Installing a herringbone backsplash can add interest and visual appeal to your kitchen. However, deciding how to end the pattern can be tricky. A proper finish completes the look and pulls the whole design together. There are a few techniques for ending a herringbone backsplash pattern, depending on your style and preferences.
Choosing Where to End the Pattern
When planning your herringbone backsplash, first decide where you want the pattern to end. Common options include:
Ending at Wall Corners
This is the simplest option. The herringbone pattern ends neatly at the corner where two countertops meet. This gives the backsplash a clean, finished look.
Ending at Edges of Cabinets or Appliances
You can end the herringbone pattern along the sides of kitchen cabinets, islands, or appliances like the stove or refrigerator. This integrates the backsplash with the rest of the kitchen design.
Ending at a Decorative Border
Adding a tile border is a pretty way to finish the herringbone pattern. Borders can match or contrast the backsplash tiles.
Extending to Ceiling
Take the herringbone pattern all the way up to the ceiling for a bold, dramatic statement. This works best for very high ceilings.
Once you’ve decided where to end the backsplash, you can plan the best technique for finishing the pattern.
Cutting Border Tiles to Size
Borders are a popular way to finish a herringbone backsplash. Adding a decorative trim tile completes the design and gives it polish.
When working with border tiles:
- Measure carefully to determine border tile size
- Use a wet saw to cut tiles to the proper width
- Cut slowly and evenly for clean edges
- Test fit border tiles and make any adjustments
Measure twice and cut once for the most seamless look. Take the time to cut border tiles properly, even if it takes a few tries. Rushed cuts will be obvious.
Using Whole Tiles
For a clean finish with minimal cutting, choose border tiles that are the same size as your herringbone tile. This allows you to end the pattern with a full border tile along the edges.
- Select herringbone and border tiles of equal dimensions
- Use same size tiles for easier full-tile borders
- No need to cut tiles; simply butt full tiles against the herringbone pattern
- Creates a seamless transition between herringbone and border
Matching the tile sizes results in a smooth finish. Just be sure to calculate how many full border tiles you’ll need to complete the edges.
Adding an Accent Strip
Another technique is ending the herringbone pattern with an accent strip made from wood, metal, or a contrasting tile.
- Choose an accent material that coordinates with the backsplash
- Cut strips to the correct length to border the herringbone pattern
- Use mastic adhesive to install strips edge-to-edge around the herringbone design
- Creates a framing effect and defined ending point
This is a great way to add interest and pull in other materials beyond just tile. Measure carefully and cut accent strips with precision for the best outcome.
Splitting Border Tiles
For a tighter fit, consider splitting border tiles lengthwise to fill gaps along edges.
- Use a wet saw to cut border tiles into narrower pieces
- Allows you to end herringbone pattern with a half-tile or smaller
- Fills in odd spaces between herringbone and walls/cabinets
- Cuts should be made evenly to create clean grout lines
This takes some extra measuring and careful tile cutting, but the results are worth it. Just be sure to make precise cuts so the slivers of border tile fit snugly.
Alternating Tile Orientation
If you want a smoother transition between the herringbone pattern and borders, try alternating the direction of the tile cuts.
- When tiles are laid out, position the last row perpendicular to the rest of the herringbone design
- This shifts the orientation by 90 degrees at the edges
- Cut border or trim tiles to match the new direction of the end row
- Creates illusion of continuous pattern and straight grout lines
The change in tile alignment can help the herringbone pattern blend into the borders. You’ll need to plan the tile layout carefully to get the alternating orientations right.
Including Partial Tiles
Don’t be afraid to incorporate partial tiles when finishing the edges. This introduces randomness into the pattern.
- Carefully measure and mark tiles where cuts are needed
- Use a wet saw to slice tiles to size
- Irregular shapes and sizes of end tiles add interest
- Fill in gaps with tile pieces, spacers, or grout
With meticulous measuring and cutting, partial tiles can give your herringbone backsplash a unique handmade look. Just take your time with the tile cutting to get a precise fit.
Adjusting Grout Lines
The grout lines offer another opportunity to seamlessly integrate the herringbone pattern and borders.
- Select grout that matches or complements the tile colors
- Use wider grout lines in the herringbone area if needed
- Transition to thinner grout lines around borders and edges
- Consistent grout size unifies the whole design
Varying the grout line thickness slightly can help the herringbone blend into the surrounding tiles.
Using Grout Color Transition
In addition to grout size, a gradual color transition in the grout creates a cohesive finish.
