Installing tile backsplash can transform the look of your kitchen or bathroom by adding an elegant, easy-to-clean surface. However, tiling an inside corner can be tricky if you don’t know the proper techniques. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through all the steps needed to achieve a flawless tile backsplash inside corner installation.
Tile backsplashes make a huge difference in the aesthetic appeal of any kitchen or bathroom. By adding a backsplash, you can create a focal point, protect the walls from splashes and spills, and allow for an easy-to-clean surface. Inside corners, where two perpendicular walls meet, can be the most challenging area to tile for a seamless look.
Proper planning and preparation are key to achieving straight, even tiles that fit neatly into an inside corner. With some simple tips on laying out the tile design, careful cutting, and using the right materials, you can have stunning results. We will cover everything needed so you can install tile backsplash inside corners with confidence.
Benefits of Tiling Inside Corners
There are several advantages to tiling inside corners:
- It creates a uniform, seamless look that is more visually appealing than unfinished drywall corners. Tiled corners give your backsplash a polished, high-end finish.
- Inside corners are prone to gathering dirt, grime, and moisture. Tiling them protects the vulnerable corner and makes it easy to keep clean.
- The right tiles can turn an inside corner into an eye-catching focal point. Decorative tiles, mosaics, or inlaid designs can make it a standout feature.
- Tiling inside corners properly prevents damage from cracks, chips, peeling grout, or falling tiles. It provides added durability to a high-traffic area.
- Continuing the tile pattern around a corner gives the space a pulled together, integrated look compared to stopping tiles short.
With careful planning and attention to detail, you can achieve stunning results that make the inside corners into an accent rather than an eyesore.
Getting Started with Materials and Tools
Installing tile backsplash inside corners requires having the right materials on hand. Here is an overview of what you need:
- Tile material (ceramic, porcelain, glass, stone, etc.)
- Accent tiles if using a decorative corner design
- Quantity 15% extra than measurements to account for cuts, waste
- Thinset mortar adhesive
- Caulk/sealant if needed
- Tape measure
- Tile cutter (wet saw)
- Tile spacers
- Grout float
- Rubber grout float
- Tile nippers
- Safety gear (gloves, goggles, mask)
- Drop cloths
- Tile cleaner
- Mineral spirits for cleaning tools
Purchase all materials and tools needed before beginning work to have them on hand. Check that tiles are the right quantity, style, and color. Inspect them for any defects beforehand.
Preparing the Surface
Starting with a smooth, clean surface is vital for proper tile adhesion in inside corners. Follow these steps:
- Remove existing wall coverings like wallpaper or paint down to the bare substrate.
- Check that corners are square and even. Use drywall joint compound or spackle if needed to smooth corners.
- Sand down any bumps or imperfections around corners.
- Clean the surface thoroughly to remove grease, soap residue, dust, or any debris.
- Apply painter’s tape at the edges to protect adjacent surfaces from thinset and grout.
Ensure the surface is fully prepared and ready for tile. Test questionable areas by applying a 12 x 12 inch piece of tile. It should adhere flush and evenly. Take time to correctly prep for best results.
Planning the Tile Layout
Carefully mapping out the tile layout is crucial for inside corners. Measure and mark guidelines on the walls to follow when installing.
Measure and Mark Center Points
- Measure the height and length of each wall from the inside corner. Mark the center point of each.
- Draw a plumb line through the center point from ceiling to floor.
- Mark a level line through the center point of the adjoining wall.
These center lines will guide the tile layout so the middle grout line runs perfectly in line through the corner.
Dry Layout First Rows
Do a dry layout before applying any adhesive to ensure the tile sizes work correctly:
- Begin by snapping chalk lines at the planned height of the top and bottom edges of the backsplash area.
- Place the first tile centered on the vertical plumb line. Align the top edge with the top chalk line.
- Lay whole tiles from the center outward on both walls.
- Use spacers to gauge the correct grout line width.
The dry layout should have grout lines aligned at the inside corner. Adjust if needed before adhering tiles.
Cutting Tiles for Inside Corners
Cutting the tiles that fit into the corner is vital for a streamlined look. Avoid small slivers of tile that can crack or come loose over time.
Measure and Cut Border Tiles
The tiles that border each side of the corner are usually cut in a L-shape:
- Place the tile to be cut fully over the last whole tile, extending it into the corner. Mark where the edge of the plumb center line intersects.
- Flip the tile and mark the opposite side at the edge of the level center line.
- Use a wet saw to cut along the marks, forming an L-shape corner tile.
- Repeat this for the border tile on adjoining wall.
