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
Some ceramic wall tiles come with a variety of bullnose options.
- 3x6” corner bullnose
- 3x6” bullnose on the 6" side
- 3x6” bullnose on the 3" side
- 3x6” field tile
Sonoma Tilemakers’ Stellar line is a made-to-order ceramic line with a huge lineup of trim options.
- 3x6” bullnose on the 6” side
- 3x3” corner bullnose
- 3x6” bullnose on the 3” side
- 3x3” single bullnose
The long bullnose that matches these long subway tiles is turned vertically to cap the corner where the shower wall meets the vanity. You can see the bullnose peeking out from behind the shower door frame.
Long rectangular ceramic tiles will often have bullnose in the same long size, but if your tile is set horizontally and you have to trim a vertical edge, your tile and bullnose won’t line up perfectly.
Porcelain bullnose on the inside edges of a recessed shower niche. The benefit of using bullnose here is that there’s no grout line near the front edge of the shelf for soap scum or water to dwell.
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.
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.