Inlaying tile in wood?

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Forum topic by ScienceNerd posted 02-16-2011 08:33 PM 2209 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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24 posts in 3229 days

02-16-2011 08:33 PM

Topic tags/keywords: tile inlay box glass tile

Hi, all!

The “tile in wood” topic has been addressed a few times, but I have a couple questions that are a little more specific…

I’m considering inlaying some small (1 inch or less) colored tiles—likely glass—in the top of a wooden box. I’ll probably set four of them in a diamond pattern in the middle and/or set singles as accents in the corners.

My questions:

(1) How should I affix the tiles to the wood? Epoxy? Grout? Colored caulk? In either case, do I need to prep the recessed wood to avoid moisture problems? And does the answer change for translucent glass tiles?

(2) What about finishing? The remainder of the box will be a glossy finish on dark wood. After setting the tiles, should I include the finish OVER the tiles or leave them alone?

Thanks in advance for your help!

6 replies so far

View fussy's profile


980 posts in 3254 days

#1 posted 02-16-2011 10:46 PM

Nerd, if you’re actually inlaying the glass as opposed to setting it with a grout surround, treat it as any inlay material. In this case, the glue to use would be a polyurethane or ca. If, however, you use grout, then the wood beneath and around the tiles would need to be sealed before grouting to prevent water absorption. I would do all my finishing first, including whatever top coat you choose (poly, laquer, shellac), then glue in the tiles and grout. Mask around the area to prevent scratching the finish. I wouldn’t think translucent tiles would be any different. Sounds interesting; I too have wanted to combine glass and wood in a project.


-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

View pintodeluxe's profile


5798 posts in 3017 days

#2 posted 02-16-2011 10:53 PM

I have had good luck with construction adhesive. I cut the recess with a router and mdf template, then finish the project with stain and lacquer. Finally I glue in the tile and grout it for a finished appearance.
Best of luck!

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View childress's profile


841 posts in 3745 days

#3 posted 02-17-2011 12:01 AM

I’m with pinto on this one. construction adhesive will work great (liquid nails) however, since you say you want to use a glass tile, it probably is translucent, so you might be better off with a clear 100% silicone… I use silicone to glue in my glass panels in doors and casework.

-- Childress Woodworks

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24 posts in 3229 days

#4 posted 02-17-2011 09:07 PM

Thanks for the info, folks. I’ll keep you posted…

View MattinCincy's profile


128 posts in 3357 days

#5 posted 02-18-2011 10:46 PM

Translucent tiles can look VERY different depending on what’s behind them. To make them show best, I find that a white background shows off their true color best. Experiment with different background colors before committing to setting them. Aslo, if you epoxy them in place with a clear epoxy, any air bubbles that get trapped under the tile can show through.

-- Wag more, bark less.

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24 posts in 3229 days

#6 posted 02-19-2011 04:29 AM

Thanks, Matt…that’s great advice.

P.S. Nice boxes!

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