FRAMED & MOUNTED TILE MURAL

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1 Page 1 of 5 There is no denying that tile murals have taken the sublimation industry by storm. The unique ability to take a customer s artwork or high resolution photograph, tile it using your software and sublimate individual tiles to make a complete mural allows for a premium selling price. The availability of tiles in a variety of different sizes and styles, from glossy ceramic to glass to tumbled stone, means the sublimation decorator can design a dynamic tile mural for any location, decor or occasion. Whether hanging framed on a wall, installed as a backsplash, or as the focal piece of a custom bathroom, the full color, photo-quality nature of sublimation makes for a one-ofa-kind tile mural that customers are sure to talk about for years to come. This Project Idea will walk you through one creative way to frame and mount your tile mural for hanging on a wall or displaying on a stand. Instead of mounting the completed mural to a traditional frame, we ll show you how to use smaller ceramic tiles to frame the mural and mount everything to a plywood back. This is a very flexible solution in that you are not limited to existing frame dimensions. Instead, you create the frame and back based on the tile mural dimensions. NOTES If you re doing this for the first time, keep in mind that nonconsumable items like sawhorses, putty knives, and rubber mallets can be used each time you make a tile mural. You only have to purchase most of these tools once. MATERIALS NEEDED Most of these accessories can be purchased from your local hardware store. decorated sublimation tile mural 1 x 1 tile squares for frame (often come glued to a plastic sheet) piece of 1/2 inch plywood to fit full tile mural dimensions plus grout space plus one inch border all around mural table saw or circular saw with saw horses and clamps sandpaper coarse (40-60 grit) and medium ( grit) square trowel or 3-inch putty knife tile mastic adhesive utility blade rubber mallet 3-foot length of 1/2 x 4 wood plank Measuring tools (tape, angle, t-square, ruler) dark wood stain & sponge brush (optional) frame mounting hardware or picture stand (optional) Let s get started...

2 Page 2 of 5 PREP If you purchased a sheet of mosaic 1 x 1 tiles, you will need to determine in what lengths you ll need to cut them based on the overall dimensions of your tile mural. Home superstores often carry 12 x 12 sheets with the individual tiles slightly under 1 squared. These are perfect for framing your tile mural. If, as in this example, you have 6 x 6 tiles for a 3 x 2 tile mural in landscape mode, your total dimensions are going to be roughly 18 wide by 12 tall plus space for grout line (if applicable). That means that for every tile, you ll need to cut six mosaic tiles from the plastic web backing to frame each side of the tile. However, we also need to account for the corners of the frame as shown in the diagram. Taking this into account, you would cut six 6-tile strips and two 7-tile strips from your 12x12 mosaic tile sheet for framing. STEP ONE Lay your sheet of plywood across two sawhorses or flat surface. Pre-assemble your tile mural over the sheet of plywood taking into account grout lines (if you ve designed the mural with this in mind). As you can see in the photo, there are two 7-tile strips on the right and left and three 6-tile strips on the top and bottom of the mural. Measure the tile mural adding about 1/8 to the final measurements to take into account the saw s cutting blade dimensions. TIP Lay some newspaper down to collect the sawdust you ll be making in Step Two. You can use the sawdust later. CAUTION It is extremely important to remember to use all safety precautions before using a table saw or circular saw. It is recommended that you only perform this step if you have experience using these power tools. As with any power tool, wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from any flying debris and be cautious as to the placement of your hands, fingers and any power cords that might get caught in the cutting blade. If you have any concerns about this step, many hardware stores have the ability to cut down plywood to your required dimensions (may be fee-based).

