March 20, 2017
Build a mosaic table top using your own design and colourful glass tiles. Photo 1. Draw the design onto a primed surface. Photo 2. Fill in the design segments on dry surface first, cutting to fit. Photo 3. Wipe excess grout off top of tiles with a wet sponge; shine with a wet then dry rag.

Outdoor living is right around the corner. It’s a perfect time to start assembling some new or reconditioned furniture pieces for the back yard or balcony. I have talked about the popularity of tiles, and the resurgence of this classic decorating medium with its many options in size and patterns. Not just for walls and floors, tiles add artistic dimension to tabletops and even chairs.

If you enjoy craft projects, tiling is a great way to let loose your inner artist. Mosaic patterns can be as intricate as you dare. Craft stores sell packages of coloured glass tiles. You can find small tiles in sheets at your building store too, offering a variety of shades and finishes from glass to stone. Mosaic designs can also be fashioned from broken bits of china and mirror.

For inspiration, search for mosaic images on line. You can download the images you would like to use, and trace or copy onto your work surface. By magnifying and exploring the pictures, you will see how to place tiles, using tile snippers to cut to fit around corners and into tiny spaces.

An old metal garden table was in need of a facelift, and tile was the perfect practical decorating material for this outdoor piece. I cut a circle from MDF to cover the old top, which gave me a smooth flat surface on which to work. If you are working on an old wood top, sand it and add a coat of primer. Draw your design onto the primed surface.

Before you begin to set the tiles permanently, assemble the tiles in place on your design, cutting tiles to fit where necessary. Tiles can be set at random angles, mixing colours and shapes. Leave a small space between each tile for the grout. The grout space doesn’t have to be perfectly even.

Work on one pattern section at a time. Remove the tiles from the pattern, spread 1/8” layer of tile adhesive on the tabletop using a tile spreader, and reposition the tiles, pressing down firmly. Once the tabletop is completely tiled, spread grout over the top, smearing it into all the spaces and cracks between tiles.

Let begin to dry, about one hour. Wet a sponge and rag and wipe the grout off the face of all the tiles, leaving it only in the spaces between the tiles. Let dry completely and shine with a rag.

Tiled furniture suits indoor living as well, stylish in a sunroom or kitchen. Embellish dressers and chair backs, and add character to flower boxes, vases and lamp bases. You can vary the size of the tiles and integrate other materials such as small stones, beads, and metals. A table requires a flat top, but if you are decorating drawer fronts and accessories the raised sections don’t have to be uniform. Any piece you produce will be uniquely personal.

Debbie Travis' House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Please email your questions to You can follow Debbie on Twitter at, and visit Debbie’s new website,