Installing a glass tile backsplash can add a beautiful, modern touch to any kitchen. Glass tiles come in a stunning array of colors, textures, and finishes – from shiny and reflective to matte and frosted. One important finishing step when installing glass tile is edging. Edging creates a clean finish along countertops, around outlets, and at inside corners. It also protects the edges of the glass from chipping. Edging options for glass tile include bullnose tiles, metal edging strips, and finishing profiles. This guide will walk you through the process of how to edge glass tile backsplash.
Selecting Edging Materials for Glass Tile
When selecting edging materials for a glass tile backsplash, consider the look you want to achieve along with functionality. Here are some of the most common edging options to consider:
Bullnose Glass Tile
Bullnose glass tile features one rounded finished edge. These can be used to create a smooth transition between the tile and countertops or cabinets. Bullnose tile comes in many matching colors, finishes, and textures to coordinate with your glass tile selection. The finished rounded edge has a clean, integrated look.
Metal Tile Edging Strips
Metal edging strips offer a more industrial, utilitarian look. These come in stainless steel, copper, brass, and other metals to match your kitchen décor and accessories. Metal strips protect tile edges while providing a finished edge. They often have a lip that fits over the edge of the tile. Metal edging is a good option for creating straight, clean edges and transitions.
Tile Finishing Profiles
Tile finishing profiles are trim pieces designed specifically for tile edges. These come in a variety of materials including natural stone, metals, and acrylics. Finishing profiles can match the tile thickness precisely while also coordinating with the color and style. From slim, discreet edging to dramatic decorative borders, finishing profiles offer lots of options for edging tile.
Consider the overall look and functionality you want from your glass tile edging when selecting materials. Matching bullnose glass tile creates an integrated appearance, metal strips offer an industrial vibe, and finishing profiles can provide decorative or matching trim options.
How to Cut Bullnose Glass Tile
Bullnose glass tile provides a smooth finish when edging a tile backsplash. While specialty bullnose trimming tools are available, you can often cut bullnose tile using the same techniques for cutting standard glass tile. Here are some tips on how to cut bullnose glass tile edges:
- Use a wet tile saw to make straight cuts. Lubricate the blade and tile surface with water to prevent overheating.
- For curved cuts, opt for a glass cutter scorer then “snap” the tile cleanly along the scored line. Wear gloves and eye protection when snapping tiles.
- A rod saw or rotary tool with a diamond blade can also be used make detailed cuts in bullnose tiles. Take care not to overheat the glass.
- Use a tile nipper only on areas that will be covered by edging. Nipping can cause chips in exposed tile edges.
- Smooth any rough edges with sandpaper or a silicone carbide stone. Be gentle to avoid further chipping.
- Make cuts gradually by scoring and snapping off smaller sections for intricate curved cuts.
- Practice first on tile scraps to get the feel for cutting bullnose glass tiles cleanly.
Taking the time to make clean, careful cuts in bullnose tiles will lead to a smooth finished edge on your backsplash installation.
How to Use Bullnose Tile to Edge Backsplash
Bullnose glass tile creates an integrated finish between a backsplash and surrounding countertops. Here are some tips for using bullnose tile to edge a glass tile backsplash:
- Plan the layout to use full bullnose tiles wherever possible along the edges. Measure and cut bullnose tiles to fit around outlets and other fixtures.
- Bullnose tiles should be set slightly lower than the field tile to create a small reveal along the rounded edge.
- Use spacers to ensure an even reveal between the bullnose and field tiles.
- Take care when spreading thinset to avoid getting it on the rounded polished bullnose edge.
- Allow thinset to fully cure before grouting if using a sanded grout. Unsanded grout is recommended for a smooth finish with minimal grout joints.
- Matches the grout color to the field tile. A contrasting grout color can accentuate any uneven grout lines along the bullnose.
- Avoid using sealer on the rounded bullnose edge to prevent a shiny, painted look. Use caution when applying sealer near bullnose tiles.
Bullnosing all outer edges of the backsplash installation will give a smooth finished look. Take precautions when handling and cutting the bullnose tiles to prevent chips or cracks in the polished rounded edges.
Cutting Metal Tile Edging Strips
Metal tile edging strips offer an attractive, durable option for finishing glass tile backsplash edges. Most metal edging strips can be cut to size using the same techniques as cutting metal flashing:
- Measure the needed length precisely and mark a cut line with a pencil. Use a square to ensure straight cuts across edging strips.
- Clamp edging in place securely on a stable, flat surface before cutting.
- Use a hacksaw with a metal cutting blade to cut through edging strips smoothly. Take long, even strokes for clean cuts.
