Installing tile is one of the necessary evils of great bathroom design. No bathroom is complete without at least some tile, and the better the tile job, the more polished and pristine the final product will look. But buying tile is expensive, to say nothing of the cost of hiring someone to install it. And if you move up from a basic installation to anything fancy, well, costs go up accordingly. That said, if you’re a reasonably accomplished DIYer planning on installing at least some of your tile on your own, mosaic tile sheets make it easy to add beautiful, custom embellishments to your bathroom tile all by yourself.
One of the biggest hurdles to installing a tile accent – whether it’s on your floor, your walls, or in your shower – is that often the main tile has to be cut to accommodate the accents. Cutting tile is an iffy business even for professionals, and doing it without years of experience is a good way to ruin a lot of your tile. But mosaic tile sheets are specifically designed to be cut – as in, with a pair of scissors. The tiles might be tough, but the mesh certainly isn’t, which means the sheets can easily be trimmed down to almost any size or shape and easily fit in between larger tiles. The slightly offset pattern above is a great example of a no-trim-needed layout that adds vivid and unique detail to what would otherwise be a solid, single-color stone floor.
Even easier to create are basic borders. Like smaller accents, these can be cut by hand to any thickness and the strips can be laid end-to-end to create a simple border or frame. A basic frame around the perimeter of a bathroom floor can help define the space in a way reminiscent of an area rug, and installed parallel and perpendicular to the field tile again requires little or no cutting of the actual tile. A single 12 inch square sheet of 1 inch square tiles cut to a two tile width creates a 6 foot long strip, meaning that this is an accent you can pull off with just a few spare sheets of tile. Bonus points if you use a different tile pattern inside the border. This will probably require tile cutting, but creates a fantastic artistic look.
Similarly, it’s easy to create a mosaic border on a tile wall or half wall. This is a great way to add a splash of color if you opt for a white subway tile or a neutral stone, and as with the floor, you simply cut the mosaic sheets to the desired width and install between two layers of your primary tile. For a half wall, you might want to place the decorative tile just below a row of border tiles to cap off the tiled portion of the wall. For a more modern look, consider installing a horizontal rather than a vertical stripe.
Mosaic tile can be used for smaller accents, too. Surrounding a frameless mirror with tile is a great way to add a stylish, built-in statement to your vanity area, and if you happen to be handy with drywall, you can even create niche storage or displays lined with mosaic tiles that create a colorful (and useful) decorative pop. This type of accent is starting to become common in showers as well, but unless you’re pretty confident in your abilities, I’d advise against installing any tile in your shower yourself, since waterproofing is so much more important there than anywhere else in the bathroom, especially if you’re cutting into the wall or cutting the tile to accommodate shower hardware.
If you aren’t terribly confident in your abilities, consider sticking with a basic mosaic tile backsplash. This is one of the easiest DIY tile projects you can do and doesn’t have to be done as part of a larger remodel. You shouldn’t go smaller than 4″ high, and currently taller is considered better – including all the way up to the ceiling. For a slightly more ambitious project, you can even install an entire tile accent wall. Just be aware that this will involve some tile cutting, as you’ll need to make way for the plumbing for the sink and toilet as well as the hardware for the mirror.
Finally, the secret that professional tile-layers everywhere don’t want you to know is that the creme-de-la-creme of high end tile, the floor medallion, is now actually pretty easy to do yourself. Traditionally installed by hand by a skilled artisan, these days you can find tile medallions just like mosaic tiles: attached to one really big mesh sheet. If you can install a basic mosaic sheet, you can install one of these, too, and because they’re often square with a round design rather than a round sheet, they’re easy to integrate into a square tile floor.
How good are your DIY skills, and what projects do you have planned to dress up your bathroom decor?