My 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 TheTileDoctor.com or check out the video below.
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 MegaGlass.com. Photo by Susan Wasinger
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
When the rounded side faces out, the nuggets appear to be bubbling right out of the wall. Photo by Susan Wasinger
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
White tile mastic
White tile grout
Rubber tile float
AFM Safecoat Grout Sealer
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.
2. Position glass nuggets face down on the mounting sheet and press firmly.
3. Use a notched trowel to apply tile mastic to the substrate on your wall.
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.
5. Using a rubber tile float, squeeze a layer of white tile grout into the crevices around the glass globs.
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.