Bullnose tile is used for edges on countertops, swimming pool sides and similar surfaces and for the tops of sink backsplashes and partially tiled walls. Basic bullnose has three square edges to match basic tiles and a rounded edge for the finish side. The rounded edge gives a neater appearance than a square side, and is less likely to be chipped or damaged when things hit it. The surface glaze on the bullnose matches the tile surface to provide a uniform appearance. Special bullnoses are available for corners and other shapes.
Buy your basic and bullnose tile from the same home improvement or tile supply store to make sure the color and finish are consistent. Check for all the bullnose options you need; not all tile types have all bullnose styles. Use basic bullnose for counter and pool edges and the tops of partially tiled walls. Get special corner bullnoses for inside or outside corners and double bullnose, rounded both top and bottom, for a fancy counter trim.
Measure your countertop, pool deck or wall surface with a tape measure to calculate how much tile you will need. Figure bullnose first, and then basic tile spacing from the inside edge of the bullnose, with the rounded side flush with the countertop or wall top. Allow for grout lines and corners or odd shapes. Buy extra to allow for breakage and cutting; you usually will get extras because you have to buy full cartons.
Use your bullnose as a decorative accent in a contrasting color or match it with the basic tile. Vary the width of the bullnose so its grout lines do not line up with grout lines on the basic tile surface; put a 6-inch by 2-inch bullnose, for instance, atop a wall surfaced with 4-inch square tiles. Use a bullnose of the same width for large spaces, like pool decks and countertops; a 4-inch bullnose edging a counter with 4-inch tiles.
Bob Haring has been a news writer and editor for more than 50 years, mostly with the Associated Press and then as executive editor of the Tulsa, Okla. "World." Since retiring he has written freelance stories and a weekly computer security column. Haring holds a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Missouri.