Tile Edge & Trim Design Ideas
Finish your tile project with a stylish accent by choosing the perfect trim tile, border or edging. This step serves an important function by softening the raw edges of tile walls and floors to ensure proper installation. Plus, it adds a high-end designer effect to the look. The Tile Shop offers a wide selection of colors, patterns and textures that can add the ideal complement to your next project.
Installing a border on your accent backsplash can give it the look of a framed art piece.
2021 Tile Trim Design Trends
After investing a lot of thought into a room’s tile design, many homeowners overlook how critical it is to properly finish the edges of their tile project. By removing the exposed edges, trim softens the transition where your tile ends, adding a high-end look and effectively outlining your tile installation. But trim pieces are also an important design feature. Layering trim tiles can elevate the entire design, accent a certain feature and create interest and individuality. These borders, trims and accent tiles can seamlessly blend into your design, stand out or highlight another feature in the space by repeating a finish or material. Keep in mind how the finer details of your project can impact the look and feel of the room.
This tile installation gives this bathroom tile a clean edge.
What better way to accentuate an impressive piece of art glass than with a tiled frame?
Facilitate the transition from one tiled surface to another with layered trim pieces that act as a wainscot.
Make your space appear taller by extending an accent stripe up to the ceiling. Edge pieces set the stripe off from the wall tile.
Let our design experts help you to create the room of your dreams. Our free design services are available to you 7 days a week.
Schedule Your Design ConsultationFIND A STORE NEAR YOU >
Trim for Walls & Backsplashes
It’s important to make sure that you’re ending your wall and backsplash tile at the right spot because installing tile where the edge is visible will leave your project looking unfinished. A smooth, rounded bullnose edge is a great way to give your tile a clean finish and streamlined look. Since it’s far less likely to chip or break, bullnoses add increased durability to your tiled areas. Used at the top of a shower wall or kitchen backsplash, rounded tiles can provide a smooth transition and a clean, polished appearance. Trim can also add framing effects, arch features or distinctive ending points like chair rail molding to your wall. Add elegance to your space by ending with skirting at the floor or a chair rail piece at wainscot height. From marble to ceramic, these pieces come in a wide variety of finishes.
Skip the paintings: mix and match your tile patterns to create stunning works of art.
We love how this fun pattern adds an eye-catching border to this tiled shower.
Rounded pencil tile creates a smooth transition between two types of wall tile.
Add a tile border around your shower’s recessed tile inset for a classy, refined touch.
Moldings can help create a striking focal point when used around eye-catching patterns.
Browse all our tile moldings and profiles.
Trim isn’t just for your vertical tile installation—don’t forget to complete your project by effectively framing out your floor design. While the majority of the floor can be one tile, consider bordering the room with a contrasting shape or pattern. To ensure a smooth transition from one space to the next, you should install threshold pieces, which are available in natural stone or a variety of metal finishes from DURAL. In addition to crafting a sophisticated look, edging your floors will make them much easier to clean and maintain.
Skirting tile adds sophistication to this shower entrance.
Here’s a great example of using different tile near the floor for a bit of contrast.
This shower shows how you can use your edge and trim to smoothly transition between tile patterns.
Even a subtle trim at the foot of your walls can make an impact on your room.
Want to see more? Browse our tile trim and accessories.
Design Tip: Choosing Materials
For edging purposes, a combination of materials can be mixed and matched to create a rich sense of depth in your room. Get creative with contrast by pairing ceramic and glass or installing glass tile with stone accents. Natural stones, like marble, granite and travertine, can be polished so that the edges appear finished. Pencil wall tile is a classic accent piece that helps produce an even tone for easy matching. Metal edge trim is a quickly growing trend that’s available in a wide array of styles and finishes. Use metal trim in your bathroom to create a clean and contemporary transition to another surface that also matches the finish of your sink faucet or shower head. If you’re installing subway tile, turn your tile vertically to create a defined edge at the top or border. Any questions? Learn more about edging from our experienced store associates at The Tile Shop.
This creative use of glass and stone patterns makes this shower area uniquely appealing.
Using vertical subway tile trim is effective at creating a defined edge in this tile inset.
This metallic framing adds dramatic flair and contrast to this shower wall.
Our variety of colors and styles of natural stone edging tile means there’s a solution for any space.
Nothing beats seeing the tile in person. Come in to browse our huge selection of tile options at a store near you.
Schedule Your Design ConsultationFIND A STORE NEAR YOU >
If you’d like to find out all about tile edge trim, you’ve come to the right place!
This is Steve with SKG Renovations. In this post I will be providing you with an assortment of tile edging options and some helpful installation strategies.
And it gets better!
I will also go through a real life installation example to show you how it’s done by a professional.
And if you’d rather get some super valuable tile installation tips, check out my Shower Tile Installation post.
