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Home > FAQ+A


The following are some of the most Frequently-Asked-Questions (and their respective answers) that we get here at Mosaic Mercantile. If you have any questions that are not listed here, feel free to contact us and we'll help you out!

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Tile Questions and Answers

How much tile do I need for my project?

You can use our handy Tile Calculator! There are approximately 225 of our 3/4in. tiles to the square foot. This number can vary due to the spacing of your tile. Also, if you break the tile for use in your mosaic, there will be more grout and less tile per square foot. A 1-pound bag of our 3/4 in. tile (unbroken) covers approximately 90 square inches (a square area 9 in. on one side and 10 in. on the other).

How many tiles come in a bag?

Our 3/4" tile comes in both 1/2-pound and 1-pound packages. There are approximately 70 tile per 1/2-pound bag and approximately 140 tile per 1-pound bag.Our 3/8" tile comes in both 1/6-pound, 1/2-pound (color families only) and 1-pound packages. There are approximately 100 tile per 1/6-pound bag, 300 tile per 1/2-pound bag and approximately 600 tile per 1-pound bag.As tile weight varie in.s by color, there may be more or less per bag. The metallics are the heaviest tiles, so there will be less of them per bag.

Can I use your tile as a flooring material?

You can use our tile in flooring applications. Our tile will withstand the pressure of normal foot traffic, but they should not be used in areas of heavy traffic or under heavy weight (such as under a refrigerator or on a skateboard ramp).A more important factor to consider is the integrity of the substrate onto which you will be adhering your mosaic. If your floor substrate is uneven or flexible, this will very likely cause the tile to shift and crack. At the very least, this will cause the setting and binding mate rials to degrade and come apart.

Can I use them in a bathroom? Are they water-proof? Can I use them outdoors

Yep! Our tile are impervious to water and will not absorb moisture and chemicals. They can be used in bathrooms, pools, bird-baths, fountains and such things. The main consideration you should have when using the tile underwater (or in any high-moisture environment) is to make sure that your adhesive and binding materials are water-proof. It is highly recommended that you use a Mosaic Sealer, as well.

Any suggestions on polishing my tile after the mosaic is completed?

After your mosaic is finished and your grout is dried, you can use mineral or olive oil to polish your tile. Using a soft cloth, sponge or chamois, apply a few drops of oil to the surface of your mosaic and rub it in. This should give you a nice, shiny wet look which will enhance the color of the tile and grout.You may need to occasionally re-apply a coat of oil to restore this look.

Are the tiles heat proof for fireplaces?

Our tile, including the crafter's cut line, are highly heat-resistant but are not resistant to thermal shocks. They can be used as fireplace-surrounds, trivets and similar projects.The main consideration you should have when using the tile in any high-temperature environment is to make sure that your adhesive and binding materials are similarly heat-resistant.

How do I make my own sheeted tile?

First, you pick out what colors you'd like to use. Glue the tiles onto the fiberglass mesh with a hot glue gun, or craft glue. Once the glue has dried, you can take the whole sheet and glue it onto your substrate.

What is the advantage of sheeted tile?

The advantage of sheeted tile is that you can apply a whole sheet of tiles all at once instead of gluing each tile one by one on your particular surface.

Why does Flamingo cost so much more than the other colors

Flamingo is inherently more expensive than the others. That is because Flamingo tile are manufactured with gold as a colorant, following the traditional Italian glass-making technique.

Mosaic Methods and Techniques

What is the direct method?

The direct method is when you glue your tesserae directly onto your substrate.

What is the indirect method?

The indirect method is when you place your mosaic pieces onto a paper backing, mounting tape, or fiberglass mesh (right side onto mounting material). Once the tiles are set on one of these materials, you take the paper, tape, or sheet and glue all the mosaic tiles onto your substrate at the same time. This method is mainly used for large scale projects where you cannot always work in the area where the final mosaic piece will be placed such as large outdoor murals, bathrooms, etc.

