How to turn a glass-top coffee table into a tile-top coffee table?
July 2, 2008 12:17 PM   Subscribe

I have a glass-top wood coffee table with a broken glass top. Instead of replacing the glass, I'd like to turn it into a tile top coffee table. Since the glass is broken, what kind of backing should I glue the tiles to?

The coffee table has a lip that holds the glass in place and has a wood reinforcement beam in the middle, so I shouldn't have sagging issues with the right backing. This is an table that is only used inside.

Any other advice on how to make this project a success is welcome. I don't plan to go too fancy - just regular tiles in alternating colours. I've done a very little bit of tiling in my bathroom, so I understand the basics of tiling, but I'd love to hear about your experience with similar projects. Thanks!
posted by melissa to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I would use a piece of wood, plywood, or perhaps particle board to support the tiles, but perhaps someone else will have a better idea.
posted by JMOZ at 12:26 PM on July 2, 2008

I think the traditional way of making a tile top table is to lay the tiles onto a wooden surface, something with an attractive edge. If you use plywood you can put moldings around the edges but that might get tricky with how the wood will have to fit into the lip that held the glass. Edge veneer would probably be easier if you go plywood.
posted by caddis at 12:26 PM on July 2, 2008

Since the table probably isn't too big, I'd use a high quality thin(ner) plywood board cut to size instead of wonderboard, cheap plywood (which is rarely level) or other common tile backing. For your use, you don't need to get too standardized with the adhesive (you could use actual tile adhesive, but it's messy and won't stick to wood very well at all). Liquid Nails or such would work fine for what you're going to be using it for. Grout the seams if you think it'll look prettier. But be careful with getting it into any unfinished porous wood parts that show.

I've used small tile pieces adhered with wood glue on a accent "frame" around a closet door (backing was standard painted sheetrock), I didn't need grout as they were spaced properly. Easy to install, never had a problem with the tiles sticking, easily adjustable before drying, and virtually no clean up.
posted by Debaser626 at 12:28 PM on July 2, 2008

Plywood will work great- if your table has a lip then you'll need to measure how deep your wood + tile combo should be. I think most tiles are 1/8 inch deep but you should measure them too, and then find a piece of plywood that will make up the difference in depth.
To glue ceramic tile onto the plywood, use epoxy.
To glue glass tile to plywood use weldbond.
posted by rmless at 12:45 PM on July 2, 2008

As for how to get the tiles onto the board, I would stick with the tried and true mastic applied with a notched trowel and grout between the tiles.
posted by caddis at 12:51 PM on July 2, 2008

Depending on the size of the size of the hole, you may be able to use 1/2" or may have to use 3/4" plywood as backing. Assuming 2-ftx2-ft then a 1/2" thick plywood should be enough.
posted by JJ86 at 2:19 PM on July 2, 2008

I recently saw an ad for a tile table that used big tiles that were just dropped loosely into a wooden frame. When you get tired of the design you can move them around or buy new ones at Home Depot. I would do that.
posted by LarryC at 2:31 PM on July 2, 2008

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