Art tiles can vary greatly in size from tile maker to tile maker. A 4 x 4 tile by Motawi Tileworks or by Medicine Bluff Studio will be different from a 4 x 4 tile by another tile maker. This is because they all use different processes to press their tiles, different material sources, varying tile thicknesses, and varying kiln and curing times. Tile thicknesses can also vary quite a bit from 1/4" up to 5/6".
Tile frames will also vary from maker to maker. Some tile frames are pre-made to accommodate a variety of tile maker's tiles. And some tile frame makers will craft their frames specific to a tile makers tile or tile size. Tile frame depths vary quite a bit, making the framing of a tile a little challenging.
Either way, there is typically a space between the tile to be framed and the tile frame edge (in the back of the frame). You do not want a tile to fit tightly into a wood tile frame. The following is how we frame tiles into our frames. This example involves framing three 4 x 8 Motawi tiles into a triple cavity frame by Dard Hunter Studios.
1) Position tiles into frame cavities. Make sure that the tiles are right side up in the frame. Many tiles have a self-hanger built into the tile and many tile frames have a keyhole slot hanger built into the frame at the top.
2) We cut strips of corrugated cardboard for using between the tiles edge(s) and the tile frame cavity. This will help center the tile, make it snug, and allows for expansion and contraction in the wood from humidity fluctuations.
3) Cut and position the strips of cardboard. The gap size between the tiles and frame cavity will vary so you may be able to use the cardboard strips as is, or you can reduce the cardboard thickness by pressing down on it with your finger and slide it through. It can take some finagling but work them into position. You may notice that the tile does not have a completely straight edge. You can force the cardboard strips down into position using a putty knife or metal ruler.
4) Tile frames typically come with "tile clips". Tile clips are a zig-zag configuration allowing you to secure a tile into place if the tile's backside protrudes up past the back of the tile frame or if the tile is below the back of the tile frame. Some tile clips have a 1/8" offset and some have as much as 3/8". Position the tile clips either along the top or sides of the tiles. You can pre-drill holes for the screws. Or quite often, tile frames come with self-tapping screws for the clips. Self-tapping screws will start their own hole as they are screwed in. If this s the first tile you are framing a tile, then we would recommend pre-drilling for the screws. It is best to use a drill when securing the clips. We install only 2 tile clips per tile. However, when we frame tiles to be shipped to our customers, we will install as many as 4 clips per tile depending upon the tile size. This is for optimum securing for shipping.
If you find that there is a bit of air space between the tile and clip, then you can add a small piece of the cardboard between the tile and clip. Remember, the back will not be in view after hanging.
Oak Park Home & Hardware offers many art tile designs as well as tile frame options.