One of the challenges many DIYers face when laying tiles is finishing off the raw edges. Sharp, exposed tile edges impair your project’s visual appeal. They are also more likely to be damaged or chipped. There are several tile edge finishing options, but finishing the tile edges with caulk is the simplest and cheapest alternative. All you need is a handful of materials. Then, this guide will teach you how to do it.
How To Finish Tile Edges With Caulk
Caulking exposed tile edges is not only easy and cheap; this method also has additional benefits. Caulk creates a waterproof seal between the tile edge and the wall, preventing water infiltrations and the growth of mold and mildew.
Things You Will Need
- Caulking gun
- Damp sponge
- Utility knife
1. Select The Right Caulk
Caulk is available in a variety of options, but not all are suitable for this project. Depending on the tile location, you should choose a siliconized or non-siliconized sanded ceramic tile caulk.
- Siliconized sanded ceramic tile caulk: This product is ideal for finishing the edges of a tile backsplash or sealing shower tile edges. The caulk is a silicone-acrylic or latex hybrid that is waterproof. You can use it for finishing the tile edges and sealing the surface to prevent water from leaking behind the tilework.
- Non-siliconized sanded ceramic tile caulk: This is either acrylic or latex caulk that contains sand but no silicone. This caulk is not waterproof, but it is ideal for finishing tile edges in areas that are not prone to water leaks. For instance, you could use it to finish the edges of tile floors or tile walls that are away from a sink or shower. Because it doesn’t contain silicone, it is easier to remove if needed.
You should use only sanded caulk for finishing tile edges. The sand component increases the product’s elasticity and prevents it from shrinking after application. This caulk type has a texture more similar to grout than sealing caulk or fillers and looks better than standard caulk.
Expert tip: When choosing the caulk, also pay attention to its color. For a beautiful finish, choose a shade that matches the color of your grout. Otherwise, the effect will be awkward and can reduce the visual appeal. If you’re not sure how to choose, know that most manufacturers have grout and caulk color palettes you can use to ensure that the shades match.
2. Apply Caulk To The Exposed Edge
Once you have installed and grouted the tiles, including the edge pieces, you can proceed to finish the tile edges with the caulk you chose in the first step.
For a seamless application, you should cut the caulk tube tip at a 45-degree angle near the top of the nozzle cap. Place the caulk tube in the caulking gun and press the gun’s handle until the caulk bead starts oozing out.
Wipe the first bead on a damp sponge, then start applying a bead of caulk along the edge you have to finish. Work in small sections to prevent the caulk from drying before spreading it along the seam with your finger.
Once you have applied a caulk bead, use your index finger to spread it along the seam. Apply pressure while doing this to push as much caulk as possible into the seam. Keep spreading the caulk, wiping the surplus on the damp sponge until the edge is smooth and even.
Wipe off any surplus caulk right away before it dries out. Dried caulk is very hard to remove from walls without damaging the paint. Moreover, if you’re using siliconized caulk, you may not be able to paint over should you want to.
If you have tiled an uneven wall and the seam between the tile and wall is uneven, try to fill the larger gaps with caulk before spreading the bead along the seam. By doing this, you can prevent the caulk bead from losing its shape after you’ve applied it, maintaining the look for a longer time.
Expert tip: To prevent caulk from ruining your paintwork, apply a piece of painter’s tape on the wall. Leave a gap of about 3/8 of an inch between the tape and the tile seam for a beautiful, straight application.
3. Clean Excess Caulk And Touch Up With Paint
No matter how careful you are, caulk can sometimes end up spoiling your walls. If this happens, wipe off the caulk as soon as possible with a damp sponge. Let the wall dry, then touch up the area with paint.
You can now let the caulk dry and cure. Most caulk types need about 30 minutes to become dry to the touch, but it can take up to ten days for the product to cure and set completely. You should not expose the area to moisture in the meantime because the sanded caulk only becomes waterproof when it is fully cured.
Do you still have questions? Below, the answer to some of the most common queries.
Should I use grout or caulk between tile and wall?
Grout and caulk have different purposes, but neither should go between the tile and the wall. You should use tile adhesive to install the tiles on the wall. Use grout to fill the spaces between the tiles on a flat surface and caulk to seal the edges between the wall tile and floor, in corners, or where the tile meets a backsplash or countertop. You can also use caulk to finish tile edges if you don’t want to use trims, caps, or liners.
How to make exposed tile edges look finished?
The easiest and cheapest way to make exposed tile edges look finished is by caulking the exposed edge with sanded ceramic tile caulk. Alternatively, you can install tile trims, caps, and liners.
What is the difference between grout caulk vs. silicone?
Grout caulk and silicone are two types of caulk designed for different purposes. Grout caulk – also known as sanded ceramic tile caulk – contains sand and is a finishing product. This caulk is similar to grout in color and texture, but it is more elastic and perfect for finishing an exposed edge (grout is likely to crack when used on edges). Silicone caulk is a sealant used on seams to prevent water from leaking behind them. It doesn’t contain sand and has a smoother texture compared to grout caulk. It also tends to shrink when it dries and could leave visible gaps when used to finish exposed tile edges.
Finishing tile edges with caulk is an easy DIY project for beginners and a quick way to increase your tilework’s aesthetic appeal regardless of your skill level. If you’ve never finished exposed tile edges with caulk before, we hope this guide can help you complete the task with little to no effort.