For a DIY craft project, tile can be a show-stopper. There are so many material options for decorating with tile—ceramic, porcelain, glass, slate, marble, metal, granite—and tile is available in a variety of sizes for floor, wall and countertop installations.
Floor and wall tiles have uses beyond their obvious purpose. I love using tile to transform everyday items like otherwise boring serving trays into fabulous works of art. They make wonderful wedding and housewarming gifts.
The hardest part of this project was choosing the tile. I was like a kid in a candy shop—I wanted one of each!
I started with a basic black wood tray with handles and ball feet. The inside measurements were 10 ½” x 13 ½”. Most mosaic tiles are mesh-mounted and come in 12″ x 12″ sheets.
I chose a sheet of glass mosaic squares in shades of brown, green, silver and copper, and a coordinating interlocking glass and stone tile.
I didn’t like the way the black tray looked—on its own or with the tile—so I spray painted it in a gloss brown.
Then I cut apart the tile rows and arranged them on the tray until I got a pattern that worked. It’s like putting a jigsaw puzzle together. I ended up with a double border using the interlocking tile all the way around the small squares. Since the tray won’t get heavy use, I didn’t need mortar or tile adhesive. I just glued the tiles to the tray with white craft glue.
Take a photo of your arrangement before you remove the pieces to glue down. That way you can refer to the picture in case the pieces get mixed up!
The final step in a flooring or wall tile project is the grout. Instead of using standard grout, I purchased a tube of sanded ceramic tile caulk. It was less expensive, easy to control and there’s no sealing necessary. I snipped off the end, placed it in a standard caulk gun and filled in the spaces between each tile.
Then, using a wet rag, I gently wiped off the excess, continuing until the tile surface was clean. For your own project, you’ll have to rinse the rag several times. Allow your tray to completely dry before using.
A note about grout—choosing the grout color is just as important as choosing your tile, especially when working on a big area like a floor or backsplash. The color of the grout will change the look of the tile installation.
I originally thought I would use a tan shade of caulk to match the lighter tiles on my tray, but I changed my mind after the tiles were glued down. The brown paint showed through and I liked the dark color better. The tiles are the star of the show, not the grout. Here are some tips for choosing grout color:
Don’t leave it to chance. Layout the tile on the grout color chips or even on paper to get a sense of what it will look like. It’s your project, so follow your instinct and create something that’s beautiful to you.