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How Do I Make Exposed Tile Edges Look Finished?

Tiles with unfinished edges can ruin the overall look of your home. If you're wondering how you can improve them, don't worry! We have done research on the various choices for trimming or treating your tile edges. Read on to learn how you can give your tile a flawless, stylish finish.

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There are numerous options for finishing your exposed tile edges. Some are simple, while others are more complex or decorative. Caulking is the cheapest method. Also, you can choose from painting, bullnose, metal trim, molding strip, pencil liner, and more.

The choices may seem overwhelming to you. But having more options means having more style opportunities for your tile project. Stay on this page, as we will help you decide on the perfect material for your tile edges.

Contractor Worker Sealing Bathroom Shower Cabin Ceramic Tiles. Interior Remodeling. - How Do I Make Exposed Tile Edges Look Finished?

Giving Exposed Tile Edges A Finished Look

Tiles are affordable, easy to install, and decorative for home design and construction. Installing tiles in different rooms calls for proper installation and treatment of edges to achieve a seamless look.

The working tiler wipes the tiles after laying, the professional highly skilled technology of tiling and finishing

Leaving exposed tile edges without treatment or coating can damage the tiles, especially ceramic and porcelain tiles. Tiles in bathrooms or showers often come in contact with water and moisture.

With unfinished tiles, there can be an entry for water and humidity. The tiles may eventually crack and loosen, or you will see mold buildup.

Choosing Trim Material

You should choose a material that is identical in color to your tiles or the walls. For example, buy white caulk for white tiles.

Here is a list of options for sealing your unfinished tile edges:

Caulking

Caulk is waterproof, inexpensive, and easy to apply. It is suitable for stone, mosaic, and some porcelain tiles. You simply fill the edges of the tile with caulk.

Check out this bath acrylic caulk on Amazon.

Painting

Painting is another easy method for sealing your tile edges. For a clean look, put painter's tape on both sides of the tile edge and use a thin brush.

You should first apply a primer and then use acrylic latex or epoxy paint that's the same color as the tile.

Check out this primer on Amazon.

Bullnose

Bullnose comes in multiple types. One side of the bullnose has a curved border that easily fits and covers a tile edge.

You can also use it to trim almost any unfinished edge. You will need to smooth the meeting line between the wall and the floor.

Check out this bullnose trim on Amazon.

Metal trim

Metal trim comes in a variety of materials, including aluminum, metal, or brass. The trim can be flat or rounded. Metal trim is a good choice for contemporary bathroom or shower designs.

Buy your metal trim when you buy your tiles to make sure both have the same thickness for smooth installation.

Check out this trim on Amazon.

Molding strips

Laminate and tile transition with aluminium profile. Shallow focus.

Molding strips are available in different types. You can choose from wood, cornice, rail, and dental molding strips. Select a strip that matches your tiles or wall. You can also use an accent color to pick up a subtle shade in the room.

Check out this vinyl molding trim on Amazon.

Pencil liner

Pencil liner is thin with a rounded border and shaped like a pencil. It is best used with mosaic tiles to create a neat look. Its rounded quality will give character to your tile surface.

Check out this pencil liner on Amazon.

Measuring Your Trim

Use a ruler to measure your tile so that you know what size trim to buy. This applies to most trims except for liners and moldings, as they have a raised design. The tile and your chosen trim should have the exact thickness to fit. 

Buying Extra Trim

Trim can break during installation, so it's best to have spare material when sealing your tile edges. You may also run out of trim, so having spare trim on hand isn't a bad idea. You can use it for further repairs.

Installing Your Trim 

Now that you have chosen a trim for your tile edges, you can do the installation. You will need some additional materials and tools. Here is a list of what you'll need to install the trim:

  • Tile glue or grout
  • Tile trim
  • A damp sponge
  • A painter's tape

Here is an easy guide to smoothly sealing the edges of your tiles. Follow these steps:

  1. Mix the grout based on the package instruction. A tile glue will also do. Use the same grout that you used in installing the tiles.
  2. Brush off the dust from the tile edges. Clear the area around the tile edges. Make sure you can work or move around freely.
  3. Attach the trim to the edges of the tiles with grout or tile glue. Make sure to attach it evenly and straight. 
  4. Add more grout or glue as needed to fill the spaces.
  5. Finish by wiping off the excess grout or glue using a damp sponge.
  6. Apply painter's tape to firmly attach the trim and let it dry.
  7. Remove the tape after drying.
  8. Wipe with a damp sponge for a clean result.

Check out this premium grout on Amazon.

Tiling Tips

Installing tile or finishing tile edges can be a daunting project. Keep the factors below in mind as you work:

  1. Begin with an even, flat surface to install and lay out your tiles effectively.
  2. Always verify your measurements before installing or cutting the tiles.
  3. Do some testing by mapping out your tiles so that the cuts smoothly align and attach to the surface.
  4. Follow the packaging instructions when mixing grout or adhesives. 
  5. Follow a leveling system with extra clips and a wedge when installing large tiles to avoid overlapping and sloppy installation. 
  6. Choose a proper trim for your tiles, preferably a trim with a size larger than your tile.
  7. Match your trowel with the size of your tiles. Generally, the more compact the tile, the smaller trowel you need..
  8. Don't clean the grout with a damp sponge too early or too late, when the grout is already dry. Always work in minimum intervals at a time to have a clean finish.
  9. Replace the water when cleaning the excess grout on your tiles.

Check out this tile trowel on Amazon.

Can I Use Silicone Instead Of Grout?

The answer is no. You should never use silicone as an alternative to grout in attaching tiles. Use grout that's especially made for indoors.

Your tiles will have a waterproof finish. Water can't get into the interior of the tiles quickly. Fill in your tiles with grout and wipe off the excess with a damp sponge.

Can You Nail Tile Trim?

construction work laying tile on the wall close up

Again, the answer is no. You should never nail tile trim because it will damage the tile's coating. Position the trim and firmly attach it with painter's tape for an even installation.

Check out this painter's tape on Amazon.

Should The Tile And Trim Be Flush?

Installing the trim so that it is flush with the tile can make your work look like it was done by a professional. It achieves a smooth and neat appearance. Remember that the tile and the trim should have the same depth

How Thick Should Tile Trim Be?

A construction worker cutting a tile using an angle grinder

You should base the thickness of your trim on the thickness of your tile. The trim should be a bit thicker than the tile.

For instance, get a tile trim that's about 1/2 inch if your tile has a depth of 3/8 inch. This will give the sealant enough room so that it secures the trim to the tile tightly.

Summing Up

You have many options for polishing exposed tile edges and making them look finished. Some options are cheaper than others. 

You can coat the edges of your tiles with caulk, paint, or with trim such as bullnose and molding strips. Choose the material that matches your interior and the design you are trying to attain.

Find out more about installing and polishing tiles in these posts:

How To Seal Vinyl Flooring In A Bathroom [Tiles And Planks],

How To Tile Around A Window Without Trim