Flipper Tricks: How to Finish Off Tile Edges

When you're in the renovation biz, you'll come across all sorts of problems you never even considered. What you think is a simple project, installing a backsplash or tiling a shower wall, creates other problems you must then solve.  GRRRR!

One of those issues that has turned up for me countless times is how to finish off a tiled edge. One might assume with bullnose tile. Of course! But that's not always an option or maybe not even preferred. Sometimes, matching bullnose tile is not available at the store. And, let's assume that we don't have cabinets to finish off the top either. Even if we do, there is often that inevitable area that juts out just passed the cabinetry that needs to be dealt with. What then?

You have several options.

Custom Bullnose

Yes. You can have bullnose made. Here in Cincinnati (they have other locations), I head to American Bullnose. I bring my tile with some to spare, they chop them up, round them out and hand them back ready to go. Of course, not all tiles can be transformed into bullnose tile. Such as in the case of the beveled tile, the texture would create a problem and cannot be bullnosed. Below is a shower created with custom bullnose tiles, placed on the outer wall edge, as well as surrounding the tub. 


Schluter Edge Strips

One popular option is to use Schluter metal strips  to make a straight finishing edge to your tile. These can be used anywhere tile is laid: showers, floors, backsplashes. These are nice because they come in an assortment of finishes and shapes. An example of this can be seen below at the top and side of the backsplash. Nickel was chosen to coordinate with the other nickel fixtures in the room. They now have white which blends nicely with subway tiles like those shown.

Caulked Edge

If you don't want to add another color or element to your kitchen, another option is to caulk the tile edge to finish it off. Have your installer fill in that corner between the tile and wall with caulk to match the grout. Matching grout caulk is available at most hardware stores next to or in the grout section. This will take some precision! Your installer must be very careful with the tile alignment in order to create a nice straight line. They must also be good at getting a smooth finish with the caulking. You don't want a bumpy caulk line, calling attention to the lack of precision instead of the beauty of the tile. However, if the caulk line strays a little onto the wall, touch it up with some wall paint and call it a day. 

Trim It Out

Finally, you could use a very thin wood trim piece such as quarter round or scribe molding. Paint it the same color as the tile so it doesn't stand out. With the extra thick cement tile used in this kitchen, we used some cabinet trim to finish off the sides of the backsplash. The color coordinated perfectly so we didn't need to paint it. 

It's silly to think that this kind of detail goes into kitchen or bathroom, but it does. Best to have these tricks in your arsenal so you are ready when the time comes! Go get 'em. 

Any ideas I missed? Any other issues you might be dealing with right now? Lay it on us in the comments!