How to: Bullnose Tile in the Shower

When it comes to installing tile in your house, you can use a variety of different types. Field tile is any type of square tile with factory edges that is installed within the actual installation area, while bullnose tile is a tile with rounded edges that is installed on the outer perimeters where the tile terminates against an open area and requires a transition point. Installing bullnose tile in the shower is the exact same process as installing the field tile, and requires the same tools and skills.

Bullnose tile installs exactly the same way as field tile.

Step 1

Draw a reference line with the level and pencil roughly 1/4-inch shy of the actual finish edge of the bullnose around the perimeter of your shower, and use this as a guide for applying the adhesive to the wall.  This will eliminate oversmearing of adhesive and keep you from having extra clean up after the installation.

Step 2

Measure the length of your bullnose areas and check those measurements against several pieces of bullnose laid out on the floor.  The preferred method is to have full tiles at the top corners with cuts into the corners and against the floor. However, you can adjust the layout as you see fit, such as starting with a half tile at the outside corner in order to avoid small cuts under 3 inches, known as sliver cuts. 

Step 3

Smear adhesive onto the wall within your reference lines with the notched tip of the trowel.  Start at the top edges and work your way down to the floor and into the inside corners. Install each piece of bullnose tile individually and press them firmly into the mastic adhesive.  Use tile spacers or wedges between the bullnose tiles and the field tiles to accommodate for grout joints, or install the tiles tight if you prefer a jointless installation.

Things You Will Need

  • Notched trowel
  • Tile mastic adhesive
  • Tile wet saw
  • Tile spacers
  • Tile wedges
  • Level
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Safety glasses
  • Ear plugs


  • Use the tile wet saw to make any required cuts into the corners or against the floor. A typical 12-by-12 tile requires a 3/8-inch notched trowel. Larger tiles will require a larger notch, and smaller tiles vice versa. Tile spacers come in a variety of widths, and you can choose them according to how wide you want your grout joints to be. Tile wedges are wedge-shaped spacers that allow for minimal adjustments in cases of natural stone, where each piece may be slightly larger or smaller than the others and thus require additional manipulation. Allow a minimum of 24 hours for the installation to dry before grouting if you have opted for grout joints.


  • Always wear safety gear when working with power tools.

About the Author

Tim Anderson has been freelance writing since 2007. His has been published online through GTV Magazine, Home Anatomy, TravBuddy, MMO Hub, Killer Guides and the Delegate2 group. He spent more than 15 years as a third-generation tile and stone contractor before transitioning into freelance writing.

Photo Credits

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