Wood borders offer simple, understated elegance against tile.

How to Make a Wood Border for Tile

by Wade Shaddy

You might have seen hardwood trim used for backsplashes or cabinet fascia. Almost nothing looks better than hardwood borders against tile. It doesn't have to be imposing, just a simple strip to enhance and protect tile edges. It works on floors, above base cabinets, below upper cabinets or any place that tile terminates horizontally or vertically. Hardwood trim adds the finishing touch to tile. It's simple to cut and install using ordinary tools and materials.

Raise the blade on a table saw to 1 1/2 inches. Measure the thickness of the tile. Tile thickness typically are typically 1/4, 1/2 and 3/4-inches. For 1/4-inch tile, set the fence at 2 5/8 inches. For 1/2-inch tile, set the fence at 2 3/8 inches. For 3/4-inch tile, set the fence at 1 1/8 inches. The table saw fence keeps the wood straight on one side as you cut on the other.

Sand the 1 1/4-by-3-by-96-inch piece of hardwood using an orbital sander with 100-grit sandpaper.

Place the end of the 1 1/4-by-3-by-96-inch piece of hardwood flat on the table saw behind the blade with the right side of the hardwood tight against the fence.

Turn on the saw. Hold the hardwood tight against the fence with your left hand. Push the hardwood into the blade with your right hand. This will cut a piece of trim from the left side of the hardwood at the required thickness. When the hardwood is within 12 inches of the blade, use a push stick to finish pushing the hardwood past the blade. When the hardwood is 6 inches past the end of the blade stop pushing. Turn off the saw.

Tap the fence 1/4 inch to the left for 1/4-inch tile. Tap the fence 1/2-inch to the left for 1/2-inch tile. Tap the fence 3/4-inch to the left for 3/4-inch tile. Repeat Steps 3 and 4 until the hardwood is cut into strips.

Sand one face of the strip to remove the saw cuts using an orbital sander with 100-grit sandpaper. Apply your choice of stain and lacquer. Allow the lacquer to dry for at least one hour.

Measure the configuration of the tile and cut 45-degree miters on the ends using a miter saw for border corners. Attach the trim pieces using construction adhesive. Finish the job with a silicone bead between the tile and the hardwood trim.

Items you will need

  • Table saw
  • Orbital sander
  • 100-grit sandpaper
  • Hardwood, 1 1/4-by-3-by-96-inches
  • Stain
  • Lacquer
  • Miter saw
  • Construction adhesive
  • Silicone


  • It's OK if your trim thickness is not perfect. Sometimes a slightly thicker piece of trim adds depth or relief to the tile.
  • When securing the wood border above a tile floor against a wall as a baseboard, counter-sink nails to keep the border in place. Cover nails with wood putty. Sand with 100-grit sandpaper before applying stain and final finish.


  • Wear eye protection. Get help from assistant whenever possible to cut the trim. Have them pull and brace the hardwood as it's exiting the saw blade to prevent chipping or splintering.

About the Author

Specializing in hardwood furniture, trim carpentry, cabinets, home improvement and architectural millwork, Wade Shaddy has worked in homebuilding since 1972. Shaddy has also worked as a newspaper reporter and writer, and as a contributing writer for Bicycling Magazine. Shaddy began publishing in various magazines in 1992, and published a novel, “Dark Canyon,” in 2008.

Photo Credits

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