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Tile-Top Table

Turn small tiles into a bold pattern you’ll enjoy every time you seat yourself at this DIY table.

Tile-top table.

Project Overview

Skill Level


Estimated Time

1-2 weeks

Estimated Cost


Tools & Materials


  • Miter saw
  • Circular saw or table saw
  • Straightedge
  • Random-orbit sander
  • 120-grit and 180-grit sanding discs
  • Drill, bit set, driver bits
  • Hammer
  • Tape measure
  • Caulking gun
  • Utility knife
  • Notched trowel
  • Grout float
  • Tile spacers
  • Wood glue


  • 2 - 1 x 2 x 8 poplar boards
  • 3 x 3 x 36 poplar board
  • 3/4 x 48 x 96 MDF
  • 1/4 x 3-ft x 5-ft James Hardie tile backer board, #11640
  • 3 Elida Ceramica mosaic glass tile squares, Rose, #409573
  • 3 Elida Ceramica mosaic glass tile squares, Bay Breeze, #409582
  • 3 Elida Ceramica mosaic glass tile squares, Light Green, #409571
  • Liquid Nails construction adhesive
  • TEC tile adhesive, 1 gallon, #53855
  • Mapei unsanded grout, white, #111221
  • 8 - 1-3/4 x 13-3/4 shelf brackets, #242418
  • 1-1/2-in (4d) finish nails
  • #8 x 3/4-in panhead screws
  • Valspar gloss spray paint, white

Items may be Special Order in some stores. Product costs, availability, and item numbers may vary online or by market. Paint colors may vary slightly from those shown. Availability varies by market for lumber species and sizes.

Missing anything? Shop Online

Assemble the Top

Step 1

From the sheet of 3/4-inch MDF, cut a 35-inch square top (A) (Tile-Top Table Project Diagram).

Good to Know

To make a heavy sheet of MDF easier to handle and transport, ask a Lowe’s associate to cut a 36-inch-wide section from the sheet. Then trim it to size when you get home.

Step 2

Lay the MDF square at one corner of the tile backer board. With a utility knife, score deeply into the surface of the backer along two MDF edges. While holding one side of the sheet firmly against the floor along the score line, lift the other side to snap the tile backer to size.

Good to Know

Avoid sawing or sanding cementitious tile backer board or sweeping dust from the board inside a confined space. Make the snap cuts outdoors in a well-ventilated area.

Step 3

Apply construction adhesive evenly on the MDF square. Then press the textured face of the backer board into the adhesive so that the edges align.

Good to Know

Although the tile backer board is designed to be waterproof, the MDF should not be exposed to moisture. Always use the finished table indoors.

Step 4

From a 1 x 2 board, cut two edge trim (B) pieces the length of the MDF edges. Glue and nail the edge trim to the MDF (not the backer board) with the ends flush with the MDF edges. Measure between the outside faces of the edge trim and cut the end trim (C) to length. Glue and nail the end trim to the MDF and edge trim.

Step 5

Spray a coat of paint (white shown) on the edge and end trim and the underside while minimizing overspray on the tile backer board. Sand lightly and spray two additional coats.

Lay Out the Tile Pattern

Step 1

Cut each sheet of tiles in half with a sharp utility knife to form two rectangles six tiles tall. Then cut the sections as shown (Tile Tabletop Pattern) and arrange them on a work surface.

Step 2

Finished tile layout with grout.

Use a trowel to apply an even coat of tile adhesive to about a third of the tile backer board. Starting in the upper left corner (as shown on the pattern), press the tiles firmly onto the adhesive. Use tile spacers as needed to separate strips of different colors to complete the first row. Then add spacers to position the second row. Trowel on tile adhesive as you go and add tiles for the remaining four rows until the design resembles the pattern.

Step 3

After the adhesive dries overnight, use a grout float to fill the gaps between the tiles with grout. Hold the grout float at an angle and sweep it diagonally to keep the edge from digging into the grout lines as you clear off the excess grout.

Step 4

As a grout film begins to form on the tile surface, gently wipe it clean with a moist sponge without removing the grout from between the tiles. Take special care along the edges where the tile meets the wood and rinse the sponge frequently in fresh water. Let the grout dry for a week before handling the tabletop.

Good to Know

To help keep the grout clean, wait about two weeks and apply a grout sealer.

Add the Table Base

Step 1

Cut the table leg (D) to length (Tile-Top Table Project Diagram) and sand smooth. Then apply at least two coats of spray paint to the entire leg.

Step 2

Screw brackets to the table pedestal for feet.

Working on a flat surface, hold the leg upright while you center a shelf bracket along one face of the leg with the shorter section of the bracket against the wood. Mark the screw hole locations and drill 1/8-inch pilot holes. Then screw the bracket to the leg. Repeat for the other brackets.

Step 3

Flip the leg upside down and install four brackets in the same pattern at the other end.

Step 4

Lay the tiled tabletop facedown on a work surface and center the leg and brackets on the tabletop. Mark the mounting screw locations and drill 3/4-inch-deep pilot holes. Then screw the leg to the underside of the tabletop (A).

Good to Know

If you’re concerned that the metal brackets will scratch your floor, add felt pads along the surface of the metal where it touches the floor.

The tile colors used here work with the accessories in this room, but you can vary them to suit your decor. If you discover other uses for this tile mosaic, share it with us.