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How to Tile a Table Top With Your Own Ceramic Tiles

Craft a unique table with our guide on tiling a tabletop using your own ceramic tiles. Get creative, start DIY!

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Are you looking for some DIY ideas to elevate the look of your old side table? Adding ceramic tiles to your old tabletop will be a great idea. It will transform your old table and give it a fresh look and also make it strong and durable to last longer.

Ceramic is incredibly hard and resistant to cracks and scratches, making it a perfect choice for tables. Moreover, cleaning a ceramic tabletop is also easy, which is another advantage.

The best part about this process is that you can do it at home using simple techniques. You can even repaint your dining table to match the color of your walls with DIY help.

Material & Tools Required

Artisanal ceramic tiled tabletop with intricate black and white patterns framed in natural wood

Before beginning the first step, gathering all the tools and materials required for tiling the tabletop is important. Preparing all the materials will make it easy once you start and avoid interruptions. 

Gather all the material; it is very basic and can be found in the nearest hardware store: 

  • Ceramic Tiles (consider using smaller tiles as they cover more area and are easier to paste as well) 
  • Tabletop Base (old tabletop’s existing base or create a base using material like plywood or cement board) 
  • Tile Adhesive (thin-set mortar)
  • Grout (sanded or unsanded)
  • Rough Cloth 
  • Gloves 
  • Trowel
  • Cutting Tools, a sponge, and a bucket

Preparation for the Installation

Outdoor ceramic tile table with a blue and white geometric design flanked by striped chairs and potted plants

The next step is to prepare for the installation by cleaning and sanding the surface of the table. Here is a detailed list of things to do before you start:

Step 1: Clean the Surface

Get rid of all the dust, dirt, old paint, or anything stuck on the table. You can also use soapy water to remove stains, but you must still need to sand it lightly or you can use a surface cleaner. Just make sure the table is completely dry before moving on.

Step 2: Take Measurements 

Note the length and width of your table in inches (or centimeters). This will help you figure out how many tiles you will need and how to arrange them on the table without cutting. Remember to account for the space the grout lines will take up between the tiles.  

Note: It is always better to leave a few extra tiles, if you mistake cutting them or one breaks. Plan to buy 10% to 15% more tiles than you need.

Step 3: Create a Smooth Base 

  • Examine the table surface: Look for cracks, dents, or warped areas.
  • Filling and Sanding: Address imperfections with a suitable filler for your table material. Allow to dry fully and sand smooth.
  • Priming (if necessary): Some surfaces, especially ones like raw wood, may benefit from a coat of primer designed for the project. This leads to better adhesion for your tile adhesive.

Step 4: Set up the Workstation

Sunny ceramic tiled coffee table with an orange and white circular pattern basking in the warm light of a cozy porch

A very smart idea to avoid any spills or paint marks on the ground is to lay down a protective layer, like a big plastic sheet or old newspaper, under the table, covering even the surroundings.  

This will keep your floors and surroundings safe from splatters and drips. Nicely tape the edges of the sheet or newspaper to the floor to ensure it stays in place while you work on your table.

Step-by-Step Process

Gather everything and ready with your workspace? It is time to use all the tools and materials to start turning your old table into something amazing with ceramic tiles that will do all the talking. 

The guide below will describe the step-by-step process of sticking the tiles to the table. Follow all the steps and see how an old table can transform into a new aesthetic design.

  • Clean the Base 

Start by simply cleaning the wooden base with a cloth. Any dirt particles or grease will make it hard for the glue to stick to the table. You can use normal soapy water and a rag for cleaning. 

If there is still something, you should scrub a little harder or use a surface cleaner that is safe for wooden tables. But most importantly, make sure the table is dry before moving on to the next step.

  • Sand the Base of the Table

Sand the Base of the Table

After properly cleaning the table for dust particles, you must sand it for a smoother finish, as a rough surface might not allow the tape to stick properly. So, sanding the table will create tiny scratches that the glue can grab onto better.  

But try standing at a low speed, as scratching hard might put scratches or gouges on the table. A medium-grit sandpaper, not too rough or smooth, will be perfect for this job. 

  • Check the Surface for Cracks

If you use a table with a wrecked or cracked base, mending those parts before doing anything else is important. The surface should be able to take the load of the ceramic tiles. If you lay your tiles over cracks, they might wiggle or break over time because the table isn’t stable. 

