Ready to get crafty? Attract birds in style with this simple do-it-yourself birdbath. It might look difficult and expensive, but it's really quite easy and cheap to make.
By Dottie Baltz, Pennellville, New York
Tools and Materials
- 12-inch terra cotta saucer
- Terra cotta sealer
- Approximately 300 3/8-inch glass tiles of your choice
- Water-resistant tile adhesive
- Sanded grout in your choice of color
- Outdoor penetrating grout sealer
- Foam paintbrush
- Paper towels
- Tile cutters
- Plastic knife
- Rubber gloves
- Several soft cloths
- Safety glasses
- Dust mask
- Rinse terra cotta saucer to remove dust and debris. Allow to dry overnight before sealing.
Seal all saucer surfaces with a terra cotta sealer. Allow to dry at least two hours before gluing on mosaic pieces.
- Using the plastic knife, apply a thin layer of adhesive to the back of each tile. Press the tile, adhesive side down, to the saucer. (I find it easiest to start gluing from the outside of the pattern and then work my way in.)
- Allow no more than 1/4 inch between the pieces and try to keep the distance the same between all the pieces. This will add strength to your birdbath and will be more pleasing to the eye.
- If you'd like to create a specific pattern or design, it's good to have a pair of tile cutters handy. For example, I cut some of my white tiles diagonally.
- Once all the tiles are in place, allow the adhesive to dry for at least 24 hours before grouting.
- Cover your work surface and put on a dust mask before you begin mixing the grout, as the dust from dry grout can harm your lungs. Mix the sanded grout according to package directions. You can remove the dust mask once the grout has been mixed and is no longer powdery. Your grout should be the consistency of peanut butter when completely mixed. If it's too wet, the grout will be weaker and harder to clean up.
- Allow grout to sit five to 10 minutes before applying it to the saucer. If you buy premixed grout, make sure it is sanded grout for outdoor use.
- Wearing rubber gloves, apply grout by hand or with a plastic putty knife. Press grout between all the pieces and smooth with your fingers. When applying grout to the rim of the saucer, make sure the edge of each tile is completely covered and is smooth to the touch. Allow the grout to sit for 20 to 60 minutes or until it begins to dry. Then wipe off any excess grout with a dry cloth.
- Allow the grout to sit for an additional 30 to 60 minutes. Then fill a bucket with warm water, wet your sponge, wring it out well and use it to wipe off any film.
- You may have to wipe your piece several times over the course of an hour or two. Rinse and wring the sponge often for best results. If a film keeps forming on the piece, either your sponge is too wet or dirty or you need to let the grout dry a little longer before wiping it down.
- After several hours, buff the tiles with a clean soft cloth to remove the last of the film.
- Allow the grout to dry at least 24 hours before sealing with an outdoor penetrating sealer. Follow manufacturer's instructions. Usually you will need to apply the sealer with a foam paintbrush. Allow the sealer to dry for five to 10 minutes, then wipe off the excess with a paper towel.
- Allow it to dry for two hours, then apply another coat of sealer.
- Leave the outside unpainted or apply an outdoor acrylic paint.
Clean your birdbath by scrubbing it with a brush or sponge and water. For stubborn algae stains, use a capful of bleach and then rinse thoroughly.
Bring birdbath inside for the winter or the terra cotta will chip and crack in freezing temperatures. Apply grout sealer once every year or two to extend the life and beauty of the birdbath.
For more of Dottie's projects, visit her Web site.