Adding some paving to your garden or patio can help to protect your grass and is also useful during wet weather to prevent you from getting mud all over your shoes. As well as being functional and lasting longer than a wood patio, paving stones can also add an interesting feature to your garden if you use some color or decoration in them. Rather than shelling out for some store bought tiles try making your own. Not only could you save money but you can add quirky design features for a truly unique look.
Step 1 – Prepare the Mold
Treat the mold with your mold release spray. Using a spray is not essential but can aid in removing the tiles once they have cured and will help to extend the life of the mold. Make sure that you leave only a thin coating on the mold otherwise it can result in bubbles on the surface of the stone. If you will only be making a few tiles then you can use some vegetable oil rather than buying a mold release spray.
Step 2 – Mix the Concrete
Mix your concrete with water according to the instructions on the packet. Be careful not to make the mixture to thin as this will result in weak tiles. If you want to have a uniform color on the tiles then you should add the concrete coloring at this point. A liquid colorant should be added to the water and a powdered colorant added to the dry concrete mix.
Step 3 – Pour the Concrete
Once your concrete mix has the correct consistency you are ready to pour it into the mold. It is recommended that you place a drop cloth underneath the mold to catch any spillages. Set the mold on a flat surface and carefully fill it with concrete. Bounce the mold up and down to ensure that the mixture is evenly distributed throughout the mold and there are no air pockets. Smooth the top of the tile with a trowel to ensure a flat finish. You should also add any decorative pieces such as glass or broken pottery at this stage by pressing them into the wet concrete. Place the mold on a flat surface away from direct sunlight to cure and cover it with either plastic wrap or a piece of plastic. This will assist with the curing process.
Step 4 – Remove the Tiles from the Mold
Leave the tiles to cure for at least 24 hours then remove them from the mold. Turn the mold upside down and lift it off from the corners. It should come away reasonably easily but if not then you can apply gentle pressure to the centre and corners lightly. Once the tiles have been removed you can apply more mold release if you're going to make more tiles or use some vegetable oil to clean off any remaining color or concrete. Leave the tiles to cure covered by plastic for one to two weeks then apply a protective sealant to the tiles. If the tiles are for external use and will be subjected to the weather then you may want to use a penetrating sealer and apply two or three coats to give them some extra protection.