How to install ceramic wall tile edges

Written by b. ellen von oostenburg
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Trim tiles provide DIY homeowners with an alternative to standard square or rectangular field tiles. Trim tiles finish off installation corners and boast rounded-off glazed edges, unlike field tiles which just have glaze on the top surface. Setting trim tiles requires a different strategy than installing standard tile, but is just as easy.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Standard bullnose tile
  • Double-out bullnose tile
  • Base tile
  • Tile mastic
  • Trowel
  • Tile cutter
  • 1/8 inch tile spacers
  • Grout
  • Caulk
  • Caulk gun

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    Standard Bullnose

  1. 1

    Finish off the top edge of a tile wall installation by setting a row of standard bullnose tiles. These tiles have one curved, glazed edge.

  2. 2

    Butter the back of each tile with tile mastic--tile glue, using the trowel. Cut grooves through the mastic with the grooved edge of the trowel for better adhesion between the back of the tile and the wall surface.

  3. 3

    Press the tile to the wall making sure the curved edge of the bullnose tile is facing up.

    Double-out Bullnose

  1. 1

    Finish off a tiled wall installation at the outside corners by setting double-out bullnose tiles. Two of the four edges of these tiles have glazed finished curved edges.

  2. 2

    Butter the back of the tile with mastic and cut grooves through it with the trowel.

  3. 3

    Apply the tile to the end of a row of field tile at an outside corner. One curved edge faces up and the second curved edge is aligned with the outside corner edge of the wall.

    Base Tile

  1. 1

    Finish off the bottom of a tile wall using base tiles. Base tiles flare out at the bottom to visually blend with the floor. The grout lines of the base tiles don't line up with the grout lines of the floor tiles.

  2. 2

    Dry fit the tiles--set the tiles in place, first to check for alignment and to make any necessary cuts. Leave a 1/8 gap between tiles on inside corners to allow for expansion and contraction of the building.

  3. 3

    Butter the tile mastic on to the back of each tile with a trowel. Use the grooved edge to cut grooves in the mastic.

  4. 4

    Use a double-out bullnose on outside corners. One double out will over lap the unglazed edge of the other adjoining base tile on the outside corner. This will cover up the unglazed edge of the second base tile.

  5. 5

    Place at least two 1/8 inch tile spacers--small plastic tabs for setting tiles--under each base tile to allow for expansion and contraction of the building.

  6. 6

    Pull out the tile spacers and grout the tiles after the tile mastic sets. Run a line of caulk along the top of the tiles and at the bottom edge where the tile meets the floor.

Tips and warnings

  • Lay field tiles by trowelling mastic onto an expanse of wall and then setting a line or group of tiles all at once. Lay trim tiles by buttering mastic to the backs of the individual tiles before they are set.

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