Tuesday, April 12, 2016

How to Mosaic A Table-Top

While thrifting with mom a couple months ago I found this fabulous coffee table that just needed a little pick me up.  I love finding pieces that already have the framework to do a decorative finish on top so I grabbed it and we found a way to get it in my car which was quickly filling up.

I have been working on a bathroom project and have lots of leftover pieces of mosaic tile, just enough with some piecing, to cover the top of this table.  Perfect!

The first thing I did was give it a good cleaning and let it dry.  Then, one coat of paint (not in the area I'm going to tile but the rest of the table).  I mixed up my mortar, spread it out and notched it with a trowel, then began laying the tile, wiggling them just a little to make sure they embed in the mortar.  This is a messy  job (well, it is for me anyhow).  No matter how light a layer of mortar I use it doesn't matter, these little mosaic tiles are plain 'ole messy to work with.

As you can see in this picture some of the mortar squishes out between the tile.  It never fails, no matter how careful I am I will have a couple spots where this happens.  While it's still damp you can use a small screwdriver to scrape the excess out (that's what I had handy).  Or, wait for it to dry and chisel it out before you grout.

When working with stone you will need to give it at least one coat of sealer, I usually do two.  This is the sealer I bought at Lowe's, Home Depot has a very similar product.  Just seal the stone so the grout doesn't settle in.  The mortar cleans off really well but the grout, well, that's another story.  It'll fill in every crack and crevice and you will not be able to get it all off.

Moral of the story, seal it before you grout!

When grouting it's better to mix smaller quantities at a time, especially if you're not experienced.  You have a little bit of workable time but it dries out fairly quickly (about 30 minutes or so) and you can feel, and see the difference when its time to pitch it and mix fresh.

With glass you use an un-sanded grout, which I hate btw, the sanded is much easier to work with, in my opinion anyhow.  I tend to mix my grout a little dryer, this stuff is like peanut butter and sticky.  If I turn my hand over it won't fall off.

Simply use your float to grab some grout from your bucket (that's what I mix in) and spread it over the tile at a 45 degree angle.  I go in all directions, not just one to ensure I entirely fill the voids and get all the bubbles out.  From what I've experienced the un-sanded tends to bubble a little more than sanded, it helps to go from multiple directions.

Be sure to clean off as much of the grout as you can with the float.

Here's what it'll look like, messy eh!  See how the stone is covered in the grey grout.  If I hadn't sealed it I would have a hard time getting all that off and my stone would no longer be white.

I usually have two buckets with water and separate sponges.  The grout has pretty good directions on the back, I think it says to give it about 30 minutes to set up before you start cleaning if off.  I start with one bucket and clean off the grout using the sponge in a circular motion.  Ring out your sponge as much as you can, you don't need a ton of water.  Once I've gone over the entire table I switch to my second bucket full of clean water and do it all over again.  On a larger project you'll empty your buckets over and over and over again in order to get it cleaned off.

My little helper.  She's always right in the thick of every project.  Whenever I'm sanding she tries to steal the sandpaper right out of my hand.  In this case she stood right behind the bucket and every time I cleaned out my sponge she tried to grab it as I brought it out of the water.  She's hard to be mad at cause she's such a sweetie but my goodness!

Here you can see that I missed a few spots of mortar, those darker grey spots. So, while the grouts wet I take my screw driver (they make a tool for grout removal, which I have somewhere but the screw driver was handy) and scrape those pieces out, immediately followed with fresh grout.

Even after you've cleaned off your tile with multiple buckets of clean water it'll still look like the right of this picture.  A film develops over the top of the tile.  After letting the grout dry for about an hour (I waited a lot longer, roughly 3 hours) use a clean rag in a circular motion to buff out the film.  The left of the picture has been cleaned off.

Here it is!  Tiled and grouted, just needs polyurethane and it's done.  Really happy with the outcome and I used leftovers so it was a really inexpensive project..

One of the best places to pick up furniture for projects such as this is your local thrift store or antique mall, there's always a variety of small furniture pieces just waiting to be scooped up and given new life.

Would love to see your projects if you've done any tile-work, feel free to share.  Do you have any hints or tips?


  1. You’ve got some interesting points in this article. I would have never considered any of these if I didn’t come across this. Thanks!.
    marble mosaic tile

  2. Awesome shower project collection. Check our shower corner self


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