mosaic over concrete patio - large project

phrecklesJuly 17, 2006


I am planning to mosaic over my covered porch and the adjoining outdoor patio (about 380 sq ft). There are some cracks in the concrete. Should I repair the concrete first before beginning the project? If yes, do I pour self-leveling concrete over the whole thing or can I use that filler in a squeeze bottle, since the cracks are still below 1/4 inch wide?

Also, do I wait until all tesserae are in place before I grout? Or do I work in sections?

Finally, the patio area is slighly sloping. I will be using ceramic tiles. Any suggestions on how to make the surface as non-slippery as possible? I am considering mixing my materials so I'm using some ceramic & some stone tile to help create traction, but don't know if I'll find stone tile thin enough, plus, not so sure how it'll look.

If anyone has experience with this kind of project, please advise.



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I Don't have much of an answer for you ,Myles - I just had to congratulate you on such an undertaking ! I hope you get some good advice - that patio will be a work of art !!
Good Luck !

    Bookmark   July 17, 2006 at 11:29AM
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WOW! What a fabulous idea. Just when you think you've run out of things to mosaic.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2006 at 10:59PM
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Great minds think alike!! I have a dream/goal of mosaicing my front patio and back one too! It's exposed aggregate and I'm dying to give it a new look!!! I've been saving/scrounging non shiny tile to use, want to break it all up and have a mishmash of activity with greens and browns and yellows etc. It's just finding the time to get to this project. Keep us posted and hopefully you'll post work in progress pics!!! Jane

    Bookmark   July 19, 2006 at 12:42AM
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I have never done a piece outside. However I have done alot of regular tile and marble 18 x 40 foot room with a mosaic entry. I have done different hights however I create a square, rectangle or diamond of like thicknesses in a design and then put it in the center. If some of your tiles are natural tumbel stone seal them first or the color of the mortor bed or grout not to mention any errant grass from the yard will stain them beyond hope. The sealer is spray on and two coats seals great. If you are thinking of traction maybe squares of the natural evenly paced across the project. Oh about the cracks if you paint the area with the crack with a treatment that bonds old concreate to new (I can't remember what its called ask at the home center) then cover the crack with fiberglass drywall tape, you know the kind thats a mesh you use for patching drywall it will help hold the morter in the crack and stop the crack from traveling up into the tile. One caution if there is any water surfacing under your slab or up through the cracks and you are in a cold climate I would seal it first with a waterproofer. or maybe there is an aditive for the thinset or whatever you are using as a morter bed I would be afraid of ice running all your work. Sorry to run on so

    Bookmark   July 27, 2006 at 3:00AM
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Hi there -

It's now been roughly 11 months since I last posted about my mosaic project. I took a couple months off from the patio to rebuild a rotted deck and get married last April, but beyond that, the project has been steadily progressing. I posted some images of area details in the link below (Yahoo! photos will be closing shop in August and I'll find a new home for my pictures before then; for now the link will work.) The pictures are already a little outdated, as they were last taken in January. I'll post more updates soon.

I started off by taking Trudy's advice (above) to prep the area, first painting the cracks with a bonding treatment and then using concrete patch to fill the cracks. I've been using standard mortar to attach the broken pieces to the concrete. My hubby has to roll the lawnmower over the project area every week or so, so I've found that grouting as I go is the best way to prevent damage.

I have been fortunate in that I live near both a tile factory and a pottery factory. I can get loads of broken bits of ceramic for no more than $3 a box. Since I found the factories didn't have a lot of bright colors available, I've also bought my share of colorful plates to break from thrift shops and 99 cent stores. Actual tile is much easier to work with than broken dishware, which is glazed on both sides. I've found you have to sink the dishware into the mortar so that it makes contact with the non-glazed edges of the broken pieces.

