My DIY Outdoor Mosaic Shower

Well, I can only blame myself. In a recent post, I featured the over-the-top work of an L.A. mosaic master artist, and promised to share my own mosaic outdoor shower. I feel kind of embarrassed even mentioning us together. However, it’s too late now, so ta-da, here is my masterpiece. I will share how I did it, in case you like it and want to try your own.

The “shower” is about the size of a door. My husband built the frame using 2x4s, then screwed on a 1/2-inch thick sheet of plywood and a 3/8 inch of concrete Wonder board. He cut out two openings, one for the shower head, the other for the handle. I built it in the garage laying flat on a table, otherwise pieces slip down from gravity and it’s a big pain. (Above is the top half.)

(This is the bottom half.) First, I drew out a rough design–mainly the lines of the “sun” shape–with chalk, but pretty much winged it as I went along. Then I spread a thin layer of mortar in patches of about 2 x 2 feet and pushed in my mosaic pieces, then made another patch, and so on. When I was done, four large men carried it to the back. Yes, it weighed a ton, or more! Just so you know, I do not claim to be a “mosaic artist,” and this was my first effort of any scale.

Here are some details. As you can see, I used broken tiles, broken stained glass, mirror shards, marbles, shells, rocks, sea glass, and ceramic and other little figurines that I collected, mostly at thrift shops. 
I’m big on swirls, mainly because they give some larger form to the design.
This is part of the sun’s rays. You can also see one of the screws holding the door together.
By the bottom, I kind of lost it (getting kind of tired of the whole process…), and the pattern fell apart. I signed it with blue glass shards in the bottom right, “Janine.”
 The little faces are my favorite part of the whole thing: My daughter made these of our family out of ceramic. Below: That’s me, our dog, my son, my daughter,
and my husband. I don’t know what we will do if we ever move!!

As you can probably tell, especially the closer I get with these next shots, I am not a perfectionist. In fact, I’m pretty sloppy. One big difference between professional  mosaic artists and myself is that I don’t even grout my pieces. When you use 3-D pieces, like shells, marbles, figurines, and wavy shards, etc., it’s pretty tricky to grout. So I just push them in so the mortar kind of oozes in between the pieces to create a grout-like look. It’s totally up to you how “loose” or perfect you want to go with your own work.

I used larger groupings of colors to also give this larger piece some form,
 so it wasn’t just one big splattering of color pieces. In this area, I concentrated on off-white pieces.

Just some more details.
I can’t emphasize enough how fun it is to include larger pieces,
 especially ones with a little history or personal meaning or just cool funky lines and colors.

The most expensive part of this project we having this plumbed, and moving hot water to this area. A bathroom was on the other side of the wall, however, so I think it cost about $500 or so. Not too bad. I think we could upgrade our shower fixture to make it look slicker, but it’s totally functional and meets our needs. We use it mainly after taking a hot tub, surfing or swimming, or bathing our dog. 

I think this is about three years old now, and is holding up OK. I sealed it, which is important, and some pieces have fallen off, but otherwise so far, so good. (I would love suggestions as to how to give this a more finished look, and tie it in better with the wall!) So that’s it. If you have never tried mosaic, I would suggest getting professional instructions online, and starting with a smaller piece until you get the hang of it. But if you like it, don’t hesitate trying something more ambitious! Good luck!

This book has wonderful ideas for outdoor showers!
(Click the image to buy it.)

The Outdoor Shower: Creative design ideas for backyard living, from the functional to the fantastic

12 thoughts on “My DIY Outdoor Mosaic Shower

  1. Mosaic is art. It's up to each individual to express in their own way, and you've done that beautifully! Well done!

  2. Mosaic is art. It's up to each individual to express in their own way, and you've done that beautifully! Well done!

  3. Well done! Your tile shower works well for its context against the plane of stucco, just as well as the other did in its different context.

  4. Well done! Your tile shower works well for its context against the plane of stucco, just as well as the other did in its different context.

  5. Beautiful Janine! I've worked in mosaic for quite a few years and can appreciate what a huge undertaking a project of this size was for you. The personal touches are so sweet and the family tiles made by your daughter are priceless…If you ever move, the shower has to go with you!

  6. Hi!, Jolino Beserra here. I wanted to congratulate you on completing such a terrific mosaic. Bravo!! You underestimate your abilities. Your daughter's ceramic heads are wonderful. That's the part that I love best. It transforms your piece like nothing else can. Also, pushing the tile bits and shells directly into the mortar is a very legitimate technique. I teach a class in "Putty Pot" portraits. Personal objects of every sort are pushed directly into window putty slathered on bottles, tea pots, jugs one section at a time. The putty can be tinted to look antique or metallic and grouting is completely eliminated. It can take days and days for me to grout a piece. It's like an excavation! Thanks again for writing about my mosaics. Artfully Yours.

  7. I just discovered your project while searching for 'help' before jumping into doing mosaic on our bathroom counter, and yours is inspirational! I love swirls too, and have saved my daughter's small works of art as you did. Now I feel like I can do this! Your shower is art, and I love it! Thank you for the detailed step by step and for taking the overwhelming-ness out of it! Here I go…..!

  8. Janine I am now inspired to take on the project I was researching when I found yours. I love that you used the different size objects and it confirms my thoughts of doing the same. I want it to be random placement yet have a definite pattern. I have done a project for my wine room before and it was very specific in the design. It took me a long time to get each piece in the right spot. My new project will hang across our pavillion. Thanks for the inspiration.

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