As promised in the “My Son Catches Mosaic Fever” post, I am here to give you the proper step by step guide to creating your own mosaic house number. The process of the old “how to” evolving into this “how to” took the past 6 months and the combined efforts of Matt (my best friend and business partner), Nancy (Matt’s sister and close friend) and myself. A big thanks to both of them! we all had a lot of fun. I do have to say Nancy took to mosaic like a fish to water. She is actually become the authority between the 3 of us.
We spent loads of time and money figuring out the best way to produce a beautiful, unique weather resistant mosaic house number. It is our pleasure to share this process with all of you ambitious DIYers. For anyone that wants to leave the hard part to us we offer these custom mosaic house numbers as a service. You can find the option to buy at the bottom of this post.
Here is a list of items that you will need for this exercise:
- 1/4″ HardieBacker Cement Board (this comes in 3′ by 5′ sheets)
- Box cutter
- 1/4″ pressure treated plywood (the size that you want your house number) We make ours 7″ tall and between 6″ and 16″ wide for numbers with 1 – 6 digits in them.
- 1/2″ by 1/2″ iridescent glass tiles and 3/4″ by 3/4″ solid glass tiles both in a similar color scheme. If a number is ordered with a yellow back ground and blue numbers/border we would use large solid yellow tiles and yellow/green iridescent to give texture.
- 1/4″ by 1/2″ mini rectangle glass tiles. We use a mix of mirror glass and Van Gogh glass both is the same color.
- A thin piece of clear glass at least the size of the ply wood (like from a picture frame)
- Wheeled glass nippers
- Type 1 organic adhesive
- Thinset Mortar (with a craft stick or popsicle stick to apply it)
- Small ruler or tape measure
- number stencils roughly 5 inches tall
- Safety goggles REMEMBER TO ALWAYS WEAR SAFETY GOGGLES WHEN CUTTING GLASS!
- Protective gloves
- Oil based out door paint (a color that matches you number
- 1-1/2” x 1-7/8” Extra Thin Flush Mount
- a small level (my iPhone has an app for that!)
Now that you are all prepared we can get started:
It is best to have the ply wood pre-cut where you purchase it to the size you need. You want to cut the cement backer board with the box cutter to fit the size of the ply wood. Next use the Type 1 Organic Adhesive to adhere the back side of the HardieBacker Cement Board to the ply wood for stability. Allow 24 hours for this to dry. It helps to put something heavy like a can of paint on top of it. You can also use grips to hold them in place and let it dry.
Next, use the ruler to find the exact center of the HardieBacker Cement Board. Measured from that point to align the stencils. This allows you to make sure that the number is centered and even.
Now place the clear flat glass from the picture frame over the house number base. Start with your mini rectangle glass pieces. Use your own artistic eye to place these pieces inside of the traced line for the numbers. Cut them with the glass nippers when needed to keep them inside the lines. Place them on the glass as if it wasn’t there. Make sure to leave spaces for the grout. We alternate every other piece from mirror glass to Van Gogh glass.
After the number is all filled in use the same glass and the same artistic eye to make a border around the edge of the base. Once this is done you can get out the tile for the background.
Leave some of these glass tiles whole, cut some in half and cut the rest into various shaped smaller pieces. Fit them on to the clear glass filling in the space left between the border and the numbers. When you get close to the number you will have to use the glass nippers that make pieces that fit. Remember always leave spaces for grout.
Once this is complete, carefully lift the clear glass off of the mosaic house number base and set it close to you on your work table.
Now it is time to mix some of the thinset with water. You want to add small amounts of water until it becomes the consistency of toothpaste. Then let it sit for ten minutes before mixing it again. If you are right handed start with the number on the left. If you are left handed start with the number on the right. Trust me, mortaring small pieces of glass in tight spaces is not easy.
Fill the first number in with a thin layer of thinset. Carefully take your pre-placed pieces off of the clear glass and place them onto the corresponding area of the number. Give each glass tile a firm press onto the base. Let this dry for at least 24 hours.
Once this is complete then do the same process for the border. Finally repeat the process for the background. While doing this, it helps to have a slightly damp cloth and something very thin (like a toothpick) to clean of excess thinset as you push the tiles onto the base.
The next step is how to grout. This step calls for a “how to” of its own! You can read my mothers post on grout here or you can read this great ehow.com post on grout. To be honest, grouting intimidates me. I have yet to do it my self. This step is all Nancy. Thanks Nancy!
After you let the grout dry you can paint the back and the edges. Make sure to tape your beautiful tiles with painters tape. Apply one coat of your oil based out door paint to the back of the plywood and the edges of both the plywood and cement board. Let this dry for 24 hours and apply a second coat. After the second coat has had a chance to dry, (for another 24 hours) you are ready to attach the extra thin flush mount.
Attach one side of the extra thin flush mount to the center on the back of the number. Make sure it is level and that the “tooth” is pointing down. The other side of the mount will be attached to your home with the “tooth” pointing up.
You are now ready to hang your house number! It doesn’t sound as easy as my first post does it?
We spent loads of time and money figuring out the best way to produce a beautiful, unique, weather resistant mosaic house number. It is our pleasure to share this process with all of you ambitious DIYers. For anyone that wants to leave the hard part to us, we offer these custom mosaic house numbers as a service.
Our mosaic house numbers will give your guests a warm welcome and a timeless look. They are very durable and weather resistant. You can look at history to know the mosaic style will stand the test of time. The sparkle of the glass mosaic pieces will give your home an elegant look .