Mosaic: the pretty & the practical

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When it comes to decorating our homes we tend to lean towards the pretty rather than practical. And so what? Life is hard enough. What with taxes and public speaking to concern ourselves with.

Amidst the conflict between the pretty and the practical we seldom find a happy medium. That is until we begin discussing the anomaly that is the coloured tile. 

Mosaics have a long and, excuse the pun, rather colourful history. A history that lends itself to the balance between the pretty and the practical. A history that some of you might find rather fascinating.

Or perhaps, for the less historic minded of you, the history of mosaic can be seen as something useful. Useful, in its ability to convince your significant other of its rich historical and cultural value. And of course how, in its acquisition, it will add that much needed dimension of socio-historic culture to your all-be-it-lacking guest bathroom.

Historically, Mosaic has its roots in the practical. It was first used thousands (yes`, thousands) of years ago. Not as sophisticated as it would later become as an art form, mosaics were first made by positioning pebbles and stones into patterns that conveyed messages or directions (how practical). 

As an art form, records show that Mosaic has been around since the fourth millennium B.C. The first mosaics were found in Mesopotamia. They were made from an array of materials. Including shells, semi-precious stones and ivory. The Greeks played a significant part in discovery of mosaic. While the Romans played a role in its development.

St. Mark’s Basilica. The cathedral of Venice. Renowned for its Byzantine architecture and mosaics. Consecrated in 1094.

St. Mark’s Basilica. The cathedral of Venice. Renowned for its Byzantine architecture and mosaics. Consecrated in 1094.

“Christian art furthered the decorative technique in churches and other religious buildings, but under the Byzantines, mosaic art became a privileged language to express divine, supernatural and mystic themes. The use of manufactured materials, including gold, and the techniques of setting the tesserae at different angles and depths, created magical lighting effects.” (Goetz, 2007)

Mosaic is considered to be both a modern and an ancient art form. Its position on the continuum of modern art allows mosaic to remain “trendy”. And it remains a firm favourite in the ever-shifting world of interior design.

Emma Biggs, is a london-based mosaic artist. She founded the Mosaic Workshop, the largest mosaic studio in Britain, and produces private and public works around the world. Some of her most famous installations include Made in England, Five Sisters, London’s Wharf Walk pavement mosaics, and Mosaic Rill .

Mosaic tiles may be seen as contemporary derivative of Mosaic as an art form. Adding texture and interest to a room mosaic tiles are a pretty that always pleases. Practically, they can be used as a non- slip surface in showers.  

So what is so wrong with spending your well-earned pounds on a wall of colourful, and aesthetically pleasing tiles? Nothing. Nothing is wrong with that. If anything it will make your teeth-brushing ritual a more cultural experience.

Check out the great variety of mosaic tiles at Grand Taps. When in Rome do as the Roman’s do: http://www.grandtaps.co.uk/products/cat_763842-Mosaic-Tile-Samples.html

This post was inspired and drawn from A Journey Into the World of Mosaics: Historical and Contemporary Use By Lewis J. Goetz, FIIDA, FAIA

If you would like to read the entire article go to: http://www.iida.org/content.cfm/a-journey-into-the-world-of-mosaics-historical-and-contemporary-use

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Kitchen Sink Stainless Steel Grade 304 18/8

Stainless steel grades used for kitchen sinks explained
OK so you want to buy a kitchen sink and all the sinks have these numbers but what do the numbers mean? Could they mean the weight in kgs that you can pile the dishes up before washing them divide by the maximum number days you can leave dirty dishes…. are you also confused? Never fear, here is a very simple explanation.

There are many grades of stainless steel but since we are takling about kitchen sinks here we will deal just with 18/8 and 18/10 which are the two most common grades of stainless steel used for food preparation and dining. They are also known as Type 304 or grade 304 and are part of the 300 series. 18 refers to the amount of chromium present and the 8 or 10 represents the amount of nickel. For example, 18/8 stainless steel is comprised of 18% chromium and 8% nickel.

304 grade stainless steel is also comprised of no more than 0.8% carbon and at least 50% iron. The chromium binds oxygen to the surface of the product to protect the iron from rust. Nickel also enhances the corrosion resistance of stainless steel.  Therefore, the higher the nickel content, the more resistant the stainless steel is to corrosion.

How To Install Metal And Glass Mosaic Tiles

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This is a step by step process for installing our stainless steel and glass mosaic wall tiles.

Please note that this is a “how to” guide and should only be considered as an informational resource.

