How to Make a Mosaic Tabletop

April Sanders

One way to add color to a plain-looking table is to use a mosaic technique. Use small pieces of tile, glass, stones, shells or other materials to create a unique top to your table. Although time-consuming, mosaic is easy to do.

Mosaic art can last forever, and when you are finished, you will own a beautiful piece of furniture that your friends will envy.

  1. Choose a style and color scheme. Limiting your design to two or three colors, smooth materials (no stones or broken glass) and simple, repeating lines will create a more formal feel. A picture such as a flower, hearts or other familiar pattern will set a casual tone. A more random explosion of color and texture will make a table fit for a party.

  2. Select and cut a piece of cardboard to match the size of the area of the table that will be tiled. Place the mosaic pieces on the cardboard, working from the middle and moving toward the edges. The design should feel similar to a puzzle, but the pieces should not touch; space mosaic pieces at least 1/16 inch apart.

  3. Step back and examine your design. Look for obviously glaring errors of color or design, or areas that don't seem to flow. Make sure the design elements are balanced; you don't want a lot of color on only one side of the table. You can also place the cardboard on the tabletop and lay the pieces there for a better view of how the completed table will look.

  4. Lift the cardboard with the pieces still intact off the table carefully and lay it to the side. Make sure the table surface is free of dirt, dust or other debris. Spread tile adhesive on a section of the table surface and begin to transfer the mosaic pieces from the cardboard to the table. Spread only as much adhesive as you will be able to cover with tile at one time -- dried adhesive is difficult to remove. Allow the completed mosaic to set for 24 hours.

  5. Apply grout to the table, smoothing it between the pieces of the mosaic. Press the grout into the spaces to eliminate air bubbles, and extend the grout to the very edge of the table. White grout is striking, but harder to keep clean. Black grout creates a more formal look, but depending on the color of the mosaic pieces, they may not show up as well. When all spaces are filled, wipe off the excess grout with a damp cloth.

  6. Allow the grout to dry completely. Buff the mosaic with a dry cloth to remove any haze left behind by the grout. Then apply a spray sealant to keep the grout from staining.


Sketch and color your planned design on graph paper before shopping for mosaic materials. Allow the grout to cure for 24 hours before enjoying your new tabletop. Depending on the materials used, mosaic can be heavy, so make sure the table legs are sturdy.


Glass or metal tops are prepared for mosaics differently than wood tables. The above directions are generally for wood tables.