Susan Yeley Interiors
Life is too short not to love your home.

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It's the end of tile as we know it (and we feel fine).

Okay, it's not actually the END of tile we're talking about. It's the ENDS: bullnose and pencil lines and schluter, oh my.  

I know, you're feeling overwhelmed.  You've heard of a v-cap but it sounds kind of kinky, and is schluter anything like schadenfreude, because that's getting a little philosophical for a decorating blog.  

Q. Can't we just lay the last piece of tile and be done with it?

A. Yes, you can, young Padowan.

1. Spend some time on houzz and pinterest and you will see that designers like to extend backsplash tile as far as you and your budget will let them.  Can't figure out how to end the tile? Just keep going til you hit a perpendicular wall or upper cabinet!

Often natural stone tile doesn't have bullnose (rounded edge) options, and/or edges can be sanded smooth such that they can be end pieces even if they are cut.  What you don't want it anyone gashing an elbow on rough cut edges as they walk by.  

Tile edges here smoothed with a sander. Image courtesy Innovative Construction, Inc.

This marble subway tile doesn't come in a bullnose (rounded) edge, so we just cut, caulked and finished.

This marble subway tile doesn't come in a bullnose (rounded) edge, so we just cut, caulked and finished.

3.  Stop, drop & roll.  Have some wine, look at your tile, and think out of the box.  Why does everything have to be so straight and polished anyway?

Image courtesy Bill Costello, AIA.

Image courtesy Bill Costello, AIA.

Q. Um, I'm really more of a finished kind of person. Can't I please do something to make this look done?

A. Yes, you can have your closure and grout it too.  I respect that.

1. The very best kind of closure, in my book, is Schluter.  Here's a picture for the engineers among us.

 

Some of the pretty tile pictures you see on Houzz that look as if they just end?  Au contraire, mon frere.  They use schluter: little metal strips that come in a variety of colors, slide sneakily under the last piece of tile and wrap around the end.  Schluter is a clean-lined designer-type's best friend, and is also good for those of us whose budgets or floor plans require us to stop the tile before it takes over the whole family room.

You gotta get around that window somehow.  Enter: Schluter.

Black schluter moonlighting as just another line of grout.

You can hardly see it, right? Chrome schluter finishes the tile on this divider wall's vertical and horizontal tile runs.

2. Quarter-round, pencil tile, and contrast line tile.  

I'm of a school of thought that keeps chair rail and other necessary tile caps minimal.  If you want a ledge, build yourself a ledge, but not with a big thick tile moulding please.

A narrow line of contrast tile can cap a chair rail, but keep it low profile. Image courtesy risa boyer architecture, inc. 

 

3. Bullnose is tile that looks just like the other tile you've laid, but has one subtly rounded edge that belongs on the end of a run.  The emphasis is on SUBTLE, friends.  Anything not subtle has crossed from bullnose to moulding, and though I never want to say never, I haven't yet met a tile moulding that I wouldn't like to chop off.

Those top tiles are probably bullnose (read: rounded) along one long edge. Image courtesy John Merkl.

As for v-caps, I really just included them because they exist and the word made me giggle.  I'm not a fan.  Google them if you want to, or go rogue, install one, and send me a picture to convince me.  

Meanwhile, here's the executive summary: tile caps and finishes shouldn't detract from or overwhelm the tile, but just finish it, subtly and neatly.  The finish is not the headliner, and it won't win its supporting actor prize if it doesn't do its job and support.  

As my old friend Abby's mom says, "Keep the main thing, the main thing."