The ultimate insider guide to DIY floor tiles

Tiles are a great way to adorn your house. They are very common and a popular choice amongst consumers. From walls, to counters to floors, tiles are a versatile product. They not only go well in the interiors of a home but can also serve well outdoors on balconies, patios and walkways. Tiles are reasonably priced and come in a wide array of designs, patterns, colors and finishes making them a good product to incorporate while developing a space. 

Tiles range from pretty cheap to mighty expensive prices depending on the material, design and finish. Finding the right tiles for your floors can sometimes prove to be a bit of a nightmare, especially when on a budget. The solution? Take the fun DIY route. 


There are two ways that you can go about to customize your floor tiles.Here’s a step by step guide and some design inspiration to help you create and customize tiles that fit your perfect vision. 
 

MAKING YOUR OWN TILES   

Making your own tiles, while an intricate process requiring plenty of time and effort can prove to be both enjoyable and extremely rewarding. First and foremost, acquiring the required set of tools and the right materials is key to getting a good finish while avoiding too much hassle.

 

Tile making process 

- The first step is picking the right building material to make sure you get a good product which is also durable. Stoneware or earthenware clay are a good pick, as they are fairly simple to work with, and look great. Both the clays are also very affordable, especially when purchased in quantities. However, they require baking and firing to harden. In case you do not have the right setting to do that, you could use self hardening clay.

- Next you would need a tile cutter. The tile cutter would help you cut the tiles into the right size with precision while ensuring that the edges are neat, essential for both the design and application. Alternatively, you can use a steel rule. Using the ruler would require a bit more effort but is the more cost effective choice.

- Another important tool is an acrylic rolling pin and sheet. The rolling pin is used to roll the clay into sheets of desired thickness. An acrylic rolling pin and sheet does not stick to the clay, saving you from the risk of messing up the design and making the process easier. 


Rolling clay into sheets 

- You would also need a ceramic or epoxy glaze to coat over the tile to give it the desired finish and lock in your design. Additionally, you would need adhesive to lay the tiles down. The most commonly used adhesive for tiles is thinset mortar.

- Additionally, you could purchase mica powder. Mica powder is a mineral based pigment which can be kneaded into the clay should you wish to customize its color. 

 

THE PROCESS 

1. The first step is to take your stoneware/earthenware clay and knead it well. Occasionally brush it with water to make the kneading easy and alter the consistency as needed. Ensure that you knead it well but do not alter the consistency too much or it would not be able to hold it’s shape properly. If you wish to add color, knead the pigment within this step.

2. The next step is to roll out the clay into a single sheet. Doing this requires a lot of attention to details and precision. Using a level ruler can help you achieve the same thickness throughout the sheet. Make sure you evenly roll the sheet to avoid any portion from dipping or being too thick. 


Rolling clay into slabs

3. Next is the designing step. This is not essential if you wish to keep it plain. Should you wish to add a design, you could carve, stamp, embellish or emboss designs, patterns and shapes at this stage. Before doing so, create an outline of how you wish to cut the tiles in the clay itself so you can design accordingly. 

Stamping design onto clay tile

4. The next step is to cut the tiles as you wish, make sure you lay something underneath the tiles before rolling them out so you can pick them up easily without damaging it.You could use a muslin or silicon sheet that will peel off the back easily. If you have used self hardening clay, you can simply lay out the cut tiles to harden. If you used stoneware or earthenware clay, you would need to bake the tiles in order for them to harden.

5. Once hardened, you can paint over the tiles if you wish at this stage. In order to paint the tiles using epoxy, tile paints or bake on ceramic paints are recommended. If not, the next thing to do is to glaze your tiles to lock the design and finish and give the tile an extra layer of protection. Simply brush the glaze onto the tiles after mixing it properly and allow it to dry. Once dry, your tiles are now ready to install!

Hand Painted ceramic tiles 


In order to install the tiles you could hire a professional, or if you wish to do it yourself you would require an adhesive, preferably thinset mortar, tile leveling clips and tile spacer clips. The adhesive is to ensure that your tiles stick well to your floor. The tile leveling clips help ensure each tile is in line with the other, while the spacer clips help in achieving consistent spacing between the tiles throughout the floor. 


Tile installation using spacer clips 


To install, work your way from the inside of the room to the door area. Have your adhesive and applicator near you along with the tiles, levelers and spacers. Slather on adhesive onto the floor and spread it to an even thickness. Carefully place the tiles while seeking help from the levelers and spacers for consistency. Ensure the right amount of adhesive is used underneath the tiles so that it sticks well without overflowing, and keep wiping off the excess adhesive carefully. 

Laying tiles with adhesive 

 

CUSTOMISING YOUR FLOOR TILES DESIGN 

The less complex way to DIY your floor tiles is to customize their design and finish as per your liking. Going this route is fairly quicker and easier. The basic element is sourcing solid colored tiles in the shade of your choice. There are a lot of different ways in which you could customize the design of your tiles to suit your space perfectly. 
Here are some ideas you could try: 

Embellish the tiles: 

You could pick a simple solid colored tile and adorn it to your liking. To embellish them you could use strong glue, preferably hot glue so that whatever you place on it sticks well. You could play around with stones, shells or even smaller tiles to create a pattern to your liking. You might need to fix it with resin or sealant depending on what you choose to design. 

Embellished tiles 

Paint them: 

You could paint the tiles in different ways using different colored strokes, patterns or paint fine designs onto them. You could also use spray paint to switch up colors or create a fun effect. Stencils can also be utilised while painting to imprint intricate designs with ease. 

 

Hand painted tiles 

Play with colors: 

To give a room a classy or a fun look mixing up different colored tiles together could help make an interesting design. A pair of complementary colors could be used to form a chess grid like pattern, while different shades of the same color could also be used to create an ombre effect. The possibilities are fairly endless and give you the chance to express your creativity. 



Checkered tiles 

Use Mosaic art: 

Another fun way of enlivening your floor design using tiles is to utilise mosaic art. You could also use any leftovers or damaged pieces in this design or opt for small tiles and arrange them in an abstract manner or even create a scenery or rigid design of your choice by simply arranging them onto a fiberglass mesh and setting them down with adhesive. 

 

Mosaic art floor 

Emboss them: 

Embossing tiles is a fun way to add a 3D effect to them. You could emboss a few tiles around the space and leave the rest in solid color for a gorgeous finish or go all out. To embellish the tiles you could use glass paint liners, 3D outliner kits or even self hardening clay. 

 

Embossed tile using glass paints and liner 

Cut them: 

Yet another fun way is to pair up complementary colors or contrasting and cut them up into shapes of your choice like hexagons, or triangles and create a beautiful interlocked design with the same or different colors as per the space, to create a stunning floor design. 



Geometric tile pattern 
 
OVERALL THOUGHTS: Tiles are a fun and versatile product for your flooring. You could play around with designs, finishes and patterns as per your liking to create the effect you want in a room. All the above design ideas could also be used on tiles around the house, not necessarily on the flooring to jazz up your interiors and give your space a unique finish. 






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