How to Build an Outdoor Tile Tabletop

Tile is an ideal covering for an outdoor tabletop as it is weatherproof, hard-wearing and easy to wash with soapy water.

Tiles can brighten an outdoor tabletop, providing durability and good looks.Tiles can brighten an outdoor tabletop, providing durability and good looks.
A tile tabletop gives new life to an old table, can be customized with your choice of tile and tile layout, and is an achievable DIY project--even for tiling novices. Get creative and make a mosaic, or stick with a simple column-and-row arrangement---the method is basically the same no matter your design.

Cover your tabletop with tiles and rearrange them until you are happy with the design. Leave narrow gaps between the tiles for grouting. Determine whether you need to cut any tiles to fit the tabletop and cut them to size with a tile cutter. Smooth rough-cut edges with a tile file.

Take a photo of the tabletop with a digital camera so that you can refer to it when laying the tile, or draw around the tiles with a pencil directly on the wood so that you can follow the outlines when laying the tile.

Paint a coat of wood primer over the tabletop with a paintbrush (refer to the manufacturer's instructions). Allow this coat to dry, then apply a second coat of primer.

Mix up the tile adhesive, following the manufacturer's instructions. Use a flexible knife to spread an even layer of tile adhesive over the back of each tile before pressing it into position, one at a time. Refer to your digital photograph or pencil lines for the layout. Allow the tile adhesive to dry for up to 24 hours, or the time recommended by the manufacturer.

Mix the tile grout, following the manufacturer's instructions. Apply the grout to all the gaps between the tiles with your fingers, working it into the gaps. Use an old dishwashing brush to scrub the surface and further work the grout into the gaps.

Wipe the excess grout from the tiles, using a damp cloth. Do this before the grout dries.

Things You Will Need

  • Tile cutter
  • Tile file
  • Pencil or digital camera
  • Wood primer
  • Paintbrush
  • Tile adhesive
  • Tile grout
  • Flexible knife
  • Old dishwashing brush
  • Cloth


  • If you want to tile a tabletop that is not made from wood, cut out a plywood cover for the table.
  • If the side edges of the tabletop are visible, cut tiles into small, evenly-sized squares and tile the edges with them.


  • When cutting tile, wear protective gloves and glasses.

About the Author

A writer of diverse interests, Joanne Thomas has penned pieces about road trips for Hyundai, children's craft projects for Disney and wine cocktails for Robert Mondavi. She has lived on three continents and currently resides in Los Angeles, where she is co-owner and editor of a weekly newspaper. Thomas holds a BSc in politics from the University of Bristol, England.