What method should I use for my project?

It really depends what type of project you are doing. The direct method is fine for small projects. Some people prefer the direct method since you can see the progression of your work and can adjust the individual pieces of tesserae or switch out the color for another right away. The direct method is best for projects that have curves, such as mosaic balls for your garden, vases, candle holders etc. If your project is relatively large, you may have no choice but to use the indirect method. Also, the indirect method is necessary if your project requires that you have an even surface such as a tabletop, or floor. Each method has its own advantage and disadvantage so it's really a judgement call sometimes of which method you prefer to use.

How the heck do you grout around Beach Glass?

Most of the time you won't. You can use a thick mastic base into which you can press beach glass, just make sure that the mastic doesn't squeeze out around the edges of your Beach Glass.

Mosaic Safety

Is mosaic art suitable for any age?

Mosaics can be started at a fairly young age. While the glass edges can be sharp, especially after nipping, we advise that the younger children do simpler projects that do not require nipping as nipped glass tile can have very sharp edges and cut you.

Are there any safety guidelines I should follow when doing a project? What precautions should I take when starting a project?

Yes there are! One should always have eye protection on, such as our safety glasses. When nipping the tile, the glass shards can sometimes fly in random directions if your nipping technique isn't quite perfect yet. It's always best to do mosaics in a well-ventilated area as you start gluing or grouting your project. Wearing gloves is especially important when you start grouting for several reasons. The grout can dry out your skin, you would not want to wash your grouty hands in the sink since the grout can clog your pipes, and it would be really difficult to remove the grout from your skin once it has dried.

Grout, Adhesive, Sealer Questions and Answers

How much Grout/Adhesive/Primer should I use for my project?

Sanded Grout: one 1-pound bag will cover approximately 2.5 square-feet
Premixed Grout: one 8-ounce container will cover approximately 2 square feet
Adhesive: one 8-ounce bottle covers 4 square-feet
Primer: one 8-ounce bottle covers 16 square-feet (two coats)

What is a "Grout Line"

A Grout Line is the empty space between the tile. This is where you put your Mosaic Grout. The width of your grout line may be a factor in deciding which grout you should use: Pre-Mixed or Sanded. Premixed grout should only be used if your grout lines are not wider than 1/4".

What is the difference between sanded grout and premixed grout? Which one should I use

Sanded Grout is a mixture of portland cement, sand and special additives providing a dense, acid and alkali-resistant grouting material.Colored Sanded Grouts also contain color-fast pigments.Sanded Grout can be used in virtually any application, indoors and out, even when grouting on floors.Sanded Grout is a porous cement, which means that it can absorb liquid materials after it has dried. This can be good and bad: you can stain your Sanded Grout after it has set with a colored grout stain, or it can be stained accidentally with spilled liquids - watch out for that red wine and grape juice!See the section on sealing your grout for information on how this can be prevented.

Premixed (Unsanded) Latex GroutOur special blend of water soluble materials and acrylic-latex additives.Premixed Grout provides a smooth joint, without the graininess of Sanded Grout.Premixed Grout is not recommended for use on floors.Our Premixed Grout can be used in mosaics in which the grout line is up to 1/4" in width.If you are using unglazed non-glass tile (such as ceramic or terra-cotta) you may want to use the Premixed Grout. These tile are prone to absorbing the moisture from your grout mixture and may become discolored. Premixed Grout has less moisture than a Sanded Grout mixture.As Premixed Grout is a latex-based admixture, it is not as porous as Sanded Grout. This means that it is less likely to become stained and discolored, but it is more difficult to tint after your grout has dried and set.

How do I grout my mosaic?

