Beveled Subway Tile Done Right
Tiling contractor, Mark Ferrante has some pointers to avoid uneven backsplash corners
We are having a heck of a time figuring out how to install beveled-edge subway tile on our kitchen backsplash. Because the center of the tile is so much thicker than its edges, every cut at a corner or at the ends of the backsplash looks uneven. Will grout cover up the unevenness? Or are we just obsessing too much?
—Lillian Cruz, Langhorne, PA
Obsessing about tile layout is never a bad thing. How the details are handled at corners and edges makes the difference between an attractive tiling job and a mess. You can’t depend on grout to hide a tile problem.
At the corners, there are two secrets to making tight joints with beveled-edge tiles. The first is to miter the cuts on either side of a corner. That way, the different thicknesses along the tile’s cut edge are matched by those in the adjacent mitered tile.
The second secret: Install the tiles in the corners before tiling the field. That gives you the freedom to make small adjustments to the cut tiles on both sides of the corner and minimize the thickness of the grout joint. With practice, you can get joints so tight that the tile looks like it’s been bent into place.
After the tiles have set and the mortar hardens, the mitered tiles on the outside corners require one extra step. Their razor-sharp edges have to be rounded off with a fine-grit tile rubbing stone. Then you can start grouting.
Finally, to cover the tile cuts at the ends of the backsplash, use a pencil edge or some other ceramic trim piece to create a border, like the one in the photo below. Just make sure the trim is thicker than the tile. Do this job right and you’ll be admiring your backsplash for years to come.
Tiling contractor Mark Ferrante owns Ferrante Tile in Woburn, MA, and has worked on dozens of - saboteamos.info TV projects.
Shown: When installing beveled subway tile, corner cuts have to be mitered and the corners should be put in place before the rest of the tile is laid.