Choosing the Right Tile Trim and Molding

The process of choosing the right tile is already hard enough. After going over an overwhelming amount of options, you finally come to a decision and pick your perfect tile. You finalize your design and are ready to order. But wait a minute! You hear about something called a ‘tile trim’. So what is tile trim, and is it really necessary?

Picking tile trim may not be the most exciting part of tile shopping, but trust us, it is a necessary one! You simply cannot skip this step and expect your tiles to look great over the years. Trim is essentially the finishing touch to a tile installation, providing a closing detail that completes your project. If left out of your initial order, you’ll most likely get to the finish line and realize you need one last detail. Not only does finishing with a trim or molding add a professional look to your design, but it also covers any sharp and rough edges that may become a hazard, and can even cut down on cleaning and maintenance! How’s that for an effective finishing touch?

Azul Cielo Bricks And Thassos Octagon Marble Mosaic Tile with a Thassos White Marble Pencil Liner Polished

Finish off this Azul Cielo Bricks And Thassos Octagon Marble Mosaic Tile backsplash with a Thassos White Marble Pencil Liner!

With a variety of colors and styles to choose from, you have a wide choice of tile trims to match or complement your tiles, and ultimately, the style of your room. For most tile installations, you may simply go with a bullnose or quarter round trim that matches the main tile. In other cases, you may consider a decorative trim to add a custom touch!

We know it sounds overwhelming but that’s why we’re here. Read on for a primer on types of tile trims and when they’re most effective to finish off your installation. 

Types of Tile Trim

Trying to incorporate trims into a tile design can be tricky if you don’t know what your options are. First, let’s go over the most common types of trims you’ll find when shopping for tiles.

Ceramic Tile Trims from our Mallorca Collection

Bullnose Tile

A bullnose is definitely the most diverse option 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, backsplashes, tub surrounds, niches, steps – bullnose can be used to cover the edges of almost everything! This trim type 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!

Guide to Tile Trims and Moldings: Bullnose Tile Trim in La Riviera Blue Reef with Matching Ceramic 2.5x8" Subway Tile

La Riviera Blue Reef Tile and Bullnose Trim is a great choice to finish off a tile wall with matching La Riviera Blue Reef 2.5x8" Subway Tiles.


Quarter Round Tile 

Quarter Round tiles are another type of trimming tile that are, well, pretty much exactly what they sound like! This trim is ¼” round - making it a great option for smoothly sealing an exposed perpendicular edge with a clean line.  This kind of trimming tile is frequently used to finish off tile installations in bathrooms or areas that benefit from a rounded edge – like shower divides and benches!

This trim piece is used to turn a corner as well as to finish the edge of a backsplash, tub, or shower surround. Quarter round tile is a great option to where tile floors terminate at doorways to add a smooth edge to squared off tile designs. 

Quarter round tiles are a great functional option to provide a protective outside corner, but they can also be used as a decorative piece between other tiles, similar to the popular pencil tile!


Cove Base Tile

Cove base tiles are usually used at the base of tiled walls in lieu of tile baseboards to create a seamless and watertight transition between the wall and floor. Their primary purpose is to cover the joint where two surfaces meet in a way that keeps moisture out. The crevice created by the wall meeting the floor at a 90 degree angle is eliminated with a cove base tile. This makes cleaning easier and less frequently required as an added bonus!

If you’re planning a wall tile trim, you can’t go wrong with cove base tiles as a finishing touch! They are especially useful in showers because they cover the floor joint, keeping moisture from going into walls and floors!


Baseboard Tile

Tile baseboards serve the same primary function of standard floor baseboards – they cover the unsightly joint where the wall meets the floor and can add a beautiful accent to your room. Baseboard tile trims work particularly well with tiled walls and floors by creating a seamless transition between materials. Compared to MDF or hardwood baseboards, baseboard tiles work well in wet areas such as kitchens, bathrooms, or other areas where floors get mopped frequently!

