DIY Mosaic Pots with Ceramic Tiles - Applying the Tiles

(This is the continuation of Part 1)

After the initial preparations on the pot and tiles, is the part where you will be filling in the design with the tiles. You will need tile adhesive for attaching the tiles to the garden pot.

In some other countries, this is sometimes called thinset tile mortar. Tile adhesive is cheap and is often bought by the bag. It and can be economical when making a number of mosaic garden pots at a time.

Applying the Tiles

  1. Put tile adhesive in a disposable plastic bowl with water. Be sure to follow the mixing ratio as instructed in the package label of the tile adhesive. Wear a protective face mask to avoid breathing the tile adhesive powder.

  2. Mix the tile adhesive and water thoroughly. Break down any clumps in the mix. Ideally, the resulting mixture should be as fine as possible and will have a wet concrete-like consistency. If the mix is "soupy" or diluted, the tiles will not hold on to the pot, may slide down, and will not set correctly.

  3. Apply the tile adhesive mix on the pot using a spatula. This area application. Since tile adhesive has a setting time, it is best to apply it on a section at a time. Work with the design. Since our design has four triangles, treat each triangle as a section.

    So, first, spread the tile adhesive evenly on the first triangle. Notice that I've turned the pot upside-down. This just works well for me since most of the design is on the sides of the terracotta pot rather than on the rim.

  4. Attach tiles on the adhesive. Work on the triangle design by starting with the sides of the triangle first. Choose the shape, size and placement of the tiles that will best be suited and follow the design. Ensure the tiles stay and don't slide down the pot.

  5. Fill in the space inside the triangle design. Select small, or even tiny, tile pieces that would "fill in the blanks" in the space inside the triangle. This is why it is important to sort the tiles by size in the plastic trays beforehand. This facilitates the choosing of appropriate tiles.

  6. Finally, we have the first triangle of green tiles completed.

  7. Using the same procedure for completing a triangle, we proceed to working on the three other triangles - one more green triangle, opposite to the one we just did, and another pair of pink triangles. The finished pot with the four triangles appear below.

  8. Now, we'll work on the filler triangles. These are the smaller triangles in between the four ones we just completed. We'll use white tiles for these. But before we can put in the tiles, we need to clear the area of excess dried tile adhesive. So, scrape off these dried adhesive with a cold chisel (or even an old screwdriver) as shown below.

  9. Notice that this particular pot has a drain hole and it is located on the side near the bottom of the garden pot. You could leave the entire hole open but it doesn't look particularly good. So what you can do is to place a slightly longer tile to partially cover it.

  10. The tile used below is a bit longer so it covers the hole but not entirely. It looks better and there is still a clearance where water can drain out. Do all the remaining filler white triangles. With that, we're done tiling with the side of the garden pot.

  11. To work on the rim of the garden pot, turn the pot up. I prefer to place the garden pot in a pot cradle as shown below. The improvised pot cradle is just a plastic ice cream tub. The cradle positions the garden pot at an incline and prevents it from rolling. Our mosaic pot will have two colors for the rim - blue at the bottom part and white at the upper part.

    For this stage, I don't put tile adhesive on the pot, but rather, on the tile. This is spot application. Just pick a little tile adhesive with your finger and dab it at the back of the tile piece as shown below. Then position it on the pot. Use a small popsicle stick or wear rubber gloves if you are prone to skin irritation.

  12. Continue spot application of the blue tiles as you go around the garden pot's rim. For the top tiles, and these are the white tiles, it is important that no part of the tile piece extends beyond the top edge of the garden pot's rim. Otherwise, the top edge will look jagged and not level even if we put tile grout later.

    Do try to keep it level or flush with the top edge though. By keeping it flush and level, the top edge will be mostly flat and it will be easier to apply the tile grout for a smooth finish.
(See the continuation of this article in Part 3 - Applying the Tile Grout)

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