Your Guide to Trim Tile, Borders, and Edgings
Add color, pattern, and texture to your tile installation project with ceramic trim tile, borders, and edgings.
When tiling your floors, trim tiles finish the installation and hide the edges of the field tiles. Borders and edgings are also classified as trim tiles. Their shapes, colors, designs, and patterns add accents to your layout, but are also important and functional to a seamless job.
Trim tile falls into two categories: surface trim and radius trim. Surface trim is used when the setting bed is on the same plane as the surrounding surface. Radius trim is used when the setting bed sits above the surrounding surface. Below we have all you need to know about both categories and how to choose what project is right for you.
Tile Trim Buying Guide
Make sure you can get trim tiles from the same manufacturer as the field tiles. If you can't find trim to match, consider wood, metal, or PVC edging. Be sure to budget for trim tiles -- they can cost twice as much as field tiles. Borders define edges dramatically. When you plan the layout, be sure to include these tiles so you have a good idea of its final appearance.
Trim tiles come in a variety of configurations to satisfy the design requirements of almost any installation. Edge trim has one or two rounded edges for use along the perimeters of walls and countertops. You also can install it as base tile for a floor. Wall trim is similar—use it where you want a full-size tile and don't need a special edge treatment. Some trim tiles are made especially for countertops. Quarter round and out corners provide a smooth and stylish transition between the countertop surface and the front edges.
Radius trim is made so its rounded lip turns a right-angled corner at the edge of the tile. When the setting bed is raised over the existing wall surface, the turned edge covers the thickness of the setting bed. Use it on the perimeters where you have installed backerboard over drywall.
V-cap edging allows you to finish almost any tile installation with professional-looking results. The lower leg of the cap takes the place of a separate cut tile to face the front edge of the countertop base. Both legs of the cap require back-buttering with adhesive.
Base tiles finish a floor installation. Those specifically made for this purpose have a coved foot at the base. Bullnose floor tiles are sometimes available. If base tiles are not available in the same style as your field tile, you may be able to cut field tile to use as trim.
Borders and Accent Tiles
Borders and accent tiles spice up an installation. A border tile is usually a narrow length that is used to finish an edge. Accent tiles, sometimes made of glass, can take almost any form but usually have a contrasting color, size, shape, or texture.
Round Tile Edges
Some manufacturers do not make trim tile in the same style or colors as their field tile. If the tile is a soft-bodied variety, you may be able to fashion the trim tile yourself by rounding the edges with a masonry stone.
Making your own trim demands accuracy and effort. Pull the stone toward you, keeping the pressure even and the angle consistent on the edge of the tile. Make frequent comparisons to tiles you have already shaped.
Thresholds for Tile
Tiled floors are generally higher than the adjacent floors, and thresholds bridge the floors to make the transitions easy, safe, and attractive.
- Flush thresholds are used when there isn't a height difference between the surfaces.
- Metal thresholds are the easiest to install and come in a variety of types and profiles.
- Z-bars are a form of metal thresholds used where tiled floor and carpet meet.
- Many hardwood thresholds are beveled on two planes and fastened to the lower wood subfloor with finishing nails or screws.
- Stone or synthetic materials also provide safe and attractive transitions. Ask your supplier for suggestions that will match your installation.
Install a Wood Edge
Install a wood-trim edge if you cannot find V-caps or bullnose tiles to finish your countertop. Because wood expands at a different rate than tile and adhesive, separate it from the tile with a bead of caulk. Use a caulk that matches the color and consistency (sanded or unsanded) of the grout. You can fasten the wood edge to the countertop with finishing nails or screws and plugs.