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Outdoor Tiled Table: A How-To

Whew! It’s finished. This 3-day marathon build definitely tried my limits as a third-trimester giant preggo. The hubs and I built a fabulous, sturdy, solid tiled table that we can use for outdoor dining. The best part was that all the tile was reclaimed. The square tiles are from my parents’ old outdoor kitchen which was replaced with a concrete top, and the larger darker tiles were some that I scored for free at our local Habitat for Humanity. Total cost on this project was $70, but thanks to a $50 Lowe’s gift card that I snagged with my credit card rewards points, it only set us back $20. For those of you looking to build your own, I’d say that $70 would be a good cost estimate. I made a bad judgement call to use the adhesive/grout premixed stuff, and needed a ton more than I assumed. So save yourself $35 and buy the separate adhesive and grout that you mix yourself and perhaps buy some tile if you can’t find any remnants.

Alrighty then! If you’re looking to build your own table, here’s what you’ll need.

Supplies:
• 2 – 4×4′s @ 6 feet treated/cedar posts ($12)
• 3 – 1×2′s @ 8 feet ($3)
• 3 – 2×4′s @ 8 feet ($6)
• 1 sheet 1/2 inch plywood ($15)
• Paint or stain
• Sandpaper
• Caulk
• tile, about 18 square feet (remnants are easy to find and piece together)
• adhesive and grout (don’t be like me unless you want to spend the big bucks. Buy grout you mix up yourself!)

Step 1: Determine your table size

We wanted a 6-seater, so we used our Farmhouse Table dimensions as a reference. I laid out the tiles I had onto our current table to figure out if I needed to make any adjustments. We chose to make the table 72 inches long and 38 inches wide. Use your own tile stash to decide how large you want your table to be. This project would also be great for a bar-height square table, or even a mosaic café table.

Step 2: Cut your plywood

We used a circular saw to make the cut, but you can also try your hand at a table saw too. I had to play photographer because at this point my belly is much too large to handle a lot of bending over and holding things up! You can use a large level and some clamps as a saw guide, if you’re worried about getting the cut perfectly straight.

Step 3: Lay out your pattern and make any necessary adjustments

After laying out our initial pattern, we decided to throw in some contrasting tile to add a bit of interest. Luckily fate loved us, because they happened to be in perfect ratio to the ones we already had. Sometimes it’s happy accidents that take your project from good to great. We had to cut down one of our long, thin pieces to make two short filler pieces for the two ends, but that was it. Our pattern was set!

Step 4: Cut the lumber for your frame

Cut your legs to your desired height. For us, that was 30 inches tall. For our 2×4 aprons, we cut 2 at 34 inches for our short size, and 2 at 65 inches for our long sides. Save the rest of your 2×4′s until you’re done with the initial assembly, then cut your interior supports to fit inside. I find it’s always best for us to measure each spot first before we cut it, because sometimes things aren’t perfectly square and the dimensions vary an eighth of an inch or so.

Step 5: Assemble the frame

Screw your 2×4′s together, and with the table “upside down” attach your legs, checking for square. We used 3 inch screws for this, just to make sure things stay sturdy. You never know when an impromptu bars session will be in order.

See? Super sturdy. Ain’t goin’ nowhere! At this point, use the remaining 2×4′s and drill in two cross supports for the plywood. If you want to throw in more for extra measure, feel free.

Step 6: Attach the plywood

We went a little crazy with the screws here (1 1/2 inch screws, to be precise) and drove them into the posts, frame and supports with abandon. Since they’ll be covered in tiles anyway, feel free to go a little nuts!

Step 7: Spread your adhesive and start laying tiles


Follow the instructions on your adhesive of choice, which is normally to spread a thin layer at a 45 degree angle, and make sure you have some grooves for the tiles to adhere to. We don’t have a fancy tile-laying trowel, so we used a large putty knife. We smeared it on about halfway, laid tile, then did the other half. Since this is a large table, we didn’t want anything drying out too quickly. Let your adhesive set according to your brand’s directions (ours needed 24 hours).

Step 8: Grout!

