When I decided to remix our master bedroom for the ORC, I wanted to use an antique vanity that I got at a community garage sale. The table had no top and I really wanted to top it with a marble slab. Time & cost didn’t let me do that so instead I decided to create my own tabletop. I wanted to share with you how to tile a tabletop, my way.
This is for square or rectangular tables that will not require any special tools or cutting.
- Tile of choice. For my 16″ x 33″ table top, I used 1 12″x 24″ white marble tile, 1 sheet of white marble mosaic tile, and 1 sheet of marble & glass accent tile
- Construction Adhesive
- Tabletop (in my case this was a piece of 1″ plywood that had been cut to fit)
- toothpicks, Popsicle sticks, and/or paint stirrers, if needed.
I started with this vanity that I got at a community garage sale for a steal. I bought a desk for my littlest and I guess I was going on about this table so much that the owners threw it in for FREE! Of course it had seen much better days but I love giving old things new life.
I cleaned her up with a mixture of olive oil and vinegar. She was missing a top so I cut some scrap plywood we had in the garage to fit on top.
Then I got down to the process of tiling the tabletop. Unless the vanity is the exact size of the tile – which is very unlikely – it’s really important to layout the tile pattern before you do anything else. The entire thing. And measure – a lot. Following is the process I used.
How to Tile a Tabletop
I originally wanted a marble slab for this little table. I am using it as my bedside table in our master bedroom remix and wanted a luxurious look and feel. But when the most budget friendly cut of 17″ x 33″ Carrera White Marble I could find topped $200 – yes even from my suppliers – I had to think quick and shift my focus.
So to my neighborhood Lowe’s I went – 3 times, with my plywood top in tow, before associate David & I came up with a solid plan, laying things out right there in the store. I had to do that because I wanted the top to look as close to a solid surface as possible, so I didn’t want to:
- make any cuts
- use any grout – plus, the smallest bag of grout is 10 lbs and since I don’t normally lay tile, that would have been a waste
After you have the layout exactly how you want it, take a picture. Once you start attaching the tile, there will be a small window of opportunity to move them. A picture will make sure you place them exactly where you want them to begin with – fewer mistakes, less stress.
Take the picture then move all the tiles. Starting with the center tile, apply construction adhesive to the back in an X pattern. Fill in between the X with lines. It will look something like this:
You don’t have to get as anal as I did, just make sure you use enough to get a solid bond but no so much that it oozes out the sides. Set the large tile in place between the marks you made in step 1 above, wiggle it a bit to “set” it in, then measure to make sure it is centered. Make any adjustments now because this will guide the rest of the project.
Now begin placing the small individual tiles the way you laid them out before. Apply construction adhesive to the back; I was not as safe with these – I just spread it in an S pattern and set the tile in place. Repeat until all the tiles are placed. You may be lucky enough to get a perfect fit, but I still had a small strip that needed tile – literally less than an inch. For this, I used the glass tiles from the sheet of mosaic accent tiles as trim.
These accent tiles are not the same height as the large tile or the individual tiles on the top. In order to raise them to the same height, I cut a paint stirrer to fit in the small space I wanted to cover and glued it to the plywood with the adhesive. I then trimmed the sides of the top with the small glass tiles.
Now the top portion of the tabletop is done, but the front & sides are still the raw plywood.
Using the same sheet of glass & marble mosaic tile, I measured the width of the pieces and laid them out in the pattern that I wanted to use across front & sides of the tabletop using only the tiles that were the size I need.
Follow the same method to apply as with the individual tiles on the top. The only thing I had to do differently here is use toothpicks to keep the tiles in place until the adhesive was dry. I stuck the toothpicks between the plywood and the base of the sewing table.
Once it’s all dry, there’s only 1 thing left to address. The hardware. It’s not bad, but it’s not good either. This thing gave me hell, I’ll be honest. The screws were tiny and they we IN there. It’s a good thing I have lots of random tools, it took the tiniest little screwdriver – I use an eyeglass screwdriver – WD40, and lots of elbow grease.
With new hardware and a newly tiled table top, my garage sale vanity now has new life.
This same method could be used for larger surfaces – tables of any size, vanity tops, even counter tops. Larger surfaces would need to be laid like traditional tile, using spacers, thin set, and grout. It’s a little more work but still really manageable.
Now that you know how to tile a tabletop, would you try it?