How to Install Decorative Tile Borders

How to Drill Holes Through Porcelain Tiles
May 17, 2017

How to Install Decorative Tile Borders

A decorative tile border can add detail and style to any room. Whether you’re using a tile border of the same material as the tiles you’re bordering or mixing materials such as ceramic and glass to create your own look, borders can enhance nearly any tile design. Install a decorative tile border in any area of your home and enhance the style of that room.


  1. Measure the area to be tiled, including where the border will be laid. Lay the field tiles on which the border will be laid next to determine exactly where the border will lay in relation to the other tiles, as well as how much of a grout joint to leave.
  2. Mark the area where the border will be installed. For example, if the border is for a kitchen backsplash and will be installed atop one row of 4-inch tile, measure 4 inches from the counter–plus room for grout–and mark with a pencil and straight edge. The size of the grout joint may vary from as little as 1/16 inch to 1/4 inch depending on how straight the edge of the tile is.
  3. Trowel thin-set mortar onto the wall and run the grooved edges of the trowel through the thin-set until the ridges are even in height. Press the border into the thin-set, twisting slightly into place to ensure a good bond.
  4. Install the field tiles first if you’re laying a border between two tiles, especially if the tile border is thinner than the field. Find or cut a flat board or stick the same width as the border and use it to mark where the border will go, leaving grout joints on either side. Leaving this gap ensures that the border will be laid flush with the surrounding tiles in a straight, even line. Continue tiling beyond the border. Let the field tiles set for two hours.
  5. Install the border by troweling on thin-set and pressing the tiles into place. If the border is thinner than the surrounding tile, apply thin set to both the wall and the back of each tile to bring them level.

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