How to install decorative border tile

Written by kevin mcdermott
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A fully tiled wall provides its own borders (the floor, ceiling and side walls), but for a partially tiled wall, you have to border it. Regular field tiles (the main tiles that cover most of the area) don't have finished edges, but decorative border tiles do. These sit around the perimeter of the field tiles, with bevelled outer edges to give an enclosed, finished look around backsplashes or at the top row of half-wall shower tiles. Install the border tile after the field tile is hung but before it's grouted.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Tile adhesive
  • Putty knife
  • Border tiles
  • Tile spacers
  • Tile cutter
  • Painter's tape
  • Grout
  • Grout float
  • Sponge

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  1. 1

    Measure each outer side of the tiled area and mark the middle of it with your pencil.

  2. 2

    Spread thinset mortar on the back of your first border tile. Press it in place at the edge of the field tile, with one edge of the border tile at the marked centre line. Put spacers between the border tile and the field tiles.

  3. 3

    Hang subsequent border tiles in the same manner, spreading adhesive on the backs of the tiles with your putty knife and pressing them into place, keeping them evenly spaced. Cut the tiles for the ends and corners as necessary with your tile cutter. Let the tiles set overnight.

  4. 4

    Pull out the tile spacers. Lay a line of painter's tape around the outer edge of the border tiles to protect the wall next to them.

  5. 5

    Grout all the tiles at once (field tiles and border tiles) by squeezing grout across them with a grout float, pressing it into the spaces. Sponge off the excess grout with a damp sponge. Remove the painter's tape.

Tips and warnings

  • Wear eye protection when cutting tiles.

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