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.

You’ll need: 
trowel
putty knife
5 gallon bucket
grout scraper
grout float
utility sponge and scrubbing pad
-dry white rags
diamond blade cutting saw (wet saw)  *if you need to cut tiles— which you probably will
tile nippers/cutters
versabond thinset
-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!

How to:
-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
-mix grout
-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.

General tips: 
-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.
-have fun.

(this photo is only here, because I mean, look at her outfit and look at his face. ridiculous)



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.

44 Comments

  1. This is vibrant and fun! Such a cool use of this style and these colors. I love how it gives the yard just a bit of a pop. Woohoo! You guys are design masters! 😉

    The Rambling Fangirl

  2. Oh my word, this is awesome. So creative! Your blog is really inspiring me to be more creative and innovative, thanks for that!

  3. I got about a million ideas from reading this. I broke an Ikea glass a while ago and kept the pieces to use in a mosaic in the future, and everyone keeps telling me to give in and throw it away, but I refuse. It's just waiting for the perfect home.

  4. Drea I LOVE it! The color and overall feel make me want to buy a plane ticket and come join you for said garden party! Really, really beautiful. Always inspiring me, lady! xo

  5. Oh my goodness! I LOVE it. I'm a total color girl–this just adds so much life! Now i'm looking around me for where i can try something like that! 😉

  6. well isn't that just beautiful?! We're redoing our yard this summer and have a concrete patio and that would add some beautiful detail to the side!

  7. Totally agree with Dame Blanche, it's amazing, so bright and cheerful, like those beautiful mosaic benches in Barcelona. I live on the west coast of Ireland where it rains more often than not, but what I wouldn't give to do something like this in my garden I've got the supplies (slight hoarding tendencies when it comes to pretty tile, sea-glass or stones, I'm also very clumsy so plenty of smashed plates…), loving your blog lately Andrea, it's so positive, colourful and filled with love 🙂

  8. Absolutely stunning. I love the modern pieces mixed with the colorful crazy tile. And I LOVE that you got so much tile for so cheap!

  9. I absolutely LOVE it! I recently moved to Miami, and I'm trying to do something similar, but it has been difficult to find beautiful tiles around here. I will keep looking!!

  10. That looks fantastic! I love seeing all the home and garden projects you do and how they progress. A tealish colour for your house sounds amazing!

  11. Wow, it's stunning, all that wonderful colour, it really is fantastic and you've made a really good job of it. I love the patterned pot as well, it goes beautifully. I'm looking at my small back step in a whole new light…

  12. Oh how fun! That's a certain way to make you happy and smile everytime you come home 🙂 Love it!

  13. I love this! We have this random half wall in our backyard that we were just wondering what to do with. Now, I think we have a plan! 🙂 Thanks for the great idea!

  14. Love it!! You should make some colorful beaded diy hanging potted plants on that wall to the right of your new stairs 🙂

  15. Is this what you had to work on the day of the flower crown workshop? Its gorgeous!!! Awesome job!

  16. oh my goodness this looks so beautiful, can i hire you to come up to jersey and do something like this in my backyard!? wonderful job!!