Types of Mosaic tiles

There is a vast range of tiles to choose from when making your mosaic which can get a bit confusing if you’re just starting out.  However it’s not too complicated if you follow this brief overview.  I’ve not gone into too much detail as it just complicates things.  You’ll then be able to buy your tiles with confidence knowing they are the right ones for your mosaic. 

1.     Glazed Ceramic tiles

  • Easy to find in DIY stores in a wide range of colours.  (floor and wall tiles 150 x 150mm or larger)
  • Vary in size and thickness so be aware of what you are buying as it is best to use tiles of the same thickness for a smooth finish to your mosaic.
  • Not suitable for outdoors as they are generally not frost proof.
  • Ideal for the ‘broken tile’ style of mosaic making.  Place between 2 pieces of felt fabric before hitting with a hammer to prevent shards from flying about

2.     Unglazed Ceramic tiles

  • The cheapest and most easy to use material as they can be used almost anywhere.
  • Use unglazed tiles for outdoors. (Glazed tiles only used for indoors or very sheltered areas as glaze is not frost proof.)
  • Try not to buy sheets of tiles on backing sheets or mesh as they are a pain to get off. 
  • Come in both 20 x 20 x 4mm and 10 x 10 x 4mm.  ¼ the larger tiles for a more hand crafted feel to your design.
  • Unglazed tiles don’t create sharp shards when nipping

3.     Vitreous Glass

  • Generally 20 X 20 X 4mm thick.  These can be cut into ¼ to give a more hand-made feel.
  • Can buy smaller 10 x 10mm tiles.
  • Care needs to be taken when nipping tiles as they can give off fine sharp splinters.
  • Tiles have a smooth top side and a ridged bottom side.  Ridges act as a key to hold adhesive.  Make sure they are laid correctly.
  • Frost and waterproof and suitable for in and out-doors.  Not so good on floors where they can crack.

4.     Italian Smalti

  • Made from enameled glass that come in a wide range of strong intense colours.
  • Traditional material of Byzantine and Venetian mosaics.
  • Give wonderful results but not particularly easy to use and they are expensive.

5.     Millefiori

  • Small handmade beads of glass.  They have colourful floral and geometric type patterns. 
  • Supplied in useable sized beads often sorted into patterns or mixes of the same colour.
  • They can be expensive but they can add lovely pattern and detail to mosaics.

6.     Pebbles

  • These can’t be cut to size and you will need to rely on building up a collection of shapes, sizes and colours.
  • Need to be set directly into wet cement.

This list covers just about the  full range of materials you can use in your mosaic.  But it is by no means the end.  You can for instance use broken crockery, inbed found objects or even make your own ceramic tiles if you have access to a kiln.  You really are only limited by your imagination.

The Mosaic course I run at www.createartcourses.org are designed for the beginner (1-day) to give you a full understanding of how to use the tiles, their limitations and of course how to achieve fabulous designs and colour.  The 2-day course takes a further step and introduces you to making mosaics for outdoors by the indirect method – slightly more complex but very achievable.

Visit www.cereativeartcourses.org to find out more or visit the website and give me a ring to have a chat.