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Weekend Project: Make a Backsplash from Pebbles, Shells or Leftover Hardware

7/8/2011 10:38:00 AM

Tags: how to mosaic, DIY bathroom backsplash, simple DIY backsplash, Susan Wasinger, Natural Home & Garden, how to make a mosaic backsplash, how to make a mosaic backsplash, Robyn Griggs Lawrence

Robyn Griggs Lawrence thumbnailMy favorite DIY projects leave lots of room for improvisation and creativity—and this one is spacious. Former Natural Home & Garden art director Susan Wasinger taught me this trick for using found objects—pebbles, seashells, buttons, sea glass, pennies and even galvanized steel hardware—to liven up a bathroom backsplash. (Here’s what you can do with all those leftover steel washers that rattle around in the bottom of the toolbox.)

If you’ve never set tile before, you can learn about tools, materials, and techniques at or check out the video below.

glass globs 

Glass globs (also called glass flats, nuggets, pebbles, gems, or half-marbles) are available in a dazzling array of colors and finishes from frosty tumbled textures to pearly iridescent. Find them at craft stores, florist shops, or online at Photo by Susan Wasinger 

 glass bubbles 

Glass nuggets can look like a sea of bubbles. Set with the rounded tops down into the mastic for a pebbly effect. Photo by Susan Wasinger 

 glass tile complete 

 When the rounded side faces out, the nuggets appear to be bubbling right out of the wall. Photo by Susan Wasinger 

washer tile 

You can get creative, using any combination of materials. Glass globs look great inside galvanized steel washers. Photo by Susan Wasinger 

Creative “Tile” Backsplash 

Tools and Materials 


Mosaic Mount clear mounting sheets (available at craft stores)

Glass nuggets, pebbles, seashells, buttons, sea glass, pennies, steel washers

Notched trowel

White tile mastic

White tile grout

Rubber tile float


Soft cloth

AFM Safecoat Grout Sealer 


glass tile cut 

1. Cut the clear mounting sheet to the size you need for your backsplash. Pieces larger than 12-inches square are hard to handle once the nuggets are attached, so you may want to make your backsplash or border in several pieces.

step 2 glass mosaic 

2. Position glass nuggets face down on the mounting sheet and press firmly.

 step 3 glass mosaic 

3. Use a notched trowel to apply tile mastic to the substrate on your wall.

 step 4 glass mosaic 

4. Carefully pick up the sheet of glass globs and set it into the mastic with the clear mounting sheet facing you. Allow the mastic to set several hours. Gently remove the clear sheet.

step 5 glass mosaic 

5. Using a rubber tile float, squeeze a layer of white tile grout into the crevices around the glass globs.

 step 6 glass mosaic 

6. Let grout set up for about 30 minutes, then gently remove grout from the face of the glass with a damp sponge. Rinse sponge frequently. When grout dries, buff your new backsplash with a soft cloth to remove any remaining haze. Protect your new mosaic with nontoxic AFM Safecoat Grout Sealer.


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Post a comment below.


9/3/2013 11:56:09 AM
Hi, I was compensated for this post but all opinions and experiences are my own.For the last 3 years I've made good strides in making changes in our home to add my touch. We've purchased new furniture, hung extraordinary artwork, created statement pieces. Thanks

8/13/2013 7:25:57 PM

Do you need to install backer board before you tile with pebbles for a back splash in the kitchen?


7/24/2013 10:20:20 PM

I want to put retro treads on an interior box staircase and I want to put mosaics for the risers. Can i put the mosaic directly on the wood of the riser or do I have to put it on a separate piece of wood and screw it onto the old riser, and how do I seal the wood to make it non-porous? Do I use polyurethane or something like it? Any advice would be much appreciated.

Dawn Marie
2/22/2013 11:55:21 PM
Generally speaking, mastic is not recommended for glass tile, so I suspect, for glass pebbles, and metals and some of the other recommended materials above, it would be problematic. Use a quality white thinset mortar instead. It's not as convenient, because you have to mix it with water, but it will also give you a superior bond in all cases.

Debbie Rogers
12/22/2012 12:56:52 PM
Buy your mounting sheet at a fabric store. It is much less expensive and comes on a huge roll. It is clear plastic with a peel off adhesive backing.

Shirley Bearly
11/5/2012 11:39:40 PM
If you want to use pennies can you cover with Clear "Bar Coat" finish to make it shiny and water proof for the kitchen? It will pain on but I'm not sure if it won't run down the wall too much.

Shawn Sisler
10/24/2012 5:25:42 PM
Helpful hint: If you don't get the grout or mastic off before it dries a toothbrush and a good toothpaste will take it off without too much elbow grease and without scratching. Works for paint on cars too, just toothpaste on a soft rag and buff it off, no scratches and no paint.

Melissa Saco Vertiz
9/18/2012 2:50:48 PM
What brand of mounting sheet was used? I am having trouble finding one that will be removed after installation. Any help would be appreciated, Thanks.

7/11/2012 3:10:20 PM
Would this work with that new double sided tile mounting tape (SimpleMat etc)?

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