I consider myself pretty handy when it comes to home improvement projects or crafty ventures. I get it from my Mama. There’s absolutely nothing the woman won’t figure out how to do.
So when I was invited to attend a class and learn how to to mosaic tile a mirror, I jumped at the opportunity to expand my DIY skill set.
Everything I needed to know to complete this project I learned in under an hour at the Home Depot’s DIH workshop. Under an hour! That’s how easy this project is. My friend Amanda took home our in-store project, but I liked the finished look so much I knew it would be perfect for my house.
This was a super easy project that took about 6 to 8 hours of total work time.
Because of the housing market crash, we’re kind of stuck in this house for the foreseeable future. There are parts of it that I definitely don’t like. Lots and lots of parts of it. Like the front bathroom. But it’s our home, so my goal is to make it a place we love being, which means lots and lots of home improvement.
After the workshop, I grew a wild DIY hair and began talking Dan’s ears off about renovating the front bathroom. Starting with applying my newly developed skills and adding mosaic tile to the bathroom mirror. Thankfully, he loves me despite my penchant for 11th hour DIY planning.
Step One: Gather Your Supplies
For this project, you’ll need mosaic tiles of your choice, Simplemat, Simplefix pre-mixed adhesive and grout, a sponge, a 150-grit sanding block, and some clean cloths. All of this cost me about $60 at my local home project store.
You will also need scissors or a box cutter, painter’s tape, a razor/scraper, access to water, either in a bucket or your bathroom sink, and patience.
Step Two: Cut Your Tiles
My bathroom mirror is 40″ x 47″. Each mosaic tile sheet measures 12″ x 12″. I used 5 sheets of tiles with extra tiles to spare. It’s always better to overestimate how many tile sheets you’ll need in case you encounter difficulty. You can always return any unopened tiles after the project is finished.
Using a box knife, I cut each of my tile sheets to the border size I wanted, which in my case was 3″. I extended the visual size of the mirror to 48″ to match the length of the countertop.
SimpleMat comes in 9″ x 18″ sheets, so I cut several sheets into strips of just under 3″ wide. I also cut two sheets into strops just under 2″ wide to accommodate the edges I was extending.
Step Three: Prep Your Mirror
Make sure your mirror surface is clean and dry. The previous homeowners had glued a tiny frame to the surface of our mirror. Because it’s in a bathroom, the steam from showers caused the glue to unglue and the frame fell off. I’m ashamed to say how long we’ve lived with this ugly, glue-gooed mirror surface. While I kid wrangled, Dan scraped the glue off the mirror using a razor blade/scraper tool.
(You’ll also notice I changed the light fixture. Buh-bye ugliest box light I’ve ever seen in my life!)
Step Four: Sand Your Mirror’s Edge
Using your sanding block or sandpaper, rough up the outer edge of your mirror, just a little, being careful not to go further into the mirror’s center than you intend your frame to extend. You just want to scuff the surface, which you can see in the upper portion of the above picture. (It’s really, REALLY hard to get a good shot of the scuff marks! Just a little. Promise!)
Step Five: Apply the SimpleMat
SimpleMat is an amazing product, especially for applying tile to surfaces other than walls. Bonus, you can use SimpleMat on wall projects, too! Kitchen backsplash? Perfect! SimpleMat eliminates the need for concrete or wooden backer board and for applying a layer of adhesive and raking it before applying the tile. Using SimpleMat easily cut this project time in half.
SimpleMat is a fiberglass paper with adhesive strips on the top side. Peel the backing and apply the fiberglass paper to the mirror’s clean, dry surface. The adhesive strips are covered with a clear film that you’ll peel away before applying the tile.
Step Six: Apply Your Tile
Peel the clear film from the SimpleMat and apply your mosaic tile strips, working in small sections until you’ve covered the perimeter of your mirror.
I thought I would have 1/2″ overhang on both sides of my mirror and ended up with almost a full 1″ on each side which is fine because it actually looks better this way. To make sure the tiles that weren’t on the mirror would be sturdy, I used the SimpleFix Adhesive and Grout (hooray combination product!) to build a base behind the tile on either side of the mirror, as seen below.
Once the tile was in place, I used a plastic knife to scrape away excess grout that squished (technical term) out from behind the tile. Then I removed the painter’s tape and let the grout set while I watched The Walking Dead.
Pro tip: It is strongly advised (by me, based on my own errors) that you lay out your tiles on your mirror before hand to double and triple check your measurements. I did not do this and ended up having to peel off part of the tiles, scrape off one entire side of SimpleMat, and then redo my work. Trust me on this. Lay them out before sticking them to the adhesive.
Grab a partner and hold your tiles up and mark on your mirror where the tile strips begin and end and mark which tile strip went where. This will also allow you to figure out if you’ve bought enough tile and arrange your strips to get a pattern you like, if you’re concerned with that. I didn’t want same-colored tiles touching across strips.
Step Seven: Apply the Grout
Applying grout is actually a multi-step process and you’ll have about 30 minutes per section before the grout begins to set and gets harder to wipe off. However, each section of the mirror took me about 15 minutes start to finish, for a total of 1 hour of grouting. It was the fastest and easiest part of the whole project.
Most people would use a tool called a grout float to do this step, but I just grabbed a latex glove and used my hand. I could feel and see what I was doing instead of just being able to see. Tape off your wall and mirror and then begin.
First, you put the grout on the tile.
Next, you scrape off the excess:
Then, you wash down the tiles and grout until no grout remains on the tile, being sure to rinse your sponge frequently and change your water often. This is where being in the bathroom came in handy. I just used the sink. (A commenter suggested this is not a great idea. Use a bucket with water you can dump and replace instead!)
You really want to make sure that you don’t leave grout film (which you can see on the tiles in the bottom left of the above picture) on the tiles. If you do, you’ll need to polish the tiles to get it off. So wipe with the sponge and rinse rinse rinse. Then gently wipe with a clean cloth, microfiber works well, but I used a jersey cloth and paper towels and they both worked well, too.
Once your mirror is grouted, peel off your tape and leave the grout to dry. I went to bed right after finishing the grouting on Sunday night and everything was dry by Monday morning.
Step Eight: Admire your DIY Handiwork
You did it! You did it yourself! It looks amazing and you did that! That’s pretty awesome, right? So then you stare at the mirror and find reasons to go into your lesser-used bathroom to look at it. And maybe take 100 or so photos of your handiwork.
The actual final step in this process is sealing the grout. That will protect the grout from cracks and water damage. I’m giving the grout a few days to cure before applying the sealant, but I don’t know that several days are necessary.
This weekend, I’m tackling painting the ugly countertop and cabinet in that bathroom. By the time this renovation is done, the employees at my local Home Depot store will know me by name. And probably run away from Joshua who threw a tantrum in the paint department while I was busy looking through the 50 (or more) shades of gray in their paint line.
Home improvement is never boring, y’all.
If you do this tutorial, I hope you’ll let me know how it turned out for you! I’d love to see your finished projects! I’ll be sure to keep you all updated on the bathroom renovation!
(Extra special thanks goes to Alena for helping me with the watermarks on my photos with her mad Photoshop skills!)