How to Tile a Dining Table Top

Over the years your dining room table can become dinged up and dated looking.

Preparing the Table Top for Tiling

The table is still solid, but how can you update it? Using porcelain tile to resurface your old dining room table top can create a unique and elegant look for your dining room.

Step 1

Tile is heavy, so before you do anything, make sure the table is strong enough to support the weight of the tile, mortar and grout that you plan to apply to it.

Step 2

Cut a piece of Hardibacker board to fit over your table top. This step is optional if the table you are tiling is made of formica, plastic or some other waterproof material; you can tile right over those materials without further preparation.

If your table is wood, you'll need to apply a piece of Hardibacker board to it before you can tile. The reason for this is that if you were to apply wet mortar to it, wood is likely to warp.

Step 3

Use construction adhesive and the 1-inch wood screws to fasten the backer board securely to the table top.

Step 4

Give the construction adhesive 24 hours to dry before you begin tiling. Once it's dried, you're ready to tile.

Create your Layout

Step 1

You will want to plan the tile layout before you get started. Use a tape measure and chalk line to find the table's center point. You can choose to center a tile right over the middle of the table, or use the center lines to line up your grout joints.

Step 2

Layout the tile. It will really help you to visualize the finished product, and determine what pieces need to be cut, if you lay out the tile on the table before you start actually laying it with mortar.

Step 3

Make your cuts. Using your tile saw, make your cuts. You should have a complete lay-out now, with all the pieces cut to size and laid out where they will eventually be mounted to the table top.

Tiling the Table Top

Step 1

Mix your mortar in a plastic bucket. Add water first, then dry mortar mix. You want the consistency of the mortar to be similar to cake batter, and creamy.

Step 2

Use a margin trowel and notch trowel to spread the mortar. A notch trowel has two smooth sides, and two notched sides. Use the smooth sides to spread the mortar over the table top. Then, use the notched sides to disperse the mortar in just the right amount. A notch trowel is designed so that when it is held at a 45-degree angle to the working surface, it spreads just the right amount of mortar for the size tile you are working with. After you spread the mortar with the notch trowel, you will have a grooved bed of mortar. Press each tile into the mortar.

Step 3

Once the tiles are laid, and the mortar has been given at least 24 hours to dry, you are ready to grout. Choose your grout color and mix it in a plastic bucket. Similar to mortar, the grout should have a mixed consistency similar to that of cake batter.

Step 4

Spread the grout using a rubber grout float. Spread it over the entire surface of the tile, being sure to work it down into the joints between each tile.

Step 5

Use a sponge and water to clean away the excess grout from the tile surface. This process cleans the tile, and also smooths the grout within the tile joints. You may have to sponge the tile several times in order to clean it completely.

Things You Will Need

  • 1/4-inch Hardibacker board
  • Construction adhesive
  • 1-inch wood screws
  • Thin set mortar
  • Margin trowel
  • Notch trowel
  • Porcelain tile
  • Grout
  • Grout float
  • Sponge
  • Tile spacers
  • Tile saw
  • Plastic buckets
  • Tape measure
  • Chalk line


  • Spacers are useful during the tile-laying process. These nylon pieces fit between the tiles, and will help you maintain even grout lines.
  • For the sides of the table you can use v-cap. These pieces are shaped like an upside-down L. One side stays on the table top, and the other drapes down the exposed side. V-cap will give your tile table top a clean, elegant look.
  • It is a good idea to seal grout. This will help to prevent stains and makes it easier to clean.
  • If you have the patience, a mosaic tile top can be really stunning. This is basically the same process, but instead of laying out a grid and using full tiles, you use broken tile fragments to create a vivid, dynamic look.

About the Author

Robert Howard has been writing professionally since 2004 and writes a weekly column for the "Synthesis," a Chico, Calif.-based newspaper. He maintains a blog and has published articles and works of fiction in a variety of different print and online magazines. Howard holds a Bachelor of Arts in visual arts from the University of California, San Diego.