I feel I should preface the photos by saying I'm not much of an artist - just someone with more time than money to decorate. :) I decided the mosaic design would simply be a group of circles. That way, I could work on each circle independently, and also have friends come over and each do a circle of his/her own. (The circles completed by persons other than myself have the friend's name in the photo description.) I've enjoyed afternoons bonding with friends who've come over to mosaic with me. My friends say they enjoyed themselves too, though it's hard work, so I've noticed only one has volunteered to come back for more. :)

The spaces between circles will be filled in with random tiles of all colors. The lower walkway (which I've completed by now and which you can see from pictures is a brown spirally line against a blue background) will transition up to the more chaotic circles-against-random-colored-tiles by a series of bold-colored wavy lines that "climb" the step. I did try to still reference the circle theme from the walkway by adding three little circles to the walkway design. (This will all make more sense when you get to see pictures of the completed project).

To be honest, there are days when I wish I'd thought up a single, more cohesive design (like flowers, spirals, a map, a big peacock, or something more recognizable than a bunch of random circles). On those days, I'm sorely tempted to tear every thing up and start from scratch. However, now that I'm about 6 weekends from completion, I remind myself that this was an opportunity to learn the process and, as DH says, I can always do the carport, both driveways, the front walkway, and even the garage if I absolutely must have more to do.

Anyway, I just wanted to give an update on the patio and share my experiences in case any one else is interested in taking on a similar project.

I'll post another update in the near future.

Here is a link that might be useful: Mosaic patio progress to Jan 07

    Bookmark   June 12, 2007 at 8:41PM
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wow. fabulous job. Love the idea of friends doing a circle. Thanks for the update


    Bookmark   June 12, 2007 at 10:46PM
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A wonderful and huge project. Thanks for sharing the wip on this. I can't wait to see it all done,

    Bookmark   June 12, 2007 at 11:21PM
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I LOVE it!!! Great job!!! Very inspiring! Now I gotta rethink my layout plans, I might be thinking too plain jane!!! I really like the idea of friends helping!!!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2007 at 11:34PM
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Wow, what a great idea to have friends help. You will have such great memories every time you see this once it is finished! I liked the names on some of the pics...eyeful tower, etc...cracked me up! Isn't it wonderful to see how different people can interpret making the circle?

Love that your hubby doesn't mind you mosaicing every surface in site!!!! LOL


    Bookmark   June 13, 2007 at 10:40AM
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Myles, I just LOVE the circles for your design! I like the variety of designs. I think it is so memorable that your friends helped. Can't wait to see the finished project. Congrats on your wedding! Please keep us posted.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2007 at 11:16AM
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I LOVE the circle designs too! I think it's a wonderful memory walk with your friends.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2007 at 1:05PM
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WOW!! I love it. I was thinking "hmm, just plain Olymic style circles" when I was reading your post, but when I saw the pictures, I was really proud of you!
When I first started mosaic, I did a lot of the 12" stepping stones using the preformed ones you can get at Lowes. I sold about 15 of them to one guy who was making a walkway with them. They were going to be surrounded by pea gravel and edged by stone. Your project kinda reminded me of that look.
Good luck with the completion! Please post more pictures when you can.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2007 at 1:11PM
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DEMI: I well remember reading your original post. I had just joined the forum and was pretty new to mosaics. I issued my posting, hoping to get a discussion going, but when I went back week after week, and there was no response, I knew this site was dead. It was a long time, but we finally made this side of GW active again. So glad you came back and posted your progress. It's a WONDERFUL idea. Maybe I missed it, but what is your base for the circles? I suppose they are on mesh so you can lay them into the mortar???? I LOVE the different designs, and you're very smart getting help on such a gigantic project. Wish I weren't so old, I'd mosaic my whole front walk, but think I can manage just one last design near the step and perhaps a small one on the riser.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2007 at 1:17PM
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Incredible, they are so beautiful. I was wondering about your comment on filling the spaces with random tile in different colors. Personally I would keep the filling in tiles all one color then the hard work you all did on the circles would "POP" out at you. Not trying to be pushy, just my opinion. If I buy you an airline ticket, feed you good, will you come and do my patio??? LOL


    Bookmark   June 13, 2007 at 1:28PM
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Really love what you and your friends have done! Incredible dedication is needed and a whole lotta patience! Great idea for taking something ho-hum and make it fantabulous! Keep us posted on its progress, please!