- Choose two grout colors that work with the herringbone tiles
- Use the darkest color in the main herringbone pattern
- Transition to the lighter color as you get close to borders
- Gently blending the grout shades finishes the design
This adds subtle interest and helps the eye move smoothly across the whole backsplash.
Building Out Walls to Extend Pattern
If you want the herringbone pattern to completely fill a wall space, consider building out framing to allow this.
- Determine desired end point and required framing depth
- Construct 2×4 stud wall frame extensions where needed
- Finish framing with water-resistant drywall
- Tile over extensions to continue herringbone pattern fully
Though more complex, this option lets you take the herringbone design to the exact edges of a wall or window.
Adding Decorative End Caps
For a cleaner look, finish the open ends of the herringbone rows with decorative end caps.
- Purchase end caps in shapes that match your tile
- Apply caps to exposed ends with tile adhesive
- Creates the illusion of full tiles rather than sliced edges
- Finishes raw tile edges for a tidier appearance
The caps dress up the open ends of the herringbone pattern for a complete built-in look.
Using Contrasting Colors
Adding tiles in a contrasting color at the end can create a framing effect.
- Choose a complementary tile hue that works with the herringbone
- Cut contrast tiles to fit along edges of the herringbone pattern
- Allows the darker herringbone design to “pop” against the lighter border
- Adds visual interest and makes the pattern stand out
This eye-catching look works best with a color scheme involving strong contrast.
Incorporating Decorative Tiles
For added flair, finish the herringbone pattern with decorative tiles featuring textures, patterns, or designs.
- Select decorative tiles that tie into the overall kitchen motif
- Cut tiles as needed to fit along edges of the herringbone rows
- Creates visual appeal and elevates the whole backsplash
- Draws attention to the herringbone design area
Beautiful accent tiles lend an artistic feel and bring a unique touch. They add character while finishing the herringbone pattern.
Staggering Herringbone and Border Tiles
You can integrate the herringbone tiles and borders using a staggered layout.
- Lay out herringbone and border tiles in an overlapping brickwork pattern
- Herringbone tiles should overhang borders slightly
- No distinct transition point between design elements
- Provides a unified design with good continuity
The staggered tile layout creates excellent flow between the herringbone pattern and borders.
Using Trim Molding
For a three-dimensional finishing touch, terminate the herringbone pattern with decorative trim molding.
- Measure and cut trim pieces to border edges
- Use construction adhesive to install trim snugly
- Choose intricate or minimalist molding profiles to match décor
- Provides shadow lines that define the herringbone area
Trim molding frames in the herringbone backsplash for added depth and visual delineation.
Answering Common Questions
What are the best tiles for a herringbone backsplash?
Subway tiles, stone, and marble work beautifully for herringbone designs. Pick a classic color like white or opt for something bold. Natural stone or marble tiles create an elegant, upscale look.
How do I cut the edge tiles for herringbone patterns?
Use a wet saw fitted with a diamond blade to cut edge tiles for herringbone installations. Take measurements carefully and cut slowly for clean edges. Try test cuts on spare tiles first.
How big should tiles be for herringbone?
Tiles between 2-4 inches wide work well for herringbone layouts. This size range makes the pattern easy to install. Go larger for dramatic impact or smaller for intricate designs.
What thinset do I use for herringbone backsplash?
Use a quality white polymer modified thinset mortar suitable for walls and floor installations. This provides a strong bond and prevents moisture issues. Check manufacturer guidelines.
Can I do herringbone with 12×24 tile?
Yes, 12×24 inch tiles can work for herringbone, but the pattern will be quite large in scale. Smaller tiles are easier to install. Be sure to use a staggered layout.
How do I choose grout color for herringbone tile?
Select a grout close to the tile color for minimal contrast or go bold with a darker shade. Gray, white, or black grout pairs well with most colors. Sample grout colors on a tile to test.
Tips for Installing Herringbone Backsplash
- Draw the pattern layout on the wall with a level before installing any tiles
- Use tile spacers between each tile for consistent grout line spacing
- Work in small sections, completing each row before moving down
- Apply even pressure when setting tiles to keep them flush
- Clean up excess thinset/mastic as you go to keep the work area tidy
- Allow 24-48 hours for thinset to cure before grouting
- Be patient and triple check your work—precision is key!
Finishing a herringbone backsplash installation requires thoughtful planning and careful technique. With patience and the right approach, you can achieve a polished look that pulls the whole design together. A well-executed ending point completes your kitchen backsplash and gives it that professional built-in appearance. Using borders, trims, or decorative tiles allows you to match your décor. Take time to decide how you want to finish the herringbone pattern before constructing those final rows. With creativity and care, you’ll have a stunning showpiece backsplash.