When my husband and I wanted to remodel our dining room, which blended into the kitchen/hall/living-room area, we had many arguments about what would be the best way to blend all of these different areas seamlessly. From wallpaper and paint choice to flooring, we couldn’t agree on anything.
After months of discussion, we finally figured out what we were going to do and it quickly came together, except for baseboards. I wanted to use tile, but the tile was very expensive and we were already over budget (as most remodeling jobs have a tendency to be). My husband, by this time, was very exasperated with the workers and sad to tell me so because I wouldn’t give up on wanting to use tile for the baseboards. He finally told me that if I wanted tile I was going to have to figure out how to get it without spending a lot of money. No matter where I looked I could not find any tile that I liked that was cheap enough.
I was in the craft store looking around for ideas for the light-switch plates and saw a kit with a stencil, paint, and directions to create a tile on canvas or paper to hang as a picture decoration. Suddenly, a lightbulb went on in my head. I reasoned that if you could create a real-looking tile to hang on your wall, you could create real-looking tiles for a baseboard. I thought about the Sheetrock mud we had used to plaster the walls and it suddenly came to me. Since I didn’t have a kiln and did not live near a place where I could go buy and paint tiles and fire them, I knew Sheetrock mud could be mixed to the thickness of clay and some tiles were made from clay, right? So, that’s how I created real-looking tiles for my baseboards.
YOU can make real-looking tiles without having to buying dried clay ones, painting them, glazing them, and having them fired, or buying the expensive ones at a big-box store or tile place.
This is how you do it:
Sanded Sheetrock or you can use the more expensive premixed Sheetrock mud
Colored grout (or white if you prefer)
Brush-on acrylic sealer
Snap string line and chalk
Measuring cup to measure Sheetrock and water
Stylus or long sharp nail
Clay shaping tool
Straight edge or something that will create a straight edge
Small bit of fine grit sandpaper (if desired or needed)
Tray to mix Sheetrock, save to mix grout
Note: Make a small test batch first. This allows you to determine the amount of paint to put in the mixture to obtain the color you want.
Using a level and snap string with chalk, snap a guideline to use to trowel the Sheetrock on area you want to create your tiles. If the tiles are to meet the flooring, snap a second line just barely above the height of the flooring. Mark off the width of each tile, make sure the mark is high enough that you can see it to remove the Sheetrock between the tiles. Painter’s tape works great for this, as it comes in different widths and allows for different widths between tiles.
Now for the Sheetrock mixture.
- Mix the sanded Sheetrock with water to the consistency of clay.
- Add acrylic paint to the Sheetrock and mix very well.
- Using a trowel, trowel the Sheetrock onto the wall, make it the thickness of a tile. Using an old butter knife and a straight edge artist’s tool or something that will help you keep your line straight, cut out and remove the Sheetrock following the painter’s tape between tiles.
- While the Sheetrock is still wet, using a stencil, trace the design with a stylus or other sharp object like a long nail.
- Relief carve the design using a clay shaping tool. Carve a small amount of Sheetrock away from the design outlines. Don’t worry if it looks rough, you can always use a bit of sandpaper to smooth those rough spots out or a bit of water on your finger works just as well.
- Let your tiles harden and watch to make sure that there are no cracks. Using the color of grout of your choice, grout between your tiles after they are completely dry.
- Let the grout dry completely, then using a brush on sealer, brush on the first coat this will seal the grout and tiles so they are washable and water proof. Let this coat of sealer dry completely, sand gently with fine grit sandpaper, wipe with damp cloth and add another coat of sealer.
You now have designer tile, unlike anyone else’s tile.
This works and is a cheap way to get the tiles you want without paying a high price for them. Your friends and family will give you tons of complements on your remodeling job, especially the exotic tiles you added to the decor of your room/s.
It’s a fun project and one that artsy teenagers love to work on.
Good luck with creating your own designer tiles!