Is Bullnose Tile Outdated?

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is bullnose tile outdated

Tiling is a great way to enhance the look of your home and give it a beautiful finish. There are all kinds of options available to you when it comes to tiling in terms of color and style. 

However, one of the hardest aspects is finishing the edges. Without a finish, some tiling projects can look unprofessional and cheap. 

That’s why bullnose tile was invented and why it remains incredibly popular. 

Bullnose tile is rounded on the edge and sits on the last row of tiles. It gives the edges a finished, complete look and can be a great way to make the tile more comfortable. 

One of the issues with it, though, is the fact that many people think it is outdated. Bullnose tile was especially popular in the 1970s and it still carries the cachet of that time. 

If you want a finished look for your tile but don’t want to use bullnose, there are other options. In this article, we have laid out some of the alternatives if you think bullnose tile is outdated. 

Some of the alternatives to bullnose tile that are available include: 

  • Metal profile strips 
  • Different shaped end pieces
  • No finish on the edges
  • Mitered tile edges

What Is Bullnose Tile?

what is bullnose tile

Bullnose tile is a piece of tile that has one rounded side, which sits over the edge of the tile. This is used as a way to complete the look of the tiling job and finish it off. 

One of the benefits of bullnose tile is the fact that it is easy to size and install. All you have to do is cut the non-rounded edge to size and install it like any other tile. 

It also gives the tile a complete aesthetic and will eliminate any sharp edges. If you want to have that portion of a room completely sealed up, bullnose could be a good option. 

Bullnose can also help keep the tile sealed and free of water. This is especially important in bathrooms or kitchens where moisture can get under the grout. 

Advice from the Expert: From my professional experience, while it is true that bullnose tiles tend to be pricier due to their special production, I’ve discovered that investing in high-quality tiles can contribute to the longevity of your tiling project. Thanks to their rounded edge, bullnose tiles can effectively prevent wear and tear along the exposed tile edges, significantly prolonging their lifespan.

While bullnose has a lot of benefits, many people think it is outdated. Fortunately, there are some alternatives that you can choose from. 

Profile Strips 

One of the most popular ways to eschew bullnose tile is to use metal profile strips. 

These strips come in all sizes and colors and can be used on the edge of your tiling projects. They give a modern, clean look that is much more up-to-date than bullnose tile. 

One of the best things about profile strips is that they are easy to install. They simply need to be placed on the edge and attached using adhesive. 

Profile strips can also go all the way down an edge in one piece. This gives you better sealing and a nicer-looking, more cohesive finish. 

Advice from Expert: Remember, when you opt for alternatives like metal profile strips or different shaped end pieces, ensure they match your overall tile design. In the past, I’ve seen projects where the tile edge finish looked disjointed from the rest of the tiles as they were added as an afterthought. Spend a little moment, take a step back, and ensure your chosen alternative complements the rest of your tiling project and doesn’t stick out awkwardly.

Profile strips are also incredibly modern. If you are worried about your tile looking outdated, these are a great way to create a contemporary look. 

Other Shapes 

One of the great things about tile is that it is a very versatile material. This means that you can choose any shape you want as an edge for your tiling. 

There are all kinds of options available to you if you don’t want to use bullnose. Things like dimensional ledge tile or thin pencil tile can be used to the same effect. 

If you would like a look that is more subtle and understated, there are plenty of options for you. 

However, one of the things you need to remember is the fact that not all shapes will look right. It is best to get a good idea of how they will look before purchasing the tile pieces. 

Ask your tile supplier for some samples that you can take home. Using these samples, put them where you are considering installing them and make sure they work. 

No Finish 

One of the more modern options you have is to use no finish at all. 

Many people are opting to have a raw, natural look for their tile. By simply leaving the stone edge, you can have a unique aesthetic that is very contemporary. 

If you like, you can also get the edges of your tile pieces finished with gloss or smoothed out. 

This is recommended if you want to be sure nothing gets caught on them while walking past. Smoothing out the tile edges can look very modern and won’t be outdated at all. 

One thing to keep in mind, though, is that unfinished tile won’t be as waterproof. 

Expert Advice: If you’re trying the ‘no finish on the edges’ aesthetic, it’s crucial to consider your room’s humidity levels beforehand. While this option does give a stunning raw and natural look, it lacks the waterproof protection that options like bullnose or metal profile strips can provide. In my experience, I’ve found this option best suitable for low-humidity areas in your home or establishment.

If you are going to have your tile in the bathroom, this may not be your best option. You will want something to cover up the grout and keep it safe from mold and mildew. 

Mitered Edges 

Mitered edges are another wonderfully modern alternative to bullnose tile. With this option, the edges are cut in such a way that they fit right up against one another. 

Mitered edges will work especially well for kitchens and bathrooms since they will create a tight seal. 

If you want to avoid using bullnose, you can get the same effect with mitered tile. However, it is a sleeker look and has a lower profile. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is bullnose tile more expensive?

Bullnose tile is more expensive than other types of tile. This is one of the reasons why you may want to avoid using it in the first place. 

Bullnose is expensive because it needs to be specially produced and engineered. 

Should I install bullnose tile first?

Bullnose tile needs to be installed last on any tiling project. This way, you can get it cut to the exact right width to fit on the edge. 

If you install the bullnose first, you will have to make adjustments to your whole tiling project. 

Can you use bullnose tile as a baseboard?

Bullnose tile can be used as a baseboard. However, it is important to remember that you may need to remove your baseboards at some point. 

If your bullnose baseboards are attached with adhesive, this could prove to be difficult. 


While bullnose tile is a popular way to cover your tile edges, it can look slightly outdated. If you want a modern, contemporary look for your home, bullnose may not be your best bet. 

Fortunately, there are many excellent alternatives that will work for all kinds of styles. 

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Michael J. O’Connor is a writer and marketing specialist from the Bay Area of California. A graduate of Sonoma State’s Creative Writing program, he spent many years as a contractor and carpet layer, learning the ins and outs of flooring and general contracting. When he’s not typing away at his desk, he enjoys hiking with his dogs, woodworking and collecting rare books. See full biography here.

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