How to Edge Tile Without Bullnose

How to Edge Tile Without Bullnose?

The bullnose tile is what helps to hide the porcelain or unglazed ceramic edges.  It has one curved finished edge that finishes a tile installation neatly.  It is meant to be installed with wall tile.  Unfortunately, not all tiles have bullnose tiles.  Yes, having a bullnose will make the job easier but the job can be done without a bullnose.  Read on to find out how.

Finishing the Tile Edge in a Shower

In shower tile installation, the bullnose would help with the vertical edges at the front of the stall and maybe even the front edge of the ceiling tile.  One reason that bullnose tiles are not always available is that the tiles have the ability to finish the edge themselves.

Use a rail molding

A bullnose tile is not the only way to finish an edge.  There are other types of edges you can use such as rail moldings, pencil molding, and more decorative moldings.  If it is possible, get a decorative molding in the same color and material as the rest of the tiles.  For example, there are some that match the color of the field tile.

If you cannot find a rail molding in the same color you can use a complementary color.  It could even be a color that picks up an accent from somewhere else in the room.  You could use a white field tile with a blue tile edge or a ceramic tile installation with a glass tile edge.

Caulk the edge

The reason that some tiles do not have bullnose tiles is that the tiles have the ability to finish the edge themselves.  Tiles such as tumbled stone tiles, some porcelain tiles, and glass tiles have edges where you do not have to have a separate edge piece.  They need no transition to the shower wall and can be installed right up to the edge of the shower.

To give the tiles a finish that is clean and water-tight, put masking tape one grout joint away from the edge of the last tile.  Fill the gap between the masking tape and tile with a smooth bead of caulk.  This finishes the edge without needing extra tiles.

Create a bullnose edge

When you are installing porcelain or stone on your shower walls you can make your own bullnose.  These two tiles are made of the same material all the way through so you can grind down and finish one edge.  You will have to have a bullnose blade and a wet saw to do this.  You will also need an angle grinder to polish and buff up the edge to match the finish of the rest of the tiles.

Use a metal edge

If you have a contemporary appearance for your installation, you could consider using a metal edge.  The metal transition strips can be used as a way to end the run of tiles that don’t have a finished edge.  This strip is shaped like an “L” with the short side coming up to sit next to the edge of the tile and the long side sitting beneath the last role of tile.

This will hide the edge of the tile and create a subtle, finished transition.  They come in a few different profiles and many different finishes.

Finishing the Backsplash

The backsplash is found behind the stove or sink and protects the wall from splatters.  When using either of these methods, make sure that it is as narrow along the edge to gradually slope the backsplash and on the opposite end it will need to be the thickness of the tiles

Caulk

  • Place the slanted nozzle tip flat against the right or left end of the upper edge of the backsplash.  Make sure that the nozzle is touch the wall and edge of the tiles at the same time.
  • While squeezing the trigger of the caulk gun, pull it across the upper edge of the tiles.  You need to work slowly so you can apply a neat line.
  • You will need to have a caulk spreader, which is a small flexible rubber or plastic tool used to spread out the caulk evenly.  You want to drag it along the upper edge of the tiles.
  • After the caulk dries, you can paint it to match the walls if you want.

Trim molding

  • Measure along the top edge of the backsplash and measure a piece of trim molding to that length.
  • Cut it with a handsaw or miter saw
  • Paint the molding to match the trim in the room or you can brush wood stain on it. 
  • Set the molding in place against the upper edge of your backsplash with the thicker end butting against the upper edge of the tiles
  • To hold the molding in place use one and one-half inch finishing nails.  At each nail, you can fill in the slight depression with wood putty or latex caulk.
  • Once the putty or caulk is dry you can dab some paint on them to hide the nails.
  • Along the seam between the edge of the backsplash and the molding, squeeze a thin line of clear silicone.

Trims you can use if you Have no Bullnose Tile

Natural stone tile edge trim

This can include granite, travertine, and marble.  You can polish them so the edges have that finished look but sometimes the edges do not need polishing.  The drawback is that there is special equipment that is needed for polishing so you may have to find a contractor to do the polishing or get the tool and do it yourself.

Mitering

This is an often-overlooked option when you have no bullnose tiles.  This is only for corners and is not the option that is most durable.  

Glass tile edge trim

This is another material that has a finished edge and there are many different glass tiles to choose from.  Try to find glass tile edge trim that coordinates with the tile.

Metal profile edges

This is a fast-growing option to use if you have no bullnose tile.  The most popular style on the market today is the “L” style.  This style leaves a flat edge and is the least expensive tile edge to use.  These are great to use and will give you that minimalist style.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many options available on the market to finish your tiles and have them looking outstanding even if you do not have bullnose tiles.  You can caulk them, use a trim, molding, and more.  Take the time to figure out what you want to do and how you want your backsplash or shower to look when you are finished.  Ask the person where you are buying your tile for their experience opinion if you are not sure.

You can always opt to create your own bullnose tiles but you will need to have tiles that have a through-body porcelain tile.  This means that it would have to have the color throughout the entire tile.  This will allow the edge to be bullnosed and the color will be the same. This does require special tools so it might be best if you choose one of the other methods.