Calacatta Gold Marble Baseboard Polished


Pencil Tile

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!

Guide to Tile Trims and Moldings:  Stardust Marine Pencil Glass Molding with Stardust Marine 2X8 Glass Mosaic Tile

Stardust Marine Pencil Glass Molding with Stardust Marine 2X8 Glass Mosaic Tile


Flat Liner Tile

Flat liner tiles are straight, flat pieces of tiles used to frame statement pieces just like pencils. The main differences between flat liners and pencil liners is that pencil liners provide more depth than flat liners due to their rounded edges. Both styles are ideal for lining backsplashes, stove backsplashes - basically any kind of mosaic tile application or floor tile! If you are looking for something more sleek and contemporary than a rounded edge, then a flat liner with straight edges may be just the thing to finish off the look. 


Chair Rail Tile

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.

Bardiglio Marble Chair Rail Polished

Bardiglio Marble Chair Rail Polished is a great option to match Bardilgio tiles or provide contrast to lighter marble details like Calacatta Gold, Thassos, or Carrara!


V-Cap Tile

V-Caps are the only finishing pieces that can be used to completely cover perpendicular corners in tile installations. V-caps are often called sink caps as they are generally used to finish the edge of kitchen or bathroom countertops where a sink is installed. That doesn’t mean they can’t be used in other ways! Think windowsills, shower niches or even a shower partition - any surface that needs a tile to hang over the edge!


Ways to Use Tile Trims and Moldings

We’ve covered the most common types of tile trim; now it’s time to dive in to the best ways to use these types to finish off your next project! At the beginning, we mentioned trim pieces can be one of the most important details for a tile project. Tile trims serve two purposes; edging your tile project and giving it a beautiful, completely finished look. Check out the most important ways that you can use trim and molding details to complete a tile install! 


Protecting Tile Edges

First and foremost, trim pieces are used as an edge treatment wherever tiles are installed.

A tile project isn’t over when tiles are fixed in place. One of the mistakes homeowners make when installing tile is skipping the use of any trim pieces on exposed tile edges. They either think the edge of the tile looks okay as-is or simply don’t want to pay extra costs for trim pieces. Well, that can add up to a huge mistake! 

The only occasion where a trim is not needed is when tiles meet flush against other surfaces, making edging unnecessary. On all other occasions, trimming tiles are needed to round off sharp edges, smooth and cover harsh lines, and seal against moisture. In wet areas, trim is vital to keep water from pooling in corners and increasing the potential for seepage or leaks. If you want your tile design to look flawless for years to come, then it’s essential to protect the edges of your tile!

Here are the most common areas where trims are used for tile edge protection:

  • Surrounding a backsplash installation where you see unfinished tile edges
  • Edges around shower niche or recess areas 
  • Shower curbs and shower benches
  • Floor transitions between different materials (i.e. from tile to carpet, hardwood to tile, etc.)
  • Tiled walls turning an outside corner


Customize Your Design

One other reason to add finishing details with the use of trim pieces is to add a high-end designer effect to your space! The shapes, colors, and designs of different style tile trims can be perfect accents to your layout. Tile trims can seamlessly blend into your design, draw the eyes to the beauty of a tiled area, or stand out within the space - depending on how you use them!

Unify Two Tile Patterns with a Pencil Liner Trim

Depending on the overall design scheme, trims can match the color of tiles or offer a very contrasting color. You can also get more creative by using a mixture of different materials for tiles and trims too!

Here are some easy ways to customize your design and achieve a well-appointed look with tile trims! 


Shower Niche Trims

Shower niches prevent a jumble of bottles from taking up space on the shower floor or cluttering up a windowsill. Having a shower niche brings form and function to a shower, but creating a stunning one is a great way to set your bathroom design apart! Trims are the tiny details for a five-star shower niche design that looks well built with exquisite craftsmanship. It’s also an opportunity to add an extra pop of color or pattern to the shower area! 

