Back Splash Assistance

25 Replies

My back splash edges were not finished correctly, and I'm looking for some tips to clean them up. Right now they are grouted at a 45 degree angle on the edges, and while I was assured they would look good when they were done, they do not. What I'm wondering is if it would be possible to dremel behind some of the tiles, then insert a schluter strip. The problem areas are only about 14" tall, but in a noticeable spots. Any other suggestions for tiding up rough edges that doesn't involve ripping the whole thing out and redoing it?

That’s a bit of a mess huh? I would probably get a grinder wheel that cuts tile, Mark a nice clean straight/plumb line up and cut the messy end off. There will need to be some Sheetrock clean up. I have in the past used the tile end strips (being they have to slide under the edge of the tile I think this may be more trouble than it’s worth). I have also edged backsplash tile with pencil trim tile. It’s basically a thicker, but narrow strip of tile that can cap off the end of what you have. I’ve only ever done it to match the backsplash/tile I was using, but in your case it might be the cleanest option.

Not very pretty.  Can you carefully remove the grout along the outside edge and then finish it with a paintable caulking?  For the top is there something you can attach to the bottom of the cabinets above it to hide the gap?

Originally posted by @Forrest Williams :

My back splash edges were not finished correctly, and I'm looking for some tips to clean them up. Right now they are grouted at a 45 degree angle on the edges, and while I was assured they would look good when they were done, they do not. What I'm wondering is if it would be possible to dremel behind some of the tiles, then insert a schluter strip. The problem areas are only about 14" tall, but in a noticeable spots. Any other suggestions for tiding up rough edges that doesn't involve ripping the whole thing out and redoing it?

The answer is yes. You're going to want to use an oscillating tool with a bimetal cutting blade to get in under the edge of your tile there -- if you used mastic adhesive to do the backsplash, it's going to gum up quickly on the blade and you're going to need a lot of paint thinner/mineral spirits to get that off. Very time-consuming. If you used real thinset, the blade will dull quickly. Go to HD and look up "tile edge trim" for metal edging options from Custom, they're slightly better looking IMO than what Schluter pits out. You can cut that stuff with a hacksaw at an angle, but I've had much better luck doing it with some precision with again, a bimetal blade on an oscillating tool. But don't think it's going to be perfect, and you're going to be filing to get a good profile around that little corner.

Either way, we're talking a lot of blades, and at $5.00 and more a pop when buying them in singles, it isn't worth it. Get a big bag of them -- they're much cheaper when you buy them in lots of 20 or more on Good luck and go slow, this is going to take some touch, and a lot of guys who try to do this kind of adjustment don't have the hands or the patience for it.

That one ugly edge finish. Like Jim K. mentioned we took out 63 1ftx2ft porcelain floor tile. First each grout line & then went under each to remove the mastic that was still barely adhering. We used a $19 Harbor Freight oscillating tool with metal blades & went through at least 4-5 of those spec'd for ceramic tile. I'd then cut into the drywall base & glue in some tile edge metal trim that will accommodate the thickness of the backsplash tile.

Good luck..

@Forrest Williams that does look awful. It should be easy to fix, but a lot of labor. Try to carefully remove the outer grout and if you are successful, see if a schluter edge will slide under the tiles without knocking the tiles off. The edge against the cabinets are probably not going to clean up well. Worse case, it should be easy to remove the tile with a 5 in 1 tool and some light tapping from an edge. That tile is not that expensive, so this might be the best option. 

Good luck.


That is just so sad. I hope you didn't have to pay for that. I'm certain that a dremel will work well to remove that. The question will be how to finish it.  When you do get it done, will you send another photo?  

@Forrest Williams

You can buzz that off with a diamond saw on a grinder, you could also trim the portion of the schluter edge off that would normally sit under the tile and just use your colour match caulk to adhere it to the tile edge. Could even use a grout removal tool for a job this small likely. You are going to have some drywall touch up though, I don’t see any way around that. Don’t hire these guys for detail work again.

@Forrest Williams

I'm no help, learned tile from one of the best tile men in the country... when I see stuff like this, just want to tear the entire wall out and slap whoever did it.

