Types of Decorative Tile Borders and How to Use Them

Mother of Pearl Decorative Tile Border

If you're looking for a way to add some detail to your tile design, consider the use of decorative tile borders. Tile borders can be made of any material and will complement any design from traditional to contemporary.

Why Use a Tile Border

If you are tiling any area of your home, from a foyer to a backsplash, a tile border can really make the design stand out. Borders can be used to delineate an area, such as a foyer or an eating area in the kitchen, or to add detail and style to the space.

Tile borders can be run around the bathroom at wainscot height, right through the shower, to pick up on a detail elsewhere in the room. Borders can be used on the kitchen backsplash, one or two tiles up from the counter to draw the eye along the length of the counter, adding detail and interest.

A tile border can also be a great and subtle way to personalize a tile design. Consider using a decorative tile border against a more utilitarian tile background to add detail without overwhelming a space.

Types of Tile Borders

Tile borders are produced in multiple materials, designs and sizes. Below is just a sampling of the ways that tile borders are available for use in your home.

  • Decorative wall tiles, handpainted in repeating designs
  • Netted, mosaic borders made of ceramic, stone or glass
  • Mixed material tile borders made from stone, wood, glass and ceramic
  • Mosaic sheets, cut into strips to form borders

How to Use Decorative Tile Borders

There are many ways you can use tile borders to finish and enhance your home's décor. Consider using a tile border in any of the following scenarios.

Joining Hardwood and Tile Floors

Inlaying stone or terracotta into a hardwood floor is a popular flooring technique. Tile borders distributed by Walker Zanger now incorporate hardwood, stone and terracotta into one, decorative border. Use this border to transition between the two materials.

Complementing a Design

If you've chosen a mosaic tile rug for your bathroom floor, consider using a matching decorative border on the wall. Frequently, patterns such as basketweaves, hexagons and target patterns are also available as borders. Some patterns even lend themselves to being cut on site from a sheet good into a border that can be placed at wainscot height on the wall to pick up an element of design from the floor.

Highlighting a Decorative Area

If you're tiling your kitchen backsplash, consider using a tile border not only along the counters, but as a frame behind the cooktop. Changing the tile pattern from the counters to the cooktop is a great way of adding additional detail to the space. Using a tile border to frame out the cooktop will help set the design off and make it stand out.

Framing a Space

Decorative borders can also be used to frame specific areas of the home, drawing attention to them. Consider using a tile border around the firebox of your fireplace surround, or framing a mosaic rug in the center of your master bathroom. You can also use a decorative border to square off a room, making a statement in an entry way, or adding some detail to a sunroom floor.

Changing Patterns and Rooms

If you are using the same tile throughout many rooms, such as a hallway leading into a kitchen, bathroom and sunroom with the same tile throughout, use a tile border to add interest. Consider running the main tile straight in the kitchen, the turning it on a diagonal in the hallway. When you get to the sunroom, lay it straight again, but this time use a tile border to set off the design and keep the tile looking fresh and different.

Inexpensive Tile Borders

If you love decorative borders, but the cost is prohibitive, consider using mosaic sheet goods as a decorative border. Purchase sheets of glass tiles, polished marble or ceramic tiles in mosaic sheets. Use a razor blade or scissors to carefully cut the netting on the backs of the tiles until you have strips of mosaic 2-inches in height and 12-inches in length. Use these mosaics as a decorative border with a larger, field tile.

Consider using glass mosaics with a ceramic subway tile, for a contemporary look. Or, cut up a repeating pattern of stone mosaics and run them through tumbled marble tiles for a more traditional look. You'll end up with 6 linear feet of material per sheet, making this tile border much more cost effective.

Decorative tile borders can be used for floor or wall décor in any room of the home. Use them to help enliven your tile design, focus the eye and make your tile pop.

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Types of Decorative Tile Borders and How to Use Them