- For skinny strips, steady the edging with pliers while cutting to prevent vibration.
- File any burrs or sharp edges smooth after cutting metal tile edging strips.
- Cut strips longer than needed, then trim to an exact fit on the installed tile for perfect mitered corners.
- Use a miter box guide when cutting edging strips to match angles at corners.
- Cut and test fit metal edging strips before installing tile to ensure proper fit.
With careful measurement and cutting, metal edging strips can be customized to fit any tile backsplash installation. Ensure edging is cut accurately for clean transitions between strips.
Installing Metal Tile Edging Strip
Metal tile edging strips give a finished look along any exposed edges of a glass tile backsplash. Here are some tips for installing metal edging:
- Cut metal edging strips to the measurements of the installed backsplash area before setting tile.
- Use tile spacers to leave a small gap between tile edges and metal edging.
- Field tile should be flush or just slightly below metal edging strips.
- Carefully press edging into thinset mortar along the edge of the tile installation.
- Use a tile level to ensure metal edging is even and horizontally straight.
- Allow thinset to fully cure before grouting. Clean any thinset off finished metal surfaces.
- Apply a matching sanded grout between tile and metal edging to help secure in place.
- Seal tile and grout according to manufacturer directions but avoid sealing metal edging strips.
- Use painter’s tape aligned to tile edges to prevent sealer or grout from contacting metal finish surfaces.
- Remove tape as soon as grouting completed before sealer or grout dries on edging.
With proper planning, cutting, and installation, metal edging strips offer an attractive accent that pairs beautifully with glass mosaic tile.
How to Use Finishing Profiles on Tile Edges
Tile finishing profiles create a clean, finishing look along glass tile edges. Available in various materials and styles, here are some tips for using finishing profiles:
- Choose a trim style and color that complements the glass tile such as a matching metal, stone, or coordinating colored acrylic.
- Measure and cut finishing profile to fit the exact length needed along the tile edge.
- Use a tile wet saw or hacksaw to cut most finishing profiles. Make straight, smooth cuts for tight seams where trim meets.
- Set tile first, leaving a small gap between the tile and planned finishing profile location.
- Apply thinset mortar along the edge and press trim piece firmly into place over tile edge.
- Use spacers between tile and finishing profile to maintain an even reveal.
- Allow thinset to fully cure before grouting. Use sanded grout to match tile for a cohesive look.
- Apply painter’s tape along tile if needed to protect polished or decorative trim surfaces from grout and sealer.
- Avoid getting thinset or grout on visible surfaces of finishing profiles that will be exposed.
- Seal and finish trim piece same as glass tile according to manufacturer directions.
With the right planning and precision cutting, trim pieces create a beautifully framed custom look for tiled backsplashes and walls.
Cutting Curves in Finishing Profiles
Some backsplash designs may incorporate curved edges and custom shapes. Cutting curves in acrylic, wood, or flexible finishing profiles can add a dramatic accent. Here are some options for cutting curves:
- Use a tile scribe or compass to mark the exact profile of the curved edge on the trim piece.
- Clamp trim piece securely to a work surface before attempting specialty curved cuts.
- For shallow curves, use a rod saw inserted into a drill to slowly cut along scribed curved lines.
- Make gradual cuts in passes to prevent cracking, chipping, or over-bending trim.
- For tighter radii, use a rotary tool or oscillating multi-tool with fine blade to cut detailed curves. Go slowly and steady.
- Sand curved cuts smooth, being careful not to damage any decorative finish on trim profiles.
- Test fit and iteratively adjust curved trim pieces until an exact tight fit along curved edges.
- Allow space for thinset and grout when fitting curved finishing profiles along tile edges.
With careful planning and the right tools, custom curved finishing trim can provide showstopping results on accent walls or geometric installations.
Grout Considerations for Glass Tile Edging
Grout fills the joints between glass mosaic tiles, providing an attractive, finished appearance. Grout along edges and borders also helps secure trim and edging pieces in place. Here are some tips for grouting near glass tile edges:
- Use sanded grout for wider joints near edging where mortar will be exposed between tile and trim.
- Avoid scratching or getting grout on exposed polished surfaces of bullnose tiles or metal strips.
- Tape off finishes when needed to protect visible surfaces from grout and sealer.
- Match edge/border grout color to the grout used between field tiles for a cohesive appearance.
- Use an unsanded grout for very narrow joints under 1/8” such as with stacked glass subway tiles.
- Apply grout with a rubber grout float and work it into joints at edges and mortar gaps to ensure adhesion.
- Buff off any grout that gets on tile or trim surfaces before it dries using a damp sponge.
