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April 04, 4:38 PM [GMT -5]

I am a mechanical engineer, carpenter, and have built tables like this. It seems that most people think that a tiled table top is somewhat trivial to build. Unfortunately, the wide temperature range reeks havoc on building materials that expand and contract at different rates. Have you noticed that many stores carry steel tables where the tiles drop in place and are not glued down. This is because tile for all intents and purposes does not expand or contract over temperature. Think of New York, where the temp range goes from 10 degrees to 100 degrees at worst. This offers a very wide range of 90 degrees. While the tile is not expanding and contracting much, the other materials will be. How bad? Good question. I built a tiled table top out of 2" thick treated lumber and got finished with it around November. The tile was affixed directly to the lumber using a strong but slightly flexible adhesive. I had tested a number of adhesives prior to assembly to make sure I would use one that have great strength over this temp range. Well, within about 2 months the table curled up like a potato chip. Many tiles were cracked and most others were flexing on a curve. It was really amazing to see thermal expansion (CTE=coefficient of thermal expansion) at work just quietly destroying the once beautiful table top. AND, keep in mind, that the temperatures were still quite mild.

The design of the second version of the table had the types of materials well thought out, or so I thought. This time I used tile on top of Hardy board, on top of exterior plywood, on top of a red oak cross pattern. BTW, this is a 6 foot by 4 foot patio table. Tile always wants to be on concrete or something close to it, in terms of the CTE. The Hardy board serves this purpose and is why it is recommended on interior designed under tile by professional builders. The Hardy board is only screwed to the plywood so that the plywood can expand and contract at different rates than the Hardy board and tile. And it WILL expand and contract whether you like it or not. The cross pattern of red oak rabbetted together serves as a strong yet lightweight grid which happens to have a low CTE, too.

I made the mistake of NOT cutting thin pieces of Hardy board to go around the side of the table. I just glued the small 2" tiles directly to the red oak. Bad mistake. So, make sure you screw Hardy board around the periphery ... because TILE WANTS TO BE ON CONCRETE OR SOMETHING LIKE IT.

Two more points then I'm done. First, notice that the depth or thickness of table in this article is rather thick compared to its overall size. This is basically a very solid/strong table. However, my 6 foot by 4 foot table is much bigger and we have to then make our plywood and red oak grid thick enough to prevent flexing. Why? If the top flexes, then the grout will crack and water will easily seep down the cracks. We don't want cracks, right? Make the thickness of this size table a healthy 4".

Finally, do what the article says in terms of the Redgard moisture barrier. Put on at least 2 or 3 coats on every surface. Let this stuff create a moisture barrier to really protect your hard work. Granted, this table top will be heavy but it'll be beautiful as well. The total expenses that I incurred was about $350 and that is a very good price for a piece of craftsmanship that you can really be proud of.

August 24, 10:31 PM [GMT -5]

Im looking at a few tile projects here and think the prices are a bit inflated. With the economy the way it is tile stores are practally giving their stuff away. I got a medallion from this guy in FLA and it was very reasonabally priced. www.tilefloormedallion.com
Mount it to plywood and find a used table base somewhere,

August 24, 10:30 PM [GMT -5]

Im looking at a few tile projects here and think the prices are a bit inflated. With the economy the way it is tile stores are practally giving their stuff away. I got a medallion from this guy in FLA and it was very reasonabally priced. www.tilefloormedallion.com
Mount it to plywood and find a used table base somewhere,

July 19, 5:32 PM [GMT -5]

This is an interesting project and provides new construction experience. However, the size of the table isn't useful to me. A larger size would be more expensive and costs more than I would want to spend.

July 19, 4:23 PM [GMT -5]

Might be picky, but the email says "...build one of these tables this weekend!"
The actual instructions of course say it takes SIX days.
I'd like to know where I can get a weekend like that!!

July 19, 4:21 PM [GMT -5]

First let me say I love TFHM nad not to be negative but I can buy this for a lot cheaper than what it costs me to build this. I know... It's about the fun of building it. But for me it's not. I would like to build something that looks great for a great price. Why re-invent the wheel!

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