Let's be honest - mosaics have the ability to look horrible, especially if you don't know the basics. Today we'll go through our complete step-by-step guide of how to mosaic a terracotta pot. We promise it will be an addition to the home you're actually proud of. To make the most out of this we recommend doing it as a group. It will also help save on costs.
Before you get started, we've outlined the estimated costs of materials depending on how many people. Obviously, as you want more tile colours or grouts there will be extra costs, however, you can use this as a general guide. These figures include the $30 required for the cutting tool for irregular shapes. After all, no one wants a mosaic with only square tiles.
1 person (1 small pot) • $90 for 4 colours of tiles.
2 person (2 small pots) • $110 for 4 colours of tiles.
3 person (3 small pots) • $125 for 4 colours of tiles.
4 person (4 small pots) • $140 for 4 colours of tiles.
4 person (4 small pots) • $170 for 6 colours of tiles.
To get started we'll need a few things.
• Terracotta pot of your choosing: Just remember a small-medium sized pot (of around 12cm in height), will take about an hour to cut and glue all the mosaics down.
$2-4 each depending on size • Most nurseries
• Mosaic tiles: For your typical sized pot (~12cm in height), you will require around 200 grams of mosaic tiles. These are best bought online and generally cost around $6/100 grams. This is another reason you'll want to do it in a group, as you'll need at least 3-5 colours to get a good mix and generally come in minimum quantities of 100 grams.
$6 per colour, per 100 grams • Online mosaic stores
• Glue: We recommend the Weldbond 160ml from Bunnings as it dries quickly and provides wicked strong strength. You can pick it up here for only $12.
$12 • Bunnings
• Primer: You'll need to pre-prime your terracotta pot so that moisture doesn't seep through and dislodge the tiles over time.
$10 • Bunnings
• Grout: Select your preferred colour of grout. For a small-medium sized pot (~12cm height), you'll need about 200 grams of grout cement.
$8 per 500 grams • Online mosaic stores
• Glass Mosaic Cutter: If you want to use irregular shapes in your patterns (which we strongly suggest for unique and random patterns) you will need a glass cutter. We recommend the dual disc glass cutters like the following found here.
$30-$40 • Online mosaic or hardware stores
• Paddle pop sticks $1
• Sponges $1
• 1 Small Brush $1
Now we have all the materials you'll need, we can get started!
Step 1 - Sealing Your Pot
The first step will be to seal/prime your terracotta pot to ensure moisture doesn't affect the durability of your tiles. Using a primer will promote adhesion and reduce absorption. We're using a cheap craft all-purpose sealer by Leni, however, you can use whichever brand you want. Simply take your brush and apply it across the exterior of your pot. Let it dry for 30 minutes before you start applying tiles.
Step 2 - Cutting your Tiles
While the primer dries is the perfect time to start cutting up your tiles. It's completely up to you how you cut them, but we recommend cutting each tile into 3-4 pieces in a variety of shapes. You can generally cut an estimated 100 grams worth of tiles in ten minutes, so by the time you've finished cutting your tiles, your sealer will have set. In one of our examples below, we have chosen a palette of 5 colours in the 2x2cm tile variety. For this, you will generally need to purchase 5x100g packs of tiles, which will be enough for at least 2-3 small pots.
Step 3 - Glueing
Once you've cut up all of your tiles you can start gluing them down. Just ensure your terracotta pot is completely dried. To glue your mosaic tiles down we recommend applying strips of glue onto the pot with a paddlepop stick. Each strip of glue should be about 2-3cm thick, and extend the full height of the pot. You don't want to put too much glue down at any one time, as it will generally dry within 5 minutes of exposure to the air. Take a look at the photo below to get an idea of the method we are using. This step can take a little trial and error before you get into a rhythm.
When gluing your tiles down you want to make sure you find shapes that complement each other and leave very little space between them. Your grout lines will look best if there is a somewhat consistent gap between all your tiles. You should be aiming for around 2-3 mm.
Step 4 - Dry & Set
Depending on the type of glue you have used, you will generally have to wait at least 30 minutes for the glue to harden. The 'weldbond' glue we have used has an incredibly quick and strong hold, so 30 minutes should be more than enough. That said, some glues will have slower set times so be sure to read the instructions. It's important you don't start grouting too early, as many of your tiles may fall off.
Step 5 - Grouting Your Pot
Once your glue has dried and your tiles feel like they are secure, we can start grouting. We generally recommend using very light shades of grout as it will work with most colour palettes. Generally using darker grout lines will only work if you have incredibly light colour tiles. For our pot, we have used a darker terracotta coloured grout, but only because our tiles have very light, pastel tones.
You'll need approximately 250 grams of grout for a small-medium sized pot of 12cm in height. Simply pour your grout powder into a small container and add a very small amount of water. Be sure to only add a few drops of water at a time - you don't need much. Continue stirring with a paddle pop stick until the consistency resembles that of toothpaste.
Once you've mixed your grout start spreading it over the entirety of your pot. You can be messy here and you want to ensure you fill all of your gaps with grout. Glide your stick gently over each of your grout lines a few times to ensure you've removed all air bubbles.
Now that your pot is covered with grout we want to let it semi-dry for 20-30 minutes. It's ok if you can no longer see your tiles under the grout. We'll wipe it clean soon.
Step 6 - Cleaning Your Pot
After 20-30 minutes your grout should have started to dry a little, which will now provide it with a little strength. Dampen your sponge or chux and start wiping it over your tiles lightly. You will have to continue cleaning your sponge out, maybe more than a dozen times. Ensure to not use too much lateral force over the tiles, as it's easy for the sponge to become caught on the edges of the sharp tiles, which could dislodge them. If a tile is dislodged add some more glue to the back and place it back in. You can also place some more grout around it if it's left a noticeable gap.
You'll want to clean your grout off until you can just see your tiles underneath the grout. It's important you don't continue cleaning insistently, because the grout in between your tiles still needs to set. Once you've removed most of the heavy grout on top of the tiles you should stop.
Now you'll want to let it set for 12-24 hours so the grout cement can fully cure and set.
Step 7 - Final Buff
Now that your grout is fully cured, you can use your damp sponge to buff each tile. Simply wipe your sponge over each tile, removing the final remnants of the grout until they are squeaky clean. If you plan on putting your pot outside and want it to endure the harsh elements, we'd suggest applying a coat of an external sealer over the tiles. But this can sometimes cloud the tiles, so be careful which type you use.
And that's it! You now have a mosaic terracotta pot planter, ready to bring life and colour to any room in the house.