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pizzahead 11-25-2008 09:34 PM

Mosaic finish
Nearing completion of my WFO. Up to day 5 of curing. Once I have insulated etc I am thinking about doing a mosaic finish on the outside (igloo style).

Can anyone offer advice on how hard it is to do? and what the process is.


RTflorida 11-25-2008 10:03 PM

Re: Mosaic finish
Frances is BY FAR the resident expert on mosaic. Need to check out her build, she is truly an artist.


nissanneill 11-25-2008 10:09 PM

Re: Mosaic finish
Hi Jase,
mosaics? Not a problem unless you want to tile a picture or pattern like Frances in Switzerland.
Check out her Pompeii, rather spectacular at:

Permalink #182 and 184 show it in detail.
If you just want to plain ceramic tile it, no worries apart from securing the smaller tiles.
I have been trying to find suitable mosaic tiles for the completion of my oven but can only find swimming pool coloured tiles and don't want a green, blue, grey or white oven and not prepared to do as Frances. I think that I will let garden grow over mine and only access the front door, after all I want to cook in it rather than labour over it.
I ceramic tiled my concrete in ground swimming pool some 18 years ago with close to 90 sq metres of 2" mid to dark blue tiles and not a crack nor a single loose tile so far. Just start at the bottom with probably 2 or 3 rows and once it reduces in circumference, then only lay a single row at a time or start cutting heaps of tiles to fit.


Frances 11-26-2008 01:52 AM

Re: Mosaic finish

Originally Posted by RTflorida (Post 45911)
Frances is BY FAR the resident expert on mosaic. Need to check out her build, she is truly an artist.


I dunno about expert RT, yours has stood the test of time - I liked it so much that it inspired me to do mine.

Jase, I think this is quite a good book to give you some basics on outdoor mosaics: Pattern and Mosaic in the Garden (Hamlyn): Clare Matthews: Books

Its not hard to do, and you can make it as simple or as complex as you like. For the materials a good rule of thumb is: if it will work for a swimming pool, it will work for an outdoor mosaic - the grout and adhensive mortar are the same as used for bathrooms or swimming pools.

pizzahead 11-26-2008 06:56 PM

Re: Mosaic finish
Thanks for the help everybody, in particular Neill, you have given me buckets of advice over the past months and my oven seems to be drawing very well and I am getting some decent fires in it now. First pizza scheduled for this weekend. I live in Ballarat (an hour west of Melbourne) and it has been very dry the past week, perfect curing weather.

Frances your oven is stunning & RT your oven is beautifull, an inpiration to us all. I hope you both never have to leave home.

I am presuming you apply the mosaic tiles oven the final render not the vermiculite concrete insulation?


RTflorida 11-26-2008 08:32 PM

Re: Mosaic finish
Jase, after the vermiculite I applied a shell of about 1/2" to get everything smooth and shaped the way I wanted. I used Type N mortar (pretty sticky stuff). I used the same Type N as my mortar/grout for the mosaic tiles (I had plenty left, no sense is buying something different). Other than a reoccurring hairline crack around my chimney pipe...I've had no issues in the 18 months since I completed the mosaic work.
I will say this - it is slow and tedious work.
Also, buy the best tile nippers you can find if you are doing any kind of pattern or using random shape pieces....A LOT of cut to fit, at least in my case (I didn't want any wide grout lines).


nissanneill 11-27-2008 12:47 AM

Re: Mosaic finish
thanks for you kind comments, it's nice to get information that you have faith in, as it has been proven to work.
Again, a little advice on your tiling.
Mix up a plaster render, Plaster sand and portland cement 3:1 or there abouts and apply at least 1/2" thick. This will provide a waterproof layer and a great base for tiling. You could tile directly on the vermiculite (it is solid enough to take the tiles safely), but then you will rely soly on the tiles and grout for your waterproofing.
Does your oven get hot on the top of your dome when at 500˚C? If it does, then I would add at least another inch of vermiculite cement.
To get the surface nice and smooth and curvey, I would use a strip of nylon or flexible plastic, maybe 2" x 18 to 20" long. This will flex and bend nicely in your hands to get a nice shape but don't get it nice and smooth, rather keep it slightly textured (even use a stiff bristled yard brush) to improve the ceramic tile adhesive bonding surface.


pizzahead 11-27-2008 03:26 PM

Re: Mosaic finish
Thanks again Neill. Really appreciate your advice.

If I dont do mosaic on the outside what would you recommend as an external render? If I dont use mosaic I would like to paint it a terracotta type colour with maybe a lime wash in it to give it a rustic look.


nissanneill 11-27-2008 04:52 PM

Re: Mosaic finish
when you mix your paster render mix, you can incorporate some oxide colouring available at building supply stores, sand and metal merchants and even Bunnings. You might like to try a terracotta colour (if it is available), or play with an orange and a dash of black, mix it in and whallah, your finished colour.
How you finish it is up to your imagination, bag wash, steel or wood trowel, brush finish etc etc. You can even carve some shapes into wood (or make them other ways) and press them into your soft render, leaving an impression.
No need to BUT, if you wish, you can always paint it with a whole host of paints and finishes.
The options are limitless!


glennb 11-28-2008 12:06 AM

Re: Mosaic finish
Just wanted to get your confirmation that your plaster recipe as above is waterproof?
Sounds like a fairly cheap and easy method to finish off the dome if so.

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