Creative ways to utilise scrap tiles

Boxers training at the KBC gym in  Nakivubo, Kampala. The gym floor is made of scrap tiles. PHOTO/ABDUL-NASSER SSEMUGABI

What you need to know:

Do not rush to get rid of those broken pieces of tiles. These scrap tiles, if used with creativity do much more than decorate spaces. Have you ever entered a bar or restaurant and found those neatly designed coloured tiles on the counter or the floor itself that totally look like they belong there? Those were once scrap tiles that have been repurposed to create something amazing

When Flavia Inema just moved into her home, she did not know she would soon tire of the cement it initially had. Wanting to renovate the house step by step, she bought tiles to first renovate her bathroom. The tiles were not enough and because she was short of cash, her artistic mind thought otherwise.

“I told my contractor to use the off-cut tiles to finish the rest of the bathroom. Unless one takes a closer look, they may never notice I used off-cut tiles for my bathroom,” Inema says. The mother of two is now thinking of doing a lot more tiling her entire house using the scrap tiles.

“There is a building in my area still under construction. I keep collecting off-cut tiles from there and now I have a heap. I intend to use the tiles for my floor to design; a flower in the middle of my living room, and tile the rest of the house once I am ready,” she says.

They add interesting features to tabletops. PHOTO/

About scrap tiles

Scrap tiles, also called off-cut or damaged tiles are tiles that are no longer whole (damaged) due to transport conditions of the tiles or have been cut off from the main tiles during construction. While many used to throw away the scrap tiles (some still do), others have found ways of making use of them, or even get money off them.

Eye opener

Samuel Owere, a tiler, considered scrap tiles as waste until one day, a client opened his eyes. After working on a tender for one of his clients, there were many tile offcuts he figured were wasted after tiling the house and compound. When time to tile the gazebo came, Owere asked his client for more tiles to complete the project.

Instead of more tile, the client showed him an image of scrap tiled floor work from a house he had visited and suggested he make an image of his dog using the scrap tiles on his gazebo. Owere studied the image and drew the dog as he had been instructed. This earned him referrals to different clients of scrap tiles from this one client. He scrap tiled gazebos, bathrooms, backyards and  restaurants.

He later learnt that scrap tiles do much more than decorate. There are projects for which he specifically went to buy scrap tiles, from the tile company.

Different places to install scrap tiles

When I heard scrap tile, my mind raced to the scrap tiled floor in the bathroom. Back at home, we have such a bathroom with an artistically tiled floor of scrap tiles. That was the one place I had clear in my mind. However, there are more ways than one to use these broken tiles, even to tiling the whole house, restaurant, or even a work out place.

In some restaurants, bars

In 2018, Owere was called on a job of flooring a restaurant. The restaurant owner confided in him that his floor budget was lacking. Owere therefore sold him the idea of using scrap tiles, which would cut costs and bring out the best in the restaurant floor if well done.

He took the client to one of his previous projects and the client liked the idea. He then introduced the client to a place he could easily buy the broken tiles. The outcome satisfied both of them.


To use broken tiles on the rooftop terrace, Owere says he uses waterproof grout to put together the tiles for durability and to stop leakages in the house. Most people are embracing the idea of leaving a space on the rooftop for relaxing and getting the natural fresh air as much as they can.

With more flats being built in real estates, there are few you will not find with a rooftop area. Some even use the space for drying clothes. There are many ways one can therefore, be creative with broken or offcut tiles up on the rooftop if it is one’s plan to build one, or one wants to change the flooring of the place.

Redefining the house

Just as Inema did with her bathroom and anticipates to do the same with her living room, many tile floors to redefine their houses.

According to Sydney Kukundakwe, head of operations at Olim Group, some landlords do that for their rentals since cemented rentals are cheaper as compared to tiled ones.

“They go and pick out those tiles depending on the colours they think will match with their houses and place them according to how they were damaged to make some nice designs,” Kukundakwe says.

However, Owere advises that unless one is thinking of a design using broken tiles for their house, many would want them to steer clear of the living room.

In a bar

Have you ever entered a bar and found those neatly designed coloured tiles on the counter or the floor itself that totally look like they belong there? Once one gets a good and professional tile person, any tile dream can become a reality. Most of those designs are deliberately made, while others happened because of the limited budget of the owner.

Owere has not only tiled those places but also tiled a kennel. “People are now making tiled houses for their dogs,” he says.

What you should consider

Size of the tiles

The size has to be the same to make sure the floor is on the same level. There are different tiles with different sizes so as you go out to buy or collect the offcut tiles, the height of the tiles should stay on your mind. Otherwise, you may not achieve what you intended to achieve.

A few small pots decorated with a broken tile design can be charming, or you can use one large pot to really make the design pop

Purpose of the tiles

There are tiles specifically meant for the floor and those meant for the wall. Most of the time, the sizes differ and one may use floor tiles on the walls and they end up falling off because they are too heavy (this may also depend on the type of tile).


Where the tiles are going to be installed should also be a concern of one looking into using scrap tiles for one’s place.

Places that are highly used or congested need to look into investing heavier tiles for their floors for durability. These places include factories where heavy machines are used. The lighter tiles can therefore be used in less busy places.


Most tiling experts estimate the cost of a wheelbarrow full of broken tiles at Shs10, 000 to Shs13, 000. Kukundakwe, however, says the price may also depend on one’s bargaining power and the type of tiles damaged.

“A square metre of new tiles can range from Shs35, 000 to Shs70, 000 or even Shs90, 000. Those tiles will not be priced in the same way,” he says.

According to Andy Sendi, a sales personnel at Mirage Trading Company says that the price also depends on how severe the damage is on a tile.

The tiles that are not so much damaged cost higher than the ones that are severely damaged.

Missiontilewest gives a few Do-It-Yourself ways of using broken tiles. This can as well be a family project, as long as you have all the resources.

Flower pots

A few small pots decorated with a broken tile design can be charming, or you can use one large pot to really make the design pop. Either create a single design on the side of the pot, such as a flower or a pattern along the rim, or go wild and cover the entire pot with a splash of various colours and designs.

Table tops

Nothing can add charm and appeal to a tabletop than a classic or rustic design made from broken tiles. An added benefit to covering a tabletop with a broken tile design is that the table will become more durable perfect for outdoor use.

Wall Mosaic

A classic and popular use for tile pieces is to cover portions of a wall, or an entire area, with designs or pictures. Colourful patterns are fun to set up and easy to create, but artistic people can even create stunning images in tile. Many homes include wall alcoves, which would be perfect for adding a tile mosaic. Bedrooms, halls, stairways and outdoor spaces are all places where a wall mosaic of any size would be appealing.


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