3 Page 3 of 5 TIP When sanding, be careful not to round the edges of your cut plywood base as this may cause the tiles to lift. STEP TWO After you ve drawn your cut lines, cut the plywood down to fit the dimensions of the tile mural and frame. It is recommended that you first examine both sides to find the smoothest surface. Based on the grade of plywood you purchased, you can often get a premium side (e.g. A) and a lower grade side. These lower grade sides often have deep knots that can affect the adhesion of the tiles, so try to avoid these where possible. You do not need a premium grade for the side you ll be using to adhere the mural after all, it will be covered with mastic and tiles. Instead, save the better side of the plywood for the back of the tile mural. If you re displaying the mural in a tile stand, the better plywood side will be visible. Use extreme caution when operating power tools. After you ve cut out the plywood base, use the medium grade sandpaper to sand down the sides of the plywood to remove any splinters. Then, with the coarse grade sandpaper, roughen up the mounting surface. This will help the mastic form a bond to the wood. Do not sand too much. All you want is a slightly rough surface. STEP THREE After you ve sanded your plywood back, it is time to lay down the mastic. Lay the cut piece across your sawhorses or a flat surface. You may want to use newspaper to collect any spilled mastic. Using your trowel or putty knife, spread an even layer of mastic across the surface of the plywood. Just like decorating a cake, it is easier to lay down a globular portion (about the size of a plum) and spread out the mass toward the edges using even strokes. When completed, you should have a layer of mastic approximately 1/8 thick. Reseal your can of mastic to keep it from drying out. If you re in an air conditioned shop, the mastic should remain workable for a good hour. It is not recommended you leave the treated surface exposed to air. Instead, it s time to start laying out your tile mural.

4 Page 4 of 5 STEP FOUR Starting from the left side of the plywood, mimic your original, preassembled mural and begin to lay out your tiles by row. At this stage, you can re-open your can of mastic and spread a small amount on the back of each tile if you wish. However, this is not necessary. If you lay down a tile crookedly, you can easily lift it up and reposition it where you want. With each row, start with the top strip of mosaic tiles, then the bottom to ensure your mural reaches edge to edge. Then, center the decorated tile within the length of the strips both from the top and bottom and from the left. Once you ve laid out the entire mural, and while the mastic is still wet and pliable, make sure that the rows and columns are evenly spaced. You want the finished piece to reach the edge of the wood all around so that there is no wood showing when viewing the mural head on. A nice benefit about making a weathered tile mural with tumbled stone is that uneven rows and columns are not as noticeable. When installing a tile mural in a bathroom or as a backsplash, you may need to invest in a set of standard tile spacers for grout line uniformity. TRICK After completing Step Five at right, turn the plank of wood on its edge to check the level of your rows and columns of tiles. If one is sticking up, lay the wood flat and concentrate a few extra taps with the mallet on that area. STEP FIVE Once the mural is laid out, it is time to tamp the tiles down to ensure they have a good, even bond with the mastic beneath them. You run the risk of cracking tiles if you attempt hitting each with a rubber mallet, so we re going to diffuse the shock using our 3-foot plank of wood. Lay the piece of wood flat across a row of tiles. Using the rubber mallet, gently tap the piece of wood across the length. Repeat this process on the next row, then do the same thing across each column, taking care not to ignore the mosaic tile framing. In addition to better securing the tiles to the mastic, this process will level out your tiles with one another for a more even, finished look.

5 Page 5 of 5 TRICK Many tile mural decorators use flat bathroom caulk instead of grout when making a tile mural that does not need to be professionally installed. It is easy to cut the caulk tip to fit the groove between each tile, and there is less mess to clean up off the surface of the tiles afterward. STEP SIX You now have the option of grouting your tile mural to fill in the spaces between the tiles. If using grout, make sure you purchase grout without sand. Additionally, you can use colored grout to better fit the graphic you ve chosen. Grouting is relatively simple: it involves spreading even layers into the tile grooves, smoothing out the fill with a grout tool, then wiping the excess off the tile surface with a damp sponge. In this particular case, with the desire for a weathered, antique look to the finished mural, a grout line was omitted. Instead, you can take the sawdust you made cutting the plywood to size and spread it evenly into the grooves. The sawdust will adhere to the wet mastic and diffuse its white color. Once you ve given the mural at least 24 hours to cure and dry, you can either sweep the excess sawdust away using a small whisk broom or use a can of compressed air to blow the sawdust out of the grooves. Finally, you have the option to add hanging hardware to the back, staining the wood, or simply placing the completed tile mural into a heavy duty plate and tile stand. This project details an easy, economical way to add a more finished look to a dynamic fullcolor tile mural. Many of these steps can be adjusted to fit tile mural sizes much larger.

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