How to Make a DIY Tabletop Mosaic
Today we’re going to show you how to create your very own mosaic table. Designed for both indoor and outdoor use, a mosaic table is more than just a beautiful piece of furniture, it’s a DIY project that you can take pride in and it will give you something to talk about the next time you have your friends over for coffee. Creating a mosaic table isn’t hard, but it is a process that takes time, as you will often be required to leave stuff to dry overnight before moving forward to the next steps. So, if you were planning to gift a mosaic table you’ve made by yourself, give yourself at least a 1-week time frame to have it ready on time.
We’re going to provide you with a list of items needed to create your own mosaic table, but there are two considerations to be made. Some of the items are not mandatory and depend on how you want the final result to look like. We recommend that you read this entire guide to determine which of the materials listed below are actually needed. Second, it’s hard to mention the exact quantity needed for each material, as it all depends on the size of the table you’ll be working with. The size of the tabletop will determine the size of the paper to be used, the quantity of mosaic tiles, etc. That being said, here’s what you’ll need for this project:
- The table that you want to decorate.
- A piece of paper that fits the tabletop (or more, if needed).
- A pair of paper scissors.
- Sand paper or belt sander.
- An empty bowl.
- Mild dish soap.
- Mosaic pieces (you can use anything from glass gems, glass tiles or ceramic tiles).
- Mosaic glue.
- An empty bucket.
- A plastic card you can discard after use.
- Furniture paint.
- Paint brush or roller.
- Paint sealer.
- Sealer spray.
Some of the steps below aren’t mandatory. For instance, if you’re not using a wooden table, you can skip step #5. Make sure you read all the steps before actually starting work on this project. We should also mention that this project can’t be completed in a single day (especially if you’re planning to paint the surface of the table and leave it to dry overnight), so arm yourself with patience.
Before you start working, we do have one more piece of advice. It is recommended that you work in a well-ventilated room, preferably not any of the rooms you use daily. If you have a basement, an attic, a shed or a garage, that would be the best place to start this project. That’s because you’ll need a lot of free space around you. Since you’ll be working with small items, like the tiles you smash, you want to make sure there isn’t a lot of agitation round you, like kids running around and stepping all over the pieces lying on the floor. The place needs to be well-ventilated, as there you will often have to leave the paint, the glue and the grout to dry overnight. With these things in mind, it’s time to move on to the actual DIY process.
The first steps are all about setting the desired mosaic layout. Grab a piece of paper (butcher’s paper will do just fine) that’s large enough to cover the top of the table you want to decorate. Use some pieces of tape to secure the paper to the table. A word of caution: since this paper is used in a mockup of what the final design will look like, you will have to eventually remove it from the tabletop while keeping it intact. So be really careful to how strongly you secure it to the table.
Cut the paper so that it fits the shape of the table’s top. After having done so, remove the paper from the table so that it stays intact. You will use it to establish the layout of the mosaic.
Grab all the material pieces that will form the mosaic. Place them on the floor, between 2 large towels. By using a hammer, smash all the pieces carefully. Lift up the towel and choose the tile pieces you plan on adding to the design. You can also use mosaic materials that don’t require smashing, like small river stones or beads. It’s all up to you.
Pick the tiles you want to use from the ones you’ve just smashed. Lay them out on the previously-cut piece of paper. Feel free to move them around as you like. This helps you visualize how the final design will look like.
If your table is made from wood, you need some sand paper or a belt sander to make sure the surface of the table is uniform. You can skip this step if your table is made from other materials, like metal or granite.
By using a dry cloth or a duster, remove any excess dust created after step #5. Even if you haven’t sanded the top, you will still need to make sure the surface of the table is clean. At this step, you will also see if there are any spots that still need leveling. If so, grab the sandpaper/belt sander and repeat steps #5 and #6.
Now it’s time to clean the surface of the table. Mix a little bit of dish soap with water, dip a clean cloth in the mix and gently clean the tabletop.
The next step involves painting the table’s surface. This step isn’t mandatory, but if you’re using translucent stones or simple glass shard, the natural color of the table will be visible, so you should take that into consideration. If you do want to paint the table, make sure you use special furniture paint in case the table’s made out of wood. Apply the first coat of paint using a special paint brush or a roller. Leave the paint to dry overnight. A second coat of paint may be required, as the first is often thin and doesn’t reflect the true color.
After having mixed the sealer, start applying it on the surface of your freshly-painted table. The sealer can be either water or oil-based and you should carefully follow the instructions on the can’s label. Sealer is used in order to prevent water damage. After you’ve finished applying this coat, leave the table to dry in a well-ventilated area.
Pick up your mosaic glue and start putting the pieces from the paper, on the surface of the table. Carefully glue each piece, starting from the end of the table and working your way towards the interior. If you change your mind about the placement of some pieces, make sure you move them before the glue dries. As a general rule, the most suitable mosaic glue is tile adhesive, mastic or mortar. Any home improvement store should sell them, but they are also available for purchasing from different online stores. After having glued all the pieces to the table, allow the tiles to set overnight.
When the glue dries out, it’s time to add in the grout. Grout powder is mixed with water in an empty and clean bucket. As always, make sure you follow the instruction on the label. Mix the composition and make sure that aren’t any lumps in it.
The main purpose of this step is to get the grout infiltrated between the cracks left on the table. To do so, you can smear grout over the entire surface of the table, making sure it ends up in between the mosaic pieces. Not only does this reinforce the surface of the table and keeps all the pieces in place, but it also helps flatten the surface. By using a trowel, make sure the grout is levels and falls in place.
Chances are that you won’t be able to level the surface of the table perfectly by using just the trowel, so a card will come in handy at this point. Run a plastic card over the surface of the table, to scrape any excess grout that makes the tabletop uneven.
You will need to let the grout to settle and dry overnight. However, it is recommended that you leave it at least 24 hours, to make sure it won’t come off as you try to clean the table. Once the surface is dry, create another mixture of dish soap and water, damp a cloth inside the mix and start scrubbing the tabletop. If there is any excess grout that won’t come off, you can use a sponge to scrub it.
When the surface of the table is all clean and shiny, use a dry rag to wipe out any excess moisture.
It’s now time to give this new table of yours a fresher look. By using a can of penetrating sealer that’s suitable for the materials you used to make your mosaic, you can spray it over the surface of the table to give it a shiny and resistant look. After having sprayed the entire tabletop, make sure you used a damp cloth to wipe the tiles, in order to avoid a film formation on the surface. This helps saturate the grout. Leave the surface to dry and then clean it once again. This step is mandatory if your new mosaic table will be used outdoors. An outdoor table has higher chances of being exposed to water and moisture and this could lead to mildew formations and softening of the grout.
Creating a mosaic is just one of the many awesome DIY tabletop projects that can be done. As usual, the only limit is the human imagination. You can glue puzzles to the table’s surface, paint on it, carve it, sculpt it, or do whatever you set your mind to do, as long you have the time and the necessary materials. We love this mosaic tabletop project, as it adds a little bit of color to every room. You can play around with different tile colors and patterns and use them to create flowers, animals or whatever patterns you can think of. It’s a great alternative to throwing away an older table and you can have your kids join in on the project, by letting them set the tile pieces as they want and have them create their own designs. And you don’t have to limit yourself to tables. You can create mosaics on desks, chairs, wooden or metal boxes, doors of even walls. Just know that the bigger the item you plan on decorating is, the more it will take to actually finish the project.