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How to Make a Mosaic Table Top With Ceramic Tiles

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L.M. Reid is an Irish writer who has published many articles. She has a keen interest in creating crafts.

How to make mosaic designs for the tops of old garden tables and stools.

How to make mosaic designs for the tops of old garden tables and stools.

How to Make Mosaic Table Top Designs

Learn how to use ceramic tiles to make amazing mosaic designs for the garden. If you have any kind of old table or stool with decent legs, then you can turn it into a piece of useful art. The tables I created were made from very old and rusted stools and new pieces of wood. Below are step-by-step instructions with videos and photos.

Two old tables that I transformed with my Mosaic designs.

Two old tables that I transformed with my Mosaic designs.

Materials Required

  • Lots of different coloured ceramic tiles
  • 1 stool in need of a makeover
  • 1 piece of wood cut to the size you require
  • 1 pot of tile grouting
  • 1 pot or can of tile sealer
  • 1 pot of wood sealing paint
  • 1 pot of tile glue
  • 1 pot of black gloss
  • 2 paint brushes
  • Screws to the amount and size required
  • Wood glue
  • Small containers to separate the tiles (I use old ice cream or butter containers)

Tools Required

  • 1 Hammer
  • 1 Small piece of plastic
  • 1 Spirit level
  • Some old cloths and kitchen sponges
  • Dustpan and brush

Ceramic Tiles for Mosaic Designs

I did have some old tiles that I collected from family members who had finished with them. But I also bought some too. These mosaic tiles were great value and because there were ten different colours in them it made it easier for me to create better designs.

I also found them easier to place on the table because they were new and therefore had no old grouting on them. If you are starting out on your first journey into creating great mosaics then I recommend these tiles.

Paint the legs of an old table with black gloss.

Paint the legs of an old table with black gloss.

Step 1. Preparing the Table Legs

It is going to take you a few days to create your Mosaic Tiles Design so it is best to have the table legs painted and ready first. That way it has a few days to dry completely.

  1. Brush the table or stool down to remove all dirt.
  2. Wash with warm soapy water and dry well
  3. Lay down some old paper on a table outside
  4. Place the stool upside down on the table
  5. If you have wrought iron legs like the stool I have done here then
  6. Paint the legs with black gloss paint.
  7. You will probably need to give the parts that are rusted another coat of paint once it has dried.
  8. If your old stool or table has wooden legs paint them with Wood Preserving Paint first.
  9. Then once they are completely dry paint over that with the black gloss

The first Mosaic Table Top I created already had a glass top. It looked terrible but was in perfect condition. On that project I was able to use the glass top to create my Mosaic Design so I did not have to find a piece of wood.

With this new table I wanted to create from the old rusted stool I needed to get a piece of wood to fit the top. A few months before this an old mirror had fallen off the hall wall. The mirror glass smashed into pieces. The round wood piece it was attached to was not damaged. I did not throw it out because it was a nice piece of wood and I knew if I found a suitable table I could create a nice Mosaic Tile Design on it. It fitted the old stool perfectly.

If you do not have any wood hanging around the shed you can buy a piece to suit the project you are doing. It is best to cut out some cardboard to the size you think you want and try it on the table or stool first. You do not want it to be top heavy so measure it carefully. You could also ask your friends, relatives or neighbours if they have a bits of wood that you could use instead of buying it.

Step 2. Paint the Piece of Wood

I find it is best to paint the wood that will be your table top on the back first before you make your design. That way it will be finished before you stick the tiles on the other side.

  1. Paint the underside of the wood and the edges with wood preservative paint first.
  2. Allow to dry
  3. Then paint over it with Black Gloss or any colour you prefer., but I use black on all my table tops because I think it looks more professional.
  4. Leave to completely dry for at least two days.

As you can see preparing the table takes time. You have to paint then leave to dry then paint again. During this process you can be getting on with a lot of other work connected to it.

Step 3. Preparing the Ceramic Tiles

Separate the tiles by size first. This is the depth size. When making a table top all the tiles need to be the same depth so your top is flush. You can get away with a very slight variation but it is best if they are all very similar.

Then separate by colour. If you have large floor or bathroom tiles they will need to be broken into manageable pieces. Use a hammer for this making sure to cover the tile with a piece of cloth first. Place the different colours in separate boxes.

How to paint with Black Gloss

How to paint with Black Gloss

Step 4. Create the Mosaic Designs

The table top you plan to use is probably still drying after you painted it.

  1. Get a piece of cardboard or paper the same size and use that as a temporary template
  2. If this is your first time creating a mosaic tile design then you may not have a lot of choice with the tiles you have. So work with what you have.
  3. Place them down on on your template and move around as you like.
  4. At this stage too you may need to make certain coloured tiles smaller to fit your design.
  5. Place the tiles on a concrete floor and cover with some cloth.
  6. Use a hammer to hit them sideways as this gives a cleaner cut.
  7. Use a dustpan and brush to take all the tiles up off the floor and put on the table.

