Upcycling an old dresser into kitchen island. How do I tile the top?

I purchased white subway tiles at Habitat Restore and want to cover the top of an old (solid wood) dresser for my kitchen. Surface is in perfect condition, having been refinished with Minwax Polyshades a very long time ago. (That Minwax is good stuff!) Can I tile directly onto the dresser? Or do I need to add some kind of backerboard? Trying to do this low budget as possible.
  5 answers
  • SLO SLO on Jun 01, 2017
    First cover the areas you want to tile with a sealant for wood or a white glue. Let this dry. At Lowes or Home Depot buy a smooth grout and butter the bottom of your tiles with a layer of grout and place onto your sealed wood. The most important thing to do is keep all tiles at the same level and height by using a ruler and level. Also you will want to keep the same space between the tiles by using anything you might have on hand like thin wood trim or even one of your tiles on its side if its the right thickness. Look around in your garage or home and I bet you have something on hand that will do the trick. They even have tile spacers at places that sale tile. Next let it dry and remember it will take longer for bottom centers of the tiles to dry. When dry it's time to grout with the same grout used to glue the tiles down. Fill between the tiles with the grout and remove just the excess grout on top of the tiles and keep the grout even between the tiles and let dry very well. Also you can use a wet but very dry sponge to help keep the tile tops and between the tiles clean and smooth. When dry you will go back with a wet sponge with excess water wung out and clean the grout haze on your tiles to its shining self. Last step is to seal the grout with grout sealant you can buy where tiles are sold. I know it sounds like a lot of steps to do but it really won't take much time when you get started and you want to do a great job so you can hand it down to family. Hope this helps and enjoy!
    Note: you can use a small wood trim around your wood top and this will 1. give you a clean pretty edge and 2. will help you keep your tiles at the same level as the top of the trim.

    • William William on Jun 01, 2017
      Do you mean to set the tiles with thinset not grout. Grout seals the joints not to set the tiles.

  • William William on Jun 01, 2017
    Going over the wood you would need to use tile mastic, not thinset. If you were to screw cement board to the top then use thinset. Then use grout to fill the grooves.

  • C. D. Scallan C. D. Scallan on Jun 01, 2017
    Thank you William ! You must set the tile with thinset and let dry, then grout, then seal. You cannot set tile successfully with grout.

  • SLO SLO on Jun 01, 2017
    No...I know that thinset is used when tiling a wall or floors but I did many projects using grout as glue also. I love to also mosaic tops of dressers and table tops using various materials like china, old plates from the thrift store and even colored glass. Because theses have different thicknesses I needed a thicker material to place them. I have many projects I used grout as glue and no problems with any of my work. I did tile my best friends bathroom using thinset and grout by the book but sometimes I look for mediums to use outside the box.