Adding a backsplash to your kitchen can transform the look and feel of the space. However, finishing the edges where the backsplash meets the countertops or walls can really take your backsplash from great to amazing. Properly finishing the edges of your backsplash will give your kitchen a clean, polished look. There are a few different ways to finish the edges of a kitchen backsplash, depending on your budget, skill level, and desired final appearance.
Selecting Backsplash Materials
When selecting materials for your backsplash, consider how you want to finish the edges. Some backsplash materials, like tile or stone, have finished edges from the manufacturer. Others, like stainless steel or tin backsplashes, may require additional finishing.
Think about how the edges of your backsplash materials will interface with countertops, walls, and other surfaces. You want the edges to look clean, smooth, and purposeful. Avoid materials with ragged edges or that are prone to chipping.
Consider ease of installation when choosing backsplash materials as well. Some materials, like tile or stone, take more skill to cut and install. Focus on options that are simple for DIY installation or make sure to hire a professional installer.
One popular way to finish the bottom edge of a backsplash is to allow the countertop to overhang slightly below the backsplash. This creates a lip that covers the cut edge of the backsplash material.
A countertop overhang works best with materials like ceramic tile, marble, or stone backsplashes. Make sure to leave a 1/4 to 1/2 inch overhang when cutting countertops. This small overhang is usually enough to provide a clean finish.
If your countertops don’t already overhang the bottom of the backsplash, you may be able to create an overhang by cutting the countertop edge. Consult a countertop installation professional to see if this is possible with your existing countertops.
Bullnose Tile Edges
Bullnose tiles are tiles with one or more finished, rounded edges. Using bullnose tiles to frame a backsplash is a clean, built-in way to finish the edges.
Bullnose tiles are commonly available for ceramic and stone tiles. You can purchase bullnose tiles that match or coordinate with your other backsplash tile.
Install bullnose tiles vertically along the sides of the backsplash and horizontally along the bottom edge. The rounded edge will face outward, creating a finished frame. Make sure to account for the width of the bullnose tiles when calculating dimensions.
Tile Edge Finishing Pieces
In addition to bullnose tiles, there are several other types of trim and finishing tiles made specifically for edges:
- Pencil tiles – long, narrow tiles placed vertically along edges
- L-shaped corner tiles – cover and finish outside corners
- U-shaped (sink rail) tiles – fit along bottom edges against countertops
- V-cap tiles – form a V-shape to cover the seam between tile and countertop
Use these edge finishing tiles alone or combine them with bullnose tiles to get different edge looks. Match the materials and colors to your existing backsplash tile.
Tile Cutting Techniques
Installing tile edge pieces requires careful tile cutting. Use a wet saw fitted with a diamond blade designed for cutting ceramic or stone.
To get clean corners on tile edge pieces:
- Cut L-shaped corner tiles vertically first, then horizontally.
- Cut bullnose and pencil tiles vertically rather than horizontally to avoid chipping.
- Cut extra tiles to allow for errors—trim pieces must fit perfectly.
Use a grinder to smooth any rough tile edges after cutting. Finish with sandpaper if needed to get a perfect fit.
End Cap Metal Molding
For sheet backsplash materials like stainless steel or tin, consider finishing the edges with end cap metal molding. End cap molding is L-shaped aluminum or stainless steel trim.
Install end cap molding using panel adhesive or small screws. Place it vertically along the edges where the backsplash meets the wall and horizontally along the bottom edge where it meets the countertops.
End cap molding gives sheet backsplash materials like metal a more finished look compared to unfinished cut edges. Match the metal finish of the molding to complement the backsplash material.
Hidden Finished Edge
Some homeowners opt to keep backsplash edges simple with no trim. The edge of the backsplash material itself provides the finished edge against the countertop.
This works best for stone slab backsplashes or other materials with polished, finished sides like granite, marble, or quartz. The polished edge has a clean, simple look on its own.
Be sure to cut the backsplash material to the perfect size to fit flush against walls and countertops. Use a wet saw and grind or sand any imperfections for a seamless look.
Countertop Backsplash Lip
Rather than the countertop overhanging the backsplash, some countertops have a recessed lip cut into the back edge. This allows the countertop to fit over the backsplash, covering the cut edge.
Countertop lips generally need to be cut to fit the exact height of the backsplash material. Consult a countertop fabrication and installation company on the best way to cut a lip edge.
This edge treatment integrates the countertop and backsplash into one continuous surface. It works best for sleek, contemporary kitchen designs.
For an eclectic, rustic look, finish backsplash edges with stained wood trim pieces. Use trim strips, squares, or panels to border the sides and bottom of a backsplash.
Measure carefully and cut wood trim to fit your backsplash dimensions exactly. Stain and seal the wood according to your preferred look—a darker stain can be paired with light tile or a painted backsplash for contrast.
Small finishing nails, panel adhesive, or L-brackets can hold wood trim in place against the edges of a backsplash. Avoid using wood against high-moisture areas near sinks.
DIY Concrete Edging
Creating your own concrete edging is an advanced DIY option for achieving a custom finished backsplash edge. Use molding strips to pour and shape concrete, allowing it to set right against the backsplash edge.
This concrete border adds weight and visual interest to the edges of the backsplash. Concrete can be stained, painted, or left plain. Use molds to shape the concrete into different profiles.
Creating concrete backsplash edging takes time and skill—make sure to learn the concrete mixing and pouring steps involved before attempting this project.
Backsplash Edge Finishing FAQ
Finishing the edges of a kitchen backsplash involves some key considerations. Here are answers to common questions about backsplash edge treatments:
How much overhang should countertops have over a backsplash?
A 1/4 to 1/2 inch overhang is ideal for countertops over backsplashes. Too much overhang starts to look clunky and heavy. Too little may not fully cover the backsplash edge.
Can I use two different trim options, like bullnose tile on the bottom and end cap metal on the sides?
Absolutely! Combining two complementary trim styles can add extra interest to your backsplash edges. Just make sure the finished look feels cohesive.
What’s the best way to get clean cuts on intricate tile patterns or natural stone?
Use a wet saw with a diamond blade and patience. Cut slowly and make minor adjustments if pieces aren’t fitting together cleanly. Finish with an edge grinder and sandpaper.
Should I finish backsplash sides if they won’t be visible, like against a tall appliance?
Trim all exposed edges for a complete finished look. For hidden edges, trim isn’t mandatory but can still help tiles or sheets fit together perfectly.
Is it better to install backsplash before or after countertops go in?
Generally install countertops first, then backsplash. But if edges will be completely covered by overhang or trim, backsplash first may be easier.
Finishing Backsplash Edges with Style
The way you treat the edges of a kitchen backsplash can make a big difference in the final look. Take the time to explore different options and select edge finishes that work with your backsplash materials and overall kitchen style.
With the right materials and techniques, you can achieve practically invisible seams or make edges a purposeful, striking design detail. Aim for edges that are clean, smooth, and consistent to take your kitchen backsplash to a professional level.
Finishing the edges of a kitchen backsplash is an important final step that can elevate the entire look of your backsplash tile, metal sheets, stone, or other backsplash materials. Carefully consider how edges will transition from backsplash to countertops, walls, and other surfaces. Match your edge treatment to the style of your kitchen and backsplash. With patience and the right materials and techniques, you can achieve beautiful finished edges that complement your backsplash design. Take time to explore options like bullnose tile, end cap molding, overhang, trim pieces, and built-in lips to give your kitchen backsplash clean, cohesive finished edges.