Tile Outside Corner

You’ve got a host of problems to manage.  What if the corner is not straight or plumb (and few corners are truly straight or plumb)?  How do you match up the two tiles on either side so that you get a smooth corner?  How do you deal with the problem of slipping tiles?

Frankly, there is no magic bullet.  It just takes a few tips and a little patience, and you’ll get it right.

Use Bullnose on One Side, Flat on Other

On one side of the corner, you will use bullnose edged tile.  On the adjacent side, you will use tile with a flat edge (i.e., non-bullnose).

This is the only want to make sure that when the two tiles meet, they will form a smooth corner.

Tile Outside Corner

Trim Off the Bullnose

So, where do you get the “flat tile” mentioned above?  You can either buy tile without the bullnose, or you can use your wet tile saw to trim off just the bullnose part of some tiles.  Do not go too far; just the bullnose.  And don’t worry, you won’t notice the smaller dimensions if you’re judicious about trimming off only the bullnose.

Don’t worry about any special skills needed to trim the bullnose off.  This is an extremely simple cut to do with a wet tile saw.

Bullnose Overlaps Flat-Edged Tile

Now, make sure that the bullnose overlaps the flat-edged tile.  The bullnose is the “show” part of the tile.  The cut-off flat time may have some minor ridges, but this will be covered up by the bullnose.

Tile Both Sides of Corner Simultaneously

Ah, now here’s a great tip.  Do not tile an entire column of bullnoses upward, stop, and then tile the flat-edged tiles upward.

Instead, do a bullnose and its around-the-corner neighbor.  Then the next one up.  Then the next one, and so on.

Stacked Tile Design, Not Overlapping Design

Now, this is no requirement, but it’s a helpful thing–unless you’re really confident about your tiling skills, you will find that the stacked tile design is much easier than the overlapping tile design when working with corners.

Note that by “overlapping” we’re not talking about bullnose overlapping the flat-edged tiles in the tip above.  This is an entirely different thing, where you lay the tiles out in a grid fashion:

Stacked Tile
Stacked Tile
Overlapping Tile
Overlapping Tile

Stacked Tile or Overlapping Tile?

Let’s define what the two terms mean, and give some advantages and disadvantages for both:

Stacked Tile

Stacked Tile
Stacked Tile

You’re familiar with stacked tile, and it’s the most common tile configuration for showers and bathtubs.  Stacked tile forms a grid-like pattern.

  • Easiest tile design because you never have to guess about the placement of the next row.
  • Too many stacked tiles (especially with wide grout lines) can look imposing and grid-like.
  • When wet, if a tile on the bottom row is loose and slippery, the column of tiles above it will force that tile downward.

Choosing between stacked tile and overlapping tile, the beginning tile-setter may choose stacked–it’s a bit easier to execute.

Overlapping Tile

Overlapping Tile
Overlapping Tile

With overlapping tile, there are no “crosses” formed.

  • Take a little more work to install overlapping tile because you have to rely on your eye to determine the halfway point for your next row of tile.
  • Reputed to be a bit more structurally sound, much like brick is laid in a staggered fashion.
  • When wet, overlapping tile will not have problem mentioned with stacked tile of a column forcing the bottom tile downward.
  • Can break up that grid-like imposing look.