uber glam. With a floral pattern, this mosaic tile instantly stuns. This shell mosaic tile works well in a bathroom, shower, or kitchen.
Wood Look Mosaic Tile
Shown Above: Oregon Wood Hex Mosaic Tiles Backsplash
Love the warmth and cozy feel of wood? Then you’re definitely going to love a good wood look mosaic tile! These tiles have the beauty of traditional wood with uncommon twists. There are marble wood look mosaics perfect for lobby floors, feature walls or bathrooms and wood look porcelain mosaic tile for shower floors or outdoor patios. Truly sensational, warming and classic…you can’t go wrong!
The Oregon Wood Hex Mosaic marble mosaic tiles create a lovely option for sophisticated charm. This hexagon mosaic tile can add an organic touch to a space while complimenting it with the timeless beauty of marble. Use this hexagon marble mosaic on backsplashes, walls, floors or anywhere that can use the beauty of wood look mosaics!
Mirror Mosaic Tile
Shown Above: Speccio mirror mosaic tiles on backsplash
Want to add an optical illusion to your next project? Use mirror mosaic tile. These beauties can create depth and movement in a heartbeat with their mirrored surface. Pattern mirror mosaic tiles can be used on backsplashes in small space kitchens or bathrooms to instantaneously transform it. There are so many mirror mosaics to choose from too, from hexagon mirror mosaic tiles to chain mirror mosaic tiles…Options are uncounted.
The beauty of mirror mosaic tiles can be seen with our Speccio mirror mosaics. This beautiful mosaic has a cable knit sweater pattern that stuns. It’s the right balance of elegant and edgy with its reflective surface.
You’ve reached the end of our guide! Do you feel like an expert? As you should! We’re sure that you’re now ready to go on and use mosaic tiles in your next design confidently and excitedly. We wish you the best of luck!