12 January 2015

DIY: Make Your Own Coasters

Have you seen all of those Pinterest posts about making your own coasters from ceramic tiles, scrapbook paper, and Mod Podge? Me, too! But this is not another one of those tutorials!! This tutorial is different, and will actually give you coasters with clear, hard, waterproof coatings on the top!!

Read on, to see how I did it!!

I thought coasters would be a great project for Christmas gifts, but when I started doing a little research, I discovered that the ones made with scrapbook paper and Mod Podge didn't hold up well to spills or hot mugs. I didn't want to waste my time working on a project that wasn't going to hold up to normal use, so I kept searching, and found that you can use a product called Envirotex Lite (which is an epoxy), to seal items like coasters.

This was the first project I attempted since my ankle surgery - I hadn't been walking long, and was in what I call a Frankenboot (aptly named, IMO, since it's both grotesquely ugly and made me walk like Frankenstein's monster). So the project took longer than it probably would have otherwise, and I forgot to take pictures of a couple of the steps. Oops. I will definitely list the steps that don't have pictures, so don't worry!

Here's what you need to get started:

SUPPLY LIST: (Disclaimer:some of these links are affiliate links)
  1. 4x4 ceramic tiles
  2. scrapbook paper, cut slightly smaller than your tiles (I cut mine 3.75" square)
  3. paintbrushes (one to apply Mod Podge, one disposable one to wipe away epoxy drips)
  4. epoxy mixing cups to raise tiles up off work surface
  5. scotch tape
  6. rubbing alcohol
  7. EnviroTex Lite (I got the 16-Oz. Kit , but they also have a 4-oz. )
  8. Mod Podge
  9. popsicle/craft sticks (for stirring/mixing the epoxy)
  10. adhesive-backed cork
  11. large piece of cardboard to cover your work space
  12. not pictured - clear disposable cups for mixing & pouring the EnviroTex (epoxy)
  13. optional (not pictured) - paper trimmer (this is the one I have) - this made cutting the scrapbook paper and cork into the exact size quick and easy
NOTE: When shopping for the tiles, try to find ones that look "nice" on the sides if you're picky like me. I sent Gus to get the tiles, and, well, let's just say that most tiles aren't pretty on the sides because they're made to be covered with grout. You can see in the picture below what the side of the tiles look like - they're unfinished in spots. You could also paint them with ceramic paint or cut the paper to cover the sides, but then you would need to make sure the epoxy drips evenly over all four sides.

PREP YOUR WORK AREA: Make sure you cover your work area with cardboard. It's not as important for the first part of the project, but it will be later on when you work with the epoxy. I just went ahead and covered the area when I started.

PREP YOUR PAPER AND CORK: Measure your tiles, then cut your scrapbook paper and cork slightly smaller than the tiles. My tiles measured 4"x4", so I cut my paper and cork 3.75"x3.75".

STEP 1: Use the rubbing alcohol and a paper towel to wipe the top surface of all the tiles. You want to remove all traces of oil, dirt, and lint.

STEP 2: Apply Mod Podge to the back of a piece of scrapbook paper, then quickly turn it over and position it on the top side of the tile. You will have a little time to reposition it if needed. Be sure to apply enough Mod Podge for good adhesion. Repeat for each tile. Let dry for about an hour. Don't rush! This adhesion is important!

STEP 3: Brushing in one direction, apply one coat of Mod Podge to the top of the scrapbook paper, extending it out to cover the entire top of the exposed tile, creating a waterproof seal. Apply enough for a good seal, but not so much that it saturates the paper.

IMPORTANT: As the Mod Podge dries, you may notice air bubbles forming under the paper. If you didn't use enough Mod Podge in Step 2 or didn't let it dry long enough, the more air bubbles you will see. (Yes, that's experience talking!) Using a sharp needle, pierce the center of the air bubble and gently press it down. The next coat of Mod Podge should get rid of it.

STEP 4: Apply a second coat of Mod Podge to the top of the scrapbook paper/tile, brushing in one direction, but in the opposite direction as you brushed last time. Again, as it dries, watch for air bubbles under the paper, and pierce any with a needle. Let dry overnight. This double layer of Mod Podge will prevent the epoxy from soaking through to the paper.