The small bits of broken tiles are very sharp so you do not want to cut your hands or leave them on the ground for anyone to cut their feet if going barefoot in the summer.

I created many different tile designs before I came up with the one I liked. Once I have given my instructions for this table top I will explain with photos the mistakes I made while creating it.

Stick the ceramic tiles onto the board and make your own mosaic design

Stick the ceramic tiles onto the board and make your own mosaic design

My mosaic design ready for the grouting

My mosaic design ready for the grouting

Step 5. Glue the Ceramic Tiles to the Board

Once the table top wood is dry you can begin:

  1. Turn the piece of wood up the correct way
  2. Clean with a dry cloth
  3. Place your ceramic tiles on the wood and perfect your design.
  4. Make sure to leave some tiny spaces between each tile because that is part of the design as the spaces will be filled with tile grouting
  5. If it is a complicated design you are better leaving the pieces on the board as you stick them on.
  6. Work from the outside in.
  7. Open your tile glue and use an old credit card or other plastic card to place the glue onto the area on the board you are going to glue the first tiles onto.
  8. Then place the plastic card into the glue and take a little bit from the pot to cover the first tile. Place the tile onto the wood.
  9. Continue in this fashion until you have all the outside tiles done.
  10. Do not forget to leave spaces between them too.

The glue can get messy but leave it on any of the tiles for now. If you try to clean them straight away the tiles will move around as they have not had time to stick yet.

Making my Mosaic Design

Making my Mosaic Design


If you have a dominate pattern with the same colours I would stick these down first. These are the patterns you want to be noticed so get them right and your table top will look great. By the time you have glued all the tiles the first ones you did will be stuck enough for you to wash the glue off.

  1. Place a cloth into hot soapy water and squeeze well.
  2. Using your finger that is covered with the cloth gently rub the tiles.
  3. The dried glue will come off easy.
  4. Now you can see your finished Mosaic Tile Design.
  5. If you do not like it now is the time to change it.
  6. Use a Spirit Level to make sure the tiles on the table top are level
  7. Wash off any dry glue from the plastic card
  8. Leave the table top in a dry place for twenty four hours.

It was at this stage that I had to change my design. The glue had not sealed completely so it was easy enough to remove the pieces I did not like.

I decided on a second design and then at this stage I did not like that one either. So I had to remove some more tiles and finally got it right. I will show you my terrible designs in photos at the end of this article.

This table is made with my own ceramic tile and turned into a great mosaic design

This table is made with my own ceramic tile and turned into a great mosaic design

Step 6. Grout the Mosaic Tiles on the Table Top

  1. Take some of the grouting out of your bag and place in a small waterproof container.
  2. I use an old ice cream container that I washed and kept in the shed.
  3. If you see any lumps in the grouting powder remove them now.
  4. Pour in some water and mix well with an old wooden spoon.
  5. Continue to add water and mix until you have a smooth paste.
  6. Take the plastic card and pick up some of the grouting with it.
  7. Put the grouting onto your ceramic tiles and move it over them.
  8. Make sure to get into the corners and gaps too
  9. Do this for the whole of the table top.
  10. Your table top will look a mess at this stage. You can scrape the excess grouting off the tiles with the plastic card.
  11. They will still be dirty but you must leave them as they are until the grouting has completely dried. I prefer to leave it like that for twenty four hours.
  12. Put a clean cloth into some hot soapy water and squeeze well
  13. Wash off the grouting from each ceramic tile and dry them.
  14. Now you can see your Mosaic Tile Design in all its glory for the first time. You can also see if you have made any mistakes.
  15. If there are still some gaps in between the tiles now is the time to fill them
  16. Leave to dry for a further three days before you get to the next stage

Step 7. Seal the Mosaic Tile Design

  1. Your grouting has had four days to completely dry and now it is time to seal it.
  2. If you are using a sealer in a can then shake the can and apply all over the table top.
  3. Leave to dry for twenty four hours
  4. Use a dry clean cloth and shine the tiles removing the excess sealer from the tiles.
  5. If you are using a pot of sealer then take a clean dry cloth and dip into the liquid.
  6. Move the cloth around the grouting applying the sealer to every bit

I have used both ways and prefer to use the pot of liquid sealer. You have more control of it so do not waste it. I found the can harder to use and ended up spraying the tiles as well.

Step 8. Attach the Table Top to the Legs

This will all depend on what kind of legs or base you have. With the one I used I was able to unscrew the wooden top off the stool. I used the same screws to attach my new table top the stool. If the weather forecast predicts rain then I would leave the table in a shed for at least a week to allow the grouting to become completely dry and sealed.

A Mosaic Tile Table

A Mosaic Tile Table

My Second Mosaic Tile Design

I made this table top design for the other stool. The instructions are the same as above so I will show you my progress and the finished product in photos.

