Glass Mosaic Tile Art – How to Easily Fix Grout-Line Imperfections

Making wonderful glass mosaic tile art is easy! Let me show you how.

Have you ever watched the grout of your mosaic 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 (ie, the grout lines are like little valleys where the grout sinks and is not 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, I've experienced much less grout shrinkage. Do not fret! It's an easy fix. Simply re grout the mosaic. It's a lot easier the second time, especially when using thick, pasty grout.

If you're not crazy about the idea of ​​going through the whole grouting process again, here's 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 (ie, where the grout is no longer flush with the tesserae), and other grout imperfections.

CAUTION: Cement (ie, grout) is mildly caustic so do not do this process with your bare hand. Wear a glove for protection.

Use the leftover grout if it's still workable. If it's 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 do not end up with grout soup (ie, 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. Do not 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 you'll 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 I'd 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 do not use latex medical gloves because they're 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 $ 30 about. I only need one glove at a time because I only use my right hand when spreading and wiping the grout (ie, I do not 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!

Here's 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 that's usually on the counter in the exam room. Be polite and ask (do not 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. You'll 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!