Tiling a Kitchen Window Shelf

9 Materials
$20
4 Days
Medium

I put a shelf in my kitchen window ages ago, at first it was fine. But eventually water drips had damaged it. I really didn't want to remove it and put in another one, so I decided to use some of my alcohol ink painted tiles to make it look pretty and protect it from further damage.
tiling a kitchen window shelf
This is my cluster mess of a window shelf. The damage is in the center.
tiling a kitchen window shelf
This was a laminated board. The kind you buy ready made at the hardware store to build stuff like bookshelves. I used to put the veggie scrubbing brush there to dry. Over time the water soaked in and caused that damage.
tiling a kitchen window shelf
My supplies. Grout, tile spacers, frog tape to hold the edge tiles on while they dried, a tile cutter, edge tiles and my ink painted tiles. One day I may post a how to for those.
tiling a kitchen window shelf
The first thing I did was lay the edge tiles on to see how they would fit. I needed to cut 3 the ones that stick out straight from the wall and one for the front. With a pencil I marked where they needed to be cut. I then lined up the pencil mark with the ridge in the tile cutter. Drag the cutting blade across the tile. This was on the difficult side because the tiles are rounded. After scoring with the blade, line up the padded flipper thing (Pressure pad?) center it on the edge tile and apply firm steady pressure. It will snap in two. Here is my first mistake. I mixed up grout and applied it to the underside of the edge tiles and taped the tiles in place. I let them dry overnight. The next day a couple of them fell off. Oh no biggie I have epoxy and I have E6000. Some of my inked tiles cracked before I learned to cut them properly so I used epoxy to put them back together when I did this I used the excess epoxy to attach the tiles that fell off.
tiling a kitchen window shelf
Next I laid some of the inked tiles in the window. I used a spacer and a pencil to mark where I needed to cut the tiles. Repeat as before. Line up the pencil mark with the ridge in the cutter, score it with the blade and center the rubber pad and SNAP. Tile busted in a bunch of pieces. Crud!!! How can this thing cut those thick rounded tiles no problem and yet shatter these 4" tiles? I used this thing to cut the 2" tiles in my bathroom and I didn't have any problems... So why now? Ok after cracking too many tiles I finally figured it out. Don't center the pad. Wow it was that simple. Put the pad at the top of the tile, then apply pressure and it snapped perfectly. I'll use the broken pieces on another project. Maybe a mosaic lazy Susan or flower pot. They are just too pretty to toss in the trash. A word of caution  cut tile edges are as sharp as glass. And they make quite a few tiny sharp bits when you cut the tiles. I used a puppy pee pad under my tile cutter. When I was done I cleaned off the cutter and folded the pad and put it in the trash.
tiling a kitchen window shelf
Before I mixed the grout, I laid out my tiles. I forgot to take a picture of this. Once I was happy with the color placement I laid them on the kitchen counter in the same order to make it quick and easy to place them on the wet grout. OK after deciding the order mix up the grout. I used a 16 ounce sour cream container, the picture shows a Popsicle stick this proved to be too small I ended up switching to an old kitchen silicone spatula that I picked up at the Dollar Tree when I was making soap. Mix the grout until it is about the consistency of cake frosting and with the spatula I spread it out on the shelf. In the collage here you can see a baggie in the sour cream container. I did that later when I was grouting the lines in the tile.
tiling a kitchen window shelf
Lay the tiles in the wet grout and place the spacers so you have nice even lines.
tiling a kitchen window shelf
While I was doing the tile placement another tile popped off. So I waited until the grout dried. I then popped off the edge pieces that weren't epoxied on the first time. I used E6000 as I was now out of epoxy and glued those tiles back on. I let dry over night before I filled in the grout lines.
tiling a kitchen window shelf
tiling a kitchen window shelf
Once the grout is dry remove all the spacers. Mix up more grout. This is where the grout filled baggie comes in. Snip off the corner and fill in the the lines. I didn't have a small rubber padded grout spreader. This was my solution to a missing tool. After I filled in all the lines I used my finger to smooth and flatten it out. Remember those cut tiles are sharp don't press too hard.
tiling a kitchen window shelf
Once the grout lined have dried a bit maybe an hour depending on the temperature in your house. Wipe with a damp cloth. Clean off all the grout on the tiles.
tiling a kitchen window shelf
I used some strips of aluminum foil and taped them under the edge of the shelf. Next up I am going to pour epoxy resin and I didn't want it to drip over the edge and into my sink.
tiling a kitchen window shelf
Now to further protect the shelf from water damage I mixed up 2 ounces each of resin and hardener. Follow the directions on the package. In total it was 4 ounces and it was just barely enough to cover.
tiling a kitchen window shelf
A close up of the tiles. Surprisingly I didn't have a single air bubble. Maybe I didn't mix long enough to get them or maybe my layer was thin enough they popped before I could see them. I did have the hair dryer plugged in and ready to go to blow them out but I didn't need it.
tiling a kitchen window shelf
All done and nice and neat. I won't have to worry about water damage now. A few days ago I was washing a big pot and using the sink sprayer to rinse it and water sprayed every where But I wasn't worried about my shelf.   
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Have a question about this project?

1 question
  • Julie
    on Sep 3, 2018

    I love this..but you lost me at epoxy, I'm confused... I've never used epoxy, can you explain how this works ? and do you need to make a frame to hold a layer of this epoxy?

    • Nadine Hartman Bourne
      on Sep 3, 2018

      Have you ever bought that glue that comes in a double tube with a plunger? you squeeze out equal amounts and mix then use it to glue something you don't want coming apart? if you have that is epoxy. what I am using is the same it is just sold in a larger quantity for a more reasonable price. You can make a frame to hold the epoxy. I did on a tile to make a coaster, I used tape. On this shelf I did not. I taped foil under it to catch the drips. if you do nothing the epoxy will drip from under and create blobs. this happened on a wood project I made. When it dried I flipped it over and sanded them off.

      Here is what I found about epoxy when I did a google search

      "Epoxy resins are thermosetting polymers with unique mechanical and resistance properties. They are the result of a chemical reaction called 'curing', which involves epoxides and other chemicals more commonly known as 'hardeners' or curing agents."

Join the conversation

3 of 22 comments
  • C Crow
    on Sep 11, 2018

    Pretty tiles, Nadine, and your shelf looks so useful. I need this! Looking forward to your tile how-to.

  • Twyla J Boyer
    on Sep 13, 2018

    Lovely. And now I am thinking I need to buy a box of plain tiles to use my alcohol inks on.... Looking forward to your alcohol ink tile how-to!

    • Twyla J Boyer
      on Sep 18, 2018

      I have used alcohol inks only on eggs, so I suspect it might be a little different....  (I do pysanky and batik style eggs as a hobby and bought the inks to highlight those, but haven't found them as useful for that as I had hoped.)

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