In ancient times, Romans used mosaics as art in places of worship, and the Greeks used them to share their myths. Years later, the small tiles continue to create looks that are both decorative and functional.
Unlike paint, tiles give walls an interesting look through shape and texture. There are many tile options, from traditional glass to metal or pebble mosaics. They come in brick mosaic style or a hexagonal shape. The tiles are also mounted on mesh or plastic, so you don't have to install them piece by piece.
According to Lindsay Swenson, general manager at Floor & Decor (4 Westside Shopping Center, Gretna, 504-361-0501; 2801 Magazine St., 504-891-3005; www.flooranddecor-outlets.com), glass tiles in neutral colors are the most popular option.
"Generally speaking, glass that is transparent has a handmade, stained glass look with a nice variation between every sheet, and it has a look of artistry when installed," Swenson says.
Mosaics are predominately used for areas in the home where water is constantly present. Glass tiles are especially resistant to mold and mildew, which makes them great to use in backsplashes and showers.
A horizontal tile border is the most popular design. Swenson recommends using tiles to create a bolder look. This can be done simply by changing things up and doing a vertical border. She also recommends creating a focal wall with tiles.
"Most customers use glass mosaics in the bath without really dividing it or adding field tiles, and that creates an impact from a design perspective," Swenson says.
Some designs don't cost a lot of money, making mosaics an unexpectedly practical luxury. Prices start at 99 cents per square foot at Floor & Decor, Swenson says. Some designs utilize two or three sheets and can be surrounded by less expensive field tiles.
"You can get a really high-end glass (for) maybe $75 and combine it with some of our everyday products, like that very standard white tile, which is a great traditional look that people in New Orleans love," Swenson says.
Depending on the scale of the project, mosaic installation can be a simple process. Swenson says a backsplash is the most simple do-it-yourself project, as long as the drywall is in good condition. From there, all you have to do is rough up the drywall and apply adhesive to the wall and mosaic sheet. After mounting sheets to the wall, wait 24 hours. Once the sheets are secure, apply grout between the tiles.
Other projects are more difficult and time-consuming. To make sure your mosaic looks great, it's best to know your skill level. Shower tiles, for example, are more difficult to install. In that case, Swenson recommends opting for professional installation.