Ok, let’s get into it!
Summary of Topics:
Please use the links below to skip to any section that interests you.
Alternative to Bullnose Tile
Ceramic Tile Edge Trim Profiles
Metal & Plastic Trim Profiles
Tile Edge Trim Finishes
Outside Tile Corner Trim
Square or Mitre Joint on Tile Corner Trims
An Easier Alternative to Shower Niche Trim?
Inside Tile Corner Trim
Inside Corner Dilemma
There are four main types of tile edge trim that can be used to finish the perimeter of your tiling installations.
These include stone trims, porcelain or ceramic trim tiles, as well as plastic and metal trims.
These come in various configurations depending on the product and their use, but the metal tile trims (metal tile edging) and stone trims are the most popular.
Alternative to Bullnose Tile
If you are not excited about using a standard tile edge trim profile, you can use real or engineered stone instead. This is one of the fastest growing tile edge trim ideas, quickly displacing the standard tile edging options.
Capping a shower pony wall or framing the inside of a shower niche with polished stone creates a beautiful high end finish, and also provides a great alternative to bullnose tile.
The stone material is quite thick (a choice of either 2cm or 3cm thickness) so it offers the opportunity to create a finished trim by polishing the outside facing edge.
This strategy is becoming more popular because it creates a very compelling seamless look and is easier to install than other trims. It can also produce a beautiful modern or classic finish depending on your choice of stone.
The downside is that it can be significantly more expensive than a standard tile edge trim installation due to the high cost of the material and fabrication.
You should also keep in mind that these types of stone installations require very accurate measurements and a skilled stone fabricator to cut and polish the stone pieces.
Ceramic Tile Edge Trim Profiles
Ceramic tile edge trim profiles can have a finished square edge, or more commonly a larger radius bullnose edge.
These types of tile edging were common in modern designs during the 1980’s and early 90’s but are no longer popular in todays modern bathroom designs.
There are some unique modern trim tiles available today, but they are usually special order items and generally quite expensive.
In contrast, it is quite common to see these tiles in more traditional design schemes these days.
The attached image shows a ceramic trim tile being used very nicely around a tiled shower niche in a traditional bathroom design.
Metal and Plastic Tile Edge Trims
Metal tile trims and plastic tile edge trims come in several profile shapes and colors, but plastic is the least popular of this group because they do not stand up well to abrasion.
The metal tile edging is by-far the most common trims used in most mid-cost and higher end renovations (image of sample trim wheel).
They are ideal for high abrasion areas such as floors, but have also become a standard in most shower wall tiling installations.
They are available in the widest range of finishes and profile styles, but the profile with the very narrow top edge is the most popular (for example, Schluter Jolly).
There are a large selection of Shluter profiles available. You can see them all on the Schluter Systems website.
Most home stores carry Schluter profiles but you can usually only get the Jolly profile without special ordering them. There are a few more Schluter profile options readily available online.
Tile Edge Trim Finishes
If you’ve decided to install a metal tile edge trim, and you’ve picked the type and style you want, then it’s time to choose the finish.
You should be prepared to select your trim finish well in advance of your tiling project because some finishes are special order items.
You should also be prepared for a wide variation in price. Some of the less popular finishes can easily be twice (or more) the cost of a more common finish.
The general rule when picking a tile edge trim finish is to try your best to match the trim with your bathroom fixture finishes, although there are some exceptions.
Generally when choosing your finish, you should keep in mind that tile edge trim should be an attractive compliment to your bathroom design, but not a stand-out feature.
It is not always obvious what depth you should select for your metal tile trim, even when you have your tile and trim in hand at the home improvement store.
It is a good strategy to err on the plus side for your trim depth to avoid the terror when you see the tile edge protruding above the trim during installation.
To choose a trim depth that is 1/16” to 1/8″ deeper than your tile is standard in the industry. A DIY’er should stick with a the 1/8″ deeper trim option to give themselves a bit more of a safety margin.
Because the bonding portion of the trim sits beneath the tile (the cross hatched flange seen in the image), it is important to allow enough mortar beneath the tile to allow it to bond to the trim, and the trim to bond to the tile backer board.
Squeezing all the mortar out between your tile and trim mounting flange reduces bond strength significantly so DON’T DO IT!
Another thing to be aware of if you are installing only ceramic tile, is that many people have the tendency to choose their tile edge trim depth based on the thinner outside edge of the ceramic tiles they are using.
This will get you into trouble when you have to match the thicker cut edge against the trim in a staggered tile layout.
If you are installing a waterproofing membrane after you secure your tile edge trim in place, you must also remember to accommodate the membrane thickness in your choice of trim depth.
Remember that you can always add a little extra mortar to raise the tile to meet the trim depth, but you are totally stuffed if you choose a trim depth that is too shallow.
