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Tile Edge Trim – How to Choose It and Install It (2023 Update)

Man breaking car window with tile trim - Tile edge trim post

Steve Gehrmann is a remodeling contractor (SKG Renovations) as well as a partner in Redblock Industries

If you’d like to find out all about tile edge trim, you’ve come to the right place!

This is Steve with SKG Renovations. In this post I will be providing you with an assortment of tile edging options and some helpful installation strategies.

And it gets better!

I will also go through a real life installation example to show you how it’s done by a professional.

And if you’d rather get some super valuable tile installation tips, check out my Shower Tile Installation post.

Ok, let’s get into it!

Summary of Topics:

Please use the links below to skip to any section that interests you.

Alternative to Bullnose Tile

Ceramic Tile Edge Trim Profiles

Metal & Plastic Trim Profiles

Tile Edge Trim Finishes

Trim Depth

Outside Tile Corner Trim

Square Joint or Mitre Joint on Tile Trims?

An Easier Alternative to Shower Niche Trim?

Inside Tile Corner Trim

Inside Corner Dilemma

Product Types

There are four main types of tile edge trim that can be used to finish the perimeter of your tiling installations.

These include stone trims, porcelain or ceramic trim tiles, as well as plastic and metal trims.

These come in various configurations depending on the product and their use, but the metal tile trims (metal tile edging) and stone trims are the most popular.

Alternative to Bullnose Tile

If you are not excited about using a standard tile edge trim profile, you can use real or engineered stone instead. This is one of the fastest growing tile edge trim ideas, quickly displacing the standard tile edging options.

Capping a shower pony wall or framing the inside of a shower niche with polished stone creates a beautiful high end finish, and also provides a great alternative to bullnose tile.

Most of these installations will utilize a marble tile, because these tiles looks great on your shower wall and the tile edges can be exposed for a very nice look.

Marble tiles are almost exclusively used in this situation because they are very popular and also relatively soft, so the edges can be polished with relative ease. Only a few minutes of wet sanding is required to create a fine polished, professional appearance. The image below shows a shower niche trimmed out with marble tiles.

Image courtesy of Redblock Industries

You can also use stone material from a local stone fabricator if you can get your hands on some. This material is usually used for kitchen and bathroom counter tops so it’s quite thick (a choice of either 2cm or 3cm thickness). This is a great option for those who prefer the more bold look of a thicker stone.

This option can be relatively cheap if you can find a fabricator willing to give you a few small pieces. This may not be as difficult as you think because small pieces are a real pain to store for these guys… and they have lots of these laying around after every job that will eventually be disposed of.

This tile trim strategy is becoming much more popular because it creates a very compelling seamless look and is easier to install than other trims. It can also produce a beautiful modern or classic finish depending on your choice of stone.

Ceramic Tile Edge Trim Profiles

Ceramic tile edge trim profiles can have a finished square edge, or more commonly a larger radius bullnose edge.

These types of tile edging were common in modern designs during the 1980’s and early 90’s but are no longer popular in todays modern bathroom designs.

There are some unique modern trim tiles available today, but they are usually special order items and generally quite expensive.

In contrast, it is quite common to see these tiles in more traditional design schemes these days.

The attached image shows a ceramic trim tile being used very nicely around a tiled shower niche in a traditional bathroom design.

Metal and Plastic Tile Edge Trims

Close up of Tile Edge Trim Wheel -250W

Metal tile trims and plastic tile edge trims come in several profile shapes and colors, but plastic is the least popular of this group because they do not stand up well to abrasion.

The metal tile edging is by-far the most common trims used in most mid-cost and higher end renovations (image of sample trim wheel).

They are ideal for high abrasion areas such as floors, but have also become a standard in most shower wall tiling installations.

They are available in the widest range of finishes and profile styles, but the profile with the very narrow top edge is the most popular (for example, Schluter Jolly).

There are a large selection of Shluter profiles available. You can see them all on the Schluter Systems website.

Most home stores carry Schluter profiles but you can usually only get the Jolly profile without special ordering them. There are a few more Schluter profile options readily available online.

Tile Edge Trim Finishes

Tile Edge Trim Wheel section
Bathroom vanity faucets in different finishes - stock pic - 300W

If you’ve decided to install a metal tile edge trim, and you’ve picked the type and style you want, then it’s time to choose the finish.

You should be prepared to select your trim finish well in advance of your tiling project because some finishes are special order items.

