Trim tiles are finishing pieces that provide a clean edge on tiled floors, walls, and countertops. These special tiles complete the installation and hide the unfinished edges of field tiles. Borders and edgings are also classified as trim tiles and help define edges dramatically. Their shapes, colors, designs, and patterns add accents to your layout, but trim tiles are also key to a seamless job.
When purchasing trim tile, make sure to 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 its final appearance.
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 along the edge of a countertop. Use our guide to 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
Trim tiles come in a variety of configurations to satisfy the design requirements of almost any installation. Edge trim tiles have 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. 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.
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.
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 is 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 an edge along the tiled countertop base or wall surface. Both legs of the cap require back-buttering with adhesive.
3. Base Tiles
Similar to baseboards, base tiles finish a floor installation by joining the wall tile with the flooring. Those specifically made for this purpose have a coved foot at the base. Bullnose floor tiles are also sometimes available. If base tiles are not available in the same style as your field tile, you might be able to cut field tile to use as trim.
4. Borders and Accent Tiles
Borders and accent tiles add style to a tile 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.
5. Rounded 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 might be able to fashion the trim tile yourself by rounding the edges with a masonry stone. Before you try it, know 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.
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
For tiled countertops, consider installing a wood-trim edge if you cannot 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 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.