Installing pencil tile edging is a great way to give your backsplash a clean, finished look. This simple trim piece adds subtle style while protecting the edges of the tile. With some planning and the right materials, installing pencil tile edging on your backsplash is an easy DIY project.
What You Need
- Pencil tile edging/trim pieces
- Tile adhesive
- Grout sealer
- Tiles for your backsplash
- Tile spacers
- Tile cutter or wet saw
Selecting the Pencil Tile Edging
Pencil tile edging comes in various colors and materials to match or complement your backsplash tile. Typically, edging is made from natural stone, ceramic, or metal. Consider the size of your tile when selecting the edging—you want the height of the trim to align with the height of the tile. This creates a seamless, integrated look.
Popular options include:
- Bullnose edging – Rounded, smooth finish
- Pencil liner – Narrow, rectangular profile
- Chair rail – Wider, rail-shaped profile
Match the aesthetic of your trim to the style of your tile. For example, sleek subway tiles pair nicely with thin metal or bullnose edging. Meanwhile, handmade artisan tiles can be framed with a rustic ceramic pencil liner.
Preparing the Surface
Before installing the edging, ensure the backsplash area is clean and dry. Remove any old caulk or debris with a utility knife. Fill any cracks or uneven spots in the wall with spackle so the area is smooth.
Once dry, measure and mark the installation location. Pencil liners are often placed 1/8″ above the countertop. Use a level to ensure your line is straight.
Tip: Place painter’s tape along the installation line for easy clean up later.
Cutting the Edging Tiles
Measure the length of your backsplash and cut the pencil edging to fit using a wet saw or tile cutter. Cut pieces long enough to span the entire backsplash length. For outside corners, miter cut the edges at a 45° angle to join cleanly.
Use tile spacers to leave a uniform 1/16″ gap between trim pieces and the wall. This allows room for adhesive and grout.
Installing the Trim
With the surface prepped and edging cut, you’re ready to install. Mix the adhesive according to package directions. Use a trowel to spread it evenly across the back of the trim pieces.
Carefully press the edging into place along the pre-marked line. Be sure the pieces are centered and aligned. Use painter’s tape to hold them in place if needed until the adhesive sets.
Allow the adhesive to fully cure per manufacturer recommendations. Typically 24-48 hours.
Grouting the Trim
Grout fills the gaps between the trim and tiles. Use a grout float to spread it evenly across the surface, pushing it into crevices. Allow it to set slightly, then use a damp sponge to smooth and clean.
After grouting, wait 72 hours for it to fully cure before sealing or using the backsplash. Apply a grout sealer to protect from moisture and staining.
Tips for Installing Pencil Tile Edging
- Carefully measure and cut edging—mitered corner joints must be precise.
- Leave uniform gaps for grout adhesion and a streamlined look.
- Apply painter’s tape to help hold trim in place until adhesive sets.
- Tool grout smoothly into crevices for optimal fill and appearance.
- Seal grout once fully cured to protect from moisture and stains.
With the right materials and some DIY dedication, installing tile edging can give your backsplash a professional upgrade. Take your time and don’t be afraid to adjust pieces until they are perfectly aligned.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the easiest way to cut the pencil tile edging?
Using a wet saw or tile cutter is best for cleanly and accurately cutting the pencil tile edging to size. Make slow, steady passes for smooth edges. A carbide-tipped cutter is ideal for ceramic, porcelain, or natural stone.
Should any special adhesive be used?
A flexible tile adhesive is ideal for installing pencil tile edging. This allows for slight expansion and contraction to prevent cracks. Products like modified thinset mortar provide great adhesion and flexibility.
How long does the adhesive need to set before grouting?
Allow 24-48 hours for the adhesive to fully cure before applying grout. This ensures a strong bond. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s recommended cure time too.
What’s the proper technique for grouting the edging?
Use a rubber grout float or squeegee to press the grout evenly into the gaps. Let it set slightly, then smooth with a damp sponge in a circular motion. Remove excess grout as you work for a clean finish.
Should the edging be sealed?
Yes, applying a penetrating grout sealer is highly recommended. This protects the grout from moisture and staining. Let the grout cure completely first, then apply the sealer according to product instructions. Re-apply yearly.
Installing pencil tile edging or trim is an easy upgrade for any backsplash. With the right preparation and materials, you can achieve a flawless finished look. Pay close attention to precise measuring, cutting, and installation to ensure your edging fits neatly and enhances your tiles. Take care of sealing and maintenance, and your edged backsplash will maintain its beauty for years to come.