Cut Decorative Corner Accents
For a decorative corner design:
- Measure and cut border tiles for each wall as before.
- Measure the dimensions of the inside corner space.
- Cut tiles (mosaic sheets, medallions, etc.) to fit into the corner space.
- Use a tile nipper for small adjustments if needed.
Take time to cut the border and corner accent tiles neatly and accurately. Allow them to dry before installing if using a wet saw.
Installing Tiles in the Inside Corner
Once tiles are measured, cut, and dry laid, begin adhesive installation:
- Use a notched trowel held at a 45 degree angle to fully cover the surface with thinset adhesive.
- Spread additional thinset using the flat side of the trowel right up to the corner.
- Only spread adhesive over small sections at a time to prevent drying out.
Set Border Tiles
- Press the L-shaped border tiles into the thinset on each wall up to the corner.
- Twist it slightly to collapse the grooves for maximum coverage.
- Use spacers to maintain even grout line spacing.
Fill in Corner
- Apply thinset into the inside corner where accent tiles will be set.
- Press the cut corner tiles firmly into place within the space, embedding them into the adhesive.
- Align with surrounding grout lines and use spacers for consistency.
- Let adhesive fully cure per manufacturer instructions before grouting.
Carefully checking alignments and using spacers results in professional looking finished corners.
Grouting and Caulking Corner Joints
Once tile adhesive has cured, finish the installation by grouting and sealing the corners:
Grout Corner Joints
- Allow thinset to fully cure before grouting according to adhesive specifications.
- Apply grout by holding a rubber float at a 45 degree angle and forcing it into the joints.
- Use a damp sponge to clean excess grout off the tiles smoothly.
- Avoid pulling grout out of filled joints. Use minimal pressure.
- Allow grout to cure per manufacturer instructions.
Seal Corners with Caulk
- Seal any gaps left at corner joints with a flexible silicone caulk matching the grout color.
- Apply caulk smoothly and wipe away excess with a damp cloth or finger.
Proper grouting and sealing completes the tile installation and prevents moisture issues.
Tips and Tricks for Inside Corners
Follow these tips and tricks for expert results on tiled inside corners:
- Miter inside corner edges at a 45 degree angle if wanting to avoid a vertical grout line in the corner. This gives a smooth, seamless joint.
- Use darker grout colors if concerned about staining or discoloration in the crevice of inside corners over time.
- Incorporate tiles into inside corners that turn them into a decorative feature, like mosaics, metallic tiles, or deco strips.
- Use ridge-free, smooth-edged tile trowels to maximize thinset coverage and adhesion in tight corner spots.
- Look for trimmed or flanged corner pieces made specifically for inside corners to simplify installation.
- Pre-seal porous natural stone tiles before installation to prevent grout from staining the surface.
- Add silicone caulk anywhere vertical planes meet for extra moisture protection and give tiles room for slight expansion.
Here are some frequently asked questions about installing tile backsplash inside corners:
Should tiles wrap completely around inside corners?
It is recommended to continue tiles around inside corners for a streamlined look. Leaving an unfinished drywall edge interrupts the pattern. Wrapping tiles makes the space look polished.
What is the proper way to start tiles in an inside corner?
Always begin tiles in an inside corner by mapping the centered point on each wall and snapping plumb and level lines. These guide your layout so grout lines align. Dry lay tiles starting at the corner first before adhering any.
How large should the corner accent tiles be?
A general rule of thumb is to use accent tiles that take up at least 1/3 of the corner space width. Small thin strips are prone to cracking. Larger accent tiles like a mosaic sheet provide durability.
Can you use a tile edging strip on inside corners?
Metal or PVC tile edging is made for outside corners, not inside ones. The flexible material will gap and not form a tight seam. Hard surface trim like bullnose or U-caps work if precisely cut to fit.
Should extra thinset be applied in an inside corner?
Yes, thoroughly butter both sides of the corner joint with thinset adhesive before setting tiles. This fills any gaps and ensures maximum adhesion within the tight spaces.
Installing tile backsplash inside corners may seem daunting, but with the right preparation and techniques you can achieve stunning results. Carefully planning the layout, precision cutting of border tiles, properly aligning accent tiles, and seamlessly grouting and sealing the corner joints will lead to success.
Follow the steps outlined to see how creating a flawless professional look is possible for do-it-yourselfers. Paying close attention to detail will avoid cracked, gapped, or misaligned tiles. With some patience and the right approach, your beautiful new backsplash can turn an ordinary kitchen or bath into an eye-catching showpiece.