How to avoid a th element from inheriting properties from a tr element in IE6/7

Tags: html,cross-browser,css

Problem :

I've got a table which has a repeating background image on the header:

thead tr
   background: #D3D2D2 url(images/background-table-header.gif) repeat-x top;

And this works across in both Firefox and Internet explorer, but if we want certain column headers to show the sorting direction we decorate the th with the class Sorted and the Direction. And use css to to add a direction icon.

  thead th.Sorted
     background-repeat: no-repeat;
     background-position: center left;  
     padding-left: 0.6em;   
  thead th.Sorted.Ascending
     background-image: url(images/background-table-sorted-column-ascending.gif);
  thead th.Sorted.Descending
     background-image: url(images/background-table-sorted-column-descending.gif);

The problem is that in Internet Explorer 6 and 7 the background-color from the tr is inherited (found out using Internet Explorer Developer Toolbar) to the th. Which means the th paints #D3D2D2 color over the tr background. Firefox, Chrome and IE8 do not have this problem, so it's a IE6/7 bug I suspect. I thought about using a background-color:transparant on the thead th.Sorted but IE6/7 just paints the body background (it looks like it cuts a hole in the other layers between the body and the th).

This is how it should look like:

correct interpretation of the css/html

And this is how it looks like in IE6 and IE7:

IE6 and IE7 wrong rendering

Below is the HTML snipppet I created for this question.

  <table cellspacing='0'>
        <th>First column</th>
        <th>Second column</th>
        <th class="Sorted Ascending">Third column</th>
        <th>Fourth column</th>

How could I solve this?

Solution :

It seems IE has a bug - it renders the tr's background image as the cell's background image, so the cell's image overrides the row's image. The same bug exists for the thead element, but it seems to work well with the table element.
So, you can apply your background image to the table instead of the header row:

   background: #D3D2D2 url(images/background-table-header.gif) repeat-x top;

Because the background image is on the table it may extend beyond the header row, so you may also want to set the background color of the tbody or its trs:

   background-color: #fff;

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