A Novice’s Guide to Installing Mosaic Wall Tiles

My Background as a Stirling Plumber and Tiler

I’m a Stirling plumber and tiler by trade, I have a great deal of experience with large and small tiling jobs and am keen to share any knowledge I’ve picked up during my time.

As always, if you are unsure about carrying out DIY work yourself please be sure to contact a professional, I’m able to help with requests in the Edinburgh and Lothians area for all tiling and plumbing jobs. I’m unable to recommend tilers outside of Edinburgh, but Rated People would be a good place to start (you can also find JHDS Plumbing & Tiling listed).

Installing Mosaic Wall Tiles

Mosaic tiles come in a large variety of materials, shapes and colours and are typically sold by the sheet for easier installation. There are two types of mosaic sheets; mesh-mounted mosaics have a layer of fibreglass or paper mesh on their backs, while face-mounted mosaics have craft paper on their fronts.

For this article, I will be dealing with mesh-mounted sheet mosaics.

What you will need

  • Tiling trowel depth of 2-3mm
  • Grout float
  • Two buckets (one for water, one for mixing adhesive or grout)
  • Powdered adhesive (I prefer bals brands)
  • Powdered grout
  • Standard bucket trowel
  • Mosaic tile sheets
  • Electric drill with mixer attachment
  • Block of 2×4 for tapping down the tiles
  • Stanley knife
  • Electric table tile saw
  • 2 x sponges (best to get the ones with scouring sides to them)
  • Dish cloth
  • Sealer if using natural stone tiles
  • Level or laser level
  • Pencil or marker
  • Tile “nibblers”

Stage 1

Measuring up your space to be tiled. It is usually best to get the basic dimensions by hand and then if required can convert them using the various calculators on certain websites after. Basically if doing walls you want to measure up each wall separately, then add them together for the final m2. So measure the length from top to bottom of your first wall then times that by the width. For example 2.35 x 0.950 – 2.2325 always rounding up , so be 2.4m2 for your first wall. Complete all your walls and add them together plus 10% for wastage.

Stage 2

Lay out the mosaic tiles sheets either right on the area you want to install them, or in an area of equal size and shape if installing them on the walls. Practice setting the sheets together so the space between the sheets is identical to the spacing between the tiles. Work out how many sheets you will need to fill the space using the sheets themselves or by measurements. Some tiles may need to cut with the electric saw even after you ve trimmed to size using your Stanley knife to cut the mesh.

Stage 3

Spread a small amount of adhesive onto the surface you will install the mosaics on. Drag the notches of the trowel through the mortar until it is a uniform depth making sure to keep the angle of the trowel at 45 degrees.

Stage 4

I prefer to try to keep the adhesive the same colour as the grout if I can as occasionally adhesive can squeeze through into the grout lines and if a different colour can make cleaning up the adhesive a tricky business. Same colour you can afford some being pushed through. It is always best to work of a level surface but if can’t then attach a “wooden batten” maybe one full sheet off the floor, make sure its level and begin your tiling off that, using a laser level or just straight level to carry the line around your walls. After finishing off the tiling above and they ve dried in position you can remove the batten and fill in the bottom row.

Ok now you can begin to lay the sheets by gently pressing the sheet into position and gently tapping your piece of 2×4 over the sheet to press it firmly in place. When it comes time to trim the sheets to size you can turn the sheets over, take your Stanley knife and cut out any sections that are not going to fit. Sometimes it will work out that you may need to cut the individual mosaics to fit using the electric tile saw or just your basic hand-held “nibblers”. Leave the mosaics for 24 hours unless using 3 hour rapid set adhesive.

Stage 5

This stage would be “to seal the tiles“ with a suitable impregnator to avoid miscolouring the tiles upon grouting. This is only required if using natural stone. Grout the mosaics by spreading grout over the entire installation with a grout float. Hold the float at a 45-degree angle to the mosaics to direct the grout. Move the float over the same area from multiple directions to make sure the many grout joints surrounding the mosaics get sufficient coverage. Let the grout set up for 10 minutes before wiping down with a very slightly damp sponge, also wiping diagonally to avoid wiping the grout straight out the joint. Let the grout dry for 24 hours before buffing off the light haze of dust with a dish cloth or similar


Thanks for reading this, good luck with your mosaic tiles. Please remember if you’re unsure about carrying jobs our yourself, or simply don’t have the time, I can help with any Edinburgh plumbing and tiling jobs.

Contact JHDS Plumbing and Tiling

Just give me a call on 07877 486 939 for a free quote or get in touch using via our website.

JHDS Plumbing and Tiling accepts no responsibility for damage caused following our guides, if you are ever in doubt please contact a professional before starting a job yourself.