- Avoid sealing trim or edging pieces to prevent a buildup of sealant and allow natural patina over time.
Take precautions when grouting near edges and borders to achieve clean finished results suitable for a glass tile backsplash installation.
Common Issues When Edging Glass Tile
Edging glass tile finishes the installation for a professional built-in look. However, some common issues can occur with metal strips, bullnose tiles, and trim pieces:
Check that edging and trim pieces are level and align perfectly straight along the tile edges. Use spacers to maintain an equal reveal.
Visible Thinset/Grout Lines
Carefully wipe any thinset or grout off decorative surfaces of edging and bullnose tiles before drying.
Chipped Bullnose Tiles
Take care when handling, cutting, and installing bullnose tiles to avoid chips and cracks along the finished rounded edge.
Grout Smears on Finishes
Immediately clean any grout that contacts metal or bullnose finishes before drying using a damp sponge.
Discoloration of Grout Over Time
Use a matching sanded grout and seal grout lines to prevent staining and discoloration, especially with white grout.
Loose Trim Pieces
Allow thinset mortar to fully cure and use sanded grout fill gaps to keep edging strips, corner pieces, and molding securely adhered.
Cracking Around Screws
Pre-drill holes for screw placements in wood trim pieces and do not overtighten screws to prevent cracking near holes.
With careful installation and finishing, glass tile edging can look fantastic and stand the test of time. Address any minor issues promptly to maintain a beautiful backsplash.
Glass Tile Backsplash Edging Ideas
Edging and trim finishes allow for lots of design options when installing a glass tile backsplash. Here are some edging ideas to consider:
- Match bullnose glass tile edges to cabinetry trim or built-in details for an integrated look.
- Use polished metal strips that coordinate with kitchen faucets and handles for a cohesive style.
- Carry vertical glass subway tiles up to the ceiling and finish top edges with discreet metal capping.
- Frame out a geometric or artistic glass mosaic focal point with decorative stone and metal molding.
- Turn inside corners into a feature with brilliant white or naturally finished wood trim.
- Combine materials such as natural stone sills under glass tile risers edged in metal for contrast.
- Use metal trim to create borders along the edges of a colorful glass tile installation.
- Finish the transition from glass tile to drywall with corner beads for a clean look.
- Cover exposed or uneven wall edges with wide wood trim behind glass tile installations.
The options are unlimited for finishing glass tile backsplashes with bullnose tiles, metal edging, and trim profiles. Get creative with combinations of materials and colors that complement the tile design. Properly edged and trimmed backsplashes look professionally installed and help highlight beautiful glass tile.
FAQ About Edging Glass Tile Backsplash
Many questions come up when planning how to edge a glass tile backsplash installation. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:
Should bullnose glass tile edging match the field tiles?
Yes, bullnose tile should match the field tile as closely as possible in color, finish, and texture for the most cohesive look. Some mosaic sheets may come with coordinating bullnose tiles.
What thinset is best for installing metal edging strips?
White unmodified thinset works well for edging strips. Take care not to get thinset on finished metal surfaces that will be exposed when installed.
Can metal strips be used on outside corners?
Yes, metal strips can be mitered to wrap evenly around outside corners. Overlap strips and use silicone caulk behind the seam for corners.
Should grout on edging pieces match the field tile grout?
Yes, using matching grout helps edging appear integrated. Avoid staining polished bullnose or metal surfaces when grouting.
How much of an overhang should bullnose tiles have?
Bullnose tile edges should overhang the field tile by 1/16 to 1/8 inches for proper fitting under cabinets and a subtle finished edge.
Can glass tile edging be used on floating shelves?
Yes, bullnose glass tile or metal strips create a great finished edge along the front of glass mosaic shelving.
How do you finish unfinished drywall edges near tile?
Use finishing trim, corner beads, or acrylic edging designed for tile to cover rough drywall edges and create a straight border.
Properly edged backsplashes not only look more polished but help protect the tile edges from damage. Match edging styles and colors to the field tiles for the most integrated appearance.
Creating finished edges is an important last step when installing glass mosaic tile backsplashes. Options like bullnose glass tiles, metal edging strips, and trim profiles allow for endless design possibilities, from sleek minimalism to ornate decoration. Carefully plan edging materials and cuts to fit your space perfectly. Take precautions when cutting, setting, and grouting edges to avoid damaging bullnose tiles or marring visible metal and trim surfaces. Properly edged backsplashes help pull together the look of a kitchen or accent wall for a custom built-in appearance that will last for years to come. With some creativity and the right finishing touches, edges can take glass tile designs to the next level.