Back in September I was whisked off to Lisbon for three days for a conference at work. I’d love to say that us lawyers regularly get to live the jet set lifestyle, but sadly that’s just not the case – after two years of lawyering, this was my first and only trip abroad on the firm! Given the rarity of these trips, I had organised to extend my stay so that I could enjoy more than just the hotel’s conference room. Unfortunately, though, Lily was very unwell at the time so I ended up coming home earlier than planned. I had just four hours on a Saturday morning to squeeze in my fill of the city before flying back to London, and there was no contest about what I was going to do – I went to the early morning flea market, of course!
The Feira da Ladra was amazing, and is reason alone for me to go back to Lisbon as soon as I can. I had only a tiny Easyjet-size carry-on case, but by jove I wasn’t going to go home empty handed! I came away with a bunch of old photos to add to the collection, a big straw bag with leather handles (for three euros!) and 12 beautiful and old ceramic tiles. I almost broke my back bringing back these tiles, and spent about an hour picking out the ones I wanted, but for two euros each I couldn’t let these get away. And I knew instantly what I wanted to do with them…
You will need | Ceramic tiles (as many as you want!) | MDF board, big enough for your tiles | Four strips of wood, deep enough to frame your tiles | Grouting | No More Nails | Wood varnish | Drill and screws | Plastic scraper | Piping bag | Pencil
Step 1: Arrange your tiles on the MDF, trace around them and then place them to one side in the right order.
Step 2: Squeeze out a cross-shape of No More Nails on each traced out square, and carefully affix the tiles to the MDF by lining them up with the tracing and pressing down firmly. The No More Nails works quickly, so make sure that you've got each tile in the right place! A good tip is to start with the tiles on the outside, and leave the tiles in the middle until last - if, like me, you have a mix of old tiles then it's likely that they won't all be the same size, and so this allows you to control the spacing between each tile.
Top tip: Keep your kitty locked out of the DIY room (aka the kitchen) while doing this part!
Step 3: Fill the spaces between the tiles and the frame with plenty of grout. I found this was most easily done by filling up a piping bag with the grout and squeezing it into the spaces between the tiles - it's just like baking! Smooth the top edges with a plastic scraper, and tidy up with the tip of your finger. Don’t worry if it looks a bit messy at this stage, you will be able to clean it all up once it’s dry.
Step 4: Paint the wood strips with clear varnish (or you could use a stain, if you want) so that they become waterproof, and leave to dry.
Step 5: It's best if you can leave the grout and the varnish to dry overnight, so put your feet up and have a nice cuppa.
Step 6: The next morning, attach the wood strips around the MDF board with No More Nails. Secure by screwing a nail in each corner of the frame, and two nails centred on each of the long sides to make sure the frame is attached to the MDF.
Step 7: Clean up any excess grout from the surface of the tiles with a damp sponge.
Step 8: Place wherever you want – behind the sink, over your cooker, in the centre of your dining table – and feel smug about your lovely new backsplash!