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How to top a wooden table with ceramic tiles

Updated April 17, 2017

Applying tiles to the top of a wooden table can create an entirely different look. This can be done with an old table, a new table or even one that you have built yourself. The task isn't that different from installing tiles on top of a counter top. The only difference is there is not a wall to guide the tiles. Tiles can be installed on almost any surface as long as the appropriate steps have been taken.

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  1. Sand the surface of the table to remove any paint or stain. You need a clean smooth surface to apply the tiles.

  2. Level the table in the area where you will be working. The table needs to be level so the tiles will also be level with the table.

  3. Measure and mark out the centre of the table. This is where the first tile will need to be placed.

  4. Position the tiles on the table around the first tile in the desired pattern. Trace intricate designs on a piece of paper. Space the tiles ¼ of an inch apart with a tile spacer between each one.

  5. Trace and cut any tiles needed for the edges of the table. Score the tile where the cut needs to be made with a glass cutter. Use a tile nipper to break away the side that isn't needed. Use a grind stone to smooth the rough edges of the tile.

  6. Mix mortar according to specific manufacturer's instructions.

  7. Apply an 1/8 of an inch thick of mortar to the top of the table; in the space where the first tile belongs. Use a mortar trowel to spread the mortar.

  8. Apply an 1/8 of an inch thick layer of mortar to the back of each tile before placing them in the mortar on the table. This will provide a better seal between the table and the tile.

  9. Set the first tile into the mortar. Press on the tile gently to set it in the mortar. Use a levelling tool to ensure the tile sits level.

  10. Repeat step 7-9 for the entire surface of the table. Place tile spacers between each tile. Remove the spacers when the last tile is placed. Wait 24 hours for the mortar to dry.

  11. Mix grout according to specific manufacturer's instructions.

  12. Spread grout over the top of the tiles. Spread the grout over the tiles with a grout float. Work the grout into the spaces between the tiles with your fingers. Smooth out the grout lines with your finger.

  13. Clean the top of the tiles with a damp sponge. There will still be a film over the tiles. This will wipe clean once the grout has dried. Wait 24 hours for the grout to dry before moving the table.

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Things You'll Need

  • Sand paper
  • Level
  • Tape measure
  • Tiles
  • Tile spacers
  • Glass cutter
  • Tile nippers
  • Mortar
  • Bucket (for mixing mortar and grout)
  • Trowel
  • Grout float
  • Gloves
  • Sponge

About the Author

Meg Warren began writing how-to articles professionally in 2009. Born and raised in St. Louis, Miss., Warren has always been a creative person through art, writing and music. She is currently pursuing an associate degree at Patricia Stevens College for interior design.

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