Got your tiles laid out all pretty? Is your adhesive fully set? Well, then, it’s time to grout! And I won’t give too many tips on this, since I majorly sucked at it. Packing it in was all fine and dandy, getting it off the tiles? Not so much. It was kind of a disaster. So, I’m blaming the 2-in-1 product I used, naturally. If I had normal grout, this would have been great! Right?? Anyway, follow the instructions on your grout, which are most likely to smear it into your lines at a 45 degree angle, and wipe off the excess with a damp sponge. Wipe, wipe, wipe! Because if it dries on there it is a pain in the buttocks to get it off. Trust me. I’ve been there.

Step 9: Cut and attach trim

To keep the sides from looking all messy, we decided to use 1×2′s for trim. If you’re deciding to stain, I would cut and sand and stain the trim before installing it. Since I was painting, I did the cutting and sanding, then we installed it with glue and nails.

Step 10: Paint!

This one’s pretty easy. I taped off the tile and grout to make sure I didn’t get any paint on them, and then painted two coats of Behr’s satin Harvest Brown to the trim, frame and legs. I plan to add a few coats of poly to give it some added moisture protection as well.

Step 11: Caulk

So, you’ve got your trim on and painted, now it’s time to fill in that last gap around the edges. We used a caulk gun and a credit card to give a smooth edge and fill in the gap between tile and trim. Wipe off the excess before it dries, or else you’ll be like me using a razor to scrape off the excess the next day. And then you have to touch up the paint, and that’s a mess too. So, do yourself a favor and clean as you go!

And…Done! That’s it! You now have a beautifully tiled table. You may want to seal it to keep your grout and tiles from getting dingy, but I’m going to hold off until after I’m done gestating. We really love our rustic, reclaimed tile table. It took 3 days because of all the curing time, but it was well worth it. $70 is still a lot cheaper than any 6 foot tiled table you’ll find out on the market, and you get to completely customize it to your taste and decor!

 

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11 comments

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  1. Ashley @ DesignBuildLove.co

    totally awesome! Nice result and I bet it was a lot cheaper than buying a table that size!

  2. suburbianbliss

    Wow that looks awesome!!

  3. Stacia

    Turned out gorgeous!

  4. Elisa

    Looks amazing! And so stuurdy.

  5. Chris Hursey

    Love the table! Can’t wait to build my own. I thought you needed the concrete backer board before you put down tile? Any thoughts on that?

    1. My thoughts were we only needed the concrete board for areas that get a ton of water exposure, like a bathroom. This table sits on the deck, and pretty much never sees standing water. The rest of the wood is treated to prevent warping and rotting over time. We used a grinder to rough up the plywood so the adhesive and tiles would stick better. So far we haven’t had any problems!

    2. Judy

      use concrete !!!! …………… no matter what … plywood warps with time, must have concrete to stabilize.

  6. Kerry

    I have been trying to figure out how to make a table similar to yours… Your above steps helped a lot. Thanks for posting!! I have collected 6×6 tiles over the years from places we have been and will be making a table for our screened in porch. Bought the wood for it today, but put off buying plywood…too many choices and lowes was too busy today to get much help. So the question is, did you get pressure treated plywood for outdoor projects or did you get a regular piece used indoors? My concern was the same as stated in previous post…does a regular piece draw moisture from the adhesive and mess with the bonding properties?

    1. Kerry, it’s been so long that I’m not entirely positive, but I’m relatively sure it’s untreated plywood. I don’t think I’ve ever chosen to work with treated, because of the chemicals for cutting. However the rest of the lumber was treated wood, as I intended to paint it. If you’re staining, I’d recommend cedar since you have to wait for treated wood to cure before staining. We didn’t have any problems with adhesion, and still don’t. We used our grinder to rough up the top a bit and that’s all it needed. Another tip – don’t use the all-in-one adhesive and grout. It works fine, but you have to use so much of it that it’s not cost effective. Plus ours shrank up and stained over time, so we added a new layer of sanded grout. I hope that helps!

  7. tarchdeacon

    Have you had any trouble with the grout cracking with changes in temperature?

    1. Brooke

      Strangely, not at all! And I’m really surprised about that. We lived on the Texas coast when we built it, which sees a lot of humidity and high temps, as well as a few freezes. Now we’re more in Central Texas and it gets very dry and hot. Still no problems on the grout. But it’s only been two years, so I’m not counting that out just yet.

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