Tutorial: How to Make Coasters

>> Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I've enjoyed figuring out how to make fun coasters over the past few months (see them here) and, in response to your requests, I offer this tutorial as one possible way of making them. I am sure there are other (possibly better) ways out there, so take what you can from this and go forth, be creative, and have fun. If you don't want to make them, you can buy them from me here.

To Make a Coaster or 4...


*Tiles (available at hardware stores, tile stores, and, often, at recycle/reuse places)
*Paper/Books (for the coaster tops)
*Glue (I recommend ModPodge available at most craft stores)
*Varnish (again, available at most craft stores)
*Paint Brush
*Felt Circles (available at most craft and hardware stores)
*X-Acto Knife & Self-Healing Cutting Mat (optional; alternatives include a paper cutter or scissors)


1. Measure your tile (they are typically 4" x 4" or 4.25" x 4.25" but measure to check) and decide how big you want your coaster top to be. I usually cut mine 3.75" square.

2. Cut out your squares. You may elect to do this by tracing a square and cutting it with scissors, using a ruler and X-acto knife, or using a paper cutter. The latter is obviously the easiest but not everyone has a paper cutter handy. Remember that you don't need to follow the direction of the paper. In the pictures you can see that the lines are straight in the original, but I cut diagonally because I think it looks more interesting.

3. Turn the paper square over, and coat the back with glue using your paintbrush.

4. Take the square, center it over the tile, and press it onto the tile. You have a few minutes in which the glue is still liquidy and you can move the square around until it is placed exactly where you want it. Make sure there are no air bubbles by smoothing a ruler or your fingers (or a bone folder) over the paper.

5. Once centered, paint a layer of glue over the papered tile. Make sure to paint in one direction. (As you can see, I spread out paper bags over my table to keep the glue away from the tabletop; this also makes clean-up much easier.)

6. After the glue has dried, paint another coat of glue on the tile. You can decide if you want to paint the glue in the same direction as the last time or in the other direction (e.g., horizontally instead of vertically). If you are making multiple coasters at once, the glue on the first one will usually dry by the time you get to the last one. If you are only making a few or you are stopping in between steps, make sure to wash out the brush so it doesn't dry and harden.

7. When the 2 layers of glue have dried, use the paintbrush to coat the tile with a layer of varnish as a sealant. Varnish usually takes longer to dry than glue.

8. When the coasters are dry, turn them over and add felt circles in each corner to protect your furniture.

9. Congratulations! Your coasters are ready to be used.

If anything needs more clarification, please let me know. This is the sort of project that anyone can take on as well as one whose creative limits are endless.

You can use fun paper,

or images from books,

or anything else you think of.

p.s. Don't forget, the coaster giveaway is open until Friday, October 31.
Leave a comment to enter -- it's open to regular and new readers alike.


Jamie Sue November 2, 2008 at 1:53 PM  

You've been featured on Corporate Free Christmas! Thanks for the contribution!

Anonymous November 17, 2008 at 6:54 PM  

Hi! I'm from Madison too! My friend told me about your blog. I'm planning on making a bunch of these for Christmas presents. My mom uses more trivets than coasters, so I was thinking about getting a slightly larger tile. Do you think the varnish finish will hold up to heat well?

two hippos November 17, 2008 at 7:35 PM  

Thanks for stopping by. I think making trivets is a great extension of this tutorial (wish I'd thought of it myself!). As for the heat, I've never had a problem with placing hot drinks on the coasters, but hot dishes may increase the heat quotient significantly. I *think* it would be fine, but I would test it out with one before giving it as a gift. Let me know how it goes!

Unknown November 24, 2008 at 4:07 PM  

I just had a question about using the mod podge and varnish. How is the condensation with icy-cold glasses of water? Does it bead up? Does it absorb? Have you had any trouble with the varnish coming off? What about using hot cups of coffee (or equivalent)?


two hippos November 25, 2008 at 12:14 PM  

Hi Adira. Thanks for stopping by! So far, the glue and varnish has held up well, with both hot and cold drinks. There is no indication that the coasters absorb the liquid -- I wash them with a damp cloth and that's taken care of any stickiness. I haven't had any issues with either hot or cold drinks.

Anonymous December 8, 2008 at 1:12 PM  

Thanks for the idea. I was wondering if the tiles you used are glazed? I wasn't usre if using glazed tiles would make a difference.

two hippos December 8, 2008 at 1:43 PM  

The tiles are glazed, but I think unglazed ones would work as well, provided they accept the glue well. Enjoy!

Anonymous December 10, 2008 at 9:56 PM  

I just made a few of these and will be using them for Christmas gifts in sets of five. Thank you so much--it will cost maybe 1.25 a gift! Wow! And, the best part is they look cool!

