Um, yeah, how bout this color wall!? I’m pleased, thats for sure. I mean, I had these grand visions of a color stairway floating in my head— and my dream got crushed changed (but let’s be dramatic here, it’s a dramatic wall) a few times in the process. There’s no surprise that beautiful tiles are expensive. It’s was a slight surprise to me though (but not a huge surprise) that mosaic tiles would be incredibly slippery when wet. Toddler, old dog man, clumsy lady? Alex would be in for a handful, that’s for sure. So after that realization, I changed the pattern in my head—- then I couldn’t find the right non slip pieces, so I changed it again, then again. And I finally settled on this. It’s not quite the dramatic boom I wanted, but it certainly does the trick—- and it’s pretty child and clumsy adult safe—- I mean, as safe as cement or tiled stairs can be.So I’d love to tell you this DIY was the best time ever (I thought it would be), but it wasn’t. But the outcome was worth the labor for sure. And realistically, the labor wasn’t that bad—- what was bad was the extra mosquitos the rain had brought and my over self criticism. I tend to doubt my process with first time projects like this. And if you have kids—- ones that like to help, this is a totally doable project, I just would recommend getting extra sponges and cloths out for them to help.
–5 gallon bucket
–utility sponge and scrubbing pad
-dry white rags
–diamond blade cutting saw (wet saw) *if you need to cut tiles— which you probably will
-sanded grout (we chose a grey to match our tiles, you can choose any color you’d like— though I wouldn’t recommend white, cause you’re outside, it will get dirrrrrty.)
-tiles, whole or broken. non slip outdoor tiles— and your pretty mosaic ones too 😉
-glass, shells, rocks, broken plates, whatever your heart desires!
-layout your design first. cut the shapes and pieces you need of the smaller and larger tiles
-clean surface of steps/sidewalk
-mix thinset in 5 gallon bucket according to package directions– please do in small batches, not all at once— if you have to stop the process for whatever reason, it will dry and you will have to buy a new batch.
-apply thinset to steps with trowel, working in small areas at a time— from left to right or right to left
-start placing mosaic or tile into place.
-allow to dry for 24 hours
-before grouting, use grout scraper to remove excess dry thinset
-apply grout with grout float
-be sure to cover any sharp edges with grout
-wipe off extra grout with damp sponge
-allow to dry for an hour
-use grout scrubber to clean grooves in between tiles for a smooth finish
-allow to dry for 3 hours (or according to package)
-wipe haze/dust off with a dry rag to buff to a shiny clean stairway!
Money saving tips:
Since, everyone’s tiling space is going to be tremendously different in size, dimensions, and design, I’m not going to give exact amounts, but here are a few tips on getting the most bang for your buck:
-buy in bulk!
-ask around, it’s almost certain someone will have a cutting saw you can borrow (thanks dad!)
-call a few tile and flooring shops in advance and ask if they have broken tiles in stock. Each whole tile starts around 4$ a 4inch tile, but that whole giant box of broken tiles? 35$— and it was MORE than enough. BAM.
-don’t be afraid to ask your store for help. I asked a lot of questions and got a lot of advice. They are there to help you after all.
-lay out your design first. It’s kind of an annoying extra step, but oh boy does it make the setting process more enjoyable. (trust me, I tried both ways) It’s pretty annoying when you know your thinset is drying and you’re scrambling to find the right piece to fit in a certain space.
-do the walls of your steps first, then the floor. You really want a place to kneel when you’re pushing in your tiles.
-pretty sure it’s packed in chemicals, but you might want to find the best sealer for your tiles. dog pee + bird poop? meh.
Tada! It’s really shaping up back here! And our deck is just about done too! Almost time for a garden party 🙂
oh, and we know we absolutely need to paint the house. I’m leaning towards a tealish aqua—- or surprising to myself even, I wouldn’t mind a pink (not gonna happen), and alex says yellow. I like yellow too. Maybe one day. It’s on the to do list for sure.