Installing a beautiful backsplash in your kitchen or bathroom can really enhance the look and feel of the space. However, finishing the edges properly is an important final step that can make or break the project. Here are some tips on how to professionally finish the edge of a backsplash.
Selecting the Right Materials
Choosing the right materials is key to getting clean, finished edges on your backsplash.
Tile backsplashes lend themselves well to a polished look. Use tiles with square edges rather than handmade or tumbled tiles. This will give you straight edges that fit closely together. Complementary grout will give you a seamless transition from tile to wall.
Metal backsplashes like copper, stainless steel, or aluminum can have a very sleek, modern look. Use full sheets rather than tiles and find sheets with crisp, machine-cut edges rather than hand-cut ones.
Glass tile or sheet backsplashes also have straight, smooth edges that finish nicely. Use sanded grout to get a flush transition between glass tiles.
Stone like marble, granite, or slate can be used for backsplashes as well. Select pieces with straight edges and use thinset mortar to get the tiles as close together as possible.
Preparing the Edges
Once your backsplash materials are selected, prepare the edges properly before installation for a seamless look.
- Cut precision edges – Carefully measure and cut your backsplash materials so edges are straight and fit tightly together without gaps or overlap. Use a wet saw for tile to get clean cuts.
- Sand rough edges – If necessary, sand any rough edges on materials like hand-cut stone, glass, or metal to smooth them.
- Prime raw edges – Coat any exposed unfinished edges with primer or sealer so they don’t absorb moisture and deteriorate over time.
Installing with Care
Take extra care installing the outer edges of your backsplash to ensure a flawless finished look.
- Use spacers – Leave a uniform gap between edges and walls/countertops with plastic spacers for grout lines and prevent uneven edges.
- Caulk edges – Seal all edges with a matching silicone caulk for a watertight seal and smooth transition.
- Align materials – Take care to keep edges perfectly aligned and patterned materials continuous as you install.
- Press firmly – Apply even pressure when setting materials to minimize lippage at seams and edges.
Grouting and Sealing
Grout style and technique impacts the finished edge of a backsplash. Follow these tips:
- Match grout color – Select a grout that coordinates with your backsplash color for a cohesive look.
- Grout meticulously – Wipe diagonally across edges to pack grout cleanly into corners. Remove excess.
- Use sanded grout – For a smooth finish with tile, mix sanded grout according to package directions.
- Caulk perimeter – After grouting, caulk the outer most grout line between the backsplash and wall/counter.
- Seal grout – Once dry, seal the grout lines with a penetrating sealer to prevent staining and damage.
Add the perfect finishing touches to complete your installed backsplash.
- Clean materials – Remove all excess grout and construction debris from the surface and edges.
- Polish metal/stone – For shiny materials like metal or granite, polish the surface and buff edges.
- Soften corners – For tile, use a diamond pad or sandpaper to lightly round sharp corner edges.
- Add trim – Cover exposed sides or seams with coordinating caulk, grout, metal trim, or bullnose tile.
- Seal surface – Protect the entire finished backsplash with a natural stone or grout sealing product.
Tips for Problem Areas
Focus on problem areas prone to uneven edges for a flawless look.
- Take care around outlets – Precisely cut tile around outlets and light switches for straight edges.
- Fill gaps in old countertops – Use color-matched caulk to fill any gaps between new backsplash and worn countertops.
- Check rough wall surfaces – If the wall is uneven, use a cementitious backer board as an underlayment for a smooth surface.
- Make straight cuts – Use a level and take your time cutting any outlet openings or irregular shapes in the backsplash.
Maintaining Your Backsplash Edges
Keep your backsplash edges looking new with proper maintenance.
- Clean with gentle, pH-balanced cleaners to avoid degrading grout or damaging edges over time.
- Re-seal grout lines and surface every 1-2 years to prevent staining and moisture damage along edges.
- Caulk perimeter edges if gaps appear to keep moisture out and edges aligned.
- Avoid scraping or scrubbing edges vigorously during cleaning. Use soft sponges and cloths.
- Repair any cracks or damaged areas in grout lines to prevent deterioration along edges.
With care and patience, you can get perfectly polished edges on a backsplash installation. Follow these tips right from material selection through final sealing for edges that look professionally finished. Pay close attention to detail around corners, perimeters, outlets, and transitions for the highest quality result. Maintain your backsplash properly over time to keep those edge lines looking crisp.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you finish off a tile backsplash?
To finish off a tile backsplash, caulk the perimeter edges with a matching silicone caulk, mix and apply coordinated sanded grout, taking care at corners and outlets. Clean excess grout, polish if needed, apply a protective sealer, and use trim or bullnose tile for exposed edges.
Should you caulk where backsplash meets countertop?
Yes, you should always caulk along the bottom edge where the backsplash meets the countertop. This seals the joint between the two surfaces to prevent moisture damage. After grouting, apply a matching caulk line along the bottom edge for a clean finish.
What do you put on the open edge of backsplash?
To finish an exposed open edge on a backsplash, you have several options: bullnose tile, U-shaped trim, L-shaped trim, caulking in matching grout, metal edging, or special end-caps made to match the tiles. These all give a straight, clean look to an unfinished side edge.
How do I get a smooth edge on tile?
For smooth tile edges, use tiles with crisp, machine-cut edges rather than handmade tiles. Cut tiles precisely with a wet saw before installing. Use plastic spacers for even grout lines. Apply sanded grout smoothly across edges. Finally, soften and polish the edges with sandpaper, pads, or pumice stones.
Should backsplash go all the way to ceiling?
Typically, a backsplash goes 4 to 6 inches above the countertop. But extending it all the way to the ceiling can give a more seamless, polished look, especially if you use full tile sheets rather than small tiles. This eliminates an exposed unfinished edge halfway up the wall.
Finishing off the edges of a newly installed backsplash is an important final step. With careful material selection, precision cutting, proper caulking and grouting, and finishing touches like polish and trim, you can achieve perfectly smooth, even edges that look professionally done. Pay special attention at problem areas like corners, outlets, and perimeter joints for the best end result.