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Subway tile is one of the hottest trends in wall coverings for kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and even fireplace surrounds. The clean lines and simple design of these large rectangular tiles make them durable, easy to clean, and compatible with most architectural styles. But if you want to expand your design options beyond the basic factory-made, monochromatic ceramic tile and upgrade to a handmade artisan tile, the cost will increase dramatically. With the new Z Tileform system from Concrete Countertop Solutions, you can now economically make your own concrete subway tile and completely customize the color, texture, and finish. When used along with the system’s pencil form and chair rail form trim options, you can also create an endless array of tile patterns and designs.

“This product was designed with the DIY enthusiast in mind,” says Concrete Countertop Solutions vice president Dario Baldoni. “The Z Tileform system allows people to get creative and make something truly unique or make faux stone tile for a fraction of the cost. Another benefit users have mentioned is the ability to perfectly match the color of their backsplash with the color of their countertop by using the same concrete mix for both.”

Getting startedThe basic Z Tileform system includes 12 six-tile reusable tray molds, enough to make 72 6x3-inch tiles per pour. The only other tools you’ll need are a paddle mixer and a margin trowel.

Simply mix up a 50-pound bag of Z Counterform white concrete countertop mix in a large bucket, adding enough water to give it a flowable consistency. Pour the mixture into the molds and smooth the surface with a trowel if necessary. One bag of mix will make as many as 132 tiles. After curing for 24 hours, the tiles are ready to pop out of the mold. At that point, you can apply the tile to a wall using conventional thin-set tile adhesive and grout.

A sample board made with two-tone dry pack tiles.

If you plan to use the tile in a shower or other environment frequently exposed to water, Baldoni recommends sealing it with a water-based penetrating sealer that is breathable and will not be affected if moisture gets behind the tile, such as Z SiAcryl 14.

Design optionsIf you want to go beyond the basic glazed white subway tile look, there are myriad ways you can customize these do-it-yourself tiles. Some of your options include adding different pigments, using dry packing techniques to create a travertine effect, and slightly retarding the surface to produce a dimpled texture. The tile can also be topically colored using stains and dyes. “Anything that works on concrete will work on this tile,” says Baldoni.

You also have plenty of options when laying out the tile. You can install it vertically, horizontally or in a herringbone pattern and use the pencil tile or chair rail tile to break up the patterns and add a sophisticated decorative element. The tile can also be cut with a wet saw to accommodate different wall layouts.

To see examples of these custom designs and watch a video showing you how to make concrete tile using the Z Tileform system, visit Concrete Countertop Solutions.

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