How Do I Apply Tile to a Tabletop?

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Answered by: Stephanie, An Expert in the DIY Projects Category
Tile can transform the most mundane tabletop into an eye-catching centerpiece. Applying tiles to a wooden tabletop makes it waterproof allowing you the option of enjoying your new tabletop outdoors. 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 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. You do not need any special skills or tools while applying tile to a tabletop, instead you will need basic carpentry skills to complete this project.

Applying tile to a Tabletop Items Needed Include:

Mosaic tiles

A pencil

Tile nibbler

Transparent mosaic tape

Latex-fortified thinset

Notched trowel

Step 1

Dry-lay a ring of selected tiles around the perimeter of your table. 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. A pencil allows you to easily erase if you make a mistake

Step 2

Fill in the pattern that you drew on the tabletop with mosaic pieces. 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 allows you to easily remove them or rearrange them until you are satisfied with your design.

Step 3

Lay a sheet of transparent mosaic tape over the tile you dry-laid in Step 2. 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 2 and 3.

Step 4

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.

Step 5

Lay the sheet of dry-laid mosaic tiles into position on the tabletop. Gently press each tile down into the thinset using your hands. Do not use any tools as they could break or damage the tiles.

Step 6

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


If you serve food or beverages on the table, consider using an epoxy grout. It is less susceptible to staining and less likely to harbor food-borne bacteria.

If you tiled your table in the same color or in a series of colors that are alike, consider using a colorful grout to match or contrast with the tile colors you selected.

If you tiled the tabletop in a multihued pattern, consider using white or gray grout to bring out the colors in the mosaic.

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