How to make a mosaic tabletop

Updated February 21, 2017

One way to add colour to a plain-looking table is to use a mosaic technique. Use small pieces of tile, glass, stones, shells or other materials to create a unique top to your table. Although time-consuming, mosaic is easy to do. Mosaic art can last forever, and when you are finished, you will own a beautiful piece of furniture that your friends will envy.

Choose a style and colour scheme. Limiting your design to two or three colours, smooth materials (no stones or broken glass) and simple, repeating lines will create a more formal feel. A picture such as a flower, hearts or other familiar pattern will set a casual tone. A more random explosion of colour and texture will make a table fit for a party.

Depending on the shape of the table, you may want to create a frame for the table to sit in. You can do this with 1-inch strips of wood that you nail or glue to the surface before you begin tiling. If you do add a frame, make sure to stain or paint the frame to match the rest of the table before you begin tiling.

Select and cut a piece of cardboard to match the size of the area of the table that will be tiled. Lay your pieces on the cardboard, working from the middle and moving toward the edges. The design should feel similar to a puzzle, but the pieces should not touch; a piece can be as close as 1/4 of an inch to another.

Step back and examine your design. If you wish, place the cardboard on your tabletop and lay your pieces there, so you get a better view of how your table will look when completed. Look for obviously glaring errors of colour or design, or areas that don't seem to flow. Make sure the parts of your design are even; you don't want a lot of colour on only one side of your table.

Lift the cardboard (with the pieces still intact) off the table carefully and lay it to the side. Make sure the surface is free of dirt, dust or other debris. Spread tile adhesive on a section of your table and begin to transfer your design from the cardboard to the table. Spread only as much adhesive as you will be able to cover with tile at one time. Once the adhesive dries, it will be difficult to remove. Allow tile to set for 24 hours.

Apply grout to the table, smoothing it between the pieces of the mosaic. Make sure you extend the grout to the very edge of the table. White grout is striking, but harder to keep clean. Black grout will give you a more formal look, but some of the mosaic pieces may not show up as well, depending on the colour. When finished, wipe off the extra grout with a damp cloth.

Once the grout has dried, wipe the tiles with a dry cloth to remove any haze left behind by the grout. Then apply a spray sealer to keep your grout from staining.


Try drawing and colouring your design using graph paper before looking for and purchasing mosaic materials. Be sure to let the grout cure before enjoying your new tabletop. Depending on the materials used, mosaic can be heavy, so make sure your table has sturdy legs.

Things You'll Need

  • Sturdy table
  • Tile grout and sealant
  • Tile adhesive
  • Broken pieces of glass
  • Tiles
  • Marbles
  • Shells
  • Pottery
  • Stones
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