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How to install mosaic tiling {tutorial}

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Tiling our bathroom wall was my second time installing tile and lets just say, I’m glad I don’t do it for a living. When I installed our kitchen backsplash, the grouting process was much easier as the tiles were larger then the mosaic tiles. It’s actually quite simple but very time consuming and messy. With that said, I’ve put together a picture tutorial of how I installed mosaic glass tile around our existing shower and adjoining wall.

how to install mosaic tile

Side Note: Be sure to check out this blog post, how to calculate square footage for a tiling project.

 

If you have not seen the before pictures of this bathroom, you may want to check them out! The prior bathroom was a 1970’s styled bath with a pink toilet, pink sink and enormous pink fiberglass sunken tub with pink and white surround tile. It was a hot mess!

how to install tiles on a bathroom wallI purchased premixed white thin-set mortar for ceramic and glass tile at Home Depot. You can buy the huge bag and mix it yourself but where I am a newbie at installing tile, I wanted it pre-mixed to ensure proper consistency.

tiling supplies needed for a bathroom

Tiling a wall requires that you invest in a couple of tools that will make your life easier. I  used a V notched trowel to spread the thin-set mortar on the wall and a float trowel to apply the grout.  When tiling a wall, you can either apply the thin-set directly to the wall or apply to the back of your tile and then adhere the tile to the wall. I did both.

The key is to apply the mortar and use the notched end on an angle to remove some of the mortar. By using the trowel, you will ensure that the proper amount is left on the wall.

Tiling Mosaic Tile Bathroom Wall

how to tile a bathroom walls

I purchased 12 x 12 squares of mosaic glass tile at Lowes. This next step is pretty simple, measure the wall and then cut your tile sheets to fit. If you do not have a wet saw (to cut your tile) you may need to purchase tiling shears to cut the individual tiles to fit perfectly. I got lucky and everything fit perfectly.

how to install mosaic tile in a bathroom

RELATED: See our tiny green bathroom spa makeover

Then apply the mosaic tile to the wall and press firmly to ensure adhesion.  Be sure to press in all the corners and sides as well. I apologize, some of these pictures of me tiling are not the best quality. The lighting is horrible in this bathroom.

For some of the smaller tiling pieces, I used the “back buttering” method to apply the thin set. You basically apply the thin set like you would butter a piece of bread. Then remove with the notched end of your trowel.

how to back butter tiles

Then simply stick your tile to the wall.

how to install mosaic tile to a bathroom wall

This part of the tiling process is fairly easy. It’s the grouting and clean up that I found time consuming.

how to install mosaic tile

As you can see, I tiled around the shower and wrapped the mosaic tiles around the wall.

Tiling a bathroom wall with mosaic tiles

Don’t be scared if the thin-set comes through the creases of the mosaic mesh. Be sure to wipe it off though with a damp towel. Once it dries, it’s a nightmare to remove. Trust me, I know. Once you have all the tiles adhered to the wall, you need to wait 24 hours before you apply your grout.

I purchased pre-mixed bright white grout and basically applied some spots with my fingers and used a float trowel to spread the large areas. Be sure to work in small sections and wipe any excess grout off as you go.

DO NOT let it dry and think you will scrub it off the next day. Once it dries, it’s not easy to remove. The tiling directions on both the thin-set and grout are very easy to read and self explanatory.

applying grout to the shower area

Tiling Mosaic Tile Bathroom Wall

As you can see above, I am using my float trowel to apply the white grout.

Note, grout comes in “sand or sandless”. Basically, if you are applying grout to glass tile, you do not want sand in your grout as it will scratch the surface of your tile. I used my finger and the trowel to ensure that the grout was firmly pressed between each crease.

This part of the tiling process took me a few days working for 3 or 4 hours at a time. It was time consuming and messy but well worth the outcome in the end.

RELATED: How to hang glass shelves using  Bingo Brackets (shelves below)

How to install tile in a bathroom

Tiling our bathroom wall and around our shower dramatically changed the look of the space. The total cost of this tiling project was under $350. I used 30 sheets of 12×12 mosaic tile pieces plus the cost of supplies.

how to tile a bathroom wall around a shower and closet

Other projects in this bathroom:

Spring bathroom reveal

DIY Magazine Rack

bathroom reveal

Board and batten full wall treatment

I hope tiling a bathroom wall or any wall for that matter, seems less intimidating after this tutorial. It really is a fairly easy project but not one that can be done in a day. My suggestion if you are on the fence, just do it and stop thinking about it. You will be amazed at what tiling a wall will do for your space. The amount of character and modern glam that this tiling project added to our bathroom exceeded my expectations. Be sure to check out the full bathroom renovation reveal post to see the rest of the bathroom as well as our diy board and batten wainscoting tutorial.

 

About The Author

What started as a hobby, Jessica’s blog now has millions of people visit yearly and while many of the projects and posts look and sound perfect, life hasn’t always been easy. Read Jessica’s story and how overcoming death, divorce and dementia was one of her biggest life lessons to date.

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20 Comments

  1. You are amazing – your bathroom looks gorgeous!

  2. Love how your bathroom came out! Thanks for the tutorial. We’ve never tiled and I’m sure it will come in handy in the future! x

  3. Your bathroom looks great! I love how you wrapped the tile around the wall. It looks interesting and will be easy to keep clean.’

    We’ve done a lot of tiling in the past few years. It’s weel worth the effort.

  4. Holy crap, this is amazing!!! I looooooooooove the tiled wall! It adds so much elegance & charm! Great job.. love the whole makeover.. mkay…I’ll stop saying love now, but now you know how I feel ๐Ÿ˜‰ xx Liz Marie

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words ๐Ÿ™‚ I appreciate them! Have a great night.

  5. Jessica, thank you so much for sharing this complete tutorial on tiling a bath with mosaic tile.

    I too have a pink bathroom – I mean even the floor is pink! And I will be doing in my bathroom this mosaic tiling technique now that you’ve shown us how.

    Would you please share the treatment done on the ceiling of this bathroom? i have popcorn ceilings in the kitchen & the main living room. I would love to do, in those two rooms, what you’ve done on your ceiling!! Please share.

    1. Hi Elsa, the ceiling was like that 30 years ago when my parents bought the house. It looks like the person who plastered the ceiling used a trowel and made circle designs. Thank you for stopping by ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. This is a great idea! You’ve inspired me. I’ve been trying to figure out what to do in my bathroom for at least 5 years and I like what you did. Thanks!

  7. Hi, great site and you inspired me to mosaic on my own bathroom walls! Question though, where did you find those glass shelves with those neat looking brackets? I really like them!

    Thanks!

  8. Did you have to use a specific type of thin-set? Did you tile directly to drywall?

  9. My bathroom’s mosaic flooring is old and ugly, can I put a new layer of mosaic on top or can I just paint it with something?

    Thanks!

    1. Not sure if you can go over it as it may end up higher then the door thresholds and it may not adhere properly. I would rip it out and lay new or you could try painting over it. Just make sure you research the correct primer ect. Without seeing your space in person, it’s hard for me to make a proper recommendation. Good luck ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. James Wylie says:

    Jessica, thank you so much for this informative post! I would like to know how you handled the interior corners, especially if the measurement doesn’t quite work out evenly for the width of the individual tile.