Installing a tile backsplash can add style and personality to your kitchen or bathroom. However, properly ending the tile where it meets the wall is an important finishing step. With some planning and the right materials, you can create a clean, finished look.
Preparing the Wall Surface
Before installing the end pieces, make sure the wall surface is properly prepared:
- Remove any old backsplash and thoroughly clean the wall surface. Fill any holes or imperfections with spackle and sand smooth.
- Prime and paint the walls with a high-quality primer and paint designed for kitchens and bathrooms. This helps protect the drywall and provides a sound surface for the tile.
- If ending the backsplash near cabinets or countertops, caulk the seams between the wall and cabinets/countertops with a flexible silicone caulk. This prevents moisture from getting behind the cabinets.
Proper prep work creates a smooth, clean surface for a seamless finish.
Choosing End Pieces
There are several options for ending the edge of a tile backsplash:
Bullnose tiles have one rounded finished edge. Use bullnose tiles cut to the same height as the field tiles. The rounded edge creates a nice clean finish.
Bullnose tiles come glazed or unglazed. Glazed bullnose tiles match the field tiles for a coordinated look.
Metal or Plastic Edge Trim
Metal or plastic edge trim pieces attach to the edge of the tile to create a straight finished edge. Choose trim in finishes like brass, chrome, or colored plastic to complement the backsplash.
Edge trim installs easily and works for both curved and straight edges. Use trim sized to match the tile thickness.
Mosaic Tile Sheets
Mosaic tile sheets contain small tiles perfect for ending a backsplash. The mesh backing makes mosaic sheets easy to install. Simply cut the sheet to fit the ending space.
Look for mosaic sheets designed to coordinate with the field tile. The small scale creates a detailed, upscale look.
Installing the End Pieces
Install any edge piece using the same methods, tools, and materials as the field tiles:
- Adhesive: Use the same thinset adhesive recommended for the field tiles. Apply a layer over the wall surface and tile backs.
- Grout: Match the grout color to the field tiles. A sanded grout works best for joints 1/8 inch and wider.
- Spacers: Use small spacers to create even joints and keep end pieces aligned. Remove spacers before grouting.
- Cutting: Measure carefully and use a wet saw or tile cutter to cut edge pieces to fit.
- Setting: Press pieces firmly into the thinset. Use a grout float or rubber grout tool to apply even pressure and fill joints.
Follow all manufacturer instructions for prep work, setting, and grout cure times.
Once grouted and cured, apply any finishing touches for a professional look:
- Apply a thin bead of silicone caulk where the tile meets the wall. Smooth with a moist finger for a clean seam.
- If needed, drill holes for wall mounts, towel bars, or other bathroom or kitchen accessories. Install mounts over the tile.
- Seal the grout and tile surface with a grout sealer. This prevents stains and makes the grout easier to clean.
With proper planning and installation, the finished edges can beautifully complement your new backsplash. Always refer to manufacturer instructions for the products you choose. And don’t be afraid to get creative with edge pieces like insets, mosaics, or metal trim. The finishing details make all the difference!
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the easiest edging option for a tile backsplash?
For most DIYers, metal or plastic edge trim offers the easiest installation. Trim pieces attach directly to the edge of the tile and require minimal cutting. Just size them to the tile thickness.
Should I use bullnose tile edging for an outside corner?
Yes, bullnose tiles work great for outside corners. You can use one rounded-edge bullnose tile or miter cut two square-edged bullnose tiles to create a clean finish on an outside corner.
How do I match up grout lines between field and edge tiles?
Careful layout and planning ensures the grout lines align. Measure and dry lay pieces first. Use tile spacers when setting edged pieces to match field tile spacing.
Should I seal the grout on my backsplash edges?
Definitely seal the grout, including grout on edge pieces. Sealing prevents stains and makes grout easier to clean. Use a penetrating grout sealer recommended for your type of grout. Reapply sealer periodically.
What kind of saw do I need to cut edge pieces?
You’ll need a wet saw with a diamond blade to accurately cut bullnose, mosaic sheets, or trim pieces. A wet saw ensures clean, precise cuts. Always wear safety goggles when cutting tile.
Adding pretty, polished edges puts the finishing touch on your fabulous new backsplash. With smart planning and the right materials like bullnose tile, metal trim, or mosaic sheets, you can cleanly finish off your tile project. Pay attention to prep, proper installation, and grout sealing for edges that beautifully complement your tile design. Your new backsplash edging will transition flawlessly from tile to wall and look amazing for years to come.