Tile Borders: Sweeten a Sour Shower

by Jon Nunan

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Places that generally have tile, like kitchens and bathrooms, are supposed to be clean and sterile. Most are laid using colors that easily show dirt, grime and the like. However, it's easy to get tired of all that white and light. Putting in a colorful tile border is a stylish way to add some flavor to your kitchen or bathroom that's sure to sweeten its appearance without souring the original design.

Single Color Tile Borders
The simplest tile borders are sometimes the most elegant. By adding tiles of the same color as a border, you create a very different and noticeable look without the cost of hand-painted tiles. Just choose a color that compliments the existing tiles and install the new ones around the edges. There's no need to keep track of what tile goes next or worry of what looks better where. It's a good idea, however, to purchase some extras in case one or two need to be replaced later on.

Multiple Color Tile Borders
Still elegant, and also relatively simple, is creating a tile border with two or three different colored tiles. People often do this using a couple different shades of the same color (which isn't a bad idea if you're having a hard time deciding). Some people don't mind having two of the same tiles next to each other. If that's you, then there is no need to keep track of which tiles you are using where. Others prefer the tiles to go in a certain order, which means that you'll have to pay attention.

Custom Tiles
Though more expensive, a custom tile border lets the buyer work not only with color but picture and pattern as well. Custom tile is often hand made, so each individual piece will be slightly different than another. There are companies out there who will make designs on each tile specifically for you. If you want a picture of a particular flower or even a family crest, they will make it happen.

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Some places that make custom tiles have gone a step further and produced tiles with non-rectangular shapes. This doesn't stop at hexagons; these companies will make tiles to any shape you like. Size, however, is generally less flexible as larger ceramic tiles crack and lose adhesion more often than small tiles do. In such cases you will need to repair those damaged tiles or replace them.

Even more so than other tile, it is very important to have extra tiles made if you choose custom pictures. Having to replace a hand made tile with your family crest painted on it is ten times more difficult than matching the same color green.

Tile Border Do-ability
Putting in a tile border doesn't usually interfere with the rest of the tiles on the wall. Having a tile professional put them in will definitely be fast and relatively inexpensive. The DIY will find that adding a tile border is a job that they can do well. The existing tiles and the ceiling or other boundary make a straight path for the tiles to be placed in (and making it easier to do a good looking job).
Jon Nunan is a freelance writer who draws on his experience in construction, ranging from landscaping to log home building, for his articles on home improvement.