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  • Writer's pictureCFM Floors

Top Trends in Tile Trim

Updated: Jul 6, 2022

Unless your tile is flush on all sides with a wall, ceiling, cabinet, or counter, you'll likely need trim to finish your raw tile edges. Selecting tile trim may not be the most exciting part of tile shopping, but it is a necessary step. The main reason tile trim exists is that it helps create either a stopping point or a transition point for a tile design. Not only that, trim also covers any sharp and rough edges that could be a hazard or get chipped over time. Trim is that finishing touch to a tile installation that shows off attention to detail and craftmanship.

With a variety of colors, sizes and styles to choose from, many of our tile collections offer a wide choice of trims like bullnose, pencil moldings and chair rails to complete your tile project. For a lot of tile installations, many go with bullnose and pencil liners/quarter round that coordinates or complements the main field tile. In many other cases, people are using metal trim to add a custom and personalized touch, like metal and PVC profiles - which is the latest trend because of its simplicity, low price and variety of style and color options.

Matching Trim vs Coordinating Trim

Tile trim is meant to coordinate with tile rather than be an exact match. When a manufacturer creates their field tile, their bullnose is created at a different time, sometimes even in a different factory. Since clay, glazes and kilns all have their own natural and therefore volatile nature, it is impossible to re-create the exact same finish each time.

It happens because the tile production process takes natural clay elements, bakes them at very high heat and, depending on the materials and conditions, may generate slight changes from batch to batch and dye lot to dye lot.

  • Batch to batch - think of the variation you might notice between two cookie batches due to how hot the oven is, for example.

  • Dye lot to dye lot - think about the differences in cookies made from different dough made on another day...

If you are unsatisfied with the way the trim from a tile collection coordinates (or maybe the tile does not have one), consider using another piece of material, like a marble pencil or chair rail or maybe a thick glass tile or even a cut strip of the material you are using (you can always paint the edge). And don't forget about the metal and PVC options that come in a plethora of options.

Metal and PVC Tile Trim

Metal and PVC tile trims, from companies like Schluter Systems*, provide a sleek, minimalist finish that many people expect from a high-quality tiled area. This square edge offers a very clean, yet simple look when transitioning from tile to another material or around a corner — especially in bathrooms, not to mention, the homeowner can coordinate the metal color with the shower hardware and other bathroom fixtures such as lighting and vanity handles. They come in a variety of heights and finishes so you can match the metal strips to any kind of design. These tile edging options offers a vibrant, on-trend finish.

* Ceramic and stone tiles are ideal floor coverings due to their durability and aesthetic appeal. Schluter®-Systems offers an extensive line of finishing and edge-protection profiles in a variety of shapes, colors, patterns, and sizes that open the door to limitless design possibilities and provide attractive alternatives to trim pieces.

Schluter®-Profiles protect tile edges from cracking and chipping, eliminate the need for caulking, and provide easy transitions between adjacent floor and wall coverings. Integrated within any field tile, Schluter®-Profiles can add bold or subtle elements of design, while ensuring the integrity of your tile installation.

Ceramic, Porcelain and Glass Trim Options

Bullnose Tile

A bullnose is definitely one of the most diverse options when it comes to trim pieces. One of its edges curves around a perpendicular corner to seamlessly fit into the side of your tile. Simply put, a bullnose tile is a tile corner trim that’s used to provide a smooth, finished edge to your tile layout. It eliminates sharp angles and unfinished tile edges on your floors or walls – an ideal safety solution, especially for the bathroom or shower.

Bullnose trims can be used in a multitude of situations including:

  • Corners of walls

  • Backsplash edges

  • Tile design perimeter

  • Tub surrounds

  • Niches

  • Steps

Bullnose is also great to use on the joint where the wall meets the floor because it gives an added layer of protection against water that may leak between tiles. Bullnose is not only a nice transition from a design standpoint but also a safe and comfortable choice for tiling.

Pencil Liners

As the name suggests, these tile trims are cylindrical pieces with rounded edges - roughly the size and shape of a pencil. These are thin pieces that are used along the edges of mosaic tiles to create borders or to outline a break in the tile design. Pencil liners provide a clean edge to any design without making it too busy.

Jolly Trim

Jolly trim is a linear trim or edge for tile. It can be ceramic or metal. It is used to finish a raw tile edge just like a bullnose tile. It can also be used as a liner to accent your design. It’s generally very narrow and long with a minimal profile, measuring about ½ x 12 x ¼.

Jolly is super versatile and can be used as a trim to finish off a backsplash or shower wall so the raw edge of the tile doesn’t show. Or use it as an accent to create an interesting linear pattern in your design.

Lunada Bay Glass Bar Flat Liner in Latte Silk from United Tile
Glass Bar Flat Liner in Latte Silk from United Tile
Flat Liner

Like pencil trims, flat liner trims are used to frame designs or statement pieces. But instead of being round, flat liners are straight, flat pieces of tile. They lack the depth that pencil trims have but can provide a more sleek and contemporary look. Flat liners are perfect for framing edges where different materials meet (like tile and wood), especially on the floor where rounded tile may not be desired.

Chair Rails

Historically, the function of a chair rail trim was exactly as it sounds - to keep chairs from scuffing the walls! This type of trimming tile has evolved into much more than just a simple chair barrier in dining rooms. A carved, decorative molding, chair rails are used to cap wall tiles or create a frame around decorative tile details tiles. Chair rails typically serve as a more ornate version of a pencil tile where a trim finish is desired. This trim is often used to frame stove splashes or other mosaic designs, providing a sophisticated and architectural look that has more depth than a flat tile but is not as bulky as a baseboard.

If you don't want any extra material to finish off the edge of your tile, here are two options you can use:

Organic Edge Glaze

No finishing concept is quite as creative as organic edging. This ingenious option gives your tile a life of it's own, naturally transitioning into the rest of the room. If organic edging is something you're interested in, be sure to ask about edge glazing. This way the exposed part of your tile will be just as beautiful as the rest!

Caulk the Edge

Some tile materials, like natural stone or glass mosaics, may have enough of a finish on the edges that no special trim is needed. For ceramic and porcelain tile, unfinished edges can be covered with a thin layer of caulk or even grout. Though this look is less decorative and may fit well with more contemporary applications. It also creates a clean, water-tight seal.

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