Required tools and materials. All tile stores and most big diy hardware stores will have the items available:

  • 5/32 inch or similar V-notch trowel to apply adhesive .
  • A rubber grout float.
  • Sufficient stainless steel or glass mosaic tiles to cover the area.
  • Enough tile adhesive to cover the area you are going to be tiling.
  • Adhesive for standard ceramic porcelain tiles is compatible with our products.
  • Enough un-sanded grout to cover the area you are going to be tiling. Use non-sanded or un-sanded or sandless grout because sanded grout may scratch the finish during installation.
  • A clean sponge or cheesecloth.
  • Two buckets, one for water and one for mixing the adhesive and grout.
  • A tile cutter if there are any cuts to be made around certain obstacles that can’t be properly fitted by simply removing individual tiles from the mosaic mesh sheets.
  • A pair of scisors or craft knife to cut the mesh backing if necessary
  • A flat wood block or plank about 7cm wide and 20cm long and a hammer for making the tiles all level. This prevents any tiles or parts of tiles standing proud of the rest

Step 1: Mix your adhesive as shown on the product package. Apply the adhesive firmly onto the wall with the flat side of the V-notch trowel. Make uniform depth grooves in the adhesive with the V-notched side of the trowel.

Top tip: If you have a large area to do then only do a few square feet at a time so you dont end up with hard adhesive with tiling still to do

Step 2: Lightly apply the mosaic tile sheets onto the adhesive using even pressure. Lay subsequent sheets lining up the tile pieces from one sheet to the next.

Top tip: Tap a wood block lightly with the hammer on top of the sheets of tiles to ensure each tile piece is at the same level as the one next to it.

Step 3: Once the adhesive has set sufficiently you need to remove and protective covering on the surface of the tiles. If your tiles are covered in a protective paper wet them a few times and gently peel the paper off. If your tiles are covered in protective plastic, simply peel it off.

Step 4: Gently wipe the excess adhehive off the surface of the tiles with a wet cloth or sponge once the adhesive has set. Check the instructions on the adhesive bag for the time it takes to set.

Step 5: Mix your grout and apply with the rubber grout float forcing grout into the joints until they are full. Always use fine non sanded grout for glass, metal and mirror tiles.

Step 6: Wait 2 hours and then gently wipe off the excess grout from the tile surfaces using the damp cloth or sponge. Don’t use too much pressure as that may wash out the grout from the joints.

Please note: We will not be responsible for any mis-installation, misuse, errors or damaged caused by the direct or indirect use of the content in this article.

Make Your Own Mosaic Tile Splashback

Seriously if I can do it then anyone can. It is my first mosaic tiling job and… well see for yourself.

Cloakroom basin splashback before and after photos:

splashback MT0006 before  

I made a photo diary of the job so you can see just how simple it is:

Tools and materials I used are:
Tape measure
craft knife
glass mosaic tiles
hacksaw
file
aluminium edging strip
sharp screwdriver
coarse sanding paper
paint scraper
fork
tile adhesive
plank
sponge
tile grout
beer

Measure the outer perimeter and cut the edging strips to size, Mine are 3 sides with the basin at the bottom edge. The top corners are done by cutting 45 degree angles which I marked out using a square card board folded in half to make a triangle. Use a file to finish off the cut edges. I used 8mm edging because the tiles are 8mm thick

Cut the mosaic tile sheets to the correct size. I used glass mosaic tiles. The specs are:
MT0006 Hong Kong autumn mix glass mosaic tiles
8mm thick. 4mm to 8mm are good for wall mosaic tiles
The chip (tile piece) size is 48mm x 15mm. You need to be sure of this size to avoid having to cut a lot of tile pieces
There are 108 tile pieces glued onto a sheet. It is easily cut between the tile pieces using scissors or a craft knife
A sheet is 30cm x 30cm.
I used 2 sheets and made a rectangle 40mm wide x 45mm high to go behind a 40mm wide basin

Roughen up the wall surface to give the adhesive a better grip. I used a sharp screwdriver and coarse sanding paper. Try not to go out of the area to be tiled, then you wont need to touch-up with paint afterwards

Apply tile adhesive with a ploughed field effect. I used a paint scraping tool to apply the paste and a kitchen fork to make grooves. You could use the proper tool which is cheap from your local hardware store. The grooves aid in laying the tiles evenly

Wear your favorite super hero shirt to get you in the right frame of mind

Place the tile sheets into position with the edging strip tucked in behind. Press gently just so the tiles don’t fall off. Don’t push hard yet, we will get to that part soon.

Use tile spacers between the separate sheets to keep a uniform grid pattern. I used 2mm ones

Ok now you can press the tiles onto the wall. Use a short plank to get them all even. This is what I’ve been keeping that piece of wood for in the shed all these years

Apply fine texture grout with a firm sponge. For anyone that doesn’t know, grout is the filler between the tile spaces. You can get various colours of grout,  I chose white. In fact I used a premixed white 2 in 1 cement grout product. It is practical if you have a small area to tile

Job Done!

my wife is very happy with it too…. big points for me!!!

Total cost: £21.40

Time taken: 3 hours. This is not including adhesive and grout drying time

Quick Fix Tap Replacement Heads With Valves

Replace Your Tap Valves And Heads

Are those old taps bugging you? Are they stiff and weeping from the joints? Are they ugly?
I have a quick fix… New tap heads. Not as good as replacing the complete tap and not as cheap as replacing only the washers but rather a best of both solution.
You can buy just the tap heads in different styles that will screw straight into your existing tap body. These replacements include the handle, collar and valve complete with new washers. You can get for the bath, basin and shower.
I found mine at the local plumbing store and you can get a big choice online.
The image here does not do the final result justice because it doesnt show the weeping joint or the stiffness of the handle or the scars of many years of use on the old tap handle, believe me there is a big difference.

