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Choosing Your Custom Hand Painted Tiles

Hand painted tiles to order

Hand painted tiles to order

This may be the first time you have ever considered commissioning custom hand painted tiles. You may have failed to find exactly what you want ‘off the shelf’ or perhaps you have not yet decided what you want but would like to explore the options, knowing that you want something special and unique to you, without spending a fortune.

Whatever your motivation, we can help.

We offer authentic, artisan, custom tiles

We are a small company, in business for around thirty years, hand-painting ceramic tiles to order. We have a huge range of past commissions of bespoke tiles featured on this website to help inspire you. Everything is made to order so we can accommodate virtually any design, to fit any space, exactly to your requirements.

We have a small range of standard tiles which we source from Stoke on Trent and from Europe. We can offer these tiles decorated to your specifications and can also supply them as well priced glazed plain tiles to match your decorated ones. If you feel you would prefer us to use a different tile then we can often do this for you too, depending on which techniques are needed to achieve the effect we want for you and also on whether the tile you prefer will successfully re-fire.

In other words – you can have anything you like.

Is it a Permanent Finish?

Yes. Whatever methods we choose to complete your commission, the colours are all fired at high temperature in our kiln – often several times. Once they are fired, the colours are completely permanent, and will never rub off or fade. Like any other ceramics, they will remain clear, bright and beautiful indefinitely.

Custom Hand Painted Tiles vs Digital Tiles – Your Options

We can offer both. Hand painted allows the greatest flexibility in terms of size and design because we are simply creating something especially for you.  Digital print tiles are dependent on copyright free artwork or digital images being available. It creates a good finish, hard to differentiate from hand painted if done well, is quicker to produce to order and can be a good option for those on a budget and/or tight timescales. It is also suitable where you want an exact reproduction of existing artwork or photography. As well as bespoke commissions we are improving our standard range of digital designs constantly. That said, if you are looking for authentic, artisan tiles, hand painted is the way to go. That’s our view.

To order for your custom hand painted tiles, here’s a step-by-step guide to help you:

STAGE 1 – Designing Your Tiles

Deciding on a design for your bespoke tiles

Hand painted delft tiles from Art on Tiles.

We are very practised at realising our clients’ ideas – often from the tiniest clues. However, mind reading is an unpredictable skill and the following questions may help you to give us the information we need.

Match or tie-in with a fabric or wallpaper

With nothing more than a reasonable sized sample of fabric or wallpaper, we can extract or reproduce ideas for your custom hand painted tiles. Either this can be the main design for a panel or single décor tiles (or both), or perhaps just as inspiration for a tiled border to be used on its own or as a frame for a decorative panel of tiles depicting something else of your choice. Even samples of the wall or wood paints you have chosen can help us with deciding on a range of colours for your commission.

When a client despaired of finding tiles to co-ordinate with the fabric they had chosen for curtains, the solution was simple. We used a sample of the fabric to inspire this classic blue and white design for the basin splash back.

Hand painted tiles mural from Art on Tiles.

Use pictures of favourite objects, paintings, pets, children or scenery

Good, clear photos of various subjects can be hand-painted as they are or used as the basis for a design that incorporates several elements. Even pages torn from magazines or art books with a favourite still life are excellent sources of design ideas.

For example, if you have a house with a handsome exterior, you might enjoy looking at it even when you are in it.

Here an owner provided us with a photograph of their house for us to hand paint.

Another popular theme is the tile-artist’s interpretation of a much-loved landscape. One client gathered together favourite scenes from the whole village where he lived and asked us to create a design that incorporated them all. Another insisted on including all their pets, children and a favourite herd of cattle in a rural landscape while a recent commission we completed had just one subject – the client’s prize sheep.

Hand painted tiles with animal design from Art on Tiles.

Ask us to draw up a design for you

Often, a design can be easily agreed in detail without a drawing. In other cases, it is well worth our sketching out a design for approval before we paint the tiles, allowing you to check that our interpretation ties in with your ideas, especially if there are several elements to combine or perhaps a complicated layout. There is a small additional fee for this.

Hand painted tiles for the kitchen.

Design in special features or obstacles

For example, a flue coming up the middle or side of the space above the kitchen range where you would like your hand-painted tiles is far from disastrous. A flue or other unattractive pipework can be very successfully worked around, if re-routing of the pipework is not an option, by drawing the eye to elements of the design on one or both sides.
Here, we have sketched out a design to show a client how their tiles can be painted to work around an awkward flue pipe.