You should also be prepared for a wide variation in price. Some of the less popular finishes can easily be twice (or more) the cost of a more common finish.

The general rule when picking a tile edge trim finish is to try your best to match the trim with your bathroom fixture finishes, although there are some exceptions.

Generally when choosing your finish, you should keep in mind that tile edge trim should be an attractive compliment to your bathroom design, but not a stand-out feature.

Trim Depth

Tile edge trim close up profile pic

It is not always obvious what depth you should select for your metal tile trim, even when you have your tile and trim in hand at the home improvement store.

It is a good strategy to err on the plus side for your trim depth to avoid the terror when you see the tile edge protruding above the trim during installation.

To choose a trim depth that is 1/16” to 1/8″ deeper than your tile is standard in the industry. A DIY’er should stick with a the 1/8″ deeper trim option to give themselves a bit more of a safety margin.

Because the bonding portion of the trim sits beneath the tile (the cross hatched flange seen in the image), it is important to allow enough mortar beneath the tile to allow it to bond to the trim, and the trim to bond to the tile backer board.

Squeezing all the mortar out between your tile and trim mounting flange reduces bond strength significantly so DON’T DO IT!

Another thing to be aware of if you are installing only ceramic tile, is that many people have the tendency to choose their tile edge trim depth based on the thinner outside edge of the ceramic tiles they are using.

This will get you into trouble when you have to match the thicker cut edge against the trim in a staggered tile layout.

If you are installing a waterproofing membrane after you secure your tile edge trim in place, you must also remember to accommodate the membrane thickness in your choice of trim depth.

Remember that you can always add a little extra mortar to raise the tile to meet the trim depth, but you are totally stuffed if you choose a trim depth that is too shallow.

Trim Depth Example

Tile Edge Trim - close up of 1/2

The example image shows two different tiles installed with a 1/2″ trim.

The darker tile is porcelain with a thickness of almost 3/8″ and the surrounding tile is ceramic with a 1/4″ thickness.

The ceramic tile has lots of room beneath, requiring 1/8″ thick layer of buildup material beneath to allow it to match the porcelain tile and trim.

However, the trim is a perfect depth for the porcelain tile. This 3/8″ tile requires an extra 1/8″ of depth for trim & tile to match evenly, due to the extra thickness added by the waterproofing membrane, and an allowance for some mortar beneath.

Outside Tile Corner Trim

When it comes to shower tiling, you may never need to worry about outside tile corner trims for your tile work unless you are installing a tiled shower niche or tiling a pony wall or shower bench.

To clarify, outside tile corner trims used exclusively for the corner where two of your tiled surfaces meet at 90 degrees.

These days it is most common to use a metal tile edge trim for these corners but as I mentioned previously, another great alternative tile edging option is natural or engineered stone.

With stone you can relieve yourself of the burden. Leave the cutting, edge finishing and installing to your stone fabricator instead.

Just keep in mind that stone is expensive and requires a skilled stone fabricator to cut & polish them.

Square Joint or Mitre Joint on Tile Trims?

M&D's master bath Tiled-niche - scaled to 350W - 70jpg

If you choose a metal tile edge trim, it must be installed with skill and precision.

This trim piece is usually quite visible and you don’t want someone’s shoddy work to be on display in your new shower remodel.

Firstly, if you want this installation to go smoothly, you should follow the strategies I have covered in the sections above.

The challenging part will be matching the four corners evenly, with no gaps.

You have two choices: Meet the two pieces of trim in the four corners with a square joint, or use a miter joint (45 degree joint).

The first option is clearly the easiest and offers the highest chance of success (see image), but it does not look as professional as a perfect miter joint.

Another important condition is that you can only achieve a decent square joint when the top of the trim is flat. This can be achieved quite satisfactorily with Schluter Shiene or Jolly.

With other more complex profiles, a miter joint will be required.

If you decide on miter joints for your shower niche outside trim, it’s always safest to get a skilled and experienced tiling professional to do this work.

An Easy Alternative to Shower Niche Trim?

If you want another alternative to installing a shower niche trim and avoid the outside corner installation problem altogether, you can always install a finished shower niche with a built in tile edge trim.

This look isn’t for everyone but if you like the metallic look of a finished shower niche, it can sure save you a lot of work and also eliminate the risk of leaks.

Straight Edge Trim or Square Edge Trim?

