China Mosaic Dresser – Tutorial

As promised, here is a tutorial for the dresser I restyled with a mosaic top made from broken china. 
This project looks difficult but it’s not really. It is not a one day project but can be completed in two to three days. 
So, let’s get started…..
Here is the completed dresser
I am adding a glass top to the dresser but have taken all the pictures without it due to glare issues.

You can do this treatment on just about anything you like. As I mentioned yesterday, I initially saw it on an outdoor concrete table. 
That is a slightly different method but the general idea is the same. 

Whatever piece you choose has to have a frame around the top to create an edge to grout against.
 I added a small 3/8″ x 3/8″ frame to the top of this dresser.
It’s just glued in place with wood glue. Make sure the area where you are applying the frame has been lightly sanded
 to remove any surface finish so the glue will hold well.

Now on to the china. The best choice is porcelain china with a flat lip edge. Porcelain china is thinner and snips well. 
Porcelain decoration is not just painted on the surface like much pottery and the shine is better. 
Plates of any size are the best choice as bowls (unless they have the flat lip) and cups will not be flat enough. 
I find china at thrift stores, yard sales, TJMaxx, etc. For this project, I wanted floral china only and wanted to use feminine colors 
but you can use any combination you like that fits your project. 
When I saw the front of this dresser, I immediately felt it would be perfect for a girly treatment.
I loved this pretty design on the front. Initially, I thought I would paint it in pink and white. I did that but as I began to add the china, 
it wasn’t working for me and I repainted it.. I think it compliments the china much better. 
You can paint the piece first or cover your mosaic and do it afterward.

Here are the tools you’ll need to break your china
A five gallon paint bucket, tile nippers, a small sledge hammer, and SAFETY GLASSES (please)

Lay the plate in the bottom of the bucket and drop the hammer on it. 
I then stop and remove pieces that are the size I want so they don’t get broken again. You want pieces that are the size of a quarter or larger.

Because I had decided to do a specific pattern, I organized my china by design

Begin to lay out the design on the surface

And change it until you  are happy. This was my final design

I measured the size of the design, removed the practice tile, 
and drew a pattern in the center of the dresser

Now the fun begins! I used this adhesive with a caulk gun

I find it cheapest to use this method but you can use the ready to use tubes of tile mastic if you like. 
I will post a separate tutorial for using a caulk gun, just in case you don’t have experience with one. 
It will be in the tutorial section in my header. 
I probably won’t get that up until later today…..break dishes instead while you wait!

Begin adhering the china with the adhesive
I can’t wait…I always have to do the pretty part first! 
Use enough adhesive to secure the piece without too much squishing up above the tile. 
You can wipe it off, but it’s less messy if you just use less. 
Plus, each time you wipe…you move the china piece so just save yourself the trouble. 
After doing the center medallion, I took a long piece of leftover trim used to make the frame 
and laid it across the dresser so each end was on top of the frame 
and then slowly slid it along the frame passing over the center medallion.
 I am checking to be sure that none of the pieces I’ve applied are sticking up above the height of the frame. 
You want to do this periodically as you proceed so you can press the pieces down further before the adhesive dries too much to move them.

Now, just begin filling in with your china pieces…

Here it is…..ungrouted

You need to leave it to dry for 24 hrs if possible. As pretty as it looks right now, the grouting part really makes the difference.

I used a plain old non-sanded grout from Home Depot. I chose white, but there are colors too if you like. 
Mix some up to the consistency of sour cream. The amount will depend on the size of your piece. 
I mixed 1 cup (finished amount after adding water) to start and it was enough. 
Don’t worry if it’s too thin…add more grout. Too thick…add more water. 
Pour some grout in an area and begin to spread it across the china.
You can spread with a sponge, a flat spreader or your hand.
 I like to use my hand because I want to be sure the grout is filling up the cracks well. 
Be careful when you use your hand….the china is sharp….use a light touch 
and don’t slide your fingers along the edges of the pieces but use a flat approach. 

