Oyster Shell Tiles




Introduction: Oyster Shell Tiles

I was asked to open oysters on two separate occasions for two of my favorite places in the San Francisco Bay area-the Dolphin Club and The Headlands Center for the Arts. Following the events, when face with huge piles of oysters shells, instead of tossing them out, I made oyster shell tiles that are 1/2 oyster shell-1/2 cement, with polished oyster shell tiles. Since these are sharp and crumbly, I poured a layer of resin on top.

I wasn't sure how strong the oyster shell cement would be and they had a few sharp spots, so I've decided to use these as a backsplash to my kitchen rather than flooring.

Step 1: Clean Oyster Shells and Lay in Sun to Dry

I boiled the oyster shells with a little vinegar, scraped out any remnants of the flesh, and laid them in the sun to dry and bleach.

Step 2: Prepare Shells

I then put them through a tumbler for about 1 hour. I crushed some with a mallet and then ground them up with a grain grinder. I pulled aside some whole shells that would lay flat, and then smashed up other shells into shards.

Step 3: Mix Cement & Oyster Shells

Pictured here is grout, which has a fine texture, but the color was too dark. I recommend using regular cement, and if possible, some white cement pigment to add to it. Follow the directions on the cement package. And keep in mind, cement is very messy.

Step 4: Spray Tile Mold

Spray your tile mold with Pam Non-Stick Spray.

Step 5: Spread Oyster Shell Cement

Spread your cement evenly through the mold.

Step 6: Add Oyster Top Coat

Add oyster shells on top of this while still wet, and press into the cement.

Step 7: Add Resin

Spray the edge of your mold with a resin release, and then mix your resin and hardener according to package. Evenly pour this onto the tile until it comes up to the edge of the mold. (Work on a flat table for best results. If need be, prop up a corner.)

Step 8: Let Dry

Put them somewhere away from debris, pets and children to dry. (Even eco-friendly resin can be nasty stuff).

Step 9: Measure Your Area-Install

Measure the area where you will be installing the tiles. These are thick and heavy, so you'll need a sawzall to cut them. When I get the backsplash installed, I'll post pictures of it.

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    1 year ago

    love it! best one yet!

    Jack Friday
    Jack Friday

    7 years ago

    great idea and love it. the resin will eliminate the problem of those sharp shells. someday i will make a table top like this with bleached shells or something white in color. white cement under the shells and mixed silver glitter with the epoxy.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    These are really beautiful Maria. Consider me inspired! Are you going to instal them in your home?


    Curiously enough, such a construction of sharp, broken oyster shells and
    limestone cement was employed by early settlers in St. Augustine
    Florida as defensive walls. This composition was applied to the faces
    and tops with the intent to cause nasty cuts and abrasions that would
    later become infected. This type of injury had serious consequences
    back in the days before antibiotics, and the choice often became one
    of amputation or death if the wound site became gangrenous. Anyhow,
    glad to see yours is but a decorative use, well done!