David G Brown on tue 8 apr 97
Ceramic tile is best set in mortar or on concrete. Wood flexes, tile does
not. Also the relative rates of expansion and contraction, which happen due
to changes in temperature and humidity (even indoors), are very different.
Even so your friend can successfully mastic to wood. A stable subtop that
is sealed to protect it from moisture should work for furniture.
A very stable wood is MDF (medium density fiberboard), used by cabinet /
furniture makers. It is available in a variety of thicknesses. There is one
type that is almost water proof. Another option would be Finish birch
plywood. It has more layers of wood than ordinary plywood with no hollows
and is very strong (incase someone ever sits on the table). If it is sealed
on all sides stability should be good.
I have not made tile furniture but used to do mortar tile installations for
a living. My suggestion for a solution to the tile sealant problem is to
contact the product manufacturer directly. They tend to know their product
best. Often the store personnel do not have a practical knowledge of the
products they sell.
I realize this is a trying learning experience for your friend. Even so I
will venture some advice for the future: make extra pieces for test
For tile lovers out there a possible resource is the Tile Heritage Foundation:
P.O. Box 1850
Healdsburg, CA 95448
tel.: 707-431-TILE (8453)
David in Redwood City, Cal