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Behind the Design: DIY Custom Tiled Planter

Posted October 1, 2020

Guest Post from Ashley + Jamin Mills of The Handmade Home

We added some major wow to our porch this summer, and absolutely loved the look of it all – it was the perfect little quarantine project. We loved using Jeffrey Court’s Balancing Act Mosaic from our very own curated selection to build these fun planters. A friend was over just last week and said they make our porch. We adore the look too, with the scale and major pattern they bring to the whole outdoor space. So much fun!

It’s all come such a long way, {this house is a total rehab and now our home, so it’s always fun to share the before} but these fun tiled planters are like icing on the cake, for some fun porch decor.

You may remember our mention of Jeffrey Court’s beautiful coffee table book from a few weeks ago, {get it here!} and we were honored that a few of our projects were included inside, including this one. 

Their pages are filled with beautiful ideas, design and creations from fabulous designers you probably know.

We love all the fun inspiration inside! – It’s the first of it’s kind in the industry and you can snag your own here. 

We also included this fun staircase project that was a really fun shoot to take on and added some fun character to the room. Our pup Fitz just loves to model for all the treats. 

But today we thought we’d go behind the design, and share how to make these really fun marble tile planters for all things wow in your back yard. 

So without further ado, here’s what you’ll need to get started: 

What you’ll need: 

(Side note the finished dimensions of our planter boxes are 22″ (w) x 16 1/2″ (d) x 29 7/8″ (h) 

• Jeffrey Court Balancing Act Moscaic
• pressure treated plywood
• deck or exterior screw
• water guard
• thin-set
•grout
• Painters plastic
• 2 x 4 x 8 pressure treated wood

Tools you’ll need:

• Table saw or circular saw
• Drill
• Tile saw
• Float
• Trowel
• 5-gallon Bucket
• mixing paddle

Getting started

You’ll start by cutting down your plywood to the size of your planters. Hint: make them about 1/2 inch shorter than what your overall height needs to be. This way the plywood sits a little off the ground, which is great for moisture and rain. 

Once you have the plywood sides cut, you’ll want to build your frame.

This doesn’t have to be very elaborate as the plywood is strong enough to support everything so you’re simply looking for a little stability and an easy way to connect it all together. We placed two 2 x 4’s at the bottom and then two more where we wanted the deck for the plants to sit.

Cut your 2 x 4’s down to the width and depth of your planter, but don’t forget to subtract the plywood thickness. So if you are using 3/4″ plywood, take 1.5″ off the total.

For us that meant for our 22″ side, we would cut (2) 2 x 4′ to 20 1/2″. And for our 16 1/2″ side, we cut (2) 2 x 4’s to 15″.  

Once they are cut, use your deck or exterior screws to begin putting the pieces together.

Don’t forget that we are keeping the plywood 1/2″ off the ground so when you are screwing in your bottom 2 x 4’s make sure they overlap the plywood by 1/2″.

We found it easiest to screw the 2 x 4 to its corresponding side, and then screw the two connecting sides to it.

Then you can attach the fourth piece and screw all the sides together.

Once you have the bottom of the planter framed, you’ll want to frame the decking or where the soil and plants will sit.

We set our deck depth at 6″.

Then we simply added two more braces perpendicular to the ones we’ve already added.

Of course, make sure they are level or at least close to level. Again, screw all the sides together.

Then you’ll simply want to cut your plywood deck to size and place it in. There is no need to screw it in, as the weight of the soil and plants will keep it in place. We also choose to spray the deck and surrounding area with water guard even though it’s pressure-treated plywood.

We just wanted the extra protection, even though it might not be needed.

ProTip: The extra simple step gives you one more layer of protection. After all, it will literally be sitting in damp soil most of the time.

We didn’t grab a shot of this, but we also drilled a few holes in the deck to allow water to escape if needed.

We’d previously planned out our pattern by placing our favorite Frogtape on some of the tiles to see how it would look on a planter of this size.

It served as an instant crop to make sure we liked the design. 

And then we slowly added tile pieces by putting it all together. 

If you have never tiled before, it really is a simple thing to do, you just need patience. 

Typically you would have an underlayment of some sorts, but because this thing was already going to be heavy and we wouldn’t ever take the tile up, we skipped the underlayment.

Also in most tile situations, you apply the thin-set to the floor or wall first, then the tile. However, for this project, we used a process called “back buttering”, it’s when you simply place the thin-set on the tile piece then apply the tile to the surface.

We started with the center bottom piece and simply worked our way up the planter.

Then began working our way around the sides. It really was that simple.

To add another final layer of protection, we lined the deck of the planter with a protective plastic covering and planted these fun flowers for the summer. 

Ahhh such a fun pattern for the back porch! Don’t you just love what this fabulous Jeffrey Court tile did for the design?

So let us know if you have any questions, we’d love to hear. And be sure to check out their amazing book, here. 

Have an inspired day!

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