How Listellos Make Your Tile Work Shine

Shower stall with lime green walls and orange and white tiles; Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada
Jo-Ann Richards / Getty Images

There are few truly functional reasons for a tile listello. What does it do? It's just a band of tile; who needs it?

Listello, translated from Italian, means lath. In the building world, a lath is a thin strip of wood or metal running horizontally that helps hold up another building material, often plaster.

  • Visual Break: Most importantly, a listello provides a visual break in a large expanse of field tile. In fact, it is practically necessary when tiling an entire wall, floor to ceiling. Without that visual break, that large field of tile looks monotonous.
  • Simple Band of Tiles: Listellos can be as simple as a band of tiles of a different color, as shown here. 
  • Longer Strips: In other applications, they are decorative, textured, three-dimensional, and yes, expensive. But the expense should matter little, as you will be using limited quantities of listello tile. Listellos can be ceramic, porcelain, glass, metal, and even resin.
  • Floor Applications: While commonly associated with wall tiling, listellos can be integrated into floors, too.
  • 01 of 04

    White Decorative Relief Tile Listello

    White and Blue Listello Tile
    South Cypress

    From, this is called Universal White Fruit Listello.  It comes in 4" by 8" long strips.  This is a good example of listello that achieve its power not through color (the blue is not part of the listello) but through relief.  The listello tile are gently textured, an effect that really shines when raked by light at a low angle.

    Continue to 2 of 4 below.
  • 02 of 04

    Glass Listello With Reflective Properties

    listello glass
    © Dal-Tile

    Glass listello in easy-to-install 10" strips. Just imagine entering your dining room and having it glowing with this shimmering glass trim. This listello has vertical strips and shallow scallops that help reflect the light back to the room. This is a quite inexpensive listello and is easy to install.

    From Dal-Tile. this is called Illusion Taupe, in 2" x 10" Accent Strips (FA29).

    Continue to 3 of 4 below.
  • 03 of 04

    Decorative Red Wall Listello

    wall listello in red and yellow

    With its reds and yellows this listello is unique. It delivers maximum punch and provides a great contrast to dark field tile.

    It's perfect for a room that gets a lot of sunlight. Notice the matching accent tiles arrayed along the bottom half of the wall. It is recommended that you use this trim in limited quantities.

    This is Vitra Art series by Florida Tile, via South Cypress Flooring.

    Continue to 4 of 4 below.
  • 04 of 04

    Slate Listello

    slate listello

    Slate listello for a natural, organic feel.

    No, this is not real, natural slate. This is yet another very clever replication of slate and it is actually porcelain. This is a great way to bring the feeling of stone into your bathroom, all without going to the expense and effort of installing real, natural field slate.

    Remember, you don't need to install it all the way around the perimeter of the room. You might decide to put the listello on one wall: a perfect touch for a room that needs a warm touch.

    From Florida Tile/, this is Pietra Art Slate II 4" x 12" - Indian Autumn Listello IS611.