Simple Summer Scents: DIY Bamboo Diffuser.

Make A Beautiful (Smell & Sight) Bamboo Scent Diffuser Yourself

By Dale Anne Scogings

Everybody likes a nice fragrance, no?

No? Well, in an ideal world everyone would be fans of fragrances. And the world would permanently smell vanilla-rosey-sea-breezey-citrusey. Not all at once though; that combination could produce a smell worse than an over-sized field filled with farm animals – assuming that the field was an animate object. Anyhow; enough about foul-smelling-ambiguously-animate objects, and more about room-freshening-inanimate objects.

Bamboo scent diffusers are a great way to freshen any room in your home. They work especially well in bathrooms and kitchens where, well, where things get a little smelly on occasion. Don’t pretend you don’t know which occasions I’m referring to. Odorous entities aren’t discriminatory beings, they pop up of their own accord and more often than not they pop up promptly before the arrival of guests. So how do you unpop these pop ups? You whip up a bamboo diffuser, that’s what you do.

All you need is a glass jar of sorts, some baby oil, a few droplets of an essential oil (rose, mint, lemon grass, vanilla), some bamboo sticks (chopsticks or BBQ skewers) and some pretties (ribbon, coloured string, stickers, paint, etc.).

Ensure that your jar is clean and dry before pouring in a mixture of baby oil and essential oil. The baby oil should be treated as a base so pour in a fair amount of it. Next, add a teaspoon or two of the essential oil. Then pop in about ten of the skewers into the mixture and let them soak for about half an hour. After half an hour turn them the opposite way around to allow for the dipped ends to protrude from the glass jar. Et voila, you have a bamboo diffuser – a bland bamboo diffuser, but a diffuser none the less. Now comes the fun part, time to decorate. Use your discretion with ribbons, paints etc.

Place it on your kitchen counter, bathroom window sill or your bedside table and let the aroma fill your space. Spread some scents this summer by making a few for your friends, family and colleagues too.

How To Install A Bathroom Basin Mixer Tap

Chrome Basin Mixer Tap ICE

Turn the Water Off First!

The mixers are relatively simple to install although we do recommend you get a qualified person to do the installation.

Basin Tap Installation Diagram

2 flexi pipes connect your hot and cold water into the bottom of the unit. Prefferably hand tighten the pipes, do not use tools that will damage the connection.

The unit is attached to a one-hole basin using a threaded rod and nut.

A Rubber O-ring is placed on the top of the basin and then rubber and metal gaskets are placed under the basin.

The type of connection required from the flexi hoses to the water supply depends on the size and type of pipework or couplings that are already in place in your bathroom.
You may need to connect using a brass male coupling (pictured here)

brass coupling
if there are no existing connectors on the pipes or you may need to fit a reducer if the existing connectors are larger than required.
If you are lucky the existing connectors will be a perfect match.
Use PTFE tape on all connections to ensure a good watertight seal.

PTFE Plumbers Thread Tape

Plumbers PTFE Thread Tape

All these items can be bought from your local plumbers merchant.

Here is a diagram showing the layout for installing a basic basin mixer tap with pop up waste:

basin pop up connection diagram

How To Install A Kitchen Sink Mixer Tap

Aero Kitchen Tap
Turn the Water Off First!
The mixers are relatively simple to install although we do recommend you get a qualified person to do the installation.
2 Flexi pipes connect your hot and cold water into the bottom of the unit. Prefferably hand tighten the pipes, do not use tools that will damage the connection.
The unit is attached to a one-hole sink or counter using a threaded rod and nut.
A Rubber O-ring is placed on the top of and a rubber then a brass gasket is placed under the counter.
The type of connection required from the flexi hoses to the water supply depends on the size and type of pipework or couplings that are already in place in your kitchen.
You may need to connect using a brass male coupling (pictured here)

Brass Coupling To Connect Monobloc Tap Flexi Pipes
You will need couplings if there are no existing connectors on the pipes. You may also need to fit a reducer if the existing connectors are larger than required.  If you are lucky the existing connectors will be a perfect match.

Ensure Watertight Connections With PTFE Plumbers Thread Tape

Plumbers PTFE Thread Tape

Use PTFE tape on all connections to ensure a good watertight seal.
All these items can be bought from your local plumbers merchant.
Here is a diagram showing the layout for installing a basic kitchen mixer tap.

Kitchen Sink Tap Installation Diagram

Swivel Spout Servicing On Kitchen And Bathroom Taps

Swivel Spout Sink Tap

Most kitchen taps and some bathroom taps feature convenient swivel spouts.
These taps usually have rubber orings and a nylon bush in the spout for water seal and swivel action. To maintain good spout swivel action try the following:

  • Turn off the water supply to the tap
  • remove the spout (normally held in place by a grub screw at the back)
  • clean the exposed part of the spout and the open hole where it came out of
  • apply some vaseline to the o-rings and nylon bush
  • replace the spout