How to Finish Tile Backsplash Edges – A Complete Guide

Installing a beautiful tile backsplash can add style and value to your kitchen or bathroom. However, finishing the edges of your tile backsplash professionally is key to achieving a high-end look. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through all the steps and tips for finishing tile backsplash edges perfectly.

Selecting the Right Edging Materials

Choosing the appropriate materials for edging your tile backsplash is the first critical step. Here are some of the most popular options:

Bullnose Tiles

Bullnose tiles have a rounded finished edge that provides a smooth, seamless transition between the backsplash and the wall. Bullnose tiles come in many of the same materials and finishes as standard wall tiles. They are available in ceramic, porcelain, glass, and natural stone. Opting for bullnose tiles that closely match your backsplash tiles ensures a cohesive finished look.

Metal Strips

Metal strips, like bullnose tiles, are specifically designed to finish off the edges of backsplashes. Brass, copper, stainless steel, and aluminum metal strips can provide a sleek, modern accent that contrasts with or matches the backsplash tiles. Metal edge strips are thin, easy to cut, and install directly on top of the edges of the backsplash.

Tile Edging Trim Pieces

Trim pieces made of PVC, plastic, or metal can also finish off tile edges. Options include corner trim, end caps, and strips designed to transition from the tile to the wall smoothly. Trim pieces come in different widths, finishes, and colors to seamlessly blend in or stand out.

Wood Molding

For a traditional vibe, wood trim pieces like crown molding, quarter-round, or picture frame molding can provide a built-in look when installed above a tile backsplash. Stained, painted, or natural finished wood molding pairs well with ceramic, porcelain, or glass tile.

Preparing the Edges Before Installation

Taking time to properly prepare the edges of your backsplash before installing your tiles ensures the finished edges look flawless. Here are some tips:

  • Carefully measure and mark the area to be tiled. Mark an even line where you want the outer edges of the backsplash to end.
  • Remove any old caulk or debris along the edges. The edges should be smooth and clean.
  • Make sure the edges are straight, not uneven. Use a level and fill any gaps if needed.
  • Apply painter’s tape along the outside edges to protect the wall during installation.
  • Pre-cut bullnose tiles, trim pieces, or metal strips to the correct lengths before starting.

How to Install Bullnose Tiles on Edges

Bullnose tiles create a polished, seamless edge, but do take precision to install correctly:

  • Apply thinset mortar evenly where bullnose tiles will be placed. Spread it right up to the wall edge.
  • Press the bullnose tiles into the thinset firmly. The rounded edge should align evenly along the edge.
  • Use plastic tile spacers to leave even gaps between bullnose and field tiles.
  • Cut bullnose tiles carefully to fit inside and outside corners. Use a wet saw for clean cuts.
  • Allow thinset to dry completely before removing spacers. Finish the grout lines evenly across bullnose and field tiles.
  • For open ends, install an end-cap trim piece to cover unfinished bullnose tile edges.

Installing Metal Strips on Backsplash Edges

Metal strips offer a sleek finish and are easy to work with:

  • Measure the length needed and cut metal strips with tin snips. Cut them to be just shy of the overall length needed.
  • Apply thinset mortar to the back of the metal strips and press into place along the edges.
  • Drill pilot holes every 4-6 inches if attaching with screws. Ensure strips are level.
  • For inside and outside corners, carefully cut and bend strips to fit or use corner trim pieces.
  • Where two strips meet, cut to fit tightly together or overlap them attractively.
  • Seal strips with silicone caulk. Wipe away excess for a neat finish.

Finishing with Tile Edge Trim Pieces

PVC, metal, or plastic trim attachments are easy, fuss-free options:

  • Apply a bead of construction adhesive or silicone to the back.
  • Fit trim pieces precisely along the edges, blending into the tile design.
  • For corner edges, cut and install trim pieces to meet at a 45-degree angle.
  • Use a putty knife to press trims firmly into the thinset or adhesive. Secure with trim-head screws if needed.
  • Install end-cap trim pieces over unfinished open ends of edging strips.
  • Seal with caulk where trim pieces meet the wall for a watertight finish.

Creating Built-In Edges with Wood Moldings

Wood moldings add warmth and a furniture-like look:

  • Stain or paint moldings to coordinate with your backsplash prior to installing.
  • Pre-drill moldings to avoid splitting wood. Drill pilot holes 16 inches apart.
  • Apply construction adhesive to the backside and firmly press moldings around the top and sides.
  • For inside and outside corners, cut moldings at a 45-degree angle for clean joints.
  • Use finish nails through the pre-drilled holes to secure molding pieces. Set nails and fill holes.
  • Seal molding edges with silicone caulk where they meet the wall for water protection.

Grouting and Caulking Edge Finish Details

Applying grout and caulk properly completes your backsplash edges:

  • Grout fully between the edge tiles and field tiles. Tool into all gaps smoothly.
  • Clean excess grout off tile edges before it dries using a damp sponge.
  • Apply matching silicone caulk where the backsplash edges meet the wall.
  • After caulk dries, remove painter’s tape and wipe edges clean with a dry cloth.
  • If gaps remain between tile edges and trim pieces, apply caulk to fill for a polished look.

Maintaining Your Finished Backsplash Edge

Once installation is complete, follow these tips to keep backsplash edges looking new:

  • Use non-abrasive cleaners to avoid dulling or damaging tile edges over time.
  • Re-apply fresh caulk if cracking or shrinkage occurs. Remove old caulk completely first.
  • Check for damage or loose tiles along edges that require re-grouting or tile replacement.
  • Take extra care not to chip tile edges when cleaning. Handle abrasive pads gently near edges.

Finishing off your tile backsplash edges with bullnose tiles, trim pieces, metal strips, or wood moldings is an essential step. Paying close attention to detail in preparing, installing, and maintaining the edges will ensure your backsplash looks professionally installed and stays beautiful for years. With the right materials and these key tips, you can achieve precision finished edges that complement your unique tile backsplash design.

FAQs About Finishing Tile Backsplash Edges

What is the easiest option for finishing a tile backsplash edge?

Trim pieces made of PVC or metal specifically designed for edging tile are generally the quickest and easiest solution. They simply adhere directly over the edges of the tiles.

Should you use bullnose tile on both the bottom and top edges?

It is recommended to use bullnose tiles on both the upper and lower edges of backsplashes for the most seamless finish. However, bullnose tiles can be used on just the top, visible edge if desired.

How do you cut bullnose tiles neatly?

Use a wet saw fitted with a diamond tile blade to carefully cut bullnose and other ceramic or porcelain tiles. Take measurements and mark tiles to be cut with a pencil first for accuracy.

Can you finish tile edges with wood?

Yes, wood trim pieces like quarter-round, crown molding, or decorative carved molding can create a built-in look. Stained wood molding provides a classic finish.

Should you caulk where backsplash tiles meet the countertop?

Applying a matching silicone caulk where the backsplash tiles end and meet the countertop is highly recommended. This seals the juncture and prevents water penetration.


Finishing off the edges of a newly installed backsplash is a vital finishing step that can make or break the final look. With the right edging materials like bullnose tile, metal strips, trim pieces, or wood moldings you can achieve clean, professional results. Careful prep, precise installation, and proper grouting and caulking will complete your backsplash with stunning finished edges that coordinate beautifully with your tile design. Paying attention to detail ensures your backsplash will stand the test of time and continue looking fantastic.