STAGE 2 – The Tile

Choosing a background tile

The basic, undecorated and unglazed tile is simply a slab of fired clay, varying in colour from pure white through to a range of pinks, browns and reds. The heavier unglazed tiles – such as the universally popular terracotta – can make an excellent floor covering although a layer of sealant or wax is always advisable. However, hand-painted tiles are always glazed, either before, during or after decorating.

It is perfectly possible to hand-paint onto most ready-glazed tiles which means, if you have already chosen a background tile, we can probably use it. Rarely a glazed tile will not re-fire successfully in which case we can usually recommend a similar looking alternative. We are happy to discuss and advise on a suitable background tile to get exactly the effect you are after.

On the other hand, we supply a small, but versatile range of base tiles which we know are of reliable and high quality. We have a choice of rustic or modern finishes and also a choice of cream (clear) glaze or a white glaze. A crackle finish is also possible on request but may not be suitable for all locations. Visit our standard tile page for details.

STAGE 3 – The Measurements

If your tiles are part of a large-scale refurbishment project, you may have architect’s drawings of the room in question. Often a copy of this is all we need to calculate your needs for you.

Alternatively, you can do it yourself in which case a detailed plan of the entire room is rarely necessary. Instead, a total calculation of the area needed is fine for the background tiles, with more accurate measurements of height and width needed for areas where you intend to have a decorated panel.

Working out how many decorated and background tiles you will need

Once you have the measurements, they need to be translated into the number of tiles where the size of tile and width of grout come into play.  Don’t worry, we will help.

Another issue is that usually, in the average kitchen or bathroom, the total tiled area will be a mixture of hand-painted and plain tiles. A decorative panel may be the right choice for a focus point, above the sink or the stove for example. This could be teamed with some single decor tiles mixed with plain tiles in other areas of the room, perhaps with a border tile design to surround the panel and edge the rest of the room, to unify all the different areas.

STAGE 4 – Thinking About the Budget

The good news is many people are pleasantly surprised at how little it costs to have something created just for you. We are experienced at matching commissions to budgets and are happy to discuss and quote for various options without any obligation.

We have also recently introduced some digitally printed versions of our own hand painted designs which are virtually indistinguishable from the original. These are recreations of our most popular designs and we are gradually expanding the range.  To see what we have available so far go to our gallery and choose the ‘digitally printed tiles’ under ’tile types’.

If you need a particular solution in terms of design and size, you will probably find that a hand painted commission is the answer. To give you some idea, we calculate our fee on the basis of a price per tile decorated. This includes the cost of the tile itself, if it is our standard 5″ tile. A simple tile border or single décor tile may cost £10-17, and a heavily decorated tile as part of a panel may cost as much as £35, although the average cost per tile is nearer £25 which compares well with quality off-the-shelf designs.

If an initial idea exceeds your budget, there are lots of ways to reduce costs without compromising too much on what you want. For example:

Sometimes money spent on an expensive background tile can be wasted when a more economical background tile looks just as good after being painted. Some beautifully rich, complex designs can be painted onto a very economical white background tile.

A panel designed for a large area, perhaps over a stove, can entirely fill the space. Alternatively, a smaller panel can look very effective surrounded with plain tiles (with or without a decorated border).

Confining this design to just eight tiles, plus a decorative border, limits the cost of this project but makes a marvellous focal point when surrounded by plain tiles

If you have a focal point with a decorated panel of tiles, you can choose to tie it in with border tiles and perhaps single décor tiles in other parts of the room or use plain tiles in the rest of the room if budgets are tight or you are after a simpler look.

Getting a Quote

If you live within reach, you are extremely welcome to visit our studio to see our work and discuss your ideas. That said, we are used to working for an international range of clients and geography is no barrier to our working with you.

An initial telephone call is a good start and we are happy to share ideas and give estimates in this way. Designs and costs can then be agreed via post and e-mail.

Telephone us on:

+44 (0)1243 552346

Email us:

You can contact us via email on enquiries(at) or by using the form below.

Check the links below for more information on buying hand painted tiles from us:

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Glossary of Hand Painted Tile Terms