My best friend loves making mosaics but hates the whole messy business of grouting her creations afterwards. Which is probably why she organizes play dates so we can grout a whole bunch of pieces together while chatting about life and sipping a cold beverage. You see, I love to grout. It’s so satisfying seeing all those beautiful tiles emerge from under that sloppy paste, and I kinda enjoy getting messy. But in honor of my friend and probably a whole bunch of other people who hate to grout, I thought I’d share a tutorial to make this “groutless” mosaic.
The kitty pattern is based on two of our own purr babies – Joey and Merlin. Joe is the one that thinks he’s a dog, and Merlin is our cuddler 😀 You’re welcome to use this free pattern and guide if you want to create something similar.
Not only is the mosaic technique suitable for people who hate to grout, but it’s a great way to get into mosaics since you don’t need any special tools either 😀 That’s a win-win in my books.
What you need
- Mosaic cat sketch and planning template
- Pencil, nail scissors and tracing paper
- Round wooden board
- An assortment of vinyl tiles
Vinyl tiles and a wooden board painted black are the secret to this groutless mosaic. Black is my favorite grout color. It always makes the tiles pop, and you can get vinyl tiles in all shapes, sizes, and colors. They’re inexpensive and pretty hard-wearing too.
How to make a vinyl tile mosaic
First things first. Print out the mosaic cat planning template or picture you’d like to use. You can find a whole bunch of tips on how to find mosaic templates or pictures here. Transfer the image to your board.
Split the vinyl tiles into groups based on their pattern (abstract, geometric, detailed or simple) and color tone (warm or cold).
Take your time figuring out what colors and patterns go where. Separating the patterns and colors helps to create variation in your finished piece. The vinyl tiles I used have a Mediterranean look to them, so I had a wide variety of both colors and patterns to play with. Once you’re happy, we can start making that groutless mosaic.
Making the groutless mosaic
Pick a color or type of pattern and cut a few of the tiles into random shapes using a pair of nail scissors. Ordinary scissors will work too, but I find you have more control with nail scissors for the detailed work. Peel the backing off of the vinyl tiles and start sticking those babies down. Try to stick with one color combination or pattern type in an area. It’s kinda like coloring by numbers. Remember to leave gaps between the tiles to mimic the look of grout.
If you get to a spot that requires an odd shape, there are two ways to go about cutting the tile.
Option 1 – use a pen and mark where to cut. Since vinyl tiles are easy to clean, you can wipe any stray pen marks off with a damp rag afterwards.
Option 2 – put a piece of tracing paper over the area that needs that odd-shaped tile. Use a stylus or blunt pencil to trace around the area and then transfer that tracing to the tile. You can see in the piccy below the indentations left by pushing down firmly over the tracing to mark the tile. Cut along the indentations. Either option will work.
To distinguish between areas, like the cat’s head and chest, leave bigger, more well-defined gaps between the tiles before moving on to a contrasting color or pattern.
Don’t worry too much if you make a mistake. The vinyl tiles are easy enough to peel off and reposition?
If you’re making the kitty, I would suggest leaving the area around the eyes for last. That’s where we’ll be adding some soul. Don’t stress if you can’t paint the eyes. I have some printables you can use for those too. Or you can have a look at this step-by-step tutorial that will show you how to paint eyes.
Adding the Eyes
Once all the vinyl tiles have been placed, it’s time to paint in those eyes. I used oil paint simply because that’s my paint medium of choice. Any kind of craft paint will work, though. Since my backing board is black, I painted two white circles first. The white undercoat helps add depth and luminosity to the finished eyes.
And then, using a combination of yellows and browns, I painted the eyes using our Merlin as a model.
Wait for the paint to dry, and your mosaic is done.
Do you also hate to grout?
Why vinyl tiles are great for people who hate to grout
- Vinyl tiles are extremely easy to cut into any shape with good old-fashioned scissors. No need to buy any nippers or cutters.
- They’re “peel and stick”, so all you need to do is remove the backing and stick them down.
- Vinyl tiles are easy to reposition, and you don’t have to worry about cleaning up old glue.
- There’s no grouting mess or cleanup.
- They’re extremely cost-effective. A pack of 10 vinyl tiles will set you back about $25, while the real thing costs more than $100. That’s a big saving.
- If you’re new to mosaics, vinyl tiles are a no-fuss introduction to this relaxing art form. And who knows, maybe you’ll become a full-blown mosaic making addict like me 😉
If you like the idea of making a mosaic that doesn’t need any grout, don’t forget to pin it for later.
Oh, and if you’re looking for some of the things we used, we’ve got you covered. Disclosure: Clicking on the links below means we may receive a commission from Amazon. But don’t worry, it won’t come out of your pocket, and it helps us come up with more amazing craft ideas to share with you.
Or if you prefer to buy rather than DIY, then perhaps these beauties will appeal.
And as always, here’s wishing you a beautiful crafty week filled with lots of love and happiness. Thank you so much for popping in for a visit.