How to tile shower niche without bullnose: GREAT Alternatives

Shower niches are handy to place shampoo bottles or sponges. There are different ways to finish the edges and end the tile. If you are not a big fan of a bullnose (a rounded tile), it is possible to pick other options. Let’s go over these to see what works for you.

Bullnose alternatives for shower niche

Metal trim

This is a piece of metal (available in aluminum, stainless steel or bronze) that is used around the edges of the shower niche. You can adjust the color of your shower. You will see a piece of metal sticking out when you use this. Installing it is quite easy as you just place the tile in a piece of metal. This profile can give a cool look. A famous brand is Rondec.

Cleaning a metal trim can be quite a lot of work. It can become less shiny over time if you don’t use the proper cleaning products. This is something that you should take into account as showers can last more than 10 years. If the shower niche looks dull, it can make the rest of the shower look bad as well.

These trims also can be found in plastic. They are cheaper but might be less durable. Make sure that you get the correct width so that the tile fits inside it. 

Chair rail

A chair rail is a piece of tile that has several humps. You could see it as a combination of multiple bullnoses. These can be harder to maintain as you have to clean each of the edges. They can also break more easily if someone drops a heavy object on them.

These chair rails are not available for every type of tile.

Polished edge

You can also use a miter to create a get a polished edge. This is not easy to do as you shouldn’t break the tile when you do this. 

Installing your niche right on the grout lines can make it look a lot better. Not a lot of people pay attention to this but it can really make a difference. 

Pencil liner

These come in different materials, from ceramics to glass. They look like a long stick or pencil. You can place this in front of the edge so that it doesn’t stick out too much. They can be found in a lot of sizes and shapes. An adhesive is used to keep it in place.

This can add a nice design element to your shower.


It is also possible to combine some of the previously discussed options. For example, you can add a chair rail and a pencil liner together. When you do this, it is important that they fit well together. The color, type of material, and finish should match. This is generally not done by DIY’ers as it is quite difficult to do.


This is a piece of rounded tile. You have to make sure that the color is the exact same. Manufacturers might not offer the same color for a long time so it can be a good idea to get some spare units. The advantage of a bullnose is that it is quite easy to install and maintain. They might be more expensive than other options though.

 Sometimes there is no bullnose available for your tile and you have to pick other options. In the tile store, they can often help you out to find more options.

How to tile the wall with a metal trim or nookie

We will provide the metal trims as an example as the other options can be installed in a similar way.

We have to cover the walls. This is often done with cement board. Don’t forget to use a waterproof coating!

 Start by installing the tiles around the trim with mortar. There are kits that make it easier to create a trim. These are boxes that you can install in the wall. Now we can move forward and install the tile in the niche. 

We will have to cut a corner on the metal trims so that they can fit together. Using a chop saw is a great way of doing this. Make sure that you use the right blade for your trim. You can also use a straight finish but this doesn’t look that nice.

Once this has been prepared, we can start adding tiles inside the niche. This is done in a similar way as you would do no the wall. Don’t forget to add waterproofing! 

Start by adding the tiles to the wall. Once this is done, we can fill in the niche itself. Place the metal trim in place. Then we add the tiles on the bottom and side. These pieces of tile will keep the metal trims in place. 

Adding the top part of the trim is the most challenging part of the installation. You can add some temporary wooden shims to help with this.

You can add some tape over the metal trim while you are installing it. This makes sure that it doesn’t get dirty. Once you are done, you can use a sponge to clean everything up. The final step is to add grout to the tiles to make sure that dirt doesn’t get between them. You can add some silicone in hard-to-reach places as well. 

It can be a good idea to add a small slope on the bottom of the shower niche so that water flows out of it. Standing water can create dirty spots. This can make it harder to maintain your shower.

To conclude, we can state that a shower niche can look nice. There are several ways to finish it and make it look good. There are several materials and colors that can be used for this. Make sure that everything fits well together so that you don’t have water leaks behind the shower wall. This could lead to mold and other issues. In some colder climates, they don’t use shower niches as these can be harder to insulate.