How to Finish a Tile Backsplash Edge

Installing a beautiful tile backsplash can greatly enhance the look of your kitchen or bathroom. However, finishing the edges of the backsplash properly is key to achieving a truly professional result. Here are some tips on how to finish a tile backsplash edge.

Select an Edge Profile

Most tile edging comes in metal or plastic profiles designed to cap off the rough edges of the tile. Common options include:


The bullnose profile has a rounded, finished lip that covers the edge of the tile. This creates a nice smooth finish. Bullnose edges come in metal and plastic in various widths to match different tile thicknesses.

Pencil Liner

Pencil liner trim has a narrow, straight lip that covers just the very edge of the tile. The look is a bit more understated than the bullnose.

Quarter Round

As the name implies, this rounded trim piece has the profile of a quarter circle. It provides a smooth curved transition between the tile and the wall.

Prepare the Surface

Before installing the edge trim, take time to make sure the surface is prepared properly:

  • The edges of the tile should be smooth and even. Use a tile wet saw to cut any jagged edges.
  • Joints between tiles should be straight and uniformly spaced. Fill any haphazard joints with extra grout.
  • Any gaps between the tiles and the wall should be filled with caulk for a seamless look.
  • Remove any grout haze or thinset from the surface of the tiles.

Measure and Cut Edge Trim

Take careful measurements to cut the edge trim to the proper length for each side:

  • For straight runs, measure the length and mark cuts with a pencil. Use a hacksaw or metal snips to cut metal trim. Plastic can be scored with a utility knife and snapped.
  • For inside corners, miter cuts at 45 degrees to create a clean finish. Some plastic profiles can be bent to go around corners without cutting.
  • For outside corners, use an edge trim piece that covers the corner. Some come with corners pre-mitered.

Attach Trim with Adhesive

Most edge trim attaches with thinset mortar, silicone adhesive or double-sided tape:

  • Apply a thin layer of thinset to the back lip of the trim profile. Press into place and wipe away excess.
  • Run a bead of silicone adhesive along the back of the trim and press down firmly for a few seconds.
  • Peel the backing from the double-sided trim tape. Carefully align the trim and press down.

Seal with Caulk

Once the edge trim is securely attached, finish the job with caulk:

  • Run a smooth, consistent bead of caulk along the joint between the trim profile and the tile.
  • Also caulk the seam where the trim meets the wall and any miter joints.
  • Use a damp fingertip to smooth the caulk for a clean finished look.
  • Wipe away any excess caulk with a damp cloth. Let dry completely.

Finishing Touches

To complete the backsplash, inspect for any imperfections and make them right:

  • Re-cut any trim pieces with gaps, raised edges or corners not lying flat.
  • Re-caulk any areas the caulk didn’t fully fill or seal.
  • Polish metal trim with a stainless steel cleaner and soft cloth.

With attention to detail on the edges, your finished tile backsplash will look professionally installed. The beautiful edge trim you select will nicely frame your gorgeous new backsplash.

Frequently Asked Questions About Finishing Tile Backsplash Edges

How do you finish the edge of a tile backsplash?

The most common way to finish a tile backsplash edge is to install metal or plastic edge trim, such as bullnose, quarter round, or pencil liner. Attach with adhesive, seal with caulk, and polish for a seamless finished look.

Should you use bullnose tile on backsplash?

Bullnose tile trim is a great choice for finishing a backsplash edge. The rounded profile hides any rough edges and creates a nice smooth transition from the tile to the wall. Bullnose comes in various widths to match different tile thicknesses.

What is the best edging for kitchen backsplash?

It’s hard to beat a metal bullnose edge for kitchen backsplashes. The curved lip has a polished finished look. Stainless steel bullnose matches well with metal appliances. For a less noticeable transition, narrow pencil liner trim also works well.

Should you seal cut tile edges?

It’s a good idea to seal exposed cut edges of ceramic, porcelain or natural stone tile around the perimeter of a backsplash. Brush on a penetrating sealer to prevent moisture from infiltrating the porous unfinished edges of the tile.

How do you finish an outside corner on a backsplash?

You have a couple options for finishing an outside corner on a backsplash: use a metal corner trim piece to cover the corner, bend flexible plastic bullnose to wrap the corner, or miter cut the bullnose trim at a 45 degree angle for a perfect fit.

What is the most luxurious backsplash edge?

For a truly high-end luxury backsplash, a polished marble pencil liner or coordinating marble mosaic tile used as an accent border can really take the edge to the next level of elegance.

Should you caulk where backsplash meets countertop?

Caulking the joint between the backsplash and the countertop helps seal gaps and create a watertight finish. Apply a smooth bead that spans the top edge of the backsplash tile and down where it meets the countertop.


Installing complementary edge trim is the key finishing touch that can take your tile backsplash from DIY to designer-quality. Pay close attention to detail when measuring, cutting and attaching the trim. Take time with the caulking and polish to ensure the trim blends seamlessly for a clean, cohesive finished look. Your trim choice can enhance or subtly blend with your tile to beautifully frame your stunning new backsplash.