The Grouting

The Grouting

Grouting Sealer

Grouting Sealer

Mosaic Design on a Large Garden Table

I love being creative and when the project involves making something in the garden look better and more useful then I am very enthusiastic about it. It is time consuming and a lot of work but once you see the completed mosaic tile table you will want to create more. That is how I got started.

We had a lot of tiles over from some building work done on our house and a horrible looking table in the garden. This garden table was used a lot during the spring and summer.

I was thinking of buying a new one but decided I would try to make the top of it look nicer with the ceramic tiles. That is how I created my very first Mosaic Design Table. It was not perfect by any means but looks very good in the garden now.

Mosaic Designs

Mosaic Designs

Mosaic Table Top

Mosaic Table Top

Questions & Answers

Question: Can you lay tiles directly on a glass top?

Answer: Yes, you can glue ceramic tiles onto a glass tabletop quite easily. It works fine, and the tiles stick securely.

Question: Can you lay ceramic tiles directly onto an unfinished wood surface?

Answer: You can but it is better to smooth the surface out first so that the glue will stick the tiles better.

Question: Where do you recommend getting tables (big and small) and stools to use for mosaic design?

Answer: The best thing to do is see if any friends or family have tables they do not want. That way they will be free. If there are none available then charity shops and yard sales are good for buying cheap tables.

Question: Can you lay tiles on a surface made of tin? I had ceramic tiles on a table with a tin like surface, but they cracked and fell off.

Answer: Yes you can make a Mosaic design on a table top made from tin or any metal surface. The trick is to use the correct waterproof adhesive. A silicone or polyurethane one will do the job perfectly.

Question: Where can you get cheap plain coloured ceramic tiles to break up? I am looking for reds purples, pinks, oranges and other bright colours in Ireland. Or can you suggest a good website? I know where to get the small 2 cm mosaic tiles but looking for the ordinary wall tiles.

Answer: If you want to get odd tiles for free go into the shops in Dublin or any large town. Home Store and More, Woodies, Right Price Tiles etc. If they sells tiles for floors and other household jobs then you can usually pick up free ceramic tiles as testers.

Question: How long will a mosaic table made of glass last outside?

Answer: It depends on how much use the table gets and how well it is taken care of. My table is still fine after seven years apart from two tiles which broke when I dropped a hammer on them.

Question: I would like to make a kitchen splash back with my own design - should I do it on a measured piece of wood ? Then stick to existing tiles?

Answer: It would be best if you could remove the existing tiles first. It would be more secure and look a lot better.


L M Reid (author) from Ireland on September 15, 2018:

Thank you for all your comments. Yes I really enjoy making the designs and seeing it all come together.

Margaret on June 18, 2018:

just looking around Pinterest your advice is well taken thanks on May 03, 2018:

Great Work!!!

Kikib on September 30, 2017:

I was really into this about 10 years ago - you have made some great tables! I went as far as a couple of flower pots and other small items I found in thrift stores.

How ER, I found a love for breKing tiles with a mosaic tile cutter! I would find Good quality plates at yard sales and learned to cut them with a clean break - no need to worry about sharp edges. I went as far as to sell my tiles on eBay and received some pretty good prices.

I was between jobs and life went on - just thought I would share an alternative method but great job! I know how much it takes into making these unique pieces of art!

Mima on April 30, 2017:

Thank You!! Your step by step instructions were the easy to understand and loved the pictures. I'm going to start small with a table in my shed. No special tools is what impressed me the most! Thank you for taking the time to post this wonderful tutorial.

L M Reid (author) from Ireland on April 22, 2015:

Thank you Janet, yes the tables look great and are very useful too

Janet on April 21, 2015:

Loving the new designs Look great in your garden

L M Reid (author) from Ireland on April 11, 2015:

It was very hard work because of the mistakes I made but well worth the effort. The tables look great in my garden.

Thank you rebecca and peachpurple for taking the time to leave such kind comments

peachy from Home Sweet Home on February 20, 2015:

It is like putting a jigsaw puzzle onto the chair, awesome artwork

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on February 20, 2015:

Your mosaics look wonderful. Thanks for sharing and for such clear directions!

L M Reid (author) from Ireland on February 13, 2015:

Yes Peggy I really enjoy making the mosaics and they are useful too. I have a few more projects lined up for this summer too. Thanks for all the shares

Hello Glimmer Twin Fan if you do make a mosaic design you will be hooked because it is such an addictive craft lol. I love it and plan to do some more detailed designs next

Claudia Porter on February 06, 2015:

Gorgeous project. I may be giving this a go sometime. Nice hub.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on February 06, 2015:

What wonderful instructions you gave as well as the step by step photos in creating these mosaic tile works of art. It must be so satisfying to create your own designs like this! Up votes and will pin to my decorating ideas board and also share.

L M Reid (author) from Ireland on February 06, 2015:

It does take some time to create the mosaic design but I think it is well worth it

Janet on January 07, 2015:

Brilliant article Loving the colours and the end results Very clear instructions Might even motivate me to try one