- Ideas & How-Tos
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Put the spotlight on decorative wall sconces by mounting them against a raised backdrop of elegant tile.
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We sized the plywood back plate to work with 1" tiles. If you prefer larger tiles, resize the back plate as needed and adjust the moulding dimensions to fit the back.
From 3/4" plywood, cut a piece to fit your choice of tiles. Our tile backer board measured 7-3/4" wide by 9-3/4" tall. For other tile sizes, measure the width of the tiles desired, allow for grout lines between the tiles, and add about 3/16" for grout along the outside edges of the tile.
Rough-cut the top, bottom, and side mouldings about 3" longer and wider than the backer board. Cut 45-degree miters at one end of each piece. Measure and then miter-cut the mouldings to length to fit the backer board; make sure opposite pieces are identical lengths.
Glue and clamp the mouldings to the edges of the backer board with the back edges of the moulding flush with the bottom of the backer board. Let dry.
Sand the moulding smooth and fill any gaps with wood putty. Then apply a coat of primer followed by two coats of paint.
Using a plastic putty knife, apply an even layer of tile mastic to the framed backer board. Gently lay the tiles on the mastic and reposition them as needed for even grout lines. When the tiles are in position, lay a 2" x 4" scrap less than 6" long on the tile and tap the top of the wood with a hammer to seat the tiles in the mastic. Allow the mastic to dry overnight.
With the plastic putty knife, force grout between the tiles and between the tiles and the frame. Allow the grout to form a haze, then wipe the surface diagonally with a sponge or paper towels to remove the excess grout. When the haze returns, wipe each tile clean and check for smooth grout around the edges. Wipe away any excess grout on the moulding and let dry.
Place a vertical strip of painter's tape over the center row of tiles to keep your drill bits from skipping on the slick surface. Mark the center of the tiled backer and the locations of two holes each 1-5/8" above and below the center mark (3-1/4" apart).
Using a glass-and-tile drill bit, drill a 1/2" hole through the tile and plywood. Sand smooth any sharp edges in the wood or tile that could cut into your wiring.
At the marks above and below the center hole, use the 3/16" glass-and-tile bit to drill through the tile and plywood.
Before attempting the following steps, turn off power to the wires in the electrical box you'll use to install the sconce.
Feed the wires from the electrical box through the 1/2" hole in the backer board and hold the tiled sconce plate against the wall. Insert extended wall-plate screws through fender washers, the slots in the sconce-mounting bracket, and the tiled backer board to secure the sconce plate to the electrical box.
Follow the sconce manufacturer's directions to wire and mount the light fixture. Turn on the power at the breaker and light up your room.
Avoid stripping the threads in the electrical box -- don't overtighten the screws. If the tiled backer leaves gaps between the molding and the wall, remove the backer. Then add a bead of adhesive caulk around the back edge of the moulding and reattach the backer board. Wipe away the excess caulk for a gap-free fit; allow the caulk to dry before attaching the light fixture.