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He­len Meir­ing of Cape Town writes

On the read­ers’ let­ters page in your Au­gust 2017 is­sue, Maria Leask of Sedge­field showed how she had adorned her drab steps with mo­saics. I have a bor­ing step at my back door that I’d like to spruce up but I have no idea how to go about it. Can you help me with step-by-step in­struc­tions?

Home DIY con­trib­u­tor Shelly Bergh replies It’s eas­ier than you think; here’s what you need to do:

Ask your lo­cal tile mer­chant for any bro­ken tiles they want to get rid of and break them into smaller pieces (make sure to use tiles that won’t get slip­pery when wet, since you want to use them on a step). Fold the tiles in towel or news­pa­per and break them into smaller pieces with a ham­mer; wear safety gog­gles and gloves when you do this. Pick up the pieces care­fully.

Mix a lit­tle tile ad­he­sive with enough bond­ing liq­uid to form a paste (fol­low the pack­age in­struc­tions) – the bond­ing liq­uid makes the ad­he­sive wa­ter­proof. Tile ad­he­sive dries quickly, so mix small quan­ti­ties at a time, es­pe­cially if you’re in­ex­pe­ri­enced and likely to work slowly. Ap­ply the tile ad­he­sive to the back of a piece of tile and stick it in place. It’s like build­ing a puz­zle; you can plan your de­sign be­fore­hand to make sure ev­ery part of your step is cov­ered. Use tile cut­ters to re­size pieces if needed. If you find a piece that has a very sharp edge, use a file to smooth it be­fore stick­ing it down.

Wait 24 hours for the tile ad­he­sive to dry. Mix the grout ac­cord­ing to the in­struc­tions on the pack­age and ap­ply it in the cracks between the tiles with a sponge. Once the en­tire sur­face has been done, wait for about half an hour. Your tiles will look hazy, but af­ter 30 min­utes you can wipe them clean with a damp sponge. Al­low the grout to set prop­erly for two days be­fore seal­ing the tiles.

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