How to finish tile edges

Written by larry simmons | 13/05/2017
How to finish tile edges
Corner tiles require an edge to appear well-finished. (tile layer image by Greg Pickens from

Installing tiles is a simple matter of setting them evenly in adhesive, but finishing the edge of a tiled surface can pose a few difficulties when edging tiles are not at hand. One solution is to place a strip of plastic or metal along the edge of the tiles. If this won't work aesthetically or practically, the tile edges themselves must be finished.

Determine the edge facing you wish to cut into your tile. There are two basic edge types: an overlapping edge where the edge of the top tile overlaps a nosing tile, and the bullnosed edge, which curves the edge of the tile down until it meets the adjoining surface.

Create an overlapping tile edge for corner use when the tile will overlap an additional tiled surface at a 90-degree angle. Place a mitring jig against the tile to angle it and cut a 45-degree chamfer along the top of the tile at the overlapping edge with the tile saw..

Sand the edge of the tile along the cut using an orbital sander equipped with a 100 grit sandpaper. Switch to a 150 grit sandpaper to smooth out the edge and remove any imperfections. Change the sandpaper to 220 grit and go over the edge again to create a smooth surface suitable for polishing.

Polish the edge of the tile with a 4-inch angle grinder equipped with a polishing pad. Place buffing compound onto the pad and then go over the surface of the tile raising the edge to a glossy polish.

Create a bullnosed edge on the tile for placement of the edging tile directly against the subsurface, such as a wall or floor. Round off the edge of the tile with a right-angled grinder using a diamond wheel, tapering it towards the back where it sits against the subsurface. Grind the edge with steady slow passes against the tile edge to create the curve, checking your process from the tile side to determine if the curve is even.

Sand and polish the edge of the tile using the same process used with the overlapping edge.

Things you need

  • Mitring jig
  • Orbital sander
  • Silicon-carbide sandpaper, 100 to 220 grit
  • 4-inch grinder
  • Buffing compound
  • Polishing pad
  • Right angle grinder
  • Diamond wheel

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