Trim Depth Example
The example image shows two different tiles installed with a 1/2″ trim.
The darker tile is porcelain with a thickness of almost 3/8″ and the surrounding tile is ceramic with a 1/4″ thickness.
The ceramic tile has lots of room beneath, requiring 1/8″ thick layer of buildup material beneath to allow it to match the porcelain tile and trim.
However, the trim is a perfect depth for the porcelain tile. This 3/8″ tile requires an extra 1/8″ of depth for trim & tile to match evenly, due to the extra thickness added by the waterproofing membrane, and an allowance for some mortar beneath.
Outside Tile Corner Trim
When it comes to shower tiling, you may never need to worry about outside tile corner trims for your tile work unless you are installing a tiled shower niche or tiling a pony wall or shower bench.
To clarify, outside tile corner trims used exclusively for the corner where two of your tiled surfaces meet at 90 degrees.
These days it is most common to use a metal tile edge trim for these corners but as I mentioned previously, another great alternative tile edging option is natural or engineered stone.
With stone you can relieve yourself of the burden. Leave the cutting, edge finishing and installing to your stone fabricator instead.
Just keep in mind that stone is expensive and requires a skilled stone fabricator to cut & polish them.
Square or Mitre Joint on Tile Corner Trims?
If you choose a metal tile edge trim, it must be installed with skill and precision.
This trim piece is usually quite visible and you don’t want someone’s shoddy work to be on display in your new shower remodel.
Firstly, if you want this installation to go smoothly, you should follow the strategies I have covered in the sections above.
The challenging part will be matching the four corners evenly, with no gaps.
You have two choices: Meet the two pieces of trim in the four corners with a square joint, or use a miter joint (45 degree joint).
The first option is clearly the easiest and offers the highest chance of success (see image), but it does not look as professional as a perfect miter joint.
Another important condition is that you can only achieve a decent square joint when the top of the trim is flat. This can be achieved quite satisfactorily with Schluter Shiene or Jolly.
With other more complex profiles, a miter joint will be required.
If you decide on miter joints for your shower niche outside trim, it’s always safest to get a skilled and experienced tiling professional to do this work.
An Easy Alternative to Shower Niche Trim?
If you want another alternative to installing a shower niche trim and avoid the outside corner installation problem altogether, you can always install a finished shower niche with a built in tile edge trim.
This look isn’t for everyone but if you like the metallic look of a finished shower niche, it can sure save you a lot of work and also eliminate the risk of leaks.
Inside Tile Corner Trim
Finishing inside corners is an important part of every shower tiling project, but it is also the most ignored when it comes to tile edging.
There are some challenges to these inside corners and some elegant products and strategies available to meet these challenges.
There are also some very useful and interesting tile edge trims that are not routinely used in modern bathrooms and showers but are also worth considering.
Inside Corner Dilemma
If you are like most tiling contractors, you will have some issues with finishing inside corners on wall tile installations.
When wall tiles meet at a corner, you have a choice of tiling right up against the adjacent tile and rely on a white silicon bead to seal the corner (see image). Or you can cut the tile to create a grout line on one of the two walls.
The former strategy is the most common mostly because it is simply the easiest of the two.
A grout line in the corner tends to interrupt the visual flow of tile from one wall to the other, and is not generally considered to be a good look.
Although these are the most common strategies, there are also some interesting and professional looking alternative tile edging options available.
Other Interesting Trims
The inside corner tile edge trim (also called a cove trim) provides a professional finished look and is one of the most under appreciated tile edge trim ideas, in my opinion.
The benefits of this trim are an attractive metallic finish compared with the standard grout or silicon corner.
It also has a smooth radius making it easier to clean and provides two grout lines, allowing the corner to be completely sealed.
A baseboard trim is also available for installation outside of the shower if your floor & wall tile meet. It has a very thin top profile and various bold metallic finishes, great for minimalist designs.
There are also some very nice tile edge border profile trims designed to be mounted within a section of wall tile to create a separation between two different tiles, or simply as a bold interruption in the your wall tile design.
There is even a wall profile trim with a shallow track down the middle for mounting a strip of 1″x1″ mosaic tiles. A very classy look.
I hope that this article has provided you with some confidence (even mastery) in the area of tile edge trim. I have attempted to shown you a range of the most popular and interesting tile edge trims, along with a few useful hints to help you with installation.
If you have any thoughts you would like to share or any questions about this post, or the topic of tile edge trim in general, please leave a comment below.
This post is for information purposes only and should NOT be interpreted as professional advice. You should always consult a licensed local contractor before undertaking any remodelling work in your home. Click here for my full Personal / Professional Disclosure.
Let’s Talk about Edge Trim
When planning your tile project, don’t forget to think about this crucial detail!
We don't recommend leaving your tile edges bare: an unfinished tile edge is prone to chipping and cracks, and oftentimes just doesn't look very good.
