Do You Put Trim Around Backsplash?

Backsplashes are an important design element in any kitchen. Not only do they protect your walls from water damage and stains, but they also add visual interest and tie the whole kitchen together. When installing a backsplash, one decision you’ll need to make is whether or not to add trim. Here’s what you need to know about putting trim around a backsplash.

What is Backsplash Trim?

Backsplash trim refers to molding that is installed around the edges of a backsplash. It serves both decorative and functional purposes:

  • Decorative – Trim can enhance the look of the backsplash and add extra visual interest. There are many trim styles to choose from, allowing you to match or contrast with your backsplash materials and cabinetry.
  • Functional – Trim creates a finished edge and helps protect the transition between the backsplash and the wall or countertops. This prevents water from getting behind the backsplash and causing damage.

Backsplash trim is typically made from wood, metal, or plastic. Common options include:

  • Wood trim – Versatile option that comes in different stain colors and profiles like square, rounded, or decorative carved. Can coordinate with cabinetry.
  • PVC/plastic trim – Inexpensive choice that is water-resistant and easy to install. Comes in white, off-white, and faux wood grain patterns.
  • Aluminum trim – Modern metal look available in silver, black, bronze, and other colors. Stainless steel is also popular for a commercial style.
  • Tile trim – Matching ceramic, metal, or glass trim that provides a seamless transition from tile backsplash to countertops.

Should You Add Trim to a Backsplash?

Whether to add trim to a backsplash is an aesthetic choice, but there are a few factors to consider:

Finish the Edges

Backsplash trim provides a clean finish to the raw tile edges. This gives the installation a polished, built-in look. The trim neatly conceals any unevenness between the backsplash and wall.

Coordinate with Cabinets

Matching the trim color and style to your cabinetry is an easy way to pull the whole kitchen together. For example, white plastic trim pairs well with white cabinets while stained wood trim can complement cherry or maple cabinetry.

Enhance the Backsplash Design

Trim creates additional lines and visual breaks around the backsplash. This can make the backsplash tile pattern pop. For subway tile, trim adds a framing effect.

Protect Transitions

Trim transition strips between the backsplash and countertops or walls help protect these joints from water damage. The trim seals any gaps where water could seep behind the backsplash.

Drawbacks of Trim

  • Can collect grime if not cleaned properly
  • Extra cost for trim materials and labor
  • Thicker appearance where backsplash meets wall

What Type of Trim is Best for Backsplashes?

The best type of backsplash trim depends on your kitchen’s decor and needs:

Wood Trim

  • Warm, classic look
  • Variety of profiles – square, bullnose, cove
  • Can stain or paint to match cabinetry
  • Not water resistant

Best for: Farmhouse, traditional, rustic, or cottage style kitchens

PVC/Plastic Trim

  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to install (often adhesive-backed)
  • Resists moisture and warping
  • More limited profiles

Best for: Budget-friendly and simple backsplash installations

Metal Trim

  • Sleek, modern look
  • Many color and finish options
  • Very water resistant
  • Can be costly
  • Sensitive to scratches

Best for: Contemporary, industrial kitchens

Tile Trim

  • Color and pattern matches backsplash tile
  • Provides perfectly flush transition
  • Can be tricky to install properly
  • Limited options from tile supplier

Best for: Tile backsplashes, especially natural stone and glass

Where Should You Install Backsplash Trim?

Trim can be installed along the top, bottom, and side edges of a backsplash. Common placements include:

Top Edge Against Wall

Trim along the top defines where the backsplash meets the wall. This looks best with full-height backsplashes. For partial backsplashes, trim may compete with upper cabinets.

Bottom Edge Against Countertops

Lower trim creates a seamless transition from backsplash tile to countertops. This prevents water and debris from getting trapped behind the backsplash.

Side Edges Against Walls

Vertical trim strips give a finished look to the sides of a backsplash span. This is ideal for backsplashes installed between two walls or window frames.

Interior Accent Lines

Creative arrangements using trim to make geometric shapes or divides within the backsplash tile design.

How to Install Backsplash Trim

Installing backsplash trim takes careful planning and precision for professional results:

Select the Trim

Choose material and style that suits your kitchen decor. Take exact measurements of backsplash dimensions. Calculate linear feet needed based on perimeter.

Prepare the Surface

Edges must be clean, dry and smooth. Remove old caulk or debris where the trim will be installed.

Cut the Trim

Measure and cut trim pieces to size with a miter saw. Cut ends at 45 degree angles for seamless corners.

Adhere the Trim

Apply adhesive or silicone caulk to the back of trim. Press trim firmly in place aligned with top and bottom of backsplash. Use finishing nails for extra support.

Seal the Trim

Caulk along edges and seams for a watertight seal. Smooth with a moist fingertip. Allow caulk to fully cure.

Finish the Trim

For wood trim, apply primer and paint. For plastic or metal, use trim designed for backsplashes. Wipe away excess caulk or adhesive.

Backsplash Trim Ideas and Designs

Here are some unique ways to incorporate trim in a backsplash design:

  • Match wood hood trim or shelves with stained wood lower trim under subway tile.
  • Frame a bold patterned tile backsplash with mitered wood strips.
  • Install black metal trim between glass mosaic and marble countertops for contrast.
  • Use beadboard trim above a shiplap backsplash for a cottage look.
  • Arrange step trim in geometric shapes like diamonds or circles within the backsplash.
  • Choose alternating colored metal strips like brass and chrome for an eclectic accent.
  • Pair vinyl fish scale trim under a statement sea glass tile installation.
  • Add rustic wood trim between rows of white hexagon penny tile.
  • Use silver trim to create horizontal lines across bold graphic ceramic tile.
  • Incorporate metal trim with cutouts or perforated patterns for an industrial vibe.

Frequently Asked Questions About Backsplash Trim

Should backsplash trim match the cabinets or countertops?

Either option works well. It’s most important that the trim coordinates with the overall kitchen design rather than perfectly matching one element. Contrasting trim can also make an interesting accent.

Does backsplash trim get caulked or grouted?

Caulking is recommended to seal trim edges against the wall and countertops. Clear silicone caulk allows adjustments and prevents cracks from expansion and contraction. Grout is not flexible enough for changes in joint size.

Can you install backsplash trim on existing tile?

Yes, trim can be added after a backsplash is installed. The tile edges need to be smooth and cleaned before adhering trim. Some adjustments in trim length or extra caulking may be needed for a tight fit.

Should upper cabinets be installed before backsplash trim?

It’s best to install upper cabinets first if trim will be used along the top backsplash edge. This allows the trim to be precisely cut to fit the cabinetry before being adhered to the wall.

Can you use wood trim in kitchens and bathrooms?

Wood trim adds warmth, but it must be properly sealed and maintained. Using a water-resistant wood species like poplar is best. Apply a waterproof finish and recoat every 1-2 years. Avoid unfinished, raw wood that can warp.


Adding trim to your backsplash provides a finished look while also protecting vulnerable edges between tile and countertops or walls. Trim style options like wood, plastic, metal, and matching tile let you find the perfect complement to your kitchen’s style. Carefully measuring and cutting trim pieces ensures a polished result. With the right installation approach, trim can take your backsplash from basic to beautiful.

So whether you prefer a utilitarian vinyl strip or an ornate hand-carved wood frame, trim is an easy way to give your backsplash the wow-factor. The next time you’re designing a kitchen backsplash, don’t forget this important finishing touch!