4 Easy Ways to Finish Tile Edges

August 13, 2015

Shopping for tiles to create a beautiful space is fun. Today, there is an endless supply of natural stone, mosaics, glass, and porcelains tile available on the market. In every shade of the rainbow, and virtually every dimension and design available, premium tiles can transform a ho-hum space into a show-stopper.

One of the challenges that many homeowners face is how to finish the raw edges of tile walls and floors to ensure proper installation and a striking finished project. Many tiles lines offer coordinating bullnose pieces to match with varying tile sizes; however, some of the newer products, especially popular porcelain wood-grain looks, don’t yet have bullnose tiles available. But, this doesn’t need to discourage your selection. You have options!

There are several alternatives available to make sure the transition from the tile to the wall or ceiling is a smooth and refined one. Here are 4 easy ways to finish the edges of tile.

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1. Caulk the Edge. This is the easiest and most cost-effective solution. Mosaics, tumbled stone, and some porcelain tiles have edges that are more suited for this solution. Examine the tiles from the side; do they look raw, or finished? If it looks finished, after installation and grouting, you can apply a thin bead of caulking to the edge to create a clean, water-tight seal. However, if the edges are raw, we would recommend selecting one of the other solutions below.

2. Rail Moldings. Coordinating tile moldings in natural stone and porcelain are usually readily available. Thin, and decorative, these moldings can help you transition between different types of tile, or from tile to drywall. They provide a clean, cohesive transition that finishes the project beautifully. If the tile you’ve selected doesn’t have moldings, you can select one that closely matches, or you can choose one that contrasts to bring some extra pizazz to the space.

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3. Metal Edges. Metal edges are available in a wide array of styles and finishes. They can be used indoors, and out, for flooring stairs, showers, and other accent walls when you want a clean and contemporary transition to another surface. Metal edges are becoming very popular and create a really nice look. Sometimes homeowners will choose a metal color that coordinates with a sink faucet or shower head. For example, if you have polished chrome fixtures in your bath, polished chrome edges can be chosen for a cohesive and elegant feel.

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4. Create a Bullnose Edge. This is the most challenging, but not impossible. If you have selected a tile that doesn’t have a matching bullnose, dislike the idea of using metal edges or other moldings, you can (or have your installer) make custom bullnose edges from the tiles you have selected. However, this only works for natural stone and some porcelain tiles that are solid throughout. Prior to installation, grind, sand and polish the edge of the tiles to create a rounded edge. If you are DIYing it, make sure to practice, practice, practice, for the best results. 

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When planning a new tile installation, remember, the devil is in the details. Grout lines, proper grout application, and a smooth transition from tile to the wall, ceiling, or other surfaces are necessary for the project to look great. Don’t despair if the tile you have fallen in love with doesn’t have a matching bullnose tile; use one of our favorite tile edging solutions above. Whether you select a contemporary modern metal edge, a more traditional natural marble stone rail molding, choose to caulk the edges, or spend the time creating your own custom bullnose edge, be assured your project will look complete and finished.