Tutorial on Etching Tile

I would like to etch on tile. Are there any tutorials on how to accomplish this? Do we put tape on top? Can we etch on any kind of tile, porcelain? And, if alignment has not been fixed, how do we align the design not the tile properly?

There are some long discussions of various techniques and settings with various outcomes. A quick answer from my experience… Get some cheap Home Depot white ceramic tile, burn a high-contrast image with no masking, scribble over the etch with a sharpie, wipe with a melamine sponge.

Then start tuning in on the look you want! It’s really quite cheap and easy to try.

For alignment, burn a quick cardboard jig. Easy peasy!


What @timjedwards said.

Spend the time to read the forum threads on tiles, it contains so much information . There is no way all of your questions haven’t been answered many times over.

All pulled from this not-so-complicated search:



Learn how to use a jig. Lots of how tos on them

Read those topics on tiles.

No tape needed.Sharpies are an easy way to color.

Magic eraser for cleaning excess color.

Blast away.


on the plus side, buy a pile of 4x4 white tiles from a big box hardware store and you have lots of $0.10 to $0.15 pieces to test. so all you lose is time if it doesn’t work the way you want.


Honestly. The easiest project. Find an image. Add to the app - size it the tile. Full power and 800-1000 engrave, 225lpi is generally ok. When it is finished wipe on wipe off. Check results :sunglasses::sunglasses::sunglasses:. Then repeat until you become a master.


Just bought 100 tiles of 4x4 last week. I didn’t have luck finding that size when I went the first time, so I bought 100 of the 3x6 and have loved those. In any case, now I have hundreds of tiles for under $40.

I agree that a jig is the way to go. Not only do I have the jig when doing these, I also use an outline in my designs to realign properly. The jig is great, but only if you get consistent placement, so the outline in the design is an extra precaution. Like others have said, you buy enough cheap tiles that testing is inevitable, but not necessarily a bad thing.

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Thank you. I did look around and only saw posts of examples, not process. I see people coating the tile with soap. Is that right? What kimd odlf soap. And, for the cardboard jig, is there a file that shows how to lay out the jig?

Not really.

There are a ton of posts about jigging, but I tend to prefer what I call a “corner jig”.

I posted about it here:


I just use naked tiles…


The best way is to test it yourself, as there are so many types of tiles out there! (or even same “brand”, can vary between lots slightly).

A lot of good settings noted in threads to at least start with–but either on the same tile, or different tiles, etch the same image at different settings to find what gives you the result you like best, including the height setting.

Plain subway tiles are one way. If you have a “Restore” nearby you can get an assortment for cheap. They don’t char or burn so the tape isn’t needed, though they do leave more of a dusty residue. Try varying the colors of sharpness for some amazing effects. I started around 225 lpi, full power, More than 2 passes just seemed to melt the surface back smooth. Just play with it. :sunglasses:

I use standard white ceramic tiles from Home Depot. No spacer tabs on the sides and they run me 16¢ a piece. I engrave them straight out of the box after removing a bit of silicone(?) stringy stuff they use to cushion the tiles from each other to prevent scratching.

After engraving I color the tile with broad strokes of wide tip (chisel tip) oil based Sharpies I get from a local artist/craft supply store.

I let it dry for 5 or 10 minutes and then I rub the tile with a melamine (Mr Clean Magic Eraser type) sponge dampened slightly. Takes a minute Ute or so of rubbing and the color comes off the glaze but remains in the engrave.

225 LPI, full power and only 1 pass (at fastest speed usually) seems to work fine. It gets rid of the glaze and exposes the underlying tile to soak up the Sharpie.


Anyone figure out a good way to finish/seal them yet? All the things I tried like shellac and lacquer and sealers all contain acetone and makes the sharpie ink bleed all over. I even tried a light dusting from a greater distance and it still bled all over.

I used urethane varnish on the travertine tiles but didn’t bother sealing the ceramics.

You might try a spray grout sealer.

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