How to Put Seashells Into a Tabletop

by Chelsea Fitzgerald
Seashells that are approximately the same height create less of a bumpy surface.

Seashells that are approximately the same height create less of a bumpy surface.

Hemera Technologies/ Images

Seashells come in a variety of sizes and shapes that make them perfect for creating a mosaic tabletop. This is an inexpensive craft to transform a plain table into a work of art. It adds nostalgia to the tabletop if you use a large collection of seashells that resulted from beachcombing while on vacation. Seashells may also be purchased at craft and hobby stores, shell shops and online.

Items you will need

  • Sharp scissors
  • Large piece of cardboard
  • Strong adhesive, such as wood glue
  • Rubber dishwashing gloves
  • Bathroom grout
  • Large sponge
  • Hammer (optional)
Step 1

Pick seashells that are approximately the same height for your mosaic tabletop. This creates a less bumpy surface when the mosaic is done, particularly if this tabletop will be used often for meals or similar functions.

Step 2

Cut a cardboard template of your tabletop shape, and arrange the shells on it. Create a ragtag mixture of the shells, or form designs, such as a fish or star shape, out of the different colored shells.

Step 3

Follow the design on your cardboard template, and glue each shell with the opening facing down onto the tabletop. Use a strong adhesive wood glue. The process works best if you leave a gap of about one-eighth inch between the shells. This allows the grout to go in between each shell to secure it in the mosaic. Allow the seashells plenty of time to dry according to the directions on the adhesive.

Step 4

Place rubber gloves on your hands to use in mixing and laying the grout. Other mosaic projects require a trowel, but seashells are often fragile. A trowel may break some of the shells before they are sealed in the grout.

Step 5

Pick a bathroom grout color that contrasts the colors of the shells. Otherwise, the shells blend in too much with the grout and lose the mosaic effect. A medium gray shade, beige or a pale blue grout works well with most seashells.

Step 6

Mix the bathroom grout according to the directions on the label. Scoop out a small handful of the grout, and place it onto the tabletop. Use your hands to press it into the gaps around each shell. Don't worry about any grout that gets on the tops of the shells -- it wipes off easily. Add more grout as needed until all the gaps are filled in.

Step 7

Wet a large sponge, and wring it out so it does not drip. Wipe over the tabletop with the sponge to remove any grout on the tops of the shells. Do not use a firm pressure, this may cause the grout to come out of the gaps. Wipe lightly over the shells to remove any grout residue. Rinse the sponge if necessary, and repeat until the tops of the shells are clean.

Step 8

Wait for the grout to dry on your seashell tabletop, according to the directions on the grout.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use a hammer to break larger shells to use in your mosaic if you desire.
  • Clean and inspect any shells you gather on your own. There may be sea creatures living inside the shells, and the cleaning gets rid of them.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/ Images