5 Border Tiles and Edge Trims to Know and How to Use Them

Elevate your style and add the perfect finishing touch to your design project with this guide to using border tiles or edge trim.

Border tiles and edge trims are finishing pieces that provide a clean edge for tiled floors, walls, and countertops. These specialty tiles finish off the installation and hide the unfinished edges of field tiles. Their shapes, colors, designs, and patterns add accents to your layout, but trim tiles are also crucial to a seamless job.

When purchasing border tile or edge trim, buy 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, as they can cost twice as much as field tiles. When you plan your tile layout, be sure to include these tiles, so you have a good idea of the final look.

Trim tiles fall 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, such as with a tiled backsplash. Radius trim is used when the setting bed sits above the surrounding surface, as when you're tiling around a wall corner or the edge of a countertop. Use our guide to border tile and edge trim tile below to learn about both categories and how to choose which type of tile border is right for your project.

Types of Trim Tiles

BHG / Julie Bang

Types of Trim Tiles

Trim tiles come in various configurations to satisfy almost any installation's design requirements. Edge trim tiles have one or two rounded edges for use along the perimeter of walls and countertops. You also can install it as a base tile for a floor. Similarly, wall trim tiles are used 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 outside corners provide a smooth and stylish transition between the countertop surface and the front edges.

gray bathroom with white tile
Adam Albright

1. Radius Trim

This type of trim tile 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 radius trim on the perimeters where you have installed backerboard over drywall.

shower patterned floor blue tiles
Edward Gohlich

2. V-cap Edging

V-cap tile trim allows you to finish almost any tile installation with professional-looking results. With an L-shaped design, it's used to cover the outer edges of a tiled surface. The lower leg of the cap takes the place of a separate cut tile, creating a border along the tiled countertop base or wall surface. Both legs of the cap require back-buttering with adhesive.

blue geometric wallpaper in modern bathroom
Jay Wilde

3. Base Tiles

Similar to baseboards, base tiles finish a floor installation by joining the wall tile with the flooring. Those made specifically for this purpose have a coved foot at the base. Bullnose floor tiles are also sometimes available. If base tiles aren't available in the same style as your field tile, you might be able to cut field tile to use as trim.

white bathroom vanity
Jean Allsopp

4. Borders and Accent Tiles

Borders and accent tiles add style to a tile installation. A border tile is usually a narrow length used to finish an edge. Accent tiles, sometimes made of glass, can take almost any form but should have a contrasting color, size, shape, or texture for maximum impact.

5. Rounded Tile Edges

Some manufacturers don't make trim tile in the same style or colors as their field tile. If the tile is a soft-bodied variety, you might be able to fashion the trim tile yourself by rounding the edges with a masonry stone. Before trying it, understand that 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

Types of Thresholds for Tiled Floors

Tiled floors are generally higher than the adjacent floors, and thresholds bridge the floors to make the transitions easy, safe, and attractive. Here are the main types of tile thresholds:

  • 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 that are 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 tile supplier for suggestions that will match your installation.

Using a Wood Edge for Tiled Countertops

Consider installing a wood-trim edge for tiled countertops if you can't find V-caps or bullnose tiles to match. 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 grout's color and consistency (sanded or unsanded). You can fasten the wood edge to the countertop with finishing nails or screws and plugs.

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