@Forrest Williams Rental or flip? Maybe try touching up with wall paint. I see grouted edges all the time and do the same myself...not a flipper though . I don’t care for the metal edging, looks industrial cafeteria to me. There isn’t a lot of bullnose solutions for that edge...go look at model homes. You can sand stray grout off the wall and cut in a straight line with wall paint, make the joint look smaller and straighter with wall paint. You can also probably use a utility knife to straighten the line if the grout is fresh, maybe to dampen it would help. Or maybe a grout knife to sand the edges down. I don’t think it will bother you as much as you think...these are just areas where the painter has already painted but the tile guy is invariably going to need the painter back. Painter is the aesthetics pro. Imo

@Marian Smith actually looks like problem is the cut edge shouldn’t be there but at inside corner. If I cannot avoid cutting the exposed edge I pull off the cut pieces and flip them. He may have had to cover cut glass sharp edges with yes metal strip would have worked better. The cut tiles add to the unfinished edge look compounding it.

Originally posted by @Forrest Williams :

 Yea, that looks like hell. Some really good responses from other posters so far.

My first consideration would be what the property is. If it's a rental in anything other than a higher-end locale, I might suggest just leaving it alone. Yea, it's ugly, but it is functional. However, if crap work bugs you like it bugs me well, then you can make it better. How much better depends on how much you are willing to rip out and replace.

So for starters, as you now know, that is not how to edge tile to drywall. Ideally, you would install a finished, not cut, edge of the tile to face the outside edge. That would give a nice sanded factory edge free of a sharp edge. Second, the grout and mortar should be entirely absent from the outer edge - neither belong there at all. Once you have a factory-cut edge without grout or mortar, depending on what it looks like at that point, you can take a very thin bead of painters caulk (use painters tape if you need to) to pretty-up the small void behind the tile and where it meets the drywall (the space created from the mortar). Then use your paint to create a nice edge. If it's not too bad in the first place, you might be able to get away with just a nice paint edge, but it probably will need the caulk. The result will be that edge of the tile is exposed (not covered up with grout or caulk like it is now), and where it meets will be tied together nicely. The other option, which many tile guys will do, is to take a very small amount of grout to fill the small void at the edge, using that in place of caulk, still leaving the factory edge of the tile exposed. There is nothing wrong with that method, until you want to change the paint color and then have bleed from the paint into the grout, which as you know is more difficult to remove - many people would not worry about such things.

Methods to remove the existing grout have been stated already (and yes, you might be able to cover it up with a trim piece). One problem you are going to have with any method is cleaning that grout off the tile edge and any cut tile edges that are sharp or uneven (which makes using a trim piece a decent option). It might be quicker with a better result to pull off all the edge tiles and replace them (do you have extra tile or can you can you get some more?).

One method not discussed is getting behind the grout layer and into the drywall layer with a utility knife. That is probably the easiest however, you will then need to mud the drywall a bit too. Again, that does not solve the issue of the grout on the tile edges (some will not pop off) but, you can get behind the drywall to pull off tiles too if you choose to take it that far. If it were me, I would rip out all the edge tiles and replace them, simply from a momentum and finished result aspect.

Good luck!

Your tile guy should have used a Schluter Strip there. That is a no brainer for that kind of edge. What a hack!

lol these are actually stick-on tiles (i.e., fake). that's awesome that you guys couldn't tell them from the real deal, tho. the only way i knew is that i've purchased the same exact kit for my kitchen! (see below) I would probably cut them to line up with the cabinet instead and add some trim to that part only. the wall will need to be mudded and painted (unless that caulk comes off nice and clean).

Thanks for the tips everyone, I'm going to reach out to other tile pros in the area. If it's too expensive, I'm going to try the oscilating tool trick a few of you mentioned; then clean up the drywal damage. It is a flip, so I'd like it to look nice.

@Victor S. these are real glass tiles, not the stick on ones. 

Originally posted by @John Weiss :

You could cut out that crap with a multi-tool and add a pencil moulding.

 This is by far your most cost effective means to fix the problem. That said, the real problem here is the tile sub and a lesson should be learned here by all to ensure you hire the right guys. The original job was horrible and it should be recognized that this tile installer not only should never be hired again, but be in the back of your mind when you hire any other subs. Look at their work at other locations first to check their quality and the. Expect and demand same quality open your job site.

@Forrest Williams

But a sheet or 2 of the same backsplash tile and cut out a few of the same sized Long skinny pieces. Use them as a border along the outside edge of the backsplash tile. Only grout the side that connects with the backsplash tile. Caulk the gap on the left side with something that matches the wall paint color. Same concept if you used some kind metal end cap.

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