That is why fixing any cracks before you start tiling is very important. Try filling them in with a special patching compound for the material your table is made of (like wood filler for wood tables). Follow the instructions on the patching compound to ensure it dries completely. 

  • Measure the Table Length & Cut a Board

It is advised not to lay tiles directly on your existing table surface. You can add a new layer, typically made from cement board or plywood. This will create a smooth, flat, and more stable base for tiling. It protects your original tabletop from moisture and adhesive that might seep through the tile gaps. 

Take accurate table board measurements to avoid gaps and ensure a smooth DIY. This will ensure the board fits perfectly on the table without gaps, and you won’t waste any extra material.

  • Cover the Tabletop with the Board

Vibrant turquoise mosaic table with ornate central mandala design and detailed border rich in color and craftsmanship

A separate base for the tabletop will give it a good foundation for the next step, 

Adding a board creates a flat and even surface, which is very important for making sure your tiles lay nice and flat without wobbling. The board will also act as a protective layer between the original table and the tile adhesive. 

Although the adhesive is very strong, a bit might sometimes seep through the tiny gaps between the tiles. The board helps to protect the table from any moisture. It will prevent the adhesive from getting through, keeping the original tabletop safe and sound. 

  • Design the pattern to Place Tiles.

Before you start gluing tiles down, you can check the formation and how the tiles will look by creating a dry layout. Before you start gluing tiles down, playing around with how you want them to look on the table is a good idea. This will help you decide on a pattern you like and ensure there are no awkward cuts around the edges of the table.  

For example, if you want a straight border of whole tiles around the edge, you might need to adjust your tile pattern slightly so that the tiles fit evenly. It also helps to mark the centerlines of the table with a pencil. This will give you a good starting point for placing your tiles and make sure your design looks balanced.  

  • Make Square Boxes on the Board

Another important step to ensure the tiles get placed well aligned with the wooden base is to mark small squares. These lines will help you keep all the tiles spaced evenly. Making small squares is also going to help you apply grout. 

Squares will ensure proper spacing and space for the grout glue to be spread between the tiles. Following these instructions properly will make the table look professional and neatly finished.  

  • Apply Tile Adhesive

Use thinset mortar, the most common type of tile adhesive, and works well for most tiling projects. But if your table is small or your material is different, other adhesive options might be available.

You can use a special tool called a notched trowel to spread the adhesive. It has a serrated edge that helps spread the adhesive in ridges. These ridges are designed to improve the grip and allow the trapped air to escape, ensuring the tiles stick properly. Work on small sections as the adhesive dries quickly, apply the adhesive, and place the tile.

  • Place the Tiles on the Marked Squares

Start placing the tiles; the first tile should be placed in the center of the table. Then, you can floor the tiles individually to the other boxes in the line. Gently press each tile down to make sure the tile is well-aligned with the adhesive.  

Check the level after placing a few tiles. Use a level to check if they are all flat. A level is a tool that looks like a long ruler with a bubble in the middle. If all tiles are well-leveled, the bubble will stay at the center.

  • Add Grout Powder Between the Spaces

Grout is a powder used to fill the empty spaces between the tiles. Read the instructions on the package and add accurate water to the grout powder. The consistency should be thick, like peanut butter. 

Use a rubber tool to gently spread the paste all over the tiles and push it down firmly into the spaces between them. This will fill in all the gaps and create a smooth, even surface on the entire table. Grout also provides waterproofing to the table, so spills will not be a worry.  

  • Damp the Grout

Use a spare cloth or a sponge to wipe off the extra grout from the surface of the tiles. This will remove any big clumps or grout stuck on the surface into the spaces between the tiles. Do not scrub too hard, or you might accidentally pull some grout out of the gaps. 

  • Leave it to Dry for 15 Minutes.

Let the surface and the grout dry for at least 15-20 minutes. Though the grout needs more time to dry, leaving it for 15 minutes makes it rest well within the spaces.  

  • Wipe Off with Sponge

This is the final step; after leaving the surface to dry for almost 30 minutes, it is time to brush and clean the table. Rinse the sponge often with clean water. Keep wiping until the tiles look shiny and new. 

Conclusion 

Tiling the tabletop with ceramic tiles is a creative way to turn your old table into something artistic. You can also transform the colors and textures of the table. We have listed the most common method to add a ceramic tile to your tabletop. You can get plenty of ideas about designs from our latest ceramic table collection, which fits every occasion.

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