You will need a few things once you start the grouting process. You will need gloves, a flat spatula or grout spreader, a sponge, a bowl of water, and several paper towels. It's also always handy to have "dental-type" tools such as the ones in our tool-kit, when removing excess grout from the nooks and crannies of the tesserae. Once your grout is all evenly mixed, you simply spread the grout onto your project using the grout spreader. Spread it evenly so that all grout lines are filled. Once you have filled all the lines, take a well-wrung damp sponge and start sponging off the excess grout. Clean your sponge in the bowl of water every once in a while and make sure it is well-wrung before you start sponging off the excess grout. If your sponge is too wet, you can ruin the consistency of your grout by making it too watery (which can cause cracking). Repeat this process until you've removed most of the excess grout off.

Note: Do not pour the dirty bowl of water into the sink as the grout will harden and clog your pipes.

Do I need to use a specific grout for mosaic projects or can I use grout from a hardware store

You can use grout that you can find at any local hardware store. The grout you use for mosaic projects is the same grout you can use for grouting showers and countertops.

I grouted my mosaic and the grout dried one shade lighter. Can I fix this?

Yes, you can fix this as long as you used sanded grout. You can always take some acrylic paint and carefully paint on top of the grout. The sanded grout is porous, so it will absorb the acrylic paint.

I don't see a wide range of grout colors and want a specific shade of grout. Can I change the color of the grout?

We do have a variety of colored grouts available. If you just can't find the shade that you need, you can tint grout to whatever color you would like.To tint your lighter colored grout to a different color, you can use powdered grout tints, acrylic paints, powdered tempera or even mix different colored grouts together. You can also experiment with any sort of dye powders. Just remember to test, test, test your grout mixture on a separate mosaic before you use it on that project you have worked so hard to finish!

How do I pick out what grout colors to use?

This is really a judgement call. Grout can either make your tesserae pop, or mute them. It really depends what you want your grout to do. If you are using vibrant colored tesserae and want them to be accentuated, you'll want to use a subdued colored grout such as plain old white, ivory, or black. If you want your grout to complement the tesserae, you would then want to use the colored grouts. It really is a judgement call. You can use our handy Grouterizer here to give you an idea of how certain grout colors will look with some of our mosaic color assortments.

My grout is cracked, why did it crack? Can I fix cracked grout?

Sanded Grout can sometimes crack if there is too much water in your mixture. As grout sets up and dries, the water in your mixture evaporates. If there is too much water in your mixture, the remaining grout will not be dense enough. This can lead to cracking, pin-holing or crumbly grout.When you mix your grout and water, the correct consistency should be a thick paste (like cream cheese, peanut butter) which will cling to your mixing/spreading tool; it should not drip or slide off.

Premixed (Unsanded) Latex Grout: The most common reason for cracking, pin-holing or slumping with Premixed Latex Grout is inappropriately large grout lines (see above). As Premixed Grout is latex-based, it will shrink when it dries. If the grout line is too wide (more than 1/4"), the grout will shrink to a size smaller than the width of the grout line. This results in cracking, pin-holing or slumping.

I've finished my mosaic, but I left the grout to dry for a few days before cleaning it! How can I clean off the remaining extra grout that is stuck to my tile?

Ah, now that can be an ugly, messy problem! If you've tried scrubbing with a damp sponge or towel and you just can't remove all of the remaining bits of cement, try mixing up a solution of vinegar and water. After coating your mosaic with this solution and letting it sit for a few minutes, use a flat razor blade or spackling tool to scrape off as much of this leftover grout as you can.

Is there a specific type of glue especially for mosaic tiles? What's the difference between your glue and glue I can get from the store such as elmer's glue?

Unlike other glues, our Mosaic Mercantile Adhesive dries clear so that you do not see a glob of dried glue through the semi-opaque tiles. The glueis also specially formulated so that it dries in about 7-8 minutes allowing you enough time to move the tesserae before it really sets in.

Can I use your glue for a mosaic project that will remain outdoors?

Our current glue is recommended for indoor use only. We have had customers use our adhesive outdoors and they have had success so far with their mosaic piece still in tact. When doing a mosaic piece outdoors, it is important to use grout sealer to prevent moisture, dirt, and other elements from ruining the grout.

