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4 Tips to Prevent Cleanup Challenges

mosaic of closeup view of fox with eyes nose and mouth

All of us, at one time or another, experience the frustrations of cleaning your mosaic piece before you grout and then again after you grout. Sometimes it can be very challenging to get all the "stuff" off your tiles and make your mosaic art look really clean and finished. As Benjamin Franklin said, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

Here are a few tips for preventing some of these problems.

mosaic of closeup view of fox with eyes nose and mouth

Tip #1 – If you happen to be a little heavy-handed with glue, try squeezing a small amount of glue onto a dry, flat, clean surface that can either be thrown away or easily cleaned off. Then using tweezers or your fingers, dip the back of each tile into the glue. This helps eliminate excess glue that comes out quickly when you tip your bottle of glue up to apply adhesive either to your tile or your substrate. When you're done, it's easy clean up – just toss away or wait until glue is dry and it will peel off the surface easily so you can add a fresh mound of glue and go again.

mosaic of closeup view of fox with eyes nose and mouth

Tip #2 – If you find you are having to remove tiles after they are glued down and hardened onto your substrate, then you are probably not stepping back from your piece to analyze what you've done, often enough. Stop and periodically look at your piece from a distance to check how things are flowing. You can then make adjustments to your mosaic before the adhesive has set up too much. This eliminates hard-to-remove tiles and broken surrounding tiles.

mosaic of closeup view of fox with eyes nose and mouth

Tip #3 – If you are having too much grout left in those little crooks and crannies on the surface of your tiles, try using tiles that have less texture. Shiny, sleek surfaces don't trap unsightly grout and glue, and will give you a cleaner result. Keep this in mind when selecting your materials for each new project.

mosaic of closeup view of fox with eyes nose and mouth

Tip #4 – Using thinset for your adhesive works best if you can "butter" the backs of your tiles before laying them in place. Trying to apply thinset to a large section of your mosaic all at once can sometimes cause your thinset to be too thick and then it will come up too high on the sides of your tiles, filling in where your grout needs to go. Then you are stuck with all that clean up work to do before you grout – or worse, after you've grouted. Try the "buttering" technique and I bet you'll like it better.

mosaic of closeup view of fox with eyes nose and mouth

You can't always avoid these types of problems, so when I run into these clean-up challenges, I use Skeewpicks. They are 4 tools that consistently work for each of the above situations. The hook pick and the spatula tools are both great for cleaning the surface of tiles. The straight pick gets in between tiles so you can push down excessive glue that you didn't notice before. The shovel tool gets underneath tiles easily so you can pry them up without disturbing the other tiles around it. And the spatula tool is great for buttering the backs of tiles. Plus, these tools all have a smooth, comfort grip that won't irritate your fingers! Check them out at

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