How to Repurpose a Ceramic Table Base

by Mike Matthews, Demand Media
    Concrete table tops are a smart replacement for damaged ceramic table tops.

    Concrete table tops are a smart replacement for damaged ceramic table tops.

    The base for your ceramic table can continue its life as a decorative table base for an altogether different tabletop. Since the typical ceramic table base consists of a sturdy metal frame supported on metal legs, it can support a good deal of weight. That will enable you to attach a concrete tabletop of the same size. The concrete surface can be pre-tinted to a variety of attractive colors, or it can accept many different styles of decorative finishes.

    Items you will need

    • 3/4-inch thick melamine veneer particleboard
    • Sabre saw or hand saw
    • 2-1/4 inch drywall screws
    • Electric drill with 1/16-inch drill bit
    • Phillips-head screwdriver
    • Silicon caulk in squeeze tube
    • Ready-mix countertop concrete
    • Concrete pigment (optional)
    • Decorative concrete aggregate (optional)
    • Mixing bucket
    • Anti-stick cooking spray
    • Galvanized steel reinforcing mesh
    • Concrete trowel
    • Work gloves
    • Plastic sheeting or heavyweight dropcloth
    • Plastic putty knife
    • Muriatic acid substitute
    • Water-based concrete sealant
    • Paint brush

    Step 1

    Measure the old ceramic table top. Your table base can support the same dimensions of a concrete table top.

    Step 2

    Create a concrete pouring mold by first cutting a piece of 3/4-inch thick melamine to the desired table top size and shape, using a sabre saw or hand saw. This will become the base of your mold (See References 1, 2, 3).

    Step 3

    Form the edges of the mold using 2-1/2 inch wide strips of melamine, cut to fit each side. If the table top will be rectangular shaped, you will need to cut four separate pieces to fit each of the four sides (See References 1, 2, 3).

    Step 4

    Drill a series of small pilot holes 10 to 12 inches apart through the melamine and into the plywood. Insert 2-1/4 inch drywall screws through the holes to hold the melamine edges snugly in place, with the bottom edges of the mold's side pieces aligned flush to the bottom edge of the melamine base (See References 1, 2, 3).

    Step 5

    Apply a smooth, thin bead of quick-drying silicon caulk to the seam where the melamine meets the plywood. Allow the caulk 24 hours to fully cure before mixing up the concrete (See References 1, 2, 3).

    Step 6

    Mix up a batch of ready-mix countertop concrete in a plastic bucket according to the manufacturer's directions. For best results, use a drill-mounted mixing paddle to achieve the smoothest possible blend. If you wish to add color to the concrete, a pigment can be mixed in at this stage of your process. Countertop concrete will be noticeably drier than a concrete patching mix used for driveway or foundation repair, and it should achieve the consistency of cake batter when blended properly (See References 1, 2).

    Step 7

    Coat the inside of your mold with a form release agent, such as an anti-stick cooking spray (See References 1, 2).

    Step 8

    Slowly pour enough of your concrete mix into the mold to fill it to the halfway point (See References 1, 2).

    Step 9

    Cut a piece of reinforcing galvanized steel mesh to accurately fit the mold to within one-half inch of its edges (See References 1, 2).

    Step 10

    Put on a pair of work gloves, and gently push the steel mesh into top portion of the poured concrete (See Reference 1, 2). Be sure to center the mesh, leaving a 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch border on all sides.

    Step 11

    Pour the additional concrete into place until the mold is nearly filled on all sides (See Reference 1, 2).

    Step 12

    Smooth the concrete surface with a trowel until it is smooth and level without any gaps or voids (See Reference 1, 2).

    Step 13

    Allow the concrete to dry for 4 to 5 days (See Reference 1, 2). You can tell the concrete is sufficiently dry when it has very slightly pulled itself away from the mold.

    Step 14

    Remove the screws that are holding the melamine to the mold. Use a thin plastic putty knife to help peel the melamine away from the concrete. Once the edges have been removed, carefully flip the concrete upside down onto a couple of 2-by-4s and remove the remaining portion of the mold, using the putty knife to help separate the melamine from the concrete. Leave the concrete in place for another six to eight hours.

    Step 15

    Wait an additional 48 hours, then seal the concrete using a non-toxic water based sealant (See References 4 and 5, page 166-168). Many sealant manufacturers suggest using muriatic acid or trisodium phosphate (TSP) to prepare the concrete before sealing, but environmentally safe substitutes are now commonly available.

    Step 16

    Mount the concrete in the same position once occupied by the ceramic table base.

    Tips

    • To supply additional sparkle to your tabletop, you can stir in some polished chips of colored glass or ceramic materials to your concrete mix at Step 6.
    • Your table -- sans ceramic table top -- could also serve as a framework for young hanging plants . In warm weather, the table base can be used outdoors, and in cold weather the base can move indoors where the plants may be sustained by energy-efficient compact fluorescent floodlights.

    Warning

    • When you peel the mold off of your tabletop, the concrete may appear rough or uneven. You can smooth the concrete by using a variable speed grinder and diamond grinding pads. Start by applying a coarse grade where needed, then progressively shift to using finer grades of grinding pads evenly over the entire surface.

    About the Author

    Mike Matthews is editor of Green Building Product News, a national publication that covers sustainable innovations in building and remodeling, and he has spoken at national conferences on green building. He has also served as founding editor of "Paint Dealer" magazine.

    Photo Credits

    • Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images