Tiling Around a Window: A How-to DIY Guide to Get it Right

bathroom with tiled window cill
(Image credit: Getty Images)

When it's time to start tiling around a window you need to be prepared to make sure that you get the job done properly. It's not as straightforward as you might think. Get it wrong and your tiles can slip and leave you with wonky grout lines — and nobody wants to see that.

Follow our smart, but simple tips and you will get a finish that will impress. It’s not as easy as tiling a wall but many of the same principles apply. You just need to be a bit more patient and make sure that you get your tile and tile trim cuts right. Prep right and don’t rush the job and your tiled window will last for years.

Check out our step-by-step guide for everything you need to know to get a great finish.   

Tiling Around a Window: A Step-By-Step Guide

Before you get started make sure that you have the best tiling tools for the job and all the tiles you need, and of course adhesive to stick them to the wall. 

1. Tiling around the window
When tiling a wall with a window you need to get as close as possible with whole tiles. The first part of the window you will encounter will typically be the bottom. When the next layer of tiles will go over the edge of the bottom of the window you need to leave this layer and concentrate on the sides.

Following the pattern of the previously laid tiles, work up both sides of the windows laying tiles. Again, if a tile is going to go over the edge of the window, leave. Keep going until you are a whole tile width past the top of the window. You should now have tiles nearly up to the bottom edge and both sides.

2. Cut around the bottom of the window
Start at the bottom and measure up starting in the centre of the bottom of the window. Mark with a felt tip where you are going to cut tile. When cutting tiles you can use a manual cutter for straight edges. But when you get to the corner you will need a wet tile cutter or tile nippers to cut the tile. 

Hold your tile over the corner and mark the vertical and horizontal cuts with a felt tip. Get a ruler and draw two straight lines so they meet. This gives the area you need to cut. Now place on your wet tile cutter, cut along one of the lines and then do the other line.

Alternatively, use tile nippers to cut the corner area. If new to tile nippers do a few practice runs on a spare tile.

3. Tile up the sides
Now you need to tile up both sides of the window. Start on one wall and concentrate on that side. Starting at the bottom place a tile in position against the wall and mark with a felt tip where you need to cut. Cut the tile, add your adhesive and place it on the wall. Continue until you get to the top of the window where you need to make a corner cut. Repeat on the other side.

4. Add your tile trim
First measure up your trim on both sides and mark with pencil where you need to cut. You will need a hacksaw and a mitre block to get a neat 45 degree angle on the cut. If adding trim along the bottom measure up and cut as before and the same for the top. Check all fit as expected.

Now put on adhesive on all edges — bottom, top and sides and push the trim into place. Wipe off any excess and leave to dry.

5. Tile across the top
Now comes the more tricky part. As you did with the bottom corners mark up the two edges and cut. Check the cut against the window and make any fine adjustments if needed. Now measure the remaining tiles you need to finish the top layer of tiles.

Now put your adhesive on the wall and place the tiles – with spacers – into position. The trim will temporarily hold the tiles in position. But to stop them slipping or the trim sagging, get a piece of wood that fits across the width of the window and add two batons vertically – cut to fit – to hold the wood in place. 

You can now continue to add tile layers above the window. When dry you can look at tiling the insides of the window.

6. Tile the recess
In some cases you will tile the recess between the wall and the window, typically in bathrooms and kitchens. The tiles in the recess will need to match up with the wall tiles. This means that the grout lines effectively continue from the wall into the recess.

Start at the bottom, measure each tile individually and cut. Spread the adhesive and put the tiles into place with spacers. Now continue each side of the recess — again measure each tile individually and cut.

Now tile the top recess. To stop the tiles dropping use the wood and batons from before to hold in place. Leave for 24 hours or overnight. 

Finally, with your tiles neatly in place you just need to know how to grout tiles for the ultimate pro finish. 

Do You Put Trim On Before Tiling Around a Window? 

When tiling around a window to get a more accurate finish it is better to introduce the trim once you have established where the wall tiles have finished. This allows you to line up the edge of the trim so that it is perfectly flush with the wall tile edge.

Alternatively, you can measure up and work out where the trim needs to go. For example, add adhesive where you are going to place the trim, cut the trim to size and place on adhesive. Now get a wall tile, hold it in place and move the trim into position so it is level with the tile. Do this at the top, middle and bottom to get an accurate finish.   

What Size Tile Trim Do I Need? 

This will depend on what size tiles you are using. If you have a small space it will be worth looking at tile ideas for small bathrooms. This can help you determine what tiles you use, but typically wall tiles range from 6mm to 10mm. 

If you are using 6mm tiles then you need to be looking at 8mm tile trim. The trim will have a 2mm backing and a 6mm edge for a smooth flush finish. If you are using a thicker tile, for example a 10mm tile, you will need to be looking at using a 12mm or 12.5mm tile trim.  

Can You Tile a Wooden Window Sill? 

Yes you can and it can be a great window sill idea, but you will need to do some quick prep beforehand. A lot of wooden sills come with a rounded edge which are difficult to tile. It is a good idea to get a saw – a  jigsaw is a good choice – and trim down the sill so you have a flat edge to tile over.

If the wooden sill is painted first remove any loose paint with a paint scraper. Now get a rough sandpaper – 60-80 grit – and give the whole window sill a thorough rub down and clean up any dust. This will help ensure that you have a surface that will improve adhesion. 

Steve Jenkins

Steve is Homebuilding & Renovating's DIY content editor, and has been a writer and editor for two decades. He is an avid DIYer with over 20 years of experience in transforming and renovating homes. He specialises in painting and decorating, but has strong all-round building skills, having previously worked in the industry for 10 years.