How to Install a Tile Border in a Bathroom

Update your bathroom by accenting the vanity or tub area with a mosaic tile backsplash.

Photo by: Gary Payne

Gary Payne

Skill Level
Estimated Cost $500
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Photo by: Gary Payne

Gary Payne

Tools and Materials

  • tile
  • grout
  • mastic
  • tile and stone sealer
  • pencil
  • trowel
  • putty knife
  • grout float
  • sponge
  • bucket
  • tile saw
  • measuring tape
  • level
  • painter's tape
  • foam brush
  • microfiber cloth

Step 1: Determine Placement

Determine how high you would like your border and mark it with a pencil. Using a level, draw a line at uniform height across the wall. We’re using mosaic sheet tile. If you’re using individual tile pieces, make sure to leave room for spacers. Lay painter’s tape across the line; this will help protect the section of the wall that isn’t being tiled.

Step 2: Cut Tile

Photo by: Gary Payne

Gary Payne

If you are using a tile that isn’t flat on both the top and bottom, cut 1/2” to 1” (or whatever is needed) off the ends so your tile will sit flush against the top edge of your countertop. Use a tile saw to make the necessary cuts.

Step 3: Seal Tile

Photo by: Gary Payne

Gary Payne

If your tile is natural stone like ours, be sure to seal it in advance. Natural stone is a porous material and could absorb the grout if it’s not sealed properly.

Step 4: Adhere Tile to Walls

Lay out the tiles the same way they’ll be placed on the wall. Pick a starting point; we chose to start at the corner where the vanity ends so the tile will flow down the wall to the top of the tub platform. Apply mastic in small sections with a trowel. Mastic dries in 15 to 20 minutes, so apply it in small sections at a time. A ¼” V-notched trowel is great for mosaics, but your trowel type could depend on the type of tile you are using. Spread mastic on the wall then pull the trowel back across using the notched end. The grooves give the tile something to adhere to. Press the tile in place. Wipe away any mastic that has gotten on the tile.

Step 5: Top With Pencil Molding

Remove painter’s tape from the top of the tile. If you’re satisfied with the look, you can now just let the mastic set for 24 hours. We chose to top off our mosaic tile with a rounded tile border known as pencil molding. Apply mastic to the back of the pencil molding with a putty knife and press into place. Wipe away any mastic that oozes from the top.

Step 6: Apply Grout

When the mastic is dry, apply grout to the top of the tile using a grout float. Choose a contrasting grout color if you want the grout to stand out. Apply the grout at a 45-degree angle to ensure it gets in all the cracks. Wipe away excess grout with a sponge and water. When the grout is dry, you can optionally apply grout sealer to protect it from mold and dirt.


Gary Payne


Gary Payne

Photo By: Gary Payne

Photo By: Gary Payne

We also replaced the mirrors and faucets. Do you like that towel rack? It's super easy to make. Get the step-by-step instructions >>

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