When would I need to buy waterproof glue?

Waterproof glue is necessary when your mosaic project is outdoors, or used in showers, kitchens, or anywhere that can get the tiles wet.

What glue should I use that is waterproof?

A thinset mortar (which is similar to cement) can be found at any local hardware store if waterproof adhesion is needed for your application. This is what is typically used in shower stalls, and back splashes.

I have dried glue on my tile, how do I remove it?

If you have dried glue on our glass tiles, you can simply take a q-tip and dab some acetone onto it. Rub carefully, and the glue should come right off.

Do I need to seal my mosaic once it is completed? How do I protect my mosaic project that I spent so many hours on?

You can, but it is not absolutely necessary. As grout is a porous material, it can become stained or discolored from food or liquid. A grout sealer is often used to protect the Mosaic Grout and the surfaces of porous tile (such as ceramic) from staining. It would be a good idea to seal the grout if your mosaic will be used as a counter or table top, especially if you are using one of the lighter colored grouts.If your mosaic will be in an area of heavy foot-traffic, a sealant might be a good idea as it will not only protect from discolorations, but will also make your cleaning and maintenance much easier.If you do apply a sealer, it is a good idea to wait for approximately 24 hours before applying it to your finished piece. Your grout will have residual moisture for some time after application and it must be given time to wick through before you seal the surface. If not, your grout may become discolored and lose its integrity. And of course, make sure that the surface is clean and dry before you seal!

Mosaic Substrates

What materials do I need to get started on a mosaic project?

You'll probably want to start out with at least one book on the art. We currently carry eight Mosaic Books. Most of them have 'How To' sections that teach you the basic ideas and techniques. They also cover the different media that you can use to create a mosaic project. You can also check out your favorite online booksellers (such as Powells, Amazon or Barnes & Noble) for an even greater selection.There are also a number of studios and stores that offer mosaic classes. Check our Links section for a few pointers on where to find them.If you would rather jump straight into your own project, you might want to try out some of our Mosaic Kits. Each kit contains everything you need to get started on a simple project.

What materials can I mosaic on?

Basically, you can mosaic on anything. You can almost mosaic on anything. Common surfaces that you can mosaic on top of our tables, walls, primed-wood, mdf, acrylic, wedi boards, etc. The two main things consider when selecting a substrate is to make sure that it is solid enough to support the weight of your mosaic and to make sure that it is stable enough so that it will not change size and shape due to moisture and temperature changes.Remember that an unprepared wood surface will often warp, expand and contract. This is the most common reason for the grout of a finished mosaic to crack. One way of minimizing this is to choose a thicker wood or to mount it in a frame or onto a backing material. Cardboard would not be a very good idea.

Do I have to use purely mosaic tiles or can you use different types of materials in a mosaic project? What other materials can I incorporate with mosaic tiles?

Sky is the limit when choosing what other tesserae you'd like to use when creating a mosaic project. You can always mix up your projects by using beach glass, pebbles, beads, stained glass, smalti, etc.

I am retiling my «blank» which is lined with sheetrock, what do I use to seal the surface?

In the best case scenario, you would apply tile to Green Sheetrock, which is waterproofed for use in bathrooms. Better yet, you may be tiling on Hardibacker, Wonderboard or some other brand of concrete board which will not be affected by moisture. Applying mosaic directly to general sheetrock, which is made of gypsum and is highly absorbent, could well result in premature failure of the mosaic over time. You will want to seal the surface using our Mosaic Tile Primer. This will help prevent moisture from entering the sheetrock and weakening its structure.Our Primer can be found on our Grout, Primer and Adhesive page.

What can I use for an outdoor table base that won't warp?

Hardibacker, Wonderboard or Wedi Baords are a great choice for this. They are construction-grade products that you can buy at most places like Lowe's or Home Depot.

