How to Build a Mexican Talavera Tile Tabletop

What You'll Need
Tile saw
1X 3 inch wood strips
Circular saw
Wood glue
Paint primer
Tile Adhesive
Tile grout
Tile spacers
Damp cloth

Add color and character to an old table by adding some Mexican talavera tile. This tile will fit especially well with a décor of southwestern or Spanish themes. You don't need to decorative genius to give your table that colorful, Mexican flair. Make your own patterns, or choose from the variety of tile patterns your can buy. All you will need will be to arrange and adhere these tiles to your table.


Step 1 - Choosing Your Style & Pattern

Choose colors and patterns of tiles that will compliment decorative colors in room where you plan to set your table. Limit your tile design to three colors. Create patterns that are simple and uniform. Using solid colors as borders will allow you to cut your tiles to fit your table dimensions without interrupting individual patterns of tile that will need to be cut to fit.

Step 2 - Creating A Frame

If you wish to contain your tiles within a simple wood frame to keep from exposing their edges, create this frame from 1X 3 strips of wood. Attach the frame to the table edge, using glue, screws, or finishing nails. Decide in advance whether you want the top edge of your frame level with the tile surface, or whether you'd prefer to have the frame edges slightly higher (or lower) than the tile surfaces. Then, attach the frame. Paint or varnish the frame before adding your tiles.

Step 3 - Pre-Arranging Your Pattern

Use a large cardboard piece the same size as the table you plan to cover with your tile. Maintaining a quarter-inch space between the tiles, arrange your tiles on the cardboard in the pattern you wish to create. Start in the center and work toward the edges. Keep in mind that you'll probably need to cut the border tiles in order to maintain the pattern size that will match the table top size.

Step 4 - Applying Your Adhesive and Setting Your Tiles 

Clean off any dust, dirt, or debris from your table surface, apply your adhesive to the table surface, one section at a time. Apply only the amount of adhesive that will allow you to lay your tiles on it before the adhesive dries. Use tile spacers to maintain a uniform space between the tiles into which you will apply your grout. When you have set all your tiles on the adhesive you've spread, and when you are satisfied with the pattern you've created, allow 24 hours for your tile adhesive to fully set.

Step 5 – Applying Grout

Choose the color of grout that will enhance the color and pattern of your tiles. While white grout is more neutral, it is also the most troublesome to keep clean. Black grout may be too harsh for softer colors, but may be the contrast that will heighten your tile colors. Remove the grout spacers and begin applying your grout, working it into spaces between the grout. Use a damp cloth to clean off any grout left on the tile surfaces. When the grout is dry, apply a sealer to the tile surface.