How to Tile a Window Recess

Updated February 21, 2017

Tiling a window recess makes it waterproof, resist stains and rot and discourages cat scratches when the cat jumps up looking for a sunny place to sit. Tile also adds a beautiful new look to any home decor. Here is how to tile a window recess.

Choose tile for the window recess. Plain terracotta tiles, hand painted tiles and other colorful tiles are readily available at any home improvement store, or consider making personal, handmade tiles. You could also consider a mosaic pattern that you make yourself.

Consider bull nose tiles or special windowsill tiles to round the edges of the window recess. Clearly defined edges and edges that are well-finished give a professional look to the job.

Ensure that the surface of the window recess is sound, clean and flat. Prepare the area if desired by painting or covering with cement board or another waterproof surface.

Spread tile adhesive over the area that will be covered with the tile.

Cut tiles to size. Measure the tiles and cut to the appropriate width, leaving a small gap at the back (window) side for sealant.

Place the tiles into the adhesive and set them in firmly. Use spacers to give even spacing for the grout. Grout lines must be aligned with a constant width, and border tiles and trim must also have the exact same grout lines because the eye is drawn to the lines of the grout.

Install all the flat tiles and let the tiles set, then place the trim tiles in place with adhesive and let everything dry thoroughly overnight.

Grout window recess with matching or contrasting grout, then wipe off excess grout and clean tiles well. Seal back area with silicone sealant when tiles and adhesive are dry, before sealing with tile sealant. Use adequate tile sealant to ensure the area will be waterproof and sealed.


All surfaces must be clean, stable and dry. Old ceramic tiles do not have to be removed. Just tile over them. Always check that they are firmly adhered. If tiling over old tiles, make sure the new joints are not in the same place as the old ones. If tiling over a glossy painted surface, roughen up the surface with coarse sandpaper so the new adhesive will bond.

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