Quarter round and bullnose are the most common tile trims to frame a shower niche, since they soften and hide raw tile edges. If possible, use longer tile trims to reduce grout lines on surfaces where soap and shampoo may gather to cut down on the need to scrub your shower as frequently - a nice bonus! 

Bamboo Sticks Marble Mosaic Tile Shower Niche with Wooden Beige Marble Pencil Liner Trim

Finish off a Bamboo Sticks Marble Mosaic Tile Shower Niche with Wooden Beige Marble Pencil Liner Trim


Shower Bench Trims

For walk-in showers with a built-in bench, tiles offer  a waterproof and easy-to-clean solution while establishing a visually seamless design. Quarter round and bullnose designs are the frequently used trim options to finish off tile installation for shower benches, as the rounded edge makes it more comfortable to sit!


Backsplash Trims

Trim is often the most important feature of a backplash. Backsplash designs are not usually a full wall, but interspersed with cabinets, countertops, or appliances - meaning they’re more likely to have exposed edges where trim pieces are needed. If your backsplash only goes part way up the wall or meets the edge of your kitchen or bathroom countertop, expect to use backsplash trims at the ends.

For field tile backsplashes, bullnose or round liner is recommended whereas flat liner is often a better option for specialty tiles. 

This Chateau Blue Sprig Ceramic Mosaic Tile kitchen backsplash is beautifully tied in to the granite countertop with a Chateau White Ceramic Pencil Liner!

This Chateau Blue Sprig Ceramic Mosaic Tile kitchen backsplash is beautifully tied in to the granite countertop with a Chateau White Ceramic Pencil Liner!

While a wide choice of materials is available, glass tile trim is a great way to draw the eye to an otherwise overlooked space. Lend a little shine to the final part of your tile install by selecting glass trim tiles to finish up a backsplash install. They come in a full range of fashionable colors too!


Window Sill Trims

It is easy to overlook your window sill when you think of areas that can benefit from interior styling. With a dose of creativity, tiles can transform window sills into the focal point they deserve to be! If your window sill is deep enough to serve as a setting for plants or decorative accents, tile trims offer a waterproof and easy to clean finish. Just like a shower niche, window sills require either a bullnose or quarter round as a tile trim. Keep in mind that the longer the tile trim, less grout lines you’ll have to clean!


Floor Trims

Cove base trims are perfect for adding a finished look to your floor tile, making corners more stable and easier to clean. Using a cove base tile with a straight top is recommended where floor tiles connect with wall tiles to create a smoother transition and avoid water or other materials from gathering in the seam. 

If cove base trim tile is not an option, baseboards are a commonly used floor finish that are both useful and attractive! Baseboards flow well with flooring tiles, and provide great resistance against moisture, dirt and dust. Marble baseboard tiles are a great option to create an elegant bathroom finish as stand up better to wet environments that wood flooring finishes.


Fireplace Trims

If you’re designing an eye-catching fireplace surround with field tile, adding trim to the firebox and mantel can add extra character! Depending on the shape and style of your tiles, flat liners, bullnoses, and quarter rounds can be the best trim options for a polished and professional look.  


Tiled Wall Trims

If your fireplace sticks out of the wall, or you’re designing a statement wall that turns a corner, you’ll typically finish the edges with matching trim. Rounded trim is most likely needed to avoid sharp edges or snags. For specialty shape tiles, you can choose flat or round liners that fit the tile designs and space usage the best!

Just as the right tie can really make a suit, a well-chosen accessory can add some pop to your interior design. When considering whether or not to use trim to finish off your installation, think twice! Choosing the right tile trim details are more than just exceptional protection from damage; they offer an opportunity to beautify your space too!

These finishing details get less love than their mosaic and decorative counterparts, but we’re reminded of how essential the right trim can be to elevate your design and extend the life of your tiles. We felt inspired while writing it, and we hope you’re inspired too. If you have questions or need extra assistance, simply call, chat or comment below!

How to Pick Trim and Molding to Complement Your Tile!

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