Anonymous January 28, 2009 at 11:49 AM  

What kind of varnish is the best to use on tile coasters? Thanks so much.

two hippos January 29, 2009 at 10:42 PM  

I use Delta Ceramcoat Satin Interior/Exterior Varnish and that has worked very well for me. There me be other types of varnish that work equally well.

Anonymous February 2, 2009 at 2:37 PM  

Is it waterproof? I am using it on a tile coaster over a napkin?

Ter February 5, 2009 at 8:31 PM  

I just came across this tutorial via google search. Looks like these coasters are easy and fun to make!

two hippos February 5, 2009 at 9:03 PM  

It is waterproof -- I've made them and spilled water on them and they're good to go.

Ter: I'm glad you found this. Enjoy!

Anonymous February 19, 2009 at 12:55 AM  

Just found your blog and this post via Google. Thank you so much for this tutorial! So many people never actually say the kind of varnish they use (Trust me.. I've looked!) I nearly broke down in the middle of Lowe's tonight looking for varnish and finally just gave up... I'm headed to a craft store to find the brand you use.


two hippos February 22, 2009 at 4:37 PM  

Casey: Happy to be helpful. I hope you were able to get the varnish and make the coasters.

J June 29, 2009 at 2:12 PM  

Found this blog, when trying to fine a site to show me, 'How to make a Coaster' and this site has definitely helped me in creating some great coasters. Thanks!

Unknown August 7, 2009 at 8:44 AM  

Thanks for the fabulous idea! What a clever way to get customized coasters. Have you thought about using a resin to cover the tops? Something like Diamond Glaze or Mirror Coat epoxy? I've used Mirror Coat on top of Scrabble tile pendants and the finish is gorgeous. I shot you a link from my (mostly) Handmade Holidays blog to your tutorial since these would make great gifts.

Unknown August 16, 2009 at 6:35 AM  

hi, thanks very much for the tutorial. Ive looked at loads ( and i mean loads) of tutorials on the net but yours is the best ive found. excellent description and loads of advice too. I was going to buy some ready made as i love all things homemade but have decided to give it ago myself, maybe some chrismas pressies too if all goes well. Thanks again
love emma ♥

Web Design Quote September 4, 2009 at 4:33 AM  

Its a completely new tutorial for me. So i am happy to see this new tutorial on how to make a coaster. And the given below the instruction and the material requirements are useful for making this more easy.

Anonymous December 2, 2009 at 3:09 PM  

Great idea! Thanks for posting!!

Kerry December 7, 2009 at 11:09 PM  

Thanks for the tutorial. I made a bunch of these to give as gifts. I found that putting the Modge Podge directly on the tile, then centering the paper, letting it dry, then putting ONLY the varnish on the top (and doing several coats) produced the best finish. Thanks again for posting this great idea.

Mary Jo Koranda February 15, 2010 at 6:14 PM  

Thanks for this tutorial. I saw some of these in a store and was trying to duplicate them. My problem is there are ridges left by the ModPodge. I used a spray sealer, perhaps that is too thin?

woodandwineclub December 1, 2010 at 12:10 AM  

Love the idea! Always looking for simple, creative, coaster ideas! I made trivets with my scroll saw for Christmas and attached a candle and ribbon.

Unknown December 8, 2010 at 11:22 AM  

how long does it take for the varnish to set? i've used polyurethane and when a cup is on the tile for a while you can see a ring. i'm not sure if it's not setting long enough or what.


two hippos December 9, 2010 at 8:48 AM  

Hi Christina. I'm not sure how long the varnish should set for -- perhaps the bottle states? I tend to make coasters but not use them immediately, but I've never tested the varnish with different times or recorded the amount of time it has set. I'm sorry I can't be more helpful. You may try one of the spray sealer/finishers available at craft stores as an alternative. I think they're quicker to set.

Danielle August 26, 2011 at 1:42 PM  

Thank you so much! Your artricle has ben so helpful to me. I'm just attempting to make different things and experiment with some art to fee my free time.

Lena December 29, 2011 at 3:59 AM  

Hello! Love your article on this- I've been looking everywhere! I was just wondering if you can use computer printed designs on paper? I didn't know if this would mess up the ink. Thanks!

two hippos December 29, 2011 at 9:06 AM  

Hi Lena. Thanks for stopping by. I've never used computer printed designs, so I'm not sure how they would work. I think you might be able to test it by smearing some mod podge on a sheet you printed and see what happens. Good luck!

Anonymous October 21, 2012 at 5:23 PM  

what kind of modge podge do you use? my mom and i make coasters and your modge podge looks different than the kind we use...also what kind of varnish do you use? we havent had any problems with cold drinks but hot drinks tend to stick to our coasters...it doesent ruin anything its just annoying

two hippos October 23, 2012 at 11:00 AM  

I'm not sure which brands I used for this project -- I picked up both at local craft stores and I haven't had any problems with sticky mugs.

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