Most of the standard trims that you’ll see these days are considered straight edge tile trims. These have a very thin top profile which has always been the preferred look for most people until recently.

Square edge tile trims (or box edge trims) are a bit more obvious because of their box shape and wider top profile. This more bold look has been gaining popularity recently.

Square edge trims have been around for a long while but style preferences have changed recently to bring these trims more to forefront.

Most tiling contractors have tended to avoid these trims simply because you need to cut a perfect miter joint in the corners for these joints to look nice. And this is pretty difficult to do well unless you use a miter saw with a steel cutting wheel.

I have always liked the look of square edge profiles and I suggest them regularly to my clients. The Schluter Quadec profile is a good example of this type of trim. I used this for trimming out the baseboards in a bathroom remodel I did recently (see below).

Quadec square edge trim Beta's bathroom floor-2018

Inside Tile Corner Trim

Finishing inside corners is an important part of every shower tiling project, but it is also the most ignored when it comes to tile edging.

There are some challenges to these inside corners and some elegant products and strategies available to meet these challenges.

There are also some very useful and interesting tile edge trims that are not routinely used in modern bathrooms and showers but are also worth considering.

Inside Corner Dilemma

Tile Edge Trim - close up of shower wall corner

If you are like most tiling contractors, you will have some issues with finishing inside corners on wall tile installations.

When wall tiles meet at a corner, you have a choice of tiling right up against the adjacent tile and rely on a white silicon bead to seal the corner (see image). Or you can cut the tile to create a grout line on one of the two walls.

The former strategy is the most common mostly because it is simply the easiest of the two.

A grout line in the corner tends to interrupt the visual flow of tile from one wall to the other, and is not generally considered to be a good look.

Although these are the most common strategies, you can also install some great inside corner trims here to give your tile installation a high-end look. These are extremely uncommon because they are a bit pricey, but I really like this look (see section below).

Other Interesting Trims

The inside corner tile edge trim (also called a cove trim) provides a professional finished look and is one of the most under appreciated tile edge trim ideas, in my opinion.

The benefits of this trim are an attractive metallic or colored finish compared with the standard grout or silicon corner.

It also has a smooth radius making it easier to clean and provides two grout lines, allowing the corner to be completely sealed.

A baseboard trim is also available for installation outside of the shower if your floor & wall tile meet. It has a very thin top profile and various bold metallic finishes, great for minimalist designs.

There are also some very nice tile edge border profile trims designed to be mounted within a section of wall tile to create a separation between two different tiles, or simply as a bold interruption in the your wall tile design.

There is even a wall profile trim with a shallow track down the middle for mounting a strip of 1″x1″ mosaic tiles. A very classy look.

Wrap Up

I hope that this article has provided you with some confidence (even mastery) in the area of tile edge trim. I have attempted to shown you a range of the most popular and interesting tile edge trims, along with a few useful hints to help you with installation.

If you have any thoughts you would like to share or any questions about this post, or the topic of tile edge trim in general, please leave a comment below.

This post is for information purposes only and should NOT be interpreted as professional advice. You should always consult a licensed local contractor before undertaking any remodelling work in your home. Click here for my full Personal / Professional Disclosure.

There are 49 comments on this post:

  1. Steves User Profile Image

    Hi Jay,

    Thank you for your comment!
    I don’t much like the plastic trim either… and I would never try to paint it.

    On a few occasions, I’ve cut out the plastic trim and replaced it with a “box” style trim with no install leg.
    An example of this “retrofit” style of trim would be Schluter Quadec-K

    To remove the plastic trim I used a sharp utility knife and cut the trim as close to the adjacent wall as possible (parallel to the wall surface). You can place a thin stainless steel ruler against the wall, adjacent to the trim, and run the knife blade against it.
    This will work well to guide the blade and protect the wall surface.

    A sharp knife will cut through the plastic trim quite easily, but it requires a bit of effort, patience and care.
    If you attempt this, you will need to be hyper vigilant. Always cut away from your body, and NEVER put your other hand in front of the blade for any reason.
    These knives can do A LOT of damage to your flesh… believe me.

    After removing the trim, I applied a bonding agent to the edge of the newly exposed grout, then adhered the trim to the edge of the grout (and to the wall) with epoxy. Use very little epoxy to make sure it doesn’t squeeze up between the grout & trim. Any tiny gaps between grout & trim can be filled with a color matched caulking like Mapei Keracaulk U.

    Good luck!