Tool Questions and Answers

There's so many selection of nippers, how do I choose which one I'd need?

We offer six different styles of Mosaic Tile Nippers. Each nipper is a little different, so here is a rough guide.
Our Basic Nipper is a standard off-set nipper. The 5/8 in. blades are held at the edge of the t ile and crack them along an even break.
Our Chipper Nipper operates like a pair of scissors. You use the nipper blades to nibble tile into curved and rounded shapes.
Our Wheeled Nipper is different from an off-set nipper in that the blades are rotatable wheels held along the axis of your nipper. The curved wheel blades can produce more even cuts, but may take a bit more practice to master them. An added bonus is that the wheel blades are removable, and thus replaceable for a fraction of the cost of a new nipper.
Our Professional Nipper is similar to the Basic Nipper. The 5/8 in. blades are slightly curved to produce a cleaner cut.

Do I need nippers? Are they necessary? Can I just use a hammer?

Nippers are not totally necessary and using a hammer would be okay in breaking the tesserae into random shapes. However, if you want total control of the shape of your tile, you'll want to invest in a good pair of nippers. A good "all around" nipper would be the wheeled nipper. It can basically cut in straight lines but can also be used to chip away at the tile to give it a rounded edge.

Opus Romano tile is much thicker, can I still nip these tiles?

Yes you may! All of our nippers can nip the thicker opus romano tiles.

Help! My tile keep breaking when I try to nip them!

If your tile are not nipping very accurately, here are some tips:Off-Set Nippers:If you are finding that you are having difficulty nipping tile with offset nippers (such as our Basic Nipper) try this technique: place the nipper blades at a right angle to the edge of the tile, allowing them to overlap the tile no more than 1/3" (8mm). If your nipper covers more than 1/3" of the tile, you will need to squeeze harder and your tile will break unevenly. Give the nippers a gentle, constant squeeze at the end of the handles and watch the tile crack!Wheeled Nippers:Wheeled nippers work a bit differently than offset nippers. Rather than break the tile on a line perpendicular to the nipper handles, the wheels will cut the tile parallel to the nipper. As the wheeled blades are curved, you need to place the center of the wheel in the center the line that you wish to cut. Try placing the wheeled blades in the center of your tile and give the nippers a gentle, constant squeeze at the end of the handles. Your tile should cut evenly down the middle.Ultimately, just treat the tile with respect; they can bite you back if you don't! It is important to concentrate on your nipping with a consistent, deliberate and even pressure.

Ordering Questions

Can I return items purchased from your website?

Items can be returned within 30 days of sales receipt in their resaleable condition, but closeout items are NOT returnable. Shipping will not be refunded and shipping back to us will be at your cost. Always use a traceable method for returning packages. Include with your return, this return form.

My shopping cart was full, but then I couldn't check out because the credit card wouldn't go through...

Usually, the problem is easily solvable. We use AVS (Address Verification System) as part of our credit card approval process. If you entered in an incorrect Billing Address, then your card may have been declined. Please check your entry and make the necessary corrections. If you have moved within the past few months, try entering your previous address as your current Billing Address. You may have updated your information with your bank, but these updates may take some time to go through all of the various address databases out there.
Finally, make sure that you have enough money in your account!

Can I make an order to be shipped internationally?

Yes. If you would like to have an order shipped outside of the continental the United States, we can do so, but there will be an additional shipping fee. Please place your order using our online system. After we receive your order, we will pack and weigh the merchandise. Following this, we will contact you with the available shipping options and rates.

Non-Retail Questions

How do I set up a wholesale account?

To open a wholesale account, we need a copy of your business/resale license on file as proof that you are a business.
You can fax this to us at (813) 806-1988, or send it to:

   5600 Airport Blvd. Ste.C,
   Tampa, FL 33634

Please include any relevant credit app/proof-of-business papers you may have. Following this, we can open an account for you.
There is a per-order minimum of $100.
Please contact us for more information.