Pencil Tile VS. Schluter: A Comprehensive Guide

When it comes to the world of tile installation and design, the choices are endless. And one of the most critical decisions is choosing the right trim for your tiles. 

In this article, we will be comparing two popular options – Pencil Tile and Schluter – and exploring their pros and cons to help you make the right choice for your project.

A Brief Comparison Table

Comparison AspectPencil TileSchluter
MaterialsCeramic, porcelain, natural stoneMetal, PVC
Aesthetic AppealElegant, sophisticatedClean, professional
Edge ProtectionLimitedExcellent
VarietyWide range of materials, colors, and finishesWide range of styles and finishes
InstallationEasyMore complex, may require expertise
MaintenanceVaries by material, can be higherLow maintenance
DurabilityVaries by materialLong-lasting performance
CostTypically more affordableCan be more expensive, especially for metal

The Tale of Two Trims: What Are Pencil Tile and Schluter?

Before diving into the advantages and disadvantages of each option, let’s first get a clear understanding of what Pencil Tile and Schluter are.

Pencil Tile

Pencil tile vs Schluter

Pencil Tile, as the name suggests, is a slim and elongated tile that is typically used as a decorative edge or border for various tile installations. Made from materials like ceramic, porcelain, or natural stone, pencil tile adds a touch of elegance and refinement to the edges of your tile work, providing a seamless transition between different surfaces.


Schluter, on the other hand, is a brand name that has become synonymous with its signature product – the Schluter tile edge trim. Made from metal or PVC, Schluter trim profiles are designed to protect and finish the edges of tiled surfaces, preventing damage and providing a clean, professional appearance. 

They come in various styles and finishes, making them a versatile option for all kinds of tile installations.

Pros and Cons: Pencil Tile and Schluter Head-to-Head

Now that we know what Pencil Tile and Schluter are, let’s take a closer look at their pros and cons to help you make an informed decision for your project.

Pencil Tile: Pros and Cons


  1. Aesthetic Appeal

Pencil Tile adds a touch of elegance and sophistication to your tile installation, enhancing the overall design and visual appeal.

  1. Variety

Pencil Tile is available in various materials, colors, and finishes, giving you more design options and allowing you to match it perfectly with your existing tilework.

  1. Easy Installation

Pencil Tile is relatively easy to install, making it an accessible choice even for DIY enthusiasts.


  1. Limited Edge Protection

Pencil Tile provides a decorative border but offers limited protection to the edges of your tiles, making them more susceptible to damage.

  1. Higher Maintenance

Some materials used for Pencil Tile, like natural stone, may require more maintenance and care compared to other options.

Schluter: Pros and Cons



  1. Edge Protection

Schluter trim profiles offer excellent edge protection, safeguarding your tiles from chipping and damage.

  1. Clean, Professional Appearance

Schluter provides a clean, professional finish to your tile installation, ensuring a polished and seamless look.

  1. Wide Range of Styles and Finishes

Schluter is available in various styles and finishes, making it easy to find the perfect match for your tilework.

  1. Durable

Schluter trim profiles are made from durable materials like metal or PVC, ensuring long-lasting performance and minimal maintenance.


  1. Cost

Schluter can be more expensive than other trim options, especially when considering the high-quality metal profiles.

  1. Installation Complexity

Schluter may require more expertise and skill to install compared to simpler options like Pencil Tile.

FAQ: Answering Your Most Pressing Questions

What can I use instead of Schluter?

If you’re looking for alternatives to Schluter, you can consider options like Pencil Tile, bullnose tile, or other decorative trims made from materials like ceramic, porcelain, or natural stone. These options may offer varying levels of edge protection and design versatility, so choose based on your specific needs and preferences.

What is the purpose of pencil tile?

Pencil tile serves as a decorative border or edge for various tile installations, enhancing the overall aesthetic appeal of your project. It helps create a seamless transition between different surfaces and adds a touch of elegance and sophistication to the design.

Is it better to use Schluter or bullnose?

The choice between Schluter and bullnose tile depends on your specific requirements and preferences. Schluter offers excellent edge protection and a clean, professional finish, while bullnose tile provides a rounded, continuous edge that can complement your tilework. Consider factors like design, durability, and installation complexity when making your decision.

Where do you use pencil tile trim?

Pencil tile trim can be used in various applications, including:

As a decorative border or edge for wall and floor tile installations, such as backsplashes, shower walls, and kitchen floors.

To create a transition between different surfaces or materials, like tiles and wallpaper or painted walls.

As an accent or design element in combination with other tile patterns and styles.

Is Schluter worth it?

Schluter can be a worthwhile investment for your tile installation, as it offers excellent edge protection, durability, and a clean, professional appearance. While it may be more expensive than some other trim options, the long-lasting performance and minimal maintenance make it a cost-effective choice in the long run.

How do you finish tile edge without Schluter?

If you prefer not to use Schluter, you can finish your tile edge using alternatives like:

Pencil Tile: A slim, decorative trim that adds elegance and refinement to your edges.

Bullnose Tile: A rounded, continuous edge that can complement your tilework.

Ceramic or Stone Trims: Decorative trims made from materials like ceramic, porcelain, or natural stone, which can offer varying levels of edge protection and design versatility.

Grout: In some cases, you can use grout to create a clean edge for your tiles, although this may not provide the same level of protection and durability as other options.

Final Thoughts: Making the Right Choice for Your Project

When it comes to choosing between Pencil Tile and Schluter for your tile installation, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Both options have their pros and cons, and the best choice will depend on your specific requirements, preferences, and budget.

If you prioritize design and aesthetic appeal, Pencil Tile may be the ideal option for you. However, if you value durability and edge protection, Schluter is worth considering. Ultimately, take the time to assess your needs and explore the available options, ensuring that you make the right decision for your project.

Clayton S. Johnson

Well, I am Clayton who writes, manages, and does overall stuff for this website. I live somewhere in Stone Mountain, Georgia, and used to have a full-time job. But the pandemic taught me to do more do with my life. So, I quit my job and travel a lot! Since I have tons of time now, I write about all the stuff I have done, used, and have first-hand experiences.

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