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Tiling a Window Surround

Please note that whilst we aim to ensure accuracy, there may be mistakes in these guides and no liability is accepted for reliance upon them. These are quick and informal guides. If you want something more formal, then see the relevant British Standards.

Order of tiling

The order in which you tile the window surround is a matter of choice and there is no right or wrong. Personally though, I would at least tile either both sides first, or the top and bottom first (as opposed to say moving clockwise around the sill).

Grout Joints

A simple point: make sure the grout joints of the window surround match those of the surrounding wall. In other words, continue the vertical and horizontal grout joints from the surrounding wall.

Use of Tile Trim

Use of tile trim around the window surround is optional and is usually determined by the type of tile being used.

The benefits of using tile trim include:

  • Safety: A smooth curved edge is safer than a right angled tile edge
  • Reduced damage: less risk of tiles being chipped at the change in direction
  • Appearance: If the tile being used does not have an appropriate edge, then tile trim can give a far better finish.

In deciding whether the finish would be better with tile trim, then inspect the edge of the tile. Does it have the glaze partially run down the edge of the tile in an untidy finish ? If so then trim is almost certainly a good option. We would say the general rule is use trim, except for tile types including: a rustic porcelain tile, a stone effect tile, real natural stone.

Buying Tile Trim

Tile trim is available in a choice of colours and materials. Most commonly used are white, cream ivory in plastic, or metal finishes such as aluminium or chrome. Trim is available in varying depths such as 6mm, 9mm, 12mm (depending on the manufacturer). It is important to choose a depth of trim which is ideally just very slightly deeper than the tile. For example a tile with an 8mm depth, would suit a 9mm trim.

Cutting tile trim

Cutting Tile Trim

There are various specialist tools available to cut tile trim. Shown in the photo is a tool with a sharp blade and in-built mitres which makes cutting the required angles very straightforward and quick.

This is a tool aimed at the professional tiler and retails at nearly £40 I believe, but plaspugs do a cheaper equivalent (under £10 from Machine Mart) which would do fine for the DIY tiler.

Measure the length of the sill and cut the trim at each end with a 45% mitre.

Preparing the surface

Ensure the surfaces to be tiled are sound, clean and flat. The degree to which imperfections can be covered at tiling depends on the skill of the tiler. If in doubt, be over cautious and prepare the surface to as near perfect as possible. We will be publishing a guide on preparing surfaces for tiling shortly.


Although there are variations on this, the basic idea is:

Spread the adhesive over the side to be tiled (or a section of it depending on the length of the window side and your tiling speed). Place the tile trim in place ensuring you bed the trim into the already spread adhesive. Measure the tiles and cut them to width (trim edge to window edge) leaving a small gap at the window for sealant. Bed tiles into adhesive. Lift the first tile set to check you have achieved good adhesive coverage, and if not back butter the tile. You do not want tiles falling off the window surround onto the bath or shower tray for example.

Has this guide been useful ? Is there something missing or confusing ? What else would have been useful to have here ? Please let us know your feedback so we can improve. You can mail us at .
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