Who Should Caulk the Backsplash to the Wall?

      Whose turf is the caulking between a backsplash and a wall on? Countertop installer or painter? March 3, 2009

During installation of countertops is it the responsibility of the painters, or the installers to caulk the backsplashes to the wall?

Forum Responses
(Cabinet and Millwork Installation Forum)
From contributor M:
The installer.

From contributor J:
Contributor M is right. The painters guideline is "caulk gaps only when we are finishing both of the surfaces involved".

From contributor M:
The installer.

From the original questioner:
Thanks guys. The reason I was asking is that when we go out to a job, we usually have color matched caulk for the surface we are installing (countertop and backsplash) and if the walls are built poorly. If the gaps start getting way out there, it's hard to take a little tube of color match and fill the hole up and it just makes the gaps more noticeable to me.

From contributor R:
Scribe, and then caulk.

From the original questioner:
I'm mainly talking about the backsplashes. Thanks for everyone's input!

From contributor J:
I ran into a situation years ago involving this very question. I sent an installer out to install a run of cabinets that only paid a few hundred dollars. The wall had wallpaper that had a heavy texture on it. The installer taped off the wall before he caulked the splash to the wall, even with all the precautions he took, the caulk still bled behind the tape. As a result I had to pay almost a thousand dollars to replace wallpaper. As a result my number one exclusion in bold letters is that I do not caulk to other people’s work. I have found that when you explain why to contractors they understand that you are only looking out for their finished product.

From contributor M:
I usually do the caulk to the wall, and I use white caulk. If I come across wallpaper I use a clear caulk. But for some reason solid surface companies never caulk to the wall. They caulk the splashes to the top but not to the wall. I always end up doing it.

From the original questioner:
Thanks contributor J - that's pretty much the mind-set I'm in.

From contributor O:
Good answer contributor J. I only do commercial install so I usually get away with switching the blame too. I tell them I can do a lot with cabinets and tops, but I cannot straighten their crooked walls with them.

I too hate to use up my expensive Colorflex. Carry a small roll of foam backer rod (I steal it from the window guys) and a tube of all acrylic caulk. Pack big gaps with rod, and fill over with the acrylic, it hardly shrinks. Leave enough void to come back after the caulk sets and dress it off with the good stuff. Like contributor J said though, a textured wall is a big problem.

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