Making Of: A Tiled Table

A guide to help you make your own table using hand-painted tiles.

Inspiration

When we designed Akuko Studio we knew we wanted a communal table that we could use for brainstorm sessions, workshops, dinner parties and the occasional DIY. When looking for a table we came across two challenges. The first one was finding a table that had the dimensions that we were looking for. The second one was finding a table that we could actually afford, that was going to be a central piece and would serve as a focal point. When we couldn’t find what we were looking for, we decided to make our own and found inspiration in the tiled tables by Ikon Kobnhaven.

I first fell in love with tiles used for surfaces such as tables and kitchen tops after discovering Rhonda Drakeford’s tile collaboration with Made.com. When we decided to use tiles to make a big communal table for our office, I had a hard time finding tiles that I liked that had the right dimension for the size of the table we wanted. Shortly after I discovered that Laurence from LRNCE painted her own tiles to make a table for her garden and when I found natural, unglazed tiles with the right dimension online, I decided to give painting tiles a try. (If you already have tiles that you love and want to use, skip this first part).

Materials for making hand-painted tiles

Instructions for making hand-painted tiles

Step 1 (Optional)

Start by designing the pattern that you want for your tiles. We made a pattern out of the Akuko Studio logo by turning the typography into shapes.

Step 2

Using a digital design program, position these shapes on a flat layer the size of your table.

Step 3

We then used Illustrator to create stencils, which we had printed at a local printer on 400 gm paper. We cut out the stencils using an Exacto knife.

Step 4

Use the stencils and brush to paint your shapes onto the tiles. To avoid bleeding outside of the stencil, I recommend using very little paint at a time and working the paint with a brush from the inside of the shape to the outside, always moving the brush in the same direction. As the paint dries very quickly I cleaned the brush in a glass of water after two or three tiles.

Step 5

Once the paint is dry, cover the tiles in two layers of varnish. Carefully read the instructions on the can and observe the drying times in between each layer. If you are using the same brush to paint and varnish, make sure to use white spirit to carefully clean the brushes.

In the next section, I will explain how we build the base for the tiles to sit on and give an overview of the process of tiling it. In reality, we had to repaint over 300 tiles about three times, because every time we tried to grout the table the grout would remove the paint. This would mean plying the tiles off the table, sanding it down and starting from scratch over and over again. It was an excruciating process that cost us a fortune (we could have probably afforded our dream table after all). The process I’m describing here is the one that finally worked for us. This way you get to skip all the nightmarish struggles we had to endure. Now that the table is finished, we are richer for it and not only for the extra dose of grit.

Materials for building and tiling a table

Instructions for building and tiling a table

Step 1

Paint the MDF. You can leave out the side that will be tiled. Make sure to paint the central piece from both sides.

Step 2

Use the brackets to attach the MDF pieces to one another. Start by laying the top with its upside to the ground. Now attach both side pieces to the tabletop by using two brackets on the inside of each side piece. Make sure that the tabletop will sit on top of each side piece. Then, attach the centrepiece in the middle of the tabletop by using 3 brackets on both sides. Also, attach it to the side panels using 1 bracket in each of the four connecting corners.

Step 3

Attach the tiles to the table using tile adhesive. Spread the grout across the whole table in sections. Once the grout is dry, wipe off the access with a wet sponge. Let everything set for 24 hours.

Final Images

If you get stuck trying this DIY, feel free to message me via Instagram — @atelierakuko — I'm more than happy to help! And don't forget to tag me in your creations!

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