Its mosaic time: Fancy up that dusty coffee table with shards of left-over bathroom tiles

What does an old coffe table and left over broken tiles have in common? A fancy new coffe table in a unique design. 

Upcycling an old coffee table with broken tiles can be a creative and rewarding DIY project where both, table and tiles become new life and purpose.

Before and after image of the renewing / upcycling project with the old table on the left and the new finished table on the right

Here we have created a detailed step-by-step guide:

Materials Needed:

  1. Old coffee table
  2. Broken tiles or new tiles if you plan to break them
  3. Tile adhesive 
  4. Grout
  5. Grout sealer
  6. Notched trowel
  7. Tile spacers (optional)
  8. Tile cutter or hammer and old cloth (if breaking tiles)
  9. Sponge
  10. Bucket for mixing adhesive and grout
  11. Level
  12. Sandpaper
  13. Primer (if the table needs painting)
  14. Paint (if you want to paint the table)

Step 1: Preparation:

Choose Your Design: Decide on the layout and design for your tile pattern. Use whole tiles or broken pieces to lay them out in any way you like. Let your imagination run wild.

Table Surface Preparation: Sand the surface of the coffee table to create a rough texture. This will help the adhesive bond better with the table.

Sanding wooden table with electric sander - Painting and glueing preparation

Paint (Optional): If you want to change the color of the table, apply a primer first and then paint it. Allow it to dry completely before proceeding.


Step 2: Breaking Tiles (If Needed):

Woman breaking tiles under cloth with a hamer to prepare for upcycling the coffe table

Safety First: Wear safety goggles and gloves when breaking tiles. Place the tile in a cloth or bag before breaking to prevent shards from flying. 

Break Tiles: Use a tile cutter or a hammer and chisel to break the tiles into desired pieces. Aim for irregular shapes to create a mosaic effect.


    Step 3: Apply Tile Adhesive:

    Tile pieces laid out across the coffe table, some glued, some not yet glued

    Clean the Table: Remove any dust or debris from the table surface. 

    Apply Adhesive: Use a notched trowel to spread tile adhesive evenly over a small section of the table or if you decided to go with thinset mortar tile adhesive use a notched trowel.

    Place Tiles: Press the broken tile pieces into the adhesive, leaving a small gap between each piece. We recommend starting with the edges so that you have a frame to use for orientation. At some points you may need to resize some tiles in order to get the tiles into the specific shapes you need to fill the gaps. Continue until the entire surface is covered. 


      Step 4: Grouting:

      Applying grout on the coffe table using gloves and a squeegee after the tile adhesive has dried.

      Wait for Adhesive to Dry: Allow the adhesive to set according to the manufacturer's instructions.

      Mix Grout: In a bucket, mix the grout according to the package instructions.

      Apply Grout: Use a rubber float or your hands to press the grout into the spaces between the tiles. Next we recommend using a squeegee or window wiper to flatten the surface and roughly remove most of the excess grout. Work in small sections.

      Remove Excess Grout: Wipe off excess grout with a damp sponge before it dries.

      Allow Grout to Cure: Let the grout cure for the recommended time.


        Step 5: Sealing (optional):

        Apply Grout Sealer: Once the grout is fully cured, apply a grout sealer to protect it from stains and moisture.


          Step 6: Finishing Touches:

          Cleaning off excess grout on the tiles carefully using a sanding machine

          Clean Surface: For the roughest parts with the most grout, use a sanding machine or manually sand it down with very fine sand paper, somewhere in the range of 700-900 on the grit chart. Careful with glossed tiles, there its best to avoid any sandpaper as it will damage the shiny look. 

          At last wipe down the individual tiles using a wet sponge and keep the water very clean by changing it frequently, unless you are going for a cloudy look.


            Final Considerations:

            1. Weight: Keep in mind that adding tile will increase the weight of the table. Ensure that the table structure can support the additional weight.
            2. Table Legs: Check the stability of the table legs. If necessary, reinforce or replace them to support the added weight.
            3. Usage: Understand the intended use of the table. If it will be exposed to moisture, use a waterproof adhesive and grout.
            4. Protective Pads: Consider adding felt or rubber pads to the bottom of the table legs to prevent scratching on floors.


              Some more projects that were sent in by our visitors:

              Multiple finished DIY tile coffee tables

              There are no limits to what you can make out of an old dusty coffee table but the limits you set yourself. Whether you use tiles, mirror shards, glass or coins, your unique mosaic table is just a few creative hunches away.

              Dabble around with some ideas to come up with your own unique coffee table the world has not seen before. And when you do, make sure to let us know by sending in your final result to


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