  2. Avatar photo

    Hi Keith,

    Great piece above! Looking for some I recently moved into a new build and on the bathroom tiling, they’ve used white, plastic trims for the tile edging. My preference would have been a metal edging. I understand this can’t be changed without removing the tiles on either side of all the tile edging (it would be half the tiles in the bathroom). Do you have any recommendations on how to give the tile edging a new look? I’ve considered painting it a metallic colour but I know paint doesn’t adhere well to plastic.


  3. Steves User Profile Image

    Hi JD,

    Thank you for your comment!

    If I understand you correctly, the glass panel is plumb, but the strip of tile adjacent to it (and consequently the tile trim) is not plumb.
    If this is the case, I don’t know what kind of trim could conceal this mistake. If you could find a trim that would overlap the tile face and was very low profile, I suppose you could make it appear that the tile and trim are plumb, but I am not aware of any trim like this.

    If the tile is ceramic, you could cut the tile just next to the trim to create a new plumb tile edge (using a circular saw or grinder with tile cutting blade), then attach a trim like Schluter Quadec-K.
    This would be a difficult cut, especially at the floor and ceiling, but it could be done with some skill and patience.

    I hope I understood what you were getting at. It’s always difficult without pictures.

    Good luck!


  4. Avatar photo

    Hi Steve. I have a question regarding covering up a shluter edge trim install that was put in crooked and became very apparent after shower glass was installed. The shower glass was put in level and makes the crooked shluter jump out. It has been suggested that I cover up the shluter trim with some type of an angle/corner trim to match the level slope of the glass going up the wall. Is this advisable? If so, are there any products you recommend? Thanks!

  5. Steves User Profile Image

    Hi Rachel,

    Thank you for your comment! I’m happy that you like our shower niche shelves!

    The mess on your Schluter trim is VERY common. It’s a fiddly job to tape off the trim before mudding or painting, so most contractor don’t do it… unfortunately.

    I have cleaned up metal tile trims countless times. This is my method:

    First cut a clean line between the wall and the trim, using a sharp utility knife. It does not have to be a deep cut; only very lightly scored to cut through the paint only.
    This is an essential step, to separate the paint mess on your trim from the adjacent painted wall.
    If you don’t do this, your wall paint will peal away along with the paint you are trying to remove from your trims.

    Then you simply use a plastic implement (like a plastic putty knife) to scape the paint (or mud) off the trims.
    Do not use a metal putty knife (or anything metal) to do this. The metal trims will scratch easily if a metal tool is used.
    You can remove any left over bits with a moist rag (only moist, not wet).
    Be careful with this because you don’t want any moisture to get into the margin between the trim and wall.

    Please do not use a solvent for this job. It will only make a huge mess.
    It will also likely stain your grout and damage the wall paint in the process.

    Good luck!


  6. Avatar photo

    Hello! Thank you for your detailed and informative content!! We got some of your shelves for our niches and they look awesome. Question… we are not yet done with the job but I’ve noticed a ton of paint / primer / joint compound / who knows what on our brand new schluter trim pieces (between tile wall and drywall)…. It looks extremely sloppy and unfortunately is what catches the eye immediately upon entering a brand new bathroom. What are our options here? I’m asking our contractor but value your thoughts here. Can this stuff be scraped clean? Im not understanding why this visible trim wasn’t taped before paint. Seems such a shame for an otherwise beautiful job.

  7. Steves User Profile Image

    Hi Karen,

    Thank you for your comment!

    I’m not sure I know exactly what you mean, but I can tell you that tile edge trim is only designed to conceal the tile edge in tile installations.
    The “anchor leg” is designed to imbed into the mortar layer beneath the outside edge of the tile so any other kind of installation would not really be appropriate.
    What you are probably looking for is some type of moulding to trim out the edge of your cabinets.
    I would suggest that you ask a local contractor about it, or browse through the “Mouldings & Millwork” section at your local home improvement store to see if you can find something more appropriate for your application.

    Good luck with your project!


  8. Avatar photo

    Thank you for the great information! My question is, do I need to use the metal trim edge underneath the cabinets? I plan to use it where the top edge and side edge of the tile will be seen but I’m not sure if it’s necessary for underneath the cabinets.

    Thank you!

  9. Avatar photo

    Thanks so much for talking about the benefits of tile edge trim and what it does. My parents are wanting to redo a bathroom in their house but can’t do it themselves. So they’ve been looking into finding a place that can help them retile and paint.

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