The above picture shows the two bottles that come in the EnviroTex Lite kit. You're going to follow the instructions on the package for mixing times, methods, and amounts to use. But this is basically how I got it all ready to go:

STEP 5: I decided to work with 4 coasters at a time. Since it was chilly in our house, I warmed the two EnviroTex bottles by putting them in cups of warm water for a few minutes before mixing them (per the instructions). While they were warming, I read the instructions and saw that I would be mixing 1 oz. of each bottle together to make enough epoxy for four 4"x4" tiles, so I carefully measured 1 oz. and 2 oz. in clear disposable cups and marked those measurements on the cups.

STEP 6: Apply scotch tape to the back edges of the tile. It must be this type of tape or the epoxy will soak through! This is amazing - but once the epoxy dries (and it will have dripped onto the bottom of the tile onto the tape) - you will be able to just peel the tape off, and the epoxy comes with it! So don't skip this step, and be sure to trim the tape edges even with the tile.

STEP 7: To get the tiles ready for the epoxy, you need to raise them up so that the epoxy can run all over the top and drip off of the edges. Set up your little plastic cups with the tile on top. I experimented with them in different configurations, and ended up using 7 cups per 4 tiles - positioned like this, with the four tiles set in a square:
o      o
  o  o  o  
o      o

Be sure to check the tile surfaces for lint, dust, pet hair, etc. You do NOT want any of that trapped under the epoxy.

STEP 8: Back to the epoxy: You've warmed it, marked your cups, got your stick stirrers ready, a timer nearby, your tiles are ready, and your work surface is covered - you're ready to mix! Take the bottle with the white writing, and pour it into the cup up to the first line. Take the bottle with the black writing and pour it into the same cup up to the second line. Start stirring with a wooden stick immediately, and start the timer. You want to stir hard enough to mix it well, but not so hard that you make bubbles. It will get cloudy and warm at first. Mix for 2 minutes, then immediately pour into a second cup, and start stirring for an additional minute.

NOTE: Do not guess at the time. Use a timer! This is important!

STEP 9: You are going to need to pour the epoxy from the cup onto the tops of the 4 tiles, trying to divide it equally. That's why I put measurements on my second cup even though I wasn't measuring anything - it helped me see how much I was putting on the tiles. I started pouring in the center of the tile and sort of made a swirly pattern out toward the edge. The epoxy is self-leveling for the most part, but you will probably have to help it along in some places. I used a small piece of thin cardboard to gently push some of the epoxy where I wanted it to go.

STEP 10: After a few minutes, you'll notice air bubbles rising to the top. Don't worry - this is normal! And it's so easy to get rid of them - all you have to do is breathe on them! The carbon dioxide in your exhaled breath will break the bubbles. You can lean over and gently blow on them or you can get a straw and blow through that. I found it easier to use a straw - just be careful not to blow too hard or you will mess up the epoxy.

NOTE: I was a little concerned about working with epoxy indoors in the winter when I couldn't open the windows, but I didn't notice any odor at all! However, I do recommend wearing gloves so that you don't get epoxy on your hands. If you don't want to wear gloves, then be sure to keep a rag handy so you can wipe the epoxy off as soon as it touches your skin - and wash your hands frequently.

STEP 11: Once you have the epoxy spread out and the air bubbles eliminated, you need to cover the tiles while they cure overnight. They will still need to get air. I propped up plastic containers with the little plastic cups, but you can do whatever works for you.

After 24 hours, the tiles are dust safe and you can remove the covers. However, they still need an additional 36-48 hours to harden completely.

STEP 12: Once the epoxy is completely hardened, you can remove the tape from the bottom of the tiles.

STEP 13: Now just peel the backing off the cork and press it on the back of the tile. (I forgot to take a picture of the back of the tiles once the cork was applied.)

And that's it!! I know it seems like a lot of steps, but it really was pretty easy! And you have a nice clear, hard, waterproof surface that will hold up to spills and hot liquids/mugs.

I already have more tiles here to make coasters for Lulu's apartment - and some for us, too!

You could also use ceramic paint to apply your babies' handprints/footprints, or Mod Podge to apply precious photos or special drawings and then cover with the EnviroTex Lite to make really special coasters//keepsakes!

What would you make?

This post contains some affiliate links which were added to make it easier for you to find the items. If you click on the links and make a purchase, it doesn't cost more, but I will receive a small commission. You are free to use the links or not. If you do, I thank you!

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