Fortunately, there are a number of ways to finish your tile for a polished, professional look.
Bullnose Tiles Match your Porcelain or Ceramic Field Tile
Many tile lines offer a bullnose tile as a trim option. A bullnose is a piece of the field tile with one rounded edge (two if it’s a corner bullnose).
A square field tile edge can be easily chipped or damaged, whereas a rounded bullnose edge can better deflect impacts.
A field tile edge looks unfinished, while a bullnose is glazed to match the face of the tile.
Most bullnose for porcelain and ceramic tiles are cut from the field tiles: 3-4" tall by the width of the most popular tile size (usually 12", 13", or 24").
Glazed wall ceramic tiles usually offer a bullnose in the same size as one or more field tiles (3x6" field with a 3x6" bullnose, 4x12" field with a 4x12" bullnose, etc).
Many wall ceramic tiles offer a corner bullnose, while most porcelain tiles do not, only offering a bullnose along one edge (for example, a 3x24" bullnose with a rounded 24" side).
Bullnose can also be used to finish shelves, curbs, stair edges, and as baseboards that match your tile floor. A bullnose baseboard is a good, durable alternative to a wood or MDF baseboard in a damp area such as a bathroom.
However, not every tile line comes with bullnose, and sometimes the bullnose tiles are produced at a different time than the field tile and they look noticeably different.
Oftentimes there’s only one size of bullnose and it might not perfectly line up with all tile sizes. For example, a porcelain line that has 13x13” and 12x24” tiles will usually only have a 3x24” bullnose. A ceramic tile might come in four different sizes but only have bullnose in one size.
Schluter Edge Profiles
These German-made metal or PVC strips are used as transition strips, expansion joints, decorative borders, and for finishing edges. With a variety of shapes, different heights for different sized tiles, and finishes ranging from brushed nickel to antique bronze to black, white, grey, or beige, there's a Schluter profile for every installation!
Transitions between Different Floor Types
Several Schluter edge profiles serve as a clean, definitive transition between tile and other floors. They're available in many different colors, including brushed nickel, antique bronze, brass, and stainless steel.
When the edge of tile is left exposed next to carpet, or if it is taller than the adjacent flooring, it's easy to kick and chip the square edge of the tile. Metal edging protects the your tile from this damage.
The Schluter Reno Profiles are designed to provide a transition between a tile floor and a floor of a different height. You can also use Schluter for aesthetic purposes, creating a line between two spaces that sits flush with the floor's surface.
Finished Edges for Countertops, Showers, and Walls
Satin Aluminum Schluter Rondec is used to finish off the edge of a countertop
Schluter edge profiles are ideal for tile and stone lines that don't have a bullnose option, or if you want a thinner, sleeker edge detail.
For showers, the 8-foot sticks of edge trim allow you to have a clean, continuous floor-to-ceiling line that caps the unfinished edge of your tile and completes your installation.
They are also a great way to finish the edges of backsplashes for a more polished look.
Click through the Houzz ideabook below using the arrows at the bottom right.
Decorative Metal Liners and Borders
Why not have a trim piece that is both functional and stylish? With Schluter's wide range of finishes and profile shapes, you can incorporate the profiles into your design for strong lines or subtle accents.
Schluter's profiles are usually less expensive per linear foot than other metallic pencil liners or stone borders; and because they come in eight-foot lengths, you have far fewer grout joints to worry about.
Ceramic Pencil Liners and Quarter Rounds
Many ceramic lines now offer a quarter round trim option. Smaller and sleeker than a bullnose, quarter rounds are usually around 1/2” wide. While a bullnose may only match one size within a line, the quarter round matches any size tile. Other terms for this tiny trim: jolly, pencil, pencil bullnose, edge stick, and spigolo.
Pencil Liners: Mostly Marble & Metallic
A larger and more traditional trim option, a domed pencil liner creates a more dramatic architectural line. Most common in marble or metallic, occasionally you can find a ceramic or glass pencil liner.
If you intend to use your pencil as an edge trim, check to see if they’re finished all the way around; oftentimes they are flat and unfinished on the edges, designed to be installed between tiles instead of at an edge.
Bevel Tiles & 3D Tiles: A Unique Challenge
Tiles with pronounced surface highs and lows present a unique challenge when picking an edge trim: do you match the trim to the high point, or the low point?
If you match the trim size to the highest point, you’ll be able to see the unfinished backside of the trim where sticks out above the low points.
If you match the trim size to the lowest point, there will be an unfinished tile edge exposed.
Our favorite solution is raised pencil liners. Their tall domed shape will extend beyond the highest point of the tile’s edge, concealing it.
About the Author: Kathryn Helbling has been a Tile Lines designer and product expert for 10 years, in addition to designing and managing the Tile Lines website.
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