One of the keys to making a tile installation look correct is how you approach the transitions to the surrounding flooring. There are numerous ways to do this depending on your situation and the heights of the adjacent floors. I have fallen in love with metal trim pieces from a company called Schluter. If you get the right one for your situation, you’ll end up with very professional results.
For example, the tile floors at my recent dining room/ kitchen project needed a smooth transition to the adjacent hardwoods in the living room. The most common approach would be to install a metal strip over the top (usually brass or silver) or install a custom cut piece of oak that would match the hardwoods. These can be fine, but let me offer you a better way.
Check out Schluter’s wide catalog of metal trims. They seriously have one for about any purpose that you can think of and many more. For this particular project, the tile would would be set just slightly higher than the hardwoods, at most 1/8 inch below. This means that their RENO-U trim would be a perfect fit.
While the home stores and tile retailers may carry a small selection of the trim, you can order more than a dozen finishes to match your room and add it’s own flavor to the design.
The photo below shows a piece of the trim. It has a slight angle to make the height transition, but the front edge is vertical to butt up against the hardwoods. The homeowners chose a finish called “brushed antique bronze”. Basically, it’s a dark brown color that will look great in their kitchen and bring out the darker grain colors in the hardwoods.
I like the trim because it is fully integrated into the tile. I actually put the trim down first and secured it with just a couple flat-head roofing nails to make sure it would stay in place as I was laying tile. It’s easily cut with a hack-saw, but you have to take it slow so your blade doesn’t dance around and add some unwanted scratches. After installing the trim, I covered the exposed part with painters tape until after I grouted. I’d better not scratch it after all this work, right?
I left a small space between the tile and the trim. This is all grouted to complete the floor and end up with a remarkable transition.