Last Friday I was talking to one of our customers about how to make the a mosaic table with tiles of uneven thicknesses, which has prompted me to write this article. The easiest way to get a smooth surface is to choose tiles of the same thickness, but this can limit you in choice of materials. If you do use tiles of varying thicknesses then there are two techniques that you can use.
This technique uses the direct method of mosaics, that is adhering your pieces directly onto the surface, and different adhesives to 'build up' the thickness of your tiles / tesserae.
1. Select your tiles and tesserae and separate them into there varying thicknesses.
2. Lay your thickest tiles first, these will be used as your guide.
3. The thinner pieces are then built up in height using cement based adhesive. The back of the tile is buttered with the cement based adhesive and them pressed down onto the mosaic surface using a level (or press) to the height of the thickest piece. The level can be a piece of wood or tile. It should be straight and slightly larger in size than the area you are working on. A moderate pressure is applied to the level to press the pieces into the adhesive to the height of the thickest piece. How much cement based adhesive do I apply to the back of the tile? This will involve a bit of trial and error, too much adhesive and it will ooze out the sides requiring a clean up (with a small tool). Too little and the piece won't be correctly applied, requiring you to re-adhere the piece.
Buttering the Backs of the Tiles
Tiles ready to be pressed down
Press tiles down with a piece of MDF
Be careful not to use too much cement based adhesive
This example uses tiles of two different thicknesses, 4 mm and 6 mm.
The second technique is the indirect method of mosaics. For detailed instructions on this method click here to go to our 'How To' article.