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Tile trim is a type of finish that you can apply to a tiled area to produce clean lines and protect tile edges from being damaged following installation. Without tile trim, the edges remain exposed and may chip or crack from impacts. While ceramic and plastic tile trim used to be popular choices, they’ve fallen out of favor due to changes in decor trends and less abrasion resistance when compared with metal.
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Choosing the Trim
When you’re selecting tile trim, you’ll need to ensure that the trim matches the thickness of the tile. If your tile is 10mm thick, your trim should also be at least 10mm thick. However, because the tile is laid on a layer of adhesive, purchasing 1-2mm thicker trim can help ensure that the trim and tile are flush. For seamless results, you should also ensure the trim matches or coordinates with the color of your tiles. Alternatively, you can contrast the tile and trim color for a dramatic look, such as applying black trim to white tiles. In addition to purchasing straight lengths of trim, you may also need trim accessories for easier installation, depending on the location of your tiling project.
For kitchens and around sinks, cornering connects two straight trim pieces and has a rounded interior edge to accommodate sink inserts. For wall or countertop tiles, end caps offer a sleek, water-tight finish. Inside and outside corner connectors help you navigate curves, while straight connectors are ideal for creating a seamless finish on large expanses of tiled floors and walls.
Cutting the Trim
Before cutting the trim, you’ll align the trim with the tile edge and measure and draw the cutting lines to follow. Tile tools such as a miter box and a hacksaw are essential for trim installation. Place the trim in a miter box, a tool designed to guide a hacksaw blade, which allows you to cut material precisely at an angle between 45° and 90°. Hold the trim firmly in place as you cut to prevent it from moving.
Secure the Trim in Place
While you can use a tile adhesive to secure the trim in position, you can also use screws if you want additional security. To prepare concrete flooring for screws, mark the positions of the holes on the floor using a Sharpie. Space these holes 15" apart. Drill holes into the concrete floor using a drill bit that’s compatible with the dowel and screw sizes you intend to use.
Insert the dowels into the drilled holes, and then drive them in with a mallet, taking care not to damage the ends. You can place a wood cut-off between the mallet and the dowel to prevent impact damage. Next, insert the screws using an electric screwdriver. Align the trim with the other edge, mark the trim where you need to cut it, place it into the miter box, and cut it with the hacksaw. If you decide not to use screws, you can lay an adhesive instead, spreading it with a trowel. Whether you use screws or a thin layer of adhesive, ensure the surface you’re working with is both level and straight by using a spirit level.
Cutting and Laying the Tiles
You’ll need a tile cutter or another saw to cut the tiles to the correct dimension during installation. Mark each tile using Sharpie and an L-square to measure the correct angle to cut. Clean the floor by scraping away debris and using a shopvac to remove as much dust as possible; this ensures that nothing interferes with the adhesive’s bond. You may also want to use tile polishing pads to smooth the tile edges if they are slightly raised above the trim due to the layer of adhesive. This will give your project a professional finish.
Apply and spread thinset tile mortar or another adhesive, ensuring an even and level distribution. Lay the tiles on the mortar. Use tile spacers to ensure consistent spacing between the tiles. As you lay the tiles, periodically check the flooring to verify that it is level. If you find it’s not level, this could be due to an inconsistent thinset mortar bed. If necessary, you can try using a rubber mallet or another soft object to tap the tiles to create a horizontal surface. Check again using a spirit level. If the tiles are not level and you can’t correct this using a mallet, remove the tiles, lay the thinset mortar bed again, and re-apply the tiles until they are level.
Visit Contractors Direct for All Your Tile Trim Installation Needs
Tile trim protects your tiles and provides a clean, professional finishing touch to your project. But for easy trim installation, you need the right tools from Contractors Direct. Browse our full tiling tools collection online, or explore our educational blog series for more information on trim and tile installation.