    Bookmark   June 13, 2007 at 3:14PM
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i swear it seems like i say this daily in here but again i am feeling very humble i wanna do my patio now LOL i think ill start tonight J/K but i love yours and i hope you posts some more WIP pics so we can see what youve done since then

    Bookmark   June 13, 2007 at 10:37PM
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May the force be with you...........what an amazing project..........very my humble mosaicing history..I've decided that it's not perfection that I am after...but have it going and the going is good! Please keep us posted on this wonderful work.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2007 at 10:45PM
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Oh...your walkway is great!!! I am doing one also...hopefully sometime this summer. Not as big as yours though. I am making a quilt like pattern on mine it will be all flowers...yours is really cool. You should be proud!!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 12:14AM
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Thanks, everyone for your encouragement! I've posted more WIP photos to the link below.

Slow - in answer to your question about the base, I'm drawing the design onto the concrete and attaching tile directly to it - no mesh beneath. I prep the surface with a slurry of that bonding treatment first. We get almost no precipitation here, so I haven't been too worried about ice heaves and such. (Earthquakes on the other hand...)

Bamasusana - I love the idea of the stepping stones in pea gravel. Please don't be surprised if I steal it.

Dena - I completely agree with you that the circles would "pop" a lot more if I'd gone with just one color. However, I went with the (more fraidy-cat) approach of random colored tiles because I guess I'm pretty critical of what I've done so far and didn't necessarily want the circles to pop. Instead I was hoping for an effect more like one of those 3D paintings, where you have to let your eyes relax first before you can actually see the design. I also felt the various circles were too non-sequitur amongst themselves, so I hoped the random colors in between would emphasize the 'mis-matchedness' of the circles.

(Ha - I'm pretty sure I'm overthinking this; that's the danger of having a software nerd do crafts around her house. :) )

Anyway, you have all made me feel good about my project. I do learn so much from the many talented contributors to this forum. Thanks so much again. I'll keep you all posted.


Here is a link that might be useful: Project as of June 07

    Bookmark   June 15, 2007 at 3:09PM
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Hey Myles, what an incredible project! I used your link to try to view the latest photos, but there's a message on your Yahoo account saying that you've been migrated over to Flickr. I did a search over there, and found a "luluwaggytail," but there were no photos. Hope you'll be able to find all of your images! Might be just a matter of making your photos public. Can't wait to see!


    Bookmark   June 15, 2007 at 4:13PM
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Whoops. Sorry about that. I began to migrate my photos to Flickr and didn't realize they were going to lock out my Yahoo! photos in the process.

Here is a link that might be useful: Please use this link instead and have a nice day...

    Bookmark   June 15, 2007 at 5:41PM
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Aha! Oh man, I am loving this-- LOVE the spiral and background on the lower walkway section. I think you've achieved what you set out to achive with the confetti-style background on the other part. The circles are still there, but they don't jump out at you as much as they blend as a whole. Nicely done!


    Bookmark   June 15, 2007 at 6:16PM
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Wow, just WOW!! I was concerned about the multi colored background, but dang girl, it is incredible!!
You deserve a double dawg snot!!!

    Bookmark   June 15, 2007 at 6:54PM
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Wow! It looks great. Great plan, it's come together beautifully.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2007 at 8:25PM
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This is just incredible! Stupendous job. Absolutely wonderful!

    Bookmark   June 15, 2007 at 9:28PM
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i dont think ill ever have the patience to do a project this big but i think you did a hell of a job on it

    Bookmark   June 15, 2007 at 11:57PM
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your walkway is exactly what i have been trying to figure out how to do on an exterior patio. My problem is that we had ivy covering the yard. We have pulled all the ivy and now we are stuck. Do we need to do a concrete slab first? Or do we just put sand down and mosaic over that? Also ... this will probably be a stupid question because you seem very professional :) but to do the circles, do you just use a mold, pore the concrete and stick the broken tiles into the concrete? Is there a difference process for indoor vs outdoor? Thank you!!!

A VERY beginner :)

    Bookmark   July 17, 2009 at 5:26PM
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