Tutorial + How-to

Published on June 3rd, 2010 | by Kelly Rand


How to Turn Leftover Tiles Into Coasters

Tile CoasterThis guest post is written by D Salmons of DIY Guides.

So, you’ve completed your tiling project, and you’re quite pleased with the results. But what can you do with the leftover tiles? While you could haul them off to the landfill… it would be nice if you could find a better use for them.

What if you could take those left over tiles and turn them into personalized coasters? By doing so, you end up with a nice personal work (that can make great gifts), and you’re recycling the tiles. Plus, since you already have the tile in your home, it would be hard to find something that better matches your surroundings.

Now, let’s look at how you can turn those leftover tiles into customized coasters in seven easy steps.

1. Find Your Printed Material

The first step in creating your custom tile coasters is to find printed material (paper) that works well with the color of the tile and the desired subject. You can use a printed picture, a newspaper clipping, a printed map of a favorite vacation spot, a small menu sample, a picture of your children or grandchildren, or anything else you can dream up. The important thing is that it’s a copy you can spare (it will be part of the coaster), it is printed on paper, and it fits your intended look. Trial and error by placing it on the tile will give you a good idea of the finished product. You can use the same image for all, or you can mix it up as you see fit.

2. Prep Your Tile

With the printed material selected, you now need to prepare your tile. In this case you will need to wash the tile with a damp cloth to remove any dust or packing material. If they are used tiles (and this is a great way to recycle tiles from almost any source), make sure that they are clean before proceeding. Consider the source, and in the case of tiles from bathrooms or kitchens it may be necessary to remove soap scum or grease from the tile surface.

3. Add a Base Decoupage Layer

Using a quality decoupage medium such as Mod Podge, paint a thin layer onto the tile and let it dry. This will provide for a good attachment point for your printed material, assure a good connection to the tile, and stop the paper from sliding later.

4. Place the Printed Material

Now that you have a clean prepped (and dry) tile, you can place your printed material. If we’re lucky, you have test fit the material and trimmed it for the exact fit and placement in step one. But if you have not, now is the time to do it. Try not to handle the tile excessively due to skin oils, but some test fitting is okay here.

Once the printed material is trimmed, test fitted, and ready to place, apply a thin layer of decoupage material to its back and press firmly to the tile. You should find that it readily stays in place.

5. Apply the Decoupage

With the printed material happily set in place, it is now time to coat the tile coaster. Using a soft brush and even strokes, cover the entire tile with a thin layer of decoupage medium. Let this dry, and repeat. I would suggest to apply at least four layers, but six or more are better. Be sure to let each coat dry before applying the next.

6. Add a Protective Layer

Now for the secret ingredient to durability. While your coaster no doubt looks great at this point, applying a thin coat of acrylic polyurethane will keep it looking good and prevent any yellowing or peeling. This also makes the coaster more durable, a quality appreciated in just such a product. Let the first acrylic coat dry completely, and then add another for good measure.

7. Add the Felt Backing

Since the hard back of the tile may not be friendly to your polished table top, the next step should not be missed. Attach a peel and stick felt circle to each corner of the tile. Or cut out a similarly sized square piece of recycled felt, or scrap felt, and hot glue it to the back of the tile. This will allow the coaster to sit on your table smoothly without the fear of scratches.

So there you have it, a simple way to turn leftover (or otherwise repurposed) tiles into charming customized coasters. The subject material for your coaster is limited only by your imagination, and your guests will like both your craft savvy and your ability to recycle.

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About the Author

Kelly covers visual arts in and around Washington, DC for DCist and is editor of Crafting a Green World. Kelly has also been published by Bust Magazine and you can find her byline at Indie Fixx and Etsy’s Storque and has taught in Etsy’s virtual lab on the topic of green crafting. Kelly helps organize Crafty Bastards: Arts and Crafts Fair, one of the largest indie craft fairs on the east coast and has served on the Craft Bastard’s jury since 2007. Kelly is also co-founder of Hello Craft a nonprofit trade association dedicated to the advancement of independent crafters and the handmade movement. Kelly resides in Washington, D.C. and believes that handmade will save the world.

6 Responses to How to Turn Leftover Tiles Into Coasters

  1. Pingback: How to Turn Leftover Tiles Into Coasters

  2. Pingback: This week’s reducing, reusing & recycling link round-up | How can I recycle this?

  3. Jamie says:

    Love it! Easy enough for young Girl Scout troops to do!

  4. Pingback: Reader Question Answered: Upcycling a Daily Calendar

  5. Kari Sanchez says:

    what a great idea! love re-purposing and love using modge podge! 🙂

  6. Pingback: 5 crafts for flooring and tile scraps | The Craft Blog

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