Sign In to join the community | Help
Project Ideas: Indoor Decor

How to Refinish and Tile a Coffee Table

How to Refinish and Tile a Coffee Table


I decided to refurbish and update a coffee table that was in serious need to repair. Rather than throwing it away, I used tiling and painting techniques to give it a new and functional appearance.


Skill Level- Intermediate/Advanced

Time- 48-60 hours (includes paint and grout drying time)


Cost- $75- $115 (not including power tools)


Tools and Materials



STEP 1: First grab an old coffee table. Make sure the frame is still sturdy, but the table top portion can be removed. The coffee table I used had a rattan top that was in dire need of replacement, as shown below.


Coffee Table-Before 


Before starting, use your drop cloth to catch any sawdust or paint if you are working in an area where the floors could be damaged.


STEP 2: After making sure the table top can be disassembled, flip the table over and remove the supports holding it up. This table’s support only was fastened to the coffee table frame with staples, so removal was simple using just a hammer.



STEP 3: Now that the table top is removed, you are left with the frame. Inspect all sides and continue to remove any trims or supports, but without damaging the table frame itself.

STEP 4: Use the ½” sheet of sanded pine plywood cut to the width and length of the underside of the coffee table.  Since there are various shapes and sizes of tables, carefully measure your table to get the exact fit.


If you don’t have access to a table saw, simply have the folks at your nearest Home Depot’s lumber department cut the plywood to the size you need.


STEP 5: Take your 2” x 2” pieces of wood and cut new supports to go underneath the plywood.  Measure the length of the wood to get a firm fit, since this will support the weight of the table top.

Be sure to pilot hole the screws first with a drill bit so as to reduce the wood splitting.


Use the screws and drill into the wood, plywood, and finally into the frame.  Use at least 3 pieces to give the table adequate support.


STEP 6: Next, flip the table over and begin to install the SimpleMat tile setting mat. This will act as your base for your mosaic tiles, eliminating the need for slow-drying and messy thin-set mortars. 


It’s double-sided, so peel back and lay down one side on the plywood first, and leave the top portion unpeeled for now. Cut areas with a scissor that overhang.

STEP 7: Carefully measure and layout your tile.


If you decide to use mosaic tile like I did, using a wet saw will greatly assist you in this step. These saws can be rented or purchased at your local Home Depot.  


They will give you a smoother and faster cut than hand-held tile cutters. Overestimate how many tiles you will need in case any breaks during the project by at least 2 full tiles. Installing it diagonally will mean more waste in the tiles but it can give your final look a more dramatic appearance.


For any cuts that need to be made, mark the cuts with a marker and slowly feed the tile into the cutter while wearing gloves and safety glasses.


 Note: be very careful when cutting glass tiles. Always wear gloves when handling cut tiles.


STEP 8: Now you are ready to lay your tile after cutting and making sure the tiles are dry from the wet saw. Remove the last film from the SimpleMat and start placing the tiles onto the plywood/SimpleMat.


Be sure press them firmly onto the tabletop to ensure proper adhesion. Also, make sure that these tiles are going down over the tops since once the tiles are placed on the SimpleMat, it is very difficult to take them off.

STEP 9: After the tile has been set, you are now ready to grout the tile. Use a small amount of grout (pre-mixed can work on all grout spaces) to fill in the spaces between the tiles.


Using a tile installation kit works well for this small area. Use the sponge in the kit alongside a bucket of water to remove any excessive grout and haze on the tile. Let grout dry out 6-8 hours or overnight, depending on the manufacturer’s instructions.


STEP 10: After making sure the tile and grout is completely dry, you can now refinish the wood frame itself.

To get all sides refinished properly, take out the tile/plywood combination from the supports below.


Use a power hand-held sander with medium grit sandpaper (100-150) to take off most, if not all, of the existing wood surface.


After each time you sand, you’ll need to remove any fine particles of sandpaper with tack cloth to ensure each layer of paint will adhere properly.


STEP 11: To add a little design to the table, add Painter’s masking tape around certain areas of the table for a heightened effect.


Then, lightly spray the masked areas with the color and design of your choice. Allow to dry for several hours before continuing.


STEP 12: Remove tape and begin to apply spray paint on the table top and legs. Use the spray paint in thin successive coats. Allow each coat to dry for at least several hours.

STEP 13: Using the hand-held sander, sand down edges and areas to give it a more antiquated look. Start with light passes, and only sand areas that you want the paint to be removed in large amounts.


STEP 14: After using the tack cloth to remove any paint and sawdust particles, spray the wood frame with a high-quality clear glossy finish. This is done to ensure your paint and wood frame will be protected from everyday use. Next, reattach the tile/plywood table top back onto the frame.


STEP 15: After cleaning any dust off the mosaic top, you can spray a tile and grout sealer onto the surface to ensure it is protected from stains. Use a sponge to apply it, and wipe off any overspray that goes onto the wood frame.


And that is what it takes to successfully refinish and tile an old coffee table!


While tables can vary in shapes and sizes, always carefully measure and calculate what materials you will need to do this project.


Almost all of the power tools shown in this post can be rented at your nearest Home Depot Tool Rental Center to keep costs down. Also of note, this project is for indoor-use only, since the SimpleMat tile setting mat is not rated for outdoor usage.


…And if you were wondering where and what the beautiful glass is on the table, it is a hand crafted glass oil lamp from the Jamestown Glasshouse.


If you have any particular questions or comments regarding this project, please let us know. Or, if you'd like to share your insights on any parts of this post, please feel free to share them here.


Have a great day everyone,


Not what you were looking for ? Try posting a question
Posted 2013-03-18T19:35:32+0000  by Joseph_HD_ATL Joseph_HD_ATL