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DIY tiles: how to make tiles at home

Tile making is both a science and an art, but nothing you can’t tackle with our step-by-step DIY tiles guide.


Cup of coffee on blue tiles

Key steps

Making tiles for the first time? Follow these simple steps:

  1. Knead polymer clay with water until it’s completely smooth with no lumps.

  2. Use a rolling pin to roll out the clay on a hard, working surface until it’s 0.25 inches thick.

  3. Cut equal-sized pieces of your preferred shape with a knife.

  4. Decorate the tiles by pressing items into the clay or etching a design with a bent paper clip.

  5. Bake the tiles in an oven or kiln. Let them cool.

  6. Coat the tiles with glossy tile sealer. Leave to dry and wipe with a dry cloth.

Whether you’re looking to upgrade your walls or just want to hone a new craft, learning to make DIY tiles is a useful skill to have. You can save money on re-doing your home and create designs that are completely unique to your style. Follow our tips on how to make tiles from scratch today with this easy step-by-step guide!

Once you’ve finished making your tiles, be sure to get rid of all dirt and spills with Handy Andy. If you get paint on any surfaces, it’s best to clean it as soon as possible to stop it from drying.

DIY wall tiles: how to make ceramic tiles

Ceramic tiles are durable, easy to fit, easy to clean, and easy to maintain – perfect for bathroom walls and kitchen floors. If you’re looking to DIY tile a floor or want to try ceramic DIY bathroom tiles on your walls, follow these instructions:

What you’ll need:

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  • Polymer clay

  • Water

  • Metal bowl

  • Paper clips

  • Pebbles/glass beads

  • Paint tray

  • Wool-bristled brush

  • Knife

  • Measuring ruler

  • Rolling pin

  • Kiln/oven

  • Glossy, tile-sealer

  • Dry cloth

What you'll do:

  1. Wet the polymer clay with water and start kneading. Knead until it’s completely smooth with no lumps.

  2. Using the rolling pin, roll out the clay on a hard, working surface until it’s 0.25 inches thick. Cut your preferred tile shapes out with a knife – ensuring they’re equal-sized pieces. A squared shape is the easiest and most common but if you’re unsure about the uniformity of the pieces use a ruler to measure each end. If you want to create curved tiles, you can use a sharp object such as a metal bowl pressed upon the rolled-out clay.

  3. Since the clay is still soft at this stage, you can decorate your ‘do it yourself tile’ by pressing items into the clay – such as pebbles or bead – or using a paper clip bent straight to etch a design.

  4. Bake your tiles in an oven or kiln at the temperature instructed in the polymer clay packaging. Bake until the upper surface develops a distinct crust.

  5. Let the baked tiles cool, dusting off any debris formed due to the crusting.

  6. Pour the glossy tile sealer solution into a paint tray and coat the tiles. Use a wool-bristled brush and light strokes.

  7. Allow the first coating to dry and wipe the tile with a dry cloth. Apply more coats of the sealer if more gloss is needed.  

How to paint a tile

One of the funnest parts of learning how to make a tile at home is decorating it. One of the easiest ways is to paint your newly created tile - and here's how:

  1. Start by wiping off any debris or loose bits of clay from your tiles. If they look a little bumpy, you can gently sand them.

  2. Apply a thin coat of primer. This should be formulated for ceramic surfaces. 

  3. Leave it to dry thoroughly.

  4. Use water or oil based acrylic paint to create your designs. Apply a urethane finish to seal the paint.

  5. If you're painting over existing paint then you need to sand them to remove the gloss first. Once that's done, you can follow these same steps for painting a new tile.

Need some inspiration when painting tiles? Try these techniques:

  • Add alcohol to your tile before adding drops of acrylic paint to create a watercolour look.

  • Create a mural by laying all of your tiles out flat and creating a large image across them.

  • Use masking tape or stencils to create intricate patterns, painting over the entire tile before peeling back the tape.

  • Spray paint can be used for a quick, even finish when working with block colours.

Now that you know how to make tiles, it’s time to start planning your designs! Take a look at these kitchen and bathroom tile ideas for more inspiration.

Originally published