Upgrade flatpack furniture on a budget with this easy tiling tutorial

Want the bespoke look in your home but feel like your budget is more flatpack MDF?

It’s a common problem, but one that can easily be solved with some ingenuity and basic DIY knowledge.

Rather than throwing out your worn out furniture (and adding to the 22 million items discarded each year in the UK) why not upcycle the pieces that are no longer sparking joy?

Artist Miranda Moore recently shared how she upgraded an old bookcase into a chic new record shelf on TikTok – and you can use her tips to get the same stunning results.

Starting with a plain Ikea Kallax four-cube unit, Miranda used deep green tiles and pink grout to transform the white veneer, as well as adding hairpin legs to the bottom.

For a DIY novice it may look like daunting, but tiling furniture is a surprisingly simple and cheap project.

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You can tile all sorts of items around your home to help them blend in with your interior or stand out completely.

Particularly when starting out, avoid choosing valuable or rare furniture to customise. This method works best to jazz up basic pieces with straight lines, so steer clear of anything antique.

Next, you’ll need to choose tiles. What you go for will depend on the piece you’re working with, but small, mosaic-type tiles are generally best for something like a Kallax unit.

Consider whether you’ll need to cut large tiles to fit into corners and side panels, as this can add extra time and equipment on to the job.

Once you have the basics ready, here’s how to make the magic happen.

What you’ll need

  • The square or rectangular furniture piece to be upcycled
  • Your tile sheet (smaller tiles affixed onto a mesh backing) of choice
  • Spray primer
  • Grout
  • Grout dye (optional)
  • Square notched trowel
  • Tile adhesive
  • Sandpaper
  • Grout float
  • Bucket and water
  • Sponge
  • Rag

How to do it

Measure and cut tiles: Lay your tile sheeting over each side of the unit and cut the mesh backing to size.

Prep surfaces: Sand the unit, then give it a good clean to ensure no dust or debris is left. When dry, spray with primer.

Apply adhesive: Cover the surface you’re about to tile with adhesive, spreading it over using the flat side of the trowel. When you have the right amount, go over the adhesive with the serrated edge of the trowel to create ridges.

It’s best to work with one section or side at a time here.

Lay tiles: When your adhesive looks just right, lay over your tile sheets and press them into the adhesive.

As you go, remove excess between the joints with a damp rag, then leave the whole thing to dry for at least 24 hours before grouting.

Apply grout: Once the adhesive has fully dried, you’re ready to mix up your grout. If, like Miranda, you’re going for a colourful look, you’ll need to add grout dye (which can be purchased online) at this stage.

Pass the loaded grout float over your tiles, holding the tool at an angle and going in both directions to ensure the product gets into all the nooks and crannies.

Once you’ve covered the gaps in grout, leave it to set for around 30 minutes.

Cleanup: Dampen your sponge and rub over the tiled surface in circular motions to clean off excess grout.

Make use of your bucket and regularly rinse and wring out this sponge as you go. This will help keep streaks at bay.

Next, use your dry rag to wipe off any grout haze, and leave to dry completely.

And there you are. For the price of a few tiles and some basic tools, you’ve now made yourself a piece of furniture that’s totally unique to you – and saved it from the rubbish dump to boot.

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Get in touch by emailing MetroLifestyleTeam@Metro.co.uk.

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