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How To: Tile A Tabletop

By krys November 30, 2011

Tile can transform the most mundane tabletop into an eye-catching centerpiece. After all, who wants to invite guests to a home and place evening drinks on an old, rusty, nasty looking table? Applying tiles to a wooden tabletop makes it waterproof allowing you the option of enjoying your new tabletop outdoors, which is an added bonus, incase a drink accidentally spills! Placing a decorated tabletop on your front porch, deck or landscaping will excite your senses. Applying tiles to a tabletop is a project that most do-it-yourselfers can accomplish in an afternoon, thus preventing you from having to allow yourself an entire weekend to create a beautiful tabletop. If it takes you longer than an afternoon, don’t worry, it’s ok. If you are tiling an outdoor tabletop and want an umbrella, drill a hole through the center of the tabletop and carefully cut your tiles around the opening, as this will prevent you from having to drill into the tiles. I have tried to drill on tiles, it did not work out to well for me.

Dry-lay a ring of selected tiles around the perimeter of your table. Dry laying the ring of tiles allows you play with the design until you have created the masterpiece of your dreams. Trace the interior edge of the tiles onto the substrate using a pencil. Draw a pattern onto the surface on the tabletop using a pencil. Drawing and placing dry tiles on the tabletop before you adhere them to it, allows you to change whatever you want without a hassle.

Fill in the pattern that you drew on the tabletop with mosaic pieces until you have created the design you made in step one. Cut the tiles as needed using a tile nibbler. Do not secure the tiles to the tabletop during this step. You are simply dry laying the tiles, which allow you to easily remove them or rearrange them until you are satisfied with your design. And, if your anything like me, you will not want to secure them until you have decided where each tile belongs.

Lay a sheet of transparent mosaic tape over the tile you dry-laid in step two. Press it down against the surface of the tiles with your hands. Gently lift the edges of the tape. You will pick up the entire dry-laid mosaic pattern. Place the sheet (with tiles) on a flat work surface. If tiles fall off the tape, repeat steps two and three. Picking up the tape with the tiles is a bit tricky; I had to start over on this step, but that is okay. In the end, it turned out beautiful.

Mix and spread a batch of latex-fortified thinset over the tabletop following the manufacturer’s directions. Use a notched trowel to spread the thinset.

Lay the sheet of dry-laid mosaic tiles into position on the tabletop. Gently press each tile down into the thinset using your hands. For me personally, this was the fun part of this project. I was able to see my design come to life right before my eyes! Do not use any tools as they could break or damage the tiles.

Cure the thinset overnight, and gently pull off the mosaic tape.

Now that your tabletop is complete, invite guests over for a cocktail party. I decorated my tabletop with brightly colored glasses and napkins. Would you want to serve cocktails on your tabletop in clear glasses with the color of the cocktail matching the color of a tile on the tabletop, or would you want to serve your cocktails in glasses that match the colors on the table? The choice is yours. Whatever you decide, enjoy your evening showing-off your newest DIY project.