Tea Tray Tiling Part 2 of 3

Length of Project:
Project theme:
Suitable for grades:
Tools & Materials
Material List
  • masking tape
  • ~two 1' x 1' porcelain or ceramic tile mesh-backed squares
  • tile adhesive (pre-mixed)
  • grout (pre-mixed)
Tool list
  • safety glasses
  • nitrile or latex gloves
  • notch trowel
  • margin trowel
  • rubber grout float
  • utility knife
  • water bucket
  • sponge
  • paper towel or cloth rag
  • Optional

  • dust mask (if mixing adhesive or grout from dry form)
  1. Apply masking tape lines along the side walls of your wood tray, at the level of the tiles, to protect the wood from the adhesive and grout.
  2. Put on your gloves and safety glasses. Apply tile adhesive to the notch trowel, and spread onto the bottom of the tray, pulling it towards all edges and corners. Try not to linger on this step, you will have a limited time before the adhesive starts to dry.
  3. Holding the notch trowel at about 45 degrees with all tabs touching the bottom, scrape the tray, leaving even stripes of adhesive across the plywood.
  4. Before the adhesive skins over, place your tile mesh pieces onto the bottom of the tray
  5. Reposition tiles horizontally as needed, ensuring that they are approximately 1/8” away from all side walls, then press down with your hands or a rubber grout float to get the tile heights even.
  6. Allow the adhesive to dry according to package instructions (24 hours or more).
  7. Use the margin trowel to scoop up some of the grout and place it on the tiles or the grout float.
  8. Spread the grout across your tiles with your rubber float, angling it 45° to the tile to push the grout along and into the spaces between tiles.
  9. Use the front edge of the grout float to continue squishing the grout into every space, applying more from the bucket as necessary, until all the spaces between the tiles are full of grout.
  10. When you are finished and the grout has had some time to set (15-30 mins), dip the sponge in a bucket of clear water and squeeze out thoroughly. Wipe the sponge across the tiles diagonally gently to reveal the tile surface. Wipe just hard enough to remove the grout from the surface of the tiles, but not to remove grout from between them.
  11. Repeat the last step several times until you’ve wiped the entire surface and the tiles are clean. Make one final cleaning pass with a paper towel or clean rag to ensure the faces of the tiles have no remaining grout residue.
  12. Gently pull off the masking tape.
  13. Allow the grout to dry according to package instructions (usually 24-72 hours).
  14. Try Tea Tray Part 3 to make some handles for your newly tiled tea tray.
Extension Challenges
  1. Apply a grout sealer, or use a grout with sealer in it, to protect your grout from accidental spills that might stain your tray, such as tea or coffee.
  2. Try using a tinted grout to set off the colour of your tiles.
  3. Use different tile types and sizes to make a geometric mosaic, cutting with a tile saw or tile nippers as necessary to make them fit.
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