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How to Retile a Kitchen Table

Lee Carroll

Tiled kitchen tables are a mainstay for casual decorating. They resist scratches and stains, and best of all, they clean up with a damp sponge. However, although tiles are tough, everyday use can damage them, and some tile colors fall out of fashion over time. If your table is in good condition, you can replace old tiles with little or no tile-setting experience. Many tiled tables are designed to accept 4-inch tiles with no cuts, but you can also cut tiles to fit into unusual spaces with a simple tool that breaks them cleanly.

Remove Old Tiles

Large tiles install in a fraction of the time compared to small ones.

Step 1

Place the leading edge of a chisel against a grout line. Tap the chisel gently with a hammer to break the grout.

Step 2

Set the edge of the chisel into the broken grout line and angle it toward the bottom of a tile. Tap the chisel with the hammer to break the tile free from the mortar. Continue across the table until all tiles are removed.

Step 3

Grind off mortar that is stuck to the table using an oscillating tool with a triangular grinding attachment. If you do not have an oscillating tool, scrape off as much mortar as you can with the hammer and chisel. Do not strike the chisel with much force, as this can damage the table.

Step 4

Remove the mortar debris from the tabletop using a construction vacuum cleaner with a hose attachment.

Install New Tiles

Step 1

Place the new tiles on the tabletop to plan the layout. Insert tile spacers between the tiles to account for the grout lines.

Step 2

Determine where any cut tiles will go if full tiles will not fit. For balance, it is best to install cut tiles along two opposing sides or all four sides of the tabletop than to have a narrow row of cut tiles along one side. If the spaces require very narrow cuts, simply widen every joint line to use the extra space instead of installing narrow tile strips.

Step 3

Measure the gap from the last full tile of a row to the border of the table. Measure across the tiles that will fit into that space to the gap measurement, less the thickness of a tile spacer, and mark them for cutting.

Step 4

Place a tile on a tile cutter, aligning the cutting mark on the tile with the wheel of the cutter. Lower the cutter’s handle and drag the wheel across the tile, scratching a line through the glaze across the tile. Press down on the cutter’s handle to split the tile at the line. Repeat to cut each tile.

Step 5

Remove the tiles from the table.

Step 6

Mix thinset mortar with water in a bucket according to the directions that are listed on the back of the bag. Blend the mixture with a paint mixing stick until it is smooth.

Step 7

Scoop up mortar with the edge of a notched trowel. Spread it across the tabletop, leaving ridges through the material. If the table is very large, only apply mortar to a few square feet at a time to help prevent it from drying out too soon.

Step 8

Place the tiles on the mortar and press them down to seat them. Insert tile spacers between every tile to ensure straight, even grout lines. Scrape off mortar that squeezes up through the seams with the edge of the trowel.

Step 9

Let the tiled tabletop dry overnight, or longer if the manufacturer recommends it.

Step 10

Pull out the tile spacers with a pair of needle-nose pliers.

Step 11

Mix grout in a bucket with water using the directions on the container. Blend the mixture with a paint mixing stick until the material is smooth.

Step 12

Scoop up mortar with the edge of the grout float and spread it across the tiles. Drag the edge of the float across the tiles up and down, side to side, and diagonally to pack the grout lines completely.

Step 13

Scrape off excess grout with the edge of the grout-float tool.

Step 14

Let the tiled tabletop dry for approximately 10 minutes, or as long as the grout manufacturer recommends.

Step 15

Wipe the tiles gently using a large sponge dampened with water, then let the table dry.

Step 16

Wipe the tabletop with a soft rag to remove the powdery grout residue.

Step 17

Open the grout sealer and press the brush tip against a grout line. Squeeze the bottle to apply the clear liquid to the grout. Saturate every grout line. After the sealer is dry, apply another coat.