DIY Picture Tiles – You Will Never Buy a Photo Frame Again
Lately I’ve been having this huge urge to decorate the house. This is big news. I do not decorate.
Arguably, one of the reasons why is because I. absolutely. hate. to. buy. mass. produced. decor. (Also, I can’t ever remember if pink and purple go together or not.)
Anyway, this extends to photo frames. You might think, with my trigger finger on the camera all the time, my house would be littered with photos.
Nope. Just my hard drive.
Long story short, I discovered this method of transferring my photos cheaply, quickly, and beautifully to something uncommon and unique.
Tiles. Tiles from the hardware store. Tiles that cost $0.13 each (for the 3.8 x 3.8 ones).
The only thing that’s not particularly crunchy about this is that it uses Modge Podge or similar (and I’m not sure what’s in Modge Podge). I wanted with all my heart and soul and feta cheese to be able to report to you that homemade Modge Podge works as well as the original. It does not. (Although I think it’s an EXCELLENT glue for your kids.)
It’s just grainy and doesn’t dry clearly.
BUT, if you can overlook that one minor issue, I think you’ll love this. Nay. You will obsess over this. You will turn your house into a tiled shrine of pictures.
And it will be glorious. Oh yes. It will be glorious.
Here’s how you do it.
How to Make Picture Tiles to Impress Your Friends and Strangers
First, you need to go to Home Depot, Lowes, or something like it. Go to the tile section. Buy single tiles – or a whole box, if you want that many.
(FYI, I found that Lowes prices on tiles were cheaper than Home Depot. Not sure if it was a fluke, but the cheapest tile I could find at Home Depot was $0.30-ish, and the cheapest at Lowes was $0.10.)
I like the stone tiles, because they have texture. Texture is good.
So you pick out your tiles in the sizes you want. (You can even get small ones to make magnets with … as you’ll see!)
And then you get home and gather what you need.
- Modge Podge
- Printed photos resized to the size of your tile
- Sanding block or sandpaper (optional)
Now, you’ll want to choose photos that work well if you crop them into a square. So on your computer, pull up your photo editor (whatever you have is just fine – Picasa, Photoshop, whatev). Crop it into a square, and then resize it to the size of your tile.
That’s right, you need to measure your tile.
So in your photo editor, when you go to resize it, you choose the “size” by inches. For mine, you can see it’s just under 4 inches. I resized my photos for these tiles to exactly 4 inches (square). I always go a little over on purpose, because I’m like a monkey when it comes to cutting straight.
If make the image just a little too large, I can sand it down so it’s even with the square.
Also, feel free to use just regular old printer paper. The not-laser-sharp, somewhat rustic look of regular printer paper for this makes these things SO charming. So print them on printer paper (or photo paper, if you want to get all fancy).
Now you have printed pictures the size of your tiles.
Cut them out.
Don’t worry about cutting straight or messing up. All will come out in the wash.
Now flip it on over and give it a healthy coating of Modge Podge all over the backside.
Coat it evenly throughout the back of the paper – but don’t take too long or the Modge Podge will start to dry.
Once your backside is coated (hahaha), flip it over and place it onto your tile.
Gently rub the paper over the tile until it’s positioned just right.
Then take a straight, heavy object (like another tile or a book) and press down and pull the heavy object across the tile/picture. You are getting rid of air bubbles now.
Always pull in one way, or you’ll just reposition the air bubbles all over the picture (I learned that after the 20th one).
The white stuff on the picture is just dusty stuff from the tile I'm smoothing with.
Now you want to get rid of the excess paper around the edges (unless you want to fold them down, Modge Podge them, and have your picture extend down the edges, which is fine by me).
I like to use sandpaper or a little sanding block, but you could also flip over the picture tile and use a straight-edge razor blade to just shear off the extra paper.
Just take your sandy device, if you’re using one, and run it firmly, in quick motions, across the edge of the picture.
For some reason, I really wanted you guys to see this step.
You’re almost done!
Go go go!
Now you just brush Modge Podge all over the front and across the sides to seal everything down and in.
This is the artistic part. Because your ink is probably going to run just a teeny tiny bit, it will give the appearance of a painting. So use creativity when you’re brushing on the Modge Podge.
I like to give little half-swirl strokes, which just enhances the painting-like feel of the finished product.
Now let it dry for an hour or two. If you can wait.
I could not. Within 20 minutes of finishing my first and second batches of picture tiles, they were on my walls.
And my refrigerator.
And that’s it. That is all there is to it.
I promise you – PROMISE YOU – that if I can do this and have them turn out so incredibly well, so can you. PROMISE.
How Do You Hang Picture Tiles?
I’m as good at hanging things (as you can see by my awesomely spaced picture tiles) as I am at cutting a straight line. I wasn’t really sure how to get them on, so I looked at the end of one of the aisles at Lowes and found double-sided heavy-duty sticky tape squares.
And that’s how I did it. Two sticky tape squares per small tile, and three per big tile. And, of course, the stuff on the fridge just has magnets superglued to the back.
You could also hang them like you might hang a plate, or I suppose you could superglue a picture hanger onto the back and use the trusty nail method.
The good news is, I pulled off one of the tiles from the wall so I could take pictures with it, and it didn’t pull off the paint. Nor have, in the last week, any of the tiles felt loose or fallen off the wall. So my double-sided, heavy-duty sticky tape squares do their job well.
If You Want Pictures …
So I was thinking that maybe you guys might want to be lazy and just use some of my photos. Not because I’m an awesome photographer, but because I’m willing to crop them, resize them, and then leave them here on the blog for you to grab.
If you want.
The fun thing about doing this is using your own pictures, but I totally get it if you’d like to try it with one of mine.
If you want one/some, let me know here in the comments. If enough people are interested, I’ll upload 20 or so tomorrow that are resized for 4×4, 6×6, and 2.5×2.5 tiles (which was the size of the larger of my magnetic picture tiles).
I’ll pick my favorites (if you guys want this), but I’m also open to requests if there’s one you’ve seen on the blog over the months that you really like (or one in particular out of the groups I’ve shown here).
Any questions about this? The picture tile making process?
Think you’re going to do it?
(Yes. Yes, you do.)