Grouting is an important step when installing kitchen backsplash and countertops, as the grout keeps the tiles and the countertop from moving if the house shifts, and it makes the backsplash easier to clean.
However, should you grout between the backsplash and the countertop?
Most experts recommend using caulk instead of grout for the seam between your backsplash and your countertops, as grout in this area is more susceptible to cracking.
There are a few types of caulk that work well for this seam, and most people use silicone or water-based caulks.
Keep reading to learn more about why you should not use grout for this particular area, as well as how to caulk properly between the backsplash and the countertops.
Why You Should Not Use Grout Between Backsplash and Countertop
Although it may be tempting to continue using grout for the entire backsplash and countertop, especially since grout looks great and you know it will all be the same color, grout will only look nice in the seam between the backsplash and the countertop for about a week or so.
Note: This post may contain affiliate links which will take you to online retailers that sell products and services. If you click on one and buy something, I may earn from qualifying purchases. See my Affiliate Disclosure for more details.
After this fairly short amount of time, the grout will begin to crack from the stress of the backsplash and the countertop contracting or expanding slightly at different rates.
Unlike grout, caulk is designed to withstand a change in surface planes from horizontal to vertical, and it is better able to seal this seam and prevent moisture from creating mildew.
It can be a little harder to choose a caulk that will match everything else, including the grout, since caulk tends to look a bit darker when it dries, but this is not impossible to do.
How to Use Caulk Between Backsplash and Countertop
While applying caulk may seem like a daunting task if you have never used it before, it is not very difficult to do, and the process mostly requires some patience.
Be sure to do the following if you want to use caulk in the seam between your backsplash and your countertop:
Clean Out the Seam
Before you can apply any new caulking, you will need to clean out the existing grout or caulk.
If this area has never been grouted or caulked before, there should be nothing of the sort to remove, but it does not hurt to wipe the area with a dry towel to catch any debris that will otherwise get trapped there.
To remove the old caulk or grout, run a flat razor or a utility knife beneath this original line of material.
This should allow you to lift the old caulk or grout out and dispose of it.
If you would like to also get rid of residue or build up from hard water that may have been hiding beneath the old material, you can take a rag and some baking soda and apply it to the seam.
Select Preferred Caulk and Tools
There are a few different types of caulk and tools that you can use to seal the seam between the backsplash and the countertop.
Most people prefer to use silicone- or water-based caulks.
Water-based caulk is easier to apply, but silicone-based caulk is more resistant to moisture and less likely to shrink over time.
In terms of tools, you can apply caulk that comes in a small, hand-held tube, or you can purchase the kind that you put into a caulk gun.
Most beginners prefer the caulk gun, as it makes it easier to keep applying the caulk consistently.
Apply a Line of Caulk
Spread the caulk in a line from one end of the seam to the other.
This entire line is known as a “bead” of caulk.
After applying the bead, if you use silicone-based caulk, spray the seam with soap and water to keep the caulk from spreading past the seam.
Wipe up the extra water and give the bead time to dry.
Tips for Using Caulk or Grout Between Backsplash and Countertop
Again, while it is much better to use caulk for this process, the following tips apply to using caulk or grout to seal the seam between your backsplash and the countertops.
Leave Extra Space
The seam between your backsplash and countertop should be at least one eighth of an inch.
If you leave this much space, you will have a bit extra in case you need to touch up the caulk or the grout later.
It is also a good idea to keep some extra grout or whatever caulk you may have left over for these possible touch ups.
Lay a Thick, Smooth Layer
As you apply the caulk or grout, be sure to put down a layer that is consistently thick and smooth to minimize the chances of cracking.
Keep an eye on the seam for the next few days so you can fix up any cracks that might develop.
Thoroughly Dry Everything
Be sure to wipe up all of the extra water once you are done sealing the seam.
Neglecting to do so makes all of these tips pointless, as the caulk or grout will not cure properly and most likely crack or even crumble, which may require starting over.
While you can use grout between your backsplash and your countertop, and you should seal the seam to keep moisture out and keep everything looking nice, it is better to use caulk, as caulk is less likely to crack from stress in this area.