As promised, I’m back to show you how you can make a piece of DIY tile artwork. I showed you all the glory shots last week and now I’m ready to give you the lowdown on how you can make one of these babies for yourself. Don’t let the length of this post intimidate you. It took me longer to take the pictures and write the post than it did to do the project.
Here’s what you need:
- Beautiful tile- You can use ceramic, like I did, or you find some gorgeous glass tile. I was trying to be thrifty so I stuck with the $2.50/sq ft tile but you could use whatever tickles your fancy.
- A piece of plywood cut to the size of your finished artwork. I wanted mine to be 3′x3′, so I asked the guy at Home Depot to cut a piece of 4′x4′ plywood to size for me. I think mine is 3/4″ thick. Easy peasy.
- Tile adhesive
- Premixed grout – Unless you feel like mixing your own, then have at it!
- Trowel – That’s the metal thing with the handle. Two sides are straight and two sizes are notched.
- Grout float – That’s the foam thing with the handle. You use it to squish the grout in between the tiles.
- A sponge – To clean the grout off of the surface of the tile.
The first thing you want to do is put down your adhesive. Use the flat side of the trowel to just schmear some in the area where you want to lay your first tile. Make sure you’re covering at least a 1′x1′ area so the whole tile is on top of the adhesive. Most tiling tutorials will tell you that you can cover a 2′x3′ area at one time. But this is a relatively small projects so I just did 1′x1′ at at a time.
After you schmear it on, go over the area with the notched side of the trowel to make those little ridges.
Now you’re ready to set your first piece of tile. This is the most important piece since the others will be set based on it. Lay the first tile and line it up with corners of your piece of plywood. Make sure it’s flush with both sides for the plywood.
Once your sure it’s placed correctly, smoosh it down into the adhesive. Some of the adhesive will squish up between the tiles. That’s ok. We’ll clean up any over-squish later.
Now you just repeat the last two steps to lay the rest of your tile. Make sure that it all stays square as your putting the tiles in place. If this were a floor or wall tile project, we’d be using little spacers to make sure everything is space properly. But since this is such a small area, I didn’t think they were necessary. Eyeballing it worked fine.
Next you need to clean up any excess adhesive that squished up between the individual tiles. I just used a wet paper towel for this part.
Now you need to let the whole thing dry overnight. Follow the directions on your adhesive. Mine said let it dry for 24 hours.
Next step? Grouting! You’ll need your grout float and your grout (are you feeling like a real DIY-dal yet?). I used a paint stirrer to scoop the grout out of the little bucket. You can use a stick or an antique spoon, if you’d prefer.
Are you ready to show me your muscles? Grouting is not difficult. It just takes a little elbow grease, so eat your Wheaties before you do this part. Glop a blob of grout onto your tile artwork. Use the float to push the grout into the areas between the tiles. Don’t worry that you’re getting grout all over the face of your tile. We’ll clean it up later. Just get the grout into all the joints between the tiles.
Let your grout set up for about 20-30 minutes.
Now we’re going to clean up the grout that’s on the surface of your tile. Use a wet sponge, that you frequently rinse in clean water, and clean the surface of your tile. Let the tile dry and wash it with the wet sponge again, if needed.
TaDaaaaa! Clean tile!!!! Oops! I have a little bloop of grout on mine. No worries. I’ll just pick it off.
The final step is to finish the edges of your plywood. There are lots of options. You could just leave them completely raw, which I think would be cool. Or you could stain them…also cool. If you’re really ambitious, you could frame the whole piece with wood trim.
I decided to paint them with regular interior paint. I just used a foam brush and smooshed on 2 coats of paint.
And there you have it. Step by painstaking step. Is anyone still reading this?
This thing weighs a ton, so I wouldn’t recommend hanging it above your bed in earthquake country. Unless you wear a helmet to bed. I chose to set mine on the buffet and lean it against the wall. I put a little of that Fun-Tak gummy stuff on the bottom edge so that it doesn’t slide and scratch the buffet.
If you want to hang it on the wall, you’ll need to attach some heavy-duty hangers and use anchors in the wall. You don’t want this baby falling down.
The thing I like best about this project is that it can be customized however you want it. Choose different tiles. Change the size. Whatever! You can make it as big or as small as you want. You could even mount singe 1′x1′ squares of tile and group them together for a big wall display.
Have you made any of your own artwork lately? Tell me about it!
PS…I used the words shmear, smoosh, squish, glop, bloop and glob in this post. Could I be a little more technical?