How to tile a coffee table

Written by sal marco
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How to tile a coffee table
Create a new surface on an old table. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Adding ceramic or stone tile to the top of a coffee table is a creative way of extending the life of the table that is in otherwise good repair. Ceramic and stone tiles offer a durable and strong surface on a coffee table. The tiles withstand moisture and easily wipe clean, whereas wood swells from water, scratches easily and cannot stand heat without damage. Crafting a mosaic design provides a personal touch to the tabletop. Personalising furniture with tile allows the coffee table to fit into a design theme.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Belt sander, orbital sander or sanding block
  • 120-grit sandpaper
  • Tack rag
  • Flat decorative moulding
  • Mitre saw
  • Paint or stain
  • Paintbrush
  • Trowel
  • Tile adhesive
  • Tile spacers
  • Tile nippers, tile cutter or wet saw
  • Wood glue
  • C-clamps
  • Grout
  • Bucket
  • Rubber grout-float
  • Sponge

Show MoreHide


  1. 1

    Load a belt sander, orbital sander or sanding block with 120-grit sandpaper. Sand the finish off the surface of the coffee table. Wipe the table surface with a tack rag to remove the debris and dust.

  2. 2

    Cut flat decorative moulding at a 45-degree angle with a mitre saw big enough to correspond to the coffee table edges. The decorative moulding will lay flat on the tabletop and resemble a frame aligning with the edge of the table.

  3. 3

    Lay the decorative moulding in position on the coffee table surface. Hold the moulding in place and trace a line next to the moulding on all four pieces of moulding.

  4. 4

    Apply paint or stain to the moulding to match or complement the tile. Set the moulding to the side and allow it to dry.

  5. 5

    Use a trowel to coat the top of the coffee table with tile adhesive, staying within the lines. Drag the trowel notches through the adhesive in a wavy pattern, leaving behind raised lines.

  6. 6

    Spread a thin layer of tile adhesive on the back of the tile. Press the ceramic tile in position on top of the coffee table beginning next to the guideline. Set a tile spacer beside the tile and touching it. Coat the back of another tile and set in place abutting the first tile and spacers. Continue to apply adhesive, set tiles and place tile spacers until tile covers the available coffee table top. Make cuts to the tiles as necessary with tile nippers, tile cutter or a wet saw.

  7. 7

    Allow the tile adhesive to dry for four to six hours.

  8. 8

    Paint wood glue onto the exposed wood surface of the coffee table around the perimeter of the tile. Position the decorative moulding in place and run your hand over the moulding to press in place. Tighten C-clamps on the moulding to hold it firmly on the coffee table. Repeat the process on the three other sides. Clean up excess wood glue with a damp rag.

  9. 9

    Allow the wood glue to set for four to six hours. Remove the clamps and pull out tile spacers with needle-nose pliers.

  10. 10

    Mix grout and water, following the manufacturer's directions, in a small bucket.

  11. 11

    Pick up grout on a rubber grout-float and spread it over the tile to fill in the spaces between the tiles. Wipe up the extra grout from the tile surface with a damp sponge. Allow the grout to set for six to eight hours before use.

Tips and warnings

  • Create a paper pattern to test-fit tiles and make mosaic designs.
  • Seal grout lines with grout sealer to prevent stains on the grout.

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