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Design Inspo

How to Make Art With Your Tile Samples in 6 Simple Steps

Tile is the star of many an-interior-design-lover's dreams, but it's not always easy for many of us to re-tile a backsplash or a fireplace. Enter: tile art! Not sure how to DIY one of your own? Read ahead.

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Tile is having a moment right now in the world of DIY projects. There is something relatively simple and aesthetically pleasing about tile—from intricate cube side tables and benches to mosaic trays and coasters, I love it all. But what drove me to choose the material for my DIY art piece, which is an addition to the wall above my kitchen stove, is how easy it would be to clean it up from the aftermath of cooking. Decorating the area above a stove can be tricky! However, with tile, there are just so many options to choose from. It allows you to curate a piece to emote the vibe you're looking for. The material can range from marble to ceramic, and the finish can be matte, reactive, or glossy. The combinations are endless, so what really matters is to think of a narrative for the art piece— something that will tell a story when paired with your existing decor. I was going for a groovy 70's look chock full of textures. So, let's break down the whole vibe!

I've been obsessing over vintage colorful kitchens from the 70s and the geometrical artwork the era is known for. I recently went to my local flea market and scored a framed art piece circa (you guessed it) 1970. $30 later, I was the owner of a beautiful new framed piece of art. I had already created an air-dry clay piece that would go perfectly with the framed art, but I was missing something that would complement the two—so I got to work! I knew that I wanted a slight pop-art nod, so colorful tiles and range in texture were a must! After getting overwhelmed by online shopping, I walked into Heath Ceramics and headed straight for the tile section. At the counter, I started to play around with possible layouts by combining their ceramic tiles: some glazed, some natural, and others with interesting finishes. The tiles were a work of art in and of themselves! I walked out with three pieces for a total of $3.

This entire project is entirely customizable, so let's say you wanted to go with something more western; perhaps you would gravitate towards a terracotta tile with earth tones to get that feel. Maybe it's paired with an air plant to really sell that story. The world is your oyster! So now that we are caught up with the vibe we are going for, let's get into the DIY.

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These are the supplies needed for the tile DIY.

Before you get started, make sure you have:

  • Hardboard - The backing of the art piece.
  • Tile - The star of the show! Here I used 2x4" tile by Heath Ceramics.
  • Tile Paste - The adhesive that will hold it all together.
  • Grout - Fills in the gaps (this is entirely optional if you're using Zellige-style tile).
  • Utilitarian Knife - Pair the knife with a straight edge to cut the hardboard to size.
  • Sponge - To smooth the grout.
  • Command Strips: To hang the final piece!
  • Optional supplies:
  • A face mask if the grout is not premixed.
  • A ruler or a straight edge to run the knife against for a straight line.

Things to consider before you start your DIY project.

You're going to want to make one decision before buying your supplies: to use grout or not to use grout? If you decide to use it, ask yourself what color would work best for your piece. Grout color can really change the look of the final piece, so before I made any big decisions, I went straight into my favorite design tool to mock it up to get a better feel for the final product. If you are online shopping, I highly recommend m up your tile pattern before purchasing. I ended up loving the mid-toned peachy grout and how it felt like a part of the tile piece rather than the sta of the show. Now that we have a grout, we can begin setting up the project.

Step 1

Gather your existing artwork and lay it down with the tiles to see if they complement each other IRL. Once you know how your final setup will look, it's time to set that combination.

tile diy project
Step one: prep what you want the tile art to look like.

Step 2

Lay the tile on the hardboard and trace the cutting line. You will want to go over the line with a utilitarian knife quite a few times. If you have a circular saw or miter saw, you can cut using the tool, but if not, the utilitarian knife works—it just takes a little back and forth until you're able to snap to size.

tile diy project
How to use a sharp edge to trace your tile artwork.

Step 3

After the hardboard is cut to size, open the tip of the tile adhesive and place down your tile. It will require 48 hours to set, so be careful with placing the tile! It can move around since the adhesive bond takes a while to dry. You're going to want to set it on a flat surface and not touch it until it is fully set.

tile diy project
Adhere your tile to the surface .

Step 4

After 48 hours, you are ready to grout the tile! I used a powder mix since the color was my primary focus for this, but there are also premixed grouts. Sponge the excess grout off and let dry.

tile diy project
Grout your tile artwork.

Step 5

Select your hanging mechanism. I'm renting my apartment, so I opted for several command strips (a renter-friendly hack) to hold the art piece in place.

Step 6

Hang all of your artwork and admire your new decor!

diy project
Admire your artwork once it's hung!


This project, while simple, is perfect for DIYers who need to build a little more confidence before tackling a more significant project. This project made me a little more confident working with tile and the supplies required to adhere them, which is a win because I'm thinking about creating my very own tiled kitchen island for my new space come fall. (Stay tuned for that!)

You know what they say, practice makes perfect, and now I have a new art piece and a little more confidence to tackle a more extensive DIY. Win-win.

To help plan your next DIY project, join Spoak.

Date Posted
April 27, 2022



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