How to Finish End of Tile Backsplash

Installing a beautiful tile backsplash can add style and personality to any kitchen. However, finishing the edges where the backsplash meets the countertop or walls can be tricky. With some planning and the right techniques, you can achieve a polished, professional look. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to finish end of tile backsplash.

Choose an Edge Profile

There are several options for finishing the edges of your backsplash tile:

Bullnose Tile

Bullnose tiles have a rounded finished edge. They are installed alongside the rest of the field tiles. Bullnose tiles create a smooth transition from the countertop to the backsplash. This gives a seamless, polished look. Bullnose tiles come in many styles to match your backsplash tile.

Pencil Tile Trim

Pencil trim is a narrow border tile, usually 2 inches wide or less. It has a finished front edge that creates a clean transition along countertops or walls. Pencil tile comes in various heights to match different tile thicknesses. It is easy to cut and install.

Metal Trim

Metal trim strips come in stainless steel, copper, brass or other metals to match your kitchen décor. The strips are cut to size and secured along the edges. Use a tile trim bit to cut any protruding tile flush with the metal edge. This gives a modern, sleek finish.

Calk or Grout

For a simple finished edge, you can apply calk or grout along the intersection of the backsplash and countertop or wall. Smooth the caulk and wipe away excess for a subtle finish. Match the caulk or grout color to the tile.

Prepare the Surface

Before installing edge trim, ensure the surfaces are clean and ready:

  • Clean the countertop and wall edges with denatured alcohol to remove any grease or dirt.
  • Apply painter’s tape 2-3 inches up the wall from the counter. This protects the surfaces from adhesive splatter.
  • Dry fit any trim pieces and mark where they will be installed with a pencil.
  • Mix the tile adhesive if needed. Follow instructions for kitchen backsplash applications.

Install the Trim

Once the surface is prepped, install the edge trim:

For Bullnose

  1. Apply a thin layer of tile adhesive along the edge of the countertop or wall.
  2. Press the bullnose tiles into place, aligning evenly along the length.
  3. Use tile spacers to leave consistent grout lines between bullnose and field tiles.
  4. Allow adhesive to fully cure per manufacturer instructions before grouting.

For Pencil Trim

  1. Run a bead of adhesive along the edge, then press trim into place. Hold for 30 seconds.
  2. Use painter’s tape to secure trim as adhesive dries if needed.
  3. Allow adhesive to fully cure before grouting.

For Metal Strips

  1. Measure and cut metal trim to fit using tin snips.
  2. Apply adhesive fully along the back of the metal trim.
  3. Press trim firmly to adhere to the edge. Immediately wipe away any excess.
  4. Allow adhesive to cure fully before grouting.

Grout and Seal

Once trim adhesive has cured:

  • Mix and apply grout between trim and field tiles per grout instructions.
  • Wipe diagonally across tiles with a damp sponge to clean grout haze.
  • Allow grout to cure fully, then apply grout sealer.
  • Seal trimmed edges and backsplash with tile sealer for moisture protection.

Finishing the edges of your backsplash tile gives a clean, polished look. With the right products and techniques, you can achieve a seamless finish. Take care to clean, prepare, and install trim or edge tiles. Once grouted and sealed, your backsplash will be ready to enjoy for years.

Frequently Asked Questions About Finishing Backsplash Edges

How do I get a smooth finish with uneven wall or countertop edges?

Use a belt sander, manual sanding block, or specialized grinding stone to smooth uneven edges before installing trim. Apply painter’s tape to protect surfaces. Go slowly to avoid removing too much material.

Should I use the same grout between my trim and field tiles?

Yes, using matching colored grout provides a uniform, seamless appearance. Make sure to apply grout sealer once cured to protect all grouted areas.

What adhesive is best for installing backsplash edge trim?

Use a flexible, kitchen-grade adhesive like silicone or polyurethane. These provide a strong bond and account for heat and moisture around stoves and sinks.

How do I cut metal trim strips for my backsplash edges?

Use sharp tin snips to accurately cut metal trim strips to size. A hacksaw with a fine-toothed blade can also be used on softer metals like aluminum. File any rough edges.

Can I use calk instead of grout along the edges?

Yes, calk can provide a subtle finished edge, however it requires more precision to apply smoothly. Match the calk color closely to the tiles.

How long does adhesive need to cure before grouting trim tiles?

Check the adhesive manufacturer’s instructions. Most tile adhesives take 24-48 hours to fully cure before grouting. This ensures a strong bond between tiles and edges.

What’s the easiest edge profile to install on my own?

Pencil trim or bullnose tiles involve the least precision cutting and easiest application for DIYers. Maintain 1/8” spacing when installing to account for grout lines.

Should I use my backsplash tile sealer on the edges?

Yes, be sure to apply sealer evenly across the entire finished backsplash, including all trimmed edge areas once grouting is complete. This protects from moisture damage.


Installing trim or edge profiles along your backsplash provides a polished, seamless finish. With some careful prep and the right materials, you can achieve beautiful results. Bullnose, pencil trim, metal strips, or simple caulk/grout edges all work well based on your kitchen’s style. Focus on proper adhesive use, precise tile alignment, and smooth grout application. Finishing backsplash edges takes your kitchen tile from basic to beautiful.