need advice on mosaic project with children

rav1January 14, 2011

I'm creating a mosaic installation with children from age 3 to 3rd grade. We are creating some shaped ceramic tiles and also using broken commercial tiles.

I plan to use hardi-board as a backer, and weldbond adhesive. Most of the broken tile setting and the grouting will be handled by the adults.

The ceramic tiles the children are creating have both raised and stamped, indented areas, and will be glazed.

Panels will be completed horizontally, then installed on walls, surrounding windows.

Also, We want to include some words. These could be either stamped homemade ceramic tiles or scrabble-tile letters or individual letters glued under glass marbles then put together to spell out words.


Am I setting myself up for disaster or much more work by including stamped tiles, which might catch grout? I assume I'll need to tape off or carefully work around any indented/textured tiles. Do scrabble tiles catch grout? Never used them before.

Anyone have any good tips or techniques for working with textured tiles to avoid filling with grout?

In terms of attaching the panels, I plan to pre-drill holes in the hardi-board, then attach to the cinderblock and/or plaster walls, and fill in screw hole at the end.

Is this the way to go? Don't want to liquid-nail the panels down, as the school may need to remove the panels at some point.

Any input on these questions or other aspects of working with children and doing wall installations would be appreciated. Thanks!

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Only way to avoid grout filling deep crevices on the textures is to tape over them for grouting. It was my experience, using scrabble tiles, that the paint came off and i had to re-paint the letters, which was not a big problem. I have two concerns about your project. (1) Weldbond is a water-based adhesive, and will rehydrate when wet. I know there are a few on the forum in the past who have claimed they used Weldbond for outside projects, but I wouldn't take a chance. Since you're using Hardibacker - a cement board, why not use thinset - a cement-based adhesive? (2) Your panels w/be very heavy, so my concern is that the screws might pull through the board. If you use enough screws, be sure and use the hardward - like washers - to attach.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2011 at 9:29AM
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Will this be inside or outside? Welbond would be okay inside. If you break up tiles, just remember that there will be sharp edges, especially any porciline tiles, so you may want to tumble them, we use rock tumblers, but if it's a big project, a cement mixer has been used to tumble stuff!

    Bookmark   January 15, 2011 at 1:16PM
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I was thinking thinset as well-and its probly pretty good for kids to work with.
For your letters-If you took regular glazed tile and used a dremel or other similar tool to engrave the letters into it, the grout would then fill it and show up the letters! an advantage to grout filling the space. I have seen others do this with different shapes like spirals to make an accent on a tile.
Maybe a french cleat could be considered for hanging-its one of the best ways to hang heavy objects and its very easy to remove and then replace the panel. you can google it. Good Luck!

    Bookmark   January 15, 2011 at 1:43PM
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