DIY Mosaic Pots with Ceramic Tiles

I've had initial success with mosaic pots and decided to make another one using some new techniques. I've stored away leftover tile grout and tile grout sealer and was unsure if they were still good enough. I did pack them really well and placed them in a dry and dark storage.

So now, which is a few years later, I decided to make another mosaic garden pot but with a different design. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the tile grout and sealer were still good!

In this article, I'll teach you how you can transform an old terracota garden pot into a charming and durable mosaic pot using broken ceramic tiles.

Preparing the Pot and Tiles

  1. Choose the size of your terracotta garden pot. Remember that the bigger the garden pot, the more tiles you would need to finish your mosaic project. However, the bigger the pot, the more opportunities you will have for colors and designs. For small pots, you'll be limited to simple design patterns.

  2. If you have a crusty old terracota po, you'll need to clean it thoroughly. Start off by scraping stubborn and dried up dirt from the pot with a garden trowel. Tile adhesive, which we'll be using, will have problems adhering well to surfaces with dirt or soil. Use the trowel to break off clumps of hardened dried soil on all surfaces of the pot, inside and out.

  3. Next is to give the garden pot a good scrubbing using a laundry brush with soap or detergent and water. Rinse thoroughly with water so there is no residue left. After years in the garden with dirt and grime, we'll need to have a reasonably clean surface to work on.

  4. Procure your ceramic tiles. Broken ceramic tiles are what will make the mosaic. Where to get? Here are a few options that I usually take:

    • Tile Supply Centers - They have many broken tiles. This is usually due to bad deliveries or mishandling. Just go ahead and ask for broken tiles. Many times, they just throw these away. You can't be choosy though when it comes to colors or design. If you need to be selective, then you probably should buy some from them.

    • Construction sites - Either in demolition or building stages, ordinarily, there would be broken tiles lying around. Those in the building stage would have broken pieces leftover from cutting. From these sources though, you might have to deal with dirt and debris.

    • Dumpster Diving - Just walk around the neighborhood and occasionally you'd find a pile of thrown scrap or broken tiles. It doesn't matter much how small or broken these pieces are. If it's a good amount, I'd take them. The tile will be broken or cut into smaller pieces anyway.

  5. I don't have a heavy-duty workshop table so I place a weight plate on the ground first and then put a cardboard or carton over it. The hardness of the weight plate helps in breaking up the tiles. Lay the tiles upside down, ie, the glazed side facing down. The carton under the tile prevents the scarring or defacing of the glazed side.

  6. Get a piece of cardboard or carton over the inverted tiles. Use a hammer to break the tiles under the carton. The carton helps minimize flying shards.

  7. To further break the tiles into smaller pieces, use a cold chisel (or stone or masonry chisel). For this, you will need to wear some eye protection like a pair of goggles or a face shield for safety purposes. Shards will go flying in virtually every direction and at high speed. It's advisable to have a shard or splinter cage that will trap them for easy collection.

  8. Some of the tiles will have very sharp points or edges. Trim these off with a tile snipper or tile cutting pliers. I used a pair of tinsnips below. These sharp points and edges can be dangerous when you work on the pot later.

  9. Sort all broken tiles according to color and sizes and place them in disposable plastic trays. By size, I only sort them into regular size and small. Sorting them this makes it easier to select tiles when you work them into the tile adhesive on the garden pot.

  10. Draw the design on the garden pot with a pencil. For this project, our design will have 4 triangles on the sides. Simple geometric shapes like triangles work well with small pots like this.

(See the continuation of this article in Part 2 - Applying the Tiles)

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