Glass Mosaic Tile Art: How to Easily Fix Grout-line Imperfections
Have you ever watched the grout of your mosaic seemingly shrink before your eyes as it hardens, causing pinholes and depressions?† Arrrrg!† Now what?
Have you ever watched your mosaic grout seemingly shrink before your eyes as it hardens?† Arrrrg!† The grout lines are no longer flush with the tesserae and tiny pinholes mysteriously appear.† Now what?
As the grout sets and hardens, you may notice grout shrinkage (i.e., the grout lines are like little valleys where the grout sinks and isnít flush with the tesserae).† This used to happen to me a lot when I mixed the grout too runny.† However, since using thick, pasty grout, Iíve experienced much less grout shrinkage.† Donít fret!† Itís an easy fix.† Simply re grout the mosaic.† Itís a lot easier the second time, especially when using thick, pasty grout.
If youíre not crazy about the idea of going through the whole grouting process again, hereís a little trick I use at the end of my normal grouting process.† After the last wiping cycle when the grout has set for about 45 minutes, go back and carefully inspect the entire mosaic for tiny pinholes, missed areas, depressed grout lines (i.e., where the grout is no longer flush with the tesserae), and other grout imperfections.
CAUTION: Cement (i.e., grout) is mildly caustic so donít do this process with your bare hand.† Wear a glove for protection.
Use the leftover grout if itís still workable.† If itís not, then mix another small batch (two tablespoons of grout powder are usually enough).† Add just a bit of water at a time so you donít end up with grout soup (i.e., the grout should be thick and pasty, not runny).† Wearing a glove, use your index finger to scoop up a dab of grout and rub it into the imperfect area.† Fill the little pinholes that invariably occur, and the little gaps that you missed, and the little depressions that seem to form as the grout sets.† Simply fill in those imperfections with your finger, wipe off the excess grout from your finger, and then use your clean finger or a dry paper towel to carefully wipe up the excess grout without disturbing the grout line.† Voila!† The imperfections are fixed.† Donít accept those imperfections!† Go back and fill them in.
Do not use your bare hand to do this.† After a while, the skin will wear away and youíll bleed all over your beautiful mosaic.† Yes, you will, indeed, bleed if you spread and wipe grout long enough with your bare finger.† It happened to me!† I could see the skin wearing away on the tip of my finger, but I was stubborn, thinking Iíd be done soon.† A few wipes later, the last layer of skin was gone and it bled.† Now, I always wear a rubber glove to protect my skin.† I donít use latex medical gloves because theyíre relatively expensive (about $100 for a box of 50).† Instead, I use vinyl synthetic, powder-free exam gloves.† I can get a box of 100 at Walmart for about $30.† I only need one glove at a time because I only use my right hand when spreading and wiping the grout (i.e., I donít need to glove my left hand).† That equates to about $0.30 per mosaic, which is well worth it to avoid the pain of wearing your skin down until it bleeds!
Hereís a tip if you only do a few mosaics a year.† When you go to the doctor for your routine visits, ask the nurse if you can have a couple of the rubber gloves from the box thatís usually on the counter in the exam room.† Be polite and ask (donít steal!).† I prefer to buy the box of 100 because I like having them around for other uses.† These gloves come in handy for lots of messy work, such as piling charcoal into a perfect pyramid on the grill or changing the wax ring under the toilet.
Try this trick the next time your grout your mosaic.† Youíll be pleased with the results.† No more grout-line depressions, no more missed pinholes, no more imperfections!
Remember, making mosaic art is easy. You can do it.† Yes, you can!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bill Enslen has created lovely mosaic art for 30 years. His new eBook, Mosaic Pieces: Essentials for Beginner and Professional Mosaic Artists, gives you step-by-step details for creating your own mosaic masterpieces. Visit his website and read the free sample chapters at Glass Mosaic Tile Art.† Let him show you just how easy it is. With Bill's help, you can do it.† Yes, you can!