Curbly Video: Using Paper Napkins to Make Decorative Tile Coasters

With the help of some 4" square ceramic tiles, turning decorative paper napkins into a set of very polished-looking coasters is easy.

created on: 02/16/09

To make a set of 4 coasters, you’ll need:

  • 4-4" square ceramic tiles (you can find these at your big box store for about 15 cents a piece)
  • Mod Podge 
  • small paint brush
  • polyurethane (I used Aqua-Zar in satin, but glossy would look great too)
  • decorative paper napkins
  • Squares of thin cork or felt, both available at your local craft store
  • Water-proof glue, like E-6000
  • A foam or stiff bristle brush to apply the water-proof glue

 First, brush the tile tops and their edges with a coat of Mod Podge.

UNFOLD your napkin and find a pretty spot on it, center the image on your tile and then apply them to the tile, making sure you fold the napkin down to cover the edges. DO NOT worry about wrinkles!! They just add character to your coaster!!! Also, you might find it easier to cut your paper napkin into more manageable pieces before applying them to the tiles.

Wait 3 to 5 minutes and then carefully rip away the excess paper napkin, pulling downward as you tear. (This is illustrated in the video.)

After the Mod Podge is COMPLETELY dry, you can address the edges. Leaving them ripped, gives them a ‘hand painted’ look. If you want a more polished look, use a bit of sandpaper to sand off the napkin from the edges.

(At this point, if you aren’t satisfied with the way your coasters are looking, you can still turn back by soaking them in a bit of warm water. The paper napkins and Mod Podge will come off. Wipe the tiles off and let them dry for a re-do!)

Then, apply three coats of polyurethane to the tops and the sides of the tile, letting it dry completely between coats, of course.

Finish up by brushing on a bit of E-6000 to the bottom of your tile and gluing on a square of cork pad or felt.

And that’s it! Here’s another one I did, currently protecting my desktop.

created on: 02/16/09

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Ellie on Aug 26, 2013:

@diy maven-- thanks

DIY Maven on Aug 26, 2013:

@Ellie—Yes and no. They create a cool, handmade texture feel. They feel more like wrinkles in fabric than wrinkles in paper. Hard to explain. :)

Ellie on Aug 24, 2013:

Can you feel the wrinkles after you have applied the poly etc.?

DIY Maven on Aug 14, 2013:

@Gemma--Wrinkles are actually normal. Plus, they give the tiles much more character. 

Gemma on Aug 14, 2013:

I have tried this and mine have came out very wrinkly why is this?

Callie on Jul 21, 2013:

This is such a cool idea! I have lots of weddings this year and Christmas of course.

We are on a budget and I like to make gifts vs buying. I am
going to try this one. How fun for landmark bdays as well-- or to use baby shower napkins or decor for a new family.

DIY Maven on Jun 06, 2013:

@Amy--Pretty sure because it wasn't completely dry. 

Amy on Jun 06, 2013:

@Maven when I tried doing that last night, the napkin tore and started to pull up.  I ended up having to run the tile under water and scrub off the napkin to start over.  Do you think that was only because maybe it wasn't dry?  Or do you think that will happen again tonight?

DIY Maven on Jun 06, 2013:

@Amy--Absolutely put on a couple coats of ModPodge first and then the acrylic. 

Amy on Jun 06, 2013:

I glued the napkins to the tiles with modge podge last night.  Should I apply a coat or two of modge podge over them this evening or should I just use the spray acrylic/sealant I bought instead? Thanks!

Luanne on Mar 19, 2013:

I am making coasters with photos on them and am using minwax polycrilic.  How do I not get the little bubbles that sometimes appears?  Some look amazing and some get those tiny bubbles that I don't notice until the coat is dry.  I've tried light coats and heavy coats and still I get some bubbles.  any suggestions?  thanks

Luanne on Mar 19, 2013:

Hello.  I am making coasters for my daughter's bridal shower.  When I apply the poly I always seem to get some tiny bubble that I just can't seem to get rid of.  I've tried using a small amount of poly and then a thicker layer, nothing seems to work.  Some coasters are perfect and some have these little dots all over them.  Is there a trick to make sure there are no bubbles so I can have smooth coasters?

thank you

DIY Maven on Jan 21, 2013:

@Anonymous--I would not recommend that as ModPodge always remains a bit sticky. The poly takes care of that problem. It doesn't have to be expensive poly--I'd try whatever you might have on hand before buying new. 

Anonymous on Jan 20, 2013:

I have seen other blogs that have put another coat of mod podge over the top and skipped the poly all together. Would this work with napkins as well? If so that would eleminate another item on my list still needing to buy. Thanks!

Kim on Jan 17, 2013:

HI, I was wondering if the water based Poly eliminates hot mugs from sticking?  I've been reading about how that is a problem with the tile coasters.

DIY Maven on Dec 20, 2012:

@Anon--I had everything on hand, except for the tile and the napkins. Four tiles set me back about 60 cents (for all three) and the napkins were a couple bucks at Target. For all the other stuff, maybe 20 bucks, but the poly and glues will be enough to make dozens and dozens of sets of coasters. 

Anonymous on Dec 19, 2012:

How much does an average set cost? ( total with tiles, napkins, all three glues and felt)

DIY Maven on Dec 10, 2012:

Claire: Yes, but only if it's printed on paper, not photo paper. (I think photo paper would be too thick.)

Claire on Dec 08, 2012:

Hi, these are great! Could you use a photo instead of a napkin?

DIY Maven on Dec 05, 2012:

@Maureen, I've used one (the black one, which is in my office) almost every day for three years, and it's standing up well. I bet the resin looks great, though!

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