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How do I Choose the Best Mosaic Backsplash?

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  • Written By: Anna B. Smith
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 22 August 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2019
    Conjecture Corporation
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Choose the best mosaic backsplash for the kitchen by selecting a tile size that corresponds with the expertise of the installer, and using glass tiles over natural stone when possible. Homeowners who are completing the tile job themselves may purchase larger tiles, to eliminate some of the extra work involved in installing small tile. Glass tiles are easier to use in this type of project than natural stone due to the ease with which they may be cut by a tile saw. They also clean easier and typically do not require the application of a sealant prior to installation.

A mosaic backsplash can consist of almost any type, color, and size of tile used to cover the wall area between kitchen counter tops and cabinets. Tile selection is typically determined by the personal preferences of the individual installing the tile, or by the kitchen owner if the project is being completed by a contractor. Since tiles are made from solid materials and are not composite, there are truly no bad tile selections to use in a backsplash.

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Mosaic tiles are typically made from glass or natural stone. These tiles are cut to a small size, generally between 1 and 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm) square, though some designs do occasionally feature larger tiles. The tiles are then mounted onto a plastic mesh which holds them an equal distance apart. These mesh sheets can measure from 8 to 9 inches (20.3 to 22.9 cm) on each side.

For a do it yourself homeowner who has not installed tile before, the best mosaic backsplash tiles are those that measure at or larger than 2 inches (5 cm). After the tiled sheets have been applied to the wall with thinset, each space between the tiles must be grouted. The grout lines should be filled so that they are level with the surface of the tiles, then wiped down so that the material does not glaze over the actual project area. Using larger tiles guarantees that the homeowner will have fewer grout joints than he or she would if using small tiles, and thus less room for error during installation. The grout can be placed quicker and monitored more easily than when dealing with a large number of joints.

For ease of installation, glass mosaic backsplash tiles are often preferred to natural stone tiles. Natural stone is typically cut from slate, limestone, or marble, among other materials. These rocks, when they meet with a large amount of force or pressure, can splinter and shatter. Most tiling jobs require tiles to be cut to size during installation, to fit in the specified project area or to make room for electrical outlets. Natural stone tends to splinter and crack during this cutting process, creating uneven edges and requiring the purchase of more materials, while glass tiles cut easily and do not crack when cut with a tile saw.

A glass mosaic backsplash is also easier to seal and clean than natural stone tiles. Stone is a porous material that contains many pits and air pockets. These pits can become filled with dirt and grout during the installation process. Natural stone should be sealed with a penetrating sealer prior to the grout application. Glass tiles do not need to be sealed before installation and wipe down easily before applying a final project sealant.

If the tile job is going to be completed by a professional contractor, then the homeowner should feel free to select any tile he or she prefers. A high quality tile contractor can install any type of tile into virtually any area size. If limitations do exist, based on the location of the backsplash or type of backer board that will be used, then the contractor will typically discuss these with the homeowner prior to accepting the job.

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