Tech Talk – December 2017

Have you added tile edge protection to your installation project?

How often are you including tile edge protection in your tile assembly specifications? Although not required for all installations, edge protection absolutely provides better results.

By Scott Carothers,
CTEF Director of Certification
and Training

Ultimately, if you’re serious about delivering only high-quality installations of ceramic, porcelain and stone tile, you must have the hand-skills to put the entire tile assembly into place along with the knowledge of what products are available to finish the project successfully.

Thinking about protecting tile edges is a perfect example.

What is tile edge protection?

You wouldn’t be in this business if you didn’t have an appreciation for how perfectly ceramic and porcelain tile function as floor and wall finishes. Tile is beautiful, durable, and easily maintained.

It has an amazing performance record and inspires intense product innovation.

Critical to your well-earned reputation is ensuring that your tile installation will perform despite heavy traffic. Edge profiles do the following:

  • Protect tile edges from chipping,
  • Provide easy transitions between adjacent floor and wall surfaces.
  • Deliver a design element that is often ignored.
Specify each component of the tile assembly

On most commercial tile jobs, the specifications clearly call out each component of the tile assembly, but not always.

However, on many residential jobs, the various items necessary for a good job may be overlooked.

Whether the project is commercial or residential, the tile installer is the last person on the job who should provide his or her input and expertise so that the ceramic tile installation is pleasing to the eye and will stand the test of time.

Don’t skip the little details!

Unfortunately the ultimate success of the completed project sometimes gets lost in the rush to get it done yesterday or in the little details that sometimes fall through the cracks.

Whatever the reason, the edge profile moldings are sometimes not included in the job. And yet, as mentioned above, these profiles play two key roles:

To provide a pleasing transition to the adjacent floor finish

To protect the edge of the tile, which may be a factory edge or a cut

Lack of edge protection means chipped tile

As seen in the photo below, which was taken from a hotel breakfast area, the edge of the wood-look ceramic tile is significantly chipped after only a few years of service.

Without the metal profile to protect the edge of the tile, unsightly chipping can (and does) occur.

In this case, the combination of the housekeeper’s sweeper and the metal legged chairs has taken its toll on the tile.

Consider exacerbating conditions

As you may have noticed in the photo above, the low-pile commercial carpet is 1/8” of an inch below the edge of the tile. This factor would definitely exacerbate the problem.

This may be particularly challenging, because you may not know the carpet pile height when discussing and developing a mockup for the project. Unless you consider the various possibilities, you may overlook the right product needed to finish the project successfully.

The tile otherwise has served the area well and looks great, but the chipped tile along the edge makes the entire job look unsatisfactory and unacceptable.

The real problem here is that when consumers see problems of this type, they often decide not to use tile in their next project. Their rationale is simple. If tile looks and performs like this (as seen in the photo), they don’t want it and will pick something else, which means everyone in the tile industry loses the job.

Proactive input eliminates problems

A small amount of proactive input prior to the job beginning would have eliminated this problem.

Many times the installer is not consulted on the design end of the project. But in this case, the installer gets blamed for the ugly result when in reality, he or she had no part in the process. The really odd thing about this hotel upgrade project is that all of the other installed tile surfaces included edge profiles.

The point here is that, as an installer, you should speak up and make recommendations that will enhance the project outcome and be a long-lasting testimonial to the durability and beauty of properly installed ceramic tile.

Certification signals your commitment to details like tile edge protection

If you haven’t already, consider becoming a Certified Tile Installer (CTI). As a CTI, you set yourself apart from the crowd and know how to anticipate tile installation problems before they occur.

Do it right the first time and get paid accordingly. Visit for details.