Etching Tile

I picked up some cheap ceramic tiles at Home Depot ($0.16 per 4x4 inch tile!) and played around.

This is 225 DPI, 400 speed, full power on a Pro.

After etching, I painted over it with purple Sharpie and wiped away the excess with rubbing alcohol. The ceramic under the glaze is really porous, so it soaked up the ink.


Nice results! :grinning:


Really nice!


Try 2 came out much better. This time I didn’t use rubbing alcohol to remove the excess, but just scrubbed really hard with a paper towel.

For this one, I bumped the DPI to 450, Speed to 600, still full power.

I suspect a spray acrylic would seal this up nicely.


Wow! That purple really pops. Do you have the SKU number from Home Depot?


Oh, turns out it was from Lowes.


Further observations:

  • 1000 Speed, Full Power is just fine.
  • Use a high DPI (450+)
  • Artwork with VERY thin lines gives the highest contrast. If the lines are too fat, you end up wiping away a good deal of the pigment.
  • Black tile with metallic sharpie looks very nice.
  • “Adult Coloring Pages” is a great Google Images search term for finding stuff to etch. :slight_smile:
  • It’s possible to color different parts of the drawing different colors, but you have to be careful when you’re removing the excess sharpie.
  • If you can, remove the sharpie using nothing but a paper towel and a lot of scrubbing. Rubbing alcohol can be used, but it’ll lighten up the lines.

This has been my favorite material to burn so far.


Your tiles are simply beautiful! I could see them being used in a custom kitchen.


Great job! Those are simply gorgeous! :smiley:

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Sharpie+Cheap tile+laser+effort=Top work!

It’s really amazing how these turned out!


These are great! Love the turtle!!


My six year old asked me login to say: “you had a really good idea” and “I like the turtle a lot”


Those look fantastic! Well done!

Wow!!! Gorgeous!

Oh man, that’s awesome. I loves me some purple.

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These look amazing!

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These are great. I ran out to Lowe’s and picked up a box of tile to use for this. I was going to try just a few but the guy there said they only sold them by the box. When I checked out I was told that if the box is open already you can buy them individually. So anyway, I now have 100 to play with.

My wife’s been out of town for the last week and a half and gets home tomorrow and she’s a huge fan of Calvin and Hobbes. I may have borrowed your welcome home tile idea to make one for her.

I also tried one with a logo using a score setting. The overburn or hot spots make it so the corners and spots where a line meets up with itself have little spots that collect a lot more ink than the lines so it doesn’t look great. The engraved version of the same logo looks really good. I definitely want to find an easier way to get the overmarked sharpie off a bit easier. My hands are pretty sore from holding and rubbing the tile with a paper towel so hard.

As a side note, and it is a bit gross perhaps, but saliva on the towel or the tile seems to help the sharpie come off the non-zapped areas quite a lot. I also tried fingernail polish remover because I couldn’t find any isopropyl alcohol. It sort of worked, but I’m not too happy with the result of that test.


these look fantastic! How long did they take the engrave each, on average?

Edit: also, suggestion: craft stores sell alcohol ink pads for stamping, you can probably get some nice colors/blending with that, along with just squirting some extra alcohol for it to blend together.


Awesome! Thanks for sharing you experience with scoring. I learned that lesson trying to make a cutting board over Christmas. Every time the laser changes direction, there’s a spot of overburn.

Since my last post, I’ve done about 20 more tiles and learned a bunch more.

For cleaning the excess, use a little bit of any sort of cleaner (I ended up using Windex) . Just spray a tiny bit on the paper towel. Just enough to wet it, and not enough to soak it. This makes it completely easy to remove the excess. No elbow grease needed.

And a few more things, too.

  • Spray acrylic works good for sealing up the design afterwards. Otherwise, if it gets wet, the ink will float out of the cracks.
  • Sharpie has oil-based pens that work really well for this. Use acetone/nail polish remover (again, just a tiny bit on a paper towel) to remove the excess. With the oil-based ones is you don’t need to seal the design with spray acrylic. That ink won’t come off for anything but acetone. Also the color is more vibrant.
  • Black ceramic tiles will only show metallic marker. Both silver and gold work well in those. Copper metallic doesn’t really show.

That’s a great idea. I’ve been trying to work out color blending.

They averaged about 30 minutes a tile.