Here they are pretty nicely filled up. 
Don’t get too excited…grout shrinks a bit as it dries and you’re going to do it again tomorrow!

The second grouting uses a thinner consistency of grout. No change in the product, just mix it so it’s more like honey. 
This application is designed to run into the little gaps and level out so you get a more even surface. 

Pour it over in sections at a time or all over if you like…it doesn’t matter, 
it needs to be smoothed over the whole area regardless.

On the left you see what it looks like before wiping off. 
On the right, I’ve started to wipe off the excess. 
I like to use a folded soft cloth for wiping off. 
It’s easiest to work near a sink because you will make a swipe 
and have to rinse out your cloth 
and keep repeating this process until most of the grout has been wiped off.

You can see how much more filled those cracks are now. 
Let it dry again and then you’re ready to buff it a bit to remove the haze that will be left.

Even though it looked clean before…this is what you will have after it dries. 
A haze of white. Just take a wad of your soft, clean, dry cloth and rub the mosaic.

And Voila!

Bright and shiny.

I applied these chunky glass knobs with a nickel finish base

All finished….

Hope you like it! Give it a try. 
I’d love to see your  results!

Linking with
Common Ground
No Minimalist Here
Miss Mustard Seed
Beyond The Picket Fence
My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia
Knick of Time


  1. Love it. I’ll have to try the bucket method of smashing, pretty smart tip Mrs. Flibberti!


  2. I love this! It looks so great! Are you selling this or what?

  3. Thanks very informative! The dresser looks amazing. Traci

  4. gorgeous! what a wonderful tutorial! i used to run a big mosaic supply business on ebay — i was called chip-of-china : ) i have changed my spots on etsy — but i still have a soft spot for pretty pink china and always seem to want to CRACK it : ) LOL!!! hugs and if i find where to get those straws in plastic form — i will let you know : ) hugs…

  5. What a neat idea! Your table top looks amazing. Thanks for sharing how it’s done.

  6. This is so pretty! I love it…it has pink and roses. You did a great job! Thank you for sharing. I am tempted to try this! Blessings My Friend,

  7. Thanks for the tutorial and your results are so pretty. Love it!

    Robin Flies South

  8. What a beautiful job!! Your tutorial is great. You make it look easy! :0)

  9. Great job … way to go!

  10. Gorgeous!
    Thank you for sharing your lovely project and tips at Potpourri Friday!

  11. What a great job!
    Thanks for sharing.
    Hope to see you on my blog:)


  12. My! This is quite lovely.

  13. Very pretty!


  14. So cool and your tip for smashing is absolutely, I will bring me home.

    Greetings from freezin Stockholm,

  15. Great idea and different than the usual mirrors done this way. I’m saving my dishes and adding your link to my Pinterest board so I can come back and use your tutorial when I’m ready. Thanks for the great tips.

  16. What a fabulous mosaic! I gave it up for quite a while and have been collecting to get back to it! You have an added step my teacher left out, which is probably when I wasn’t completely satisfied with my work – the second step of grouting with the consistency of honey, which gives a really nice finish and fills in all the nooks and crannies after the initial drying.

    Your piece is beautiful! With glass on top, it must be stunning!

    I’m your newest follower, and will come back for more inspiration!


  17. You are featured today a Potpourri Friday at 2805!

  18. Gorgeous project! Found you through 2805! Following you on Linky! – Tera at

  19. Hi! I pinned this on Pinterest, posted on fb, and featured at Creative DIYers Club. Please feel free to grab the feature button 🙂

  20. This is beautiful. I always operated under the instruction that you were supposed to use sanded grout for any gaps larger than 1/16 of an inch. Have you had any problem with the durability on the non-sanded grout?

  21. Looks great!
    However, I would not recommend wringing out a grout rag in your sink. It will harden in your pipes and cause huge plumbing issues. (I was scolded by my husband by doing this ….lol)

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