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We recently had our kitchen countertop replaced with quartz. The installers did not caulk the countertop to the wall, presumably because there is damage to the drywall from the old backsplash being removed, and we have someone else coming to install a tile backsplash in a few weeks. The largest gap between the countertop and the wall is about 1/8 inch, but that is the countertop behind the sink.

I have the general steps down of how to do the wall repair prep before I repaint the room, but its not clear to me WHEN in this sequence I should apply the caulk to seal the countertop.

Repair steps I originally sourced from here

  1. Cut away loose drywall paper, paint, and any old caulk from previous backsplash
  2. Prime the exposed drywall with oil-based drywall primer (I have KILZ PVA)
  3. Apply joint compound
  4. Sand (possibly wet sand?)
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 if needed for smooth surface
  6. Apply primer before painting (Using KILZ Mold and Mildew Resistant primer)
  7. Paint the room
  8. Tile backsplash installed (Planning on this mosaic tile

I know the caulk itself won't take paint, but at the same time I want to avoid water or even excess paint from dripping down behind the counter.
So, here's the question:

  • Should I be caulking early in the prcoess, or even before I start the repairs?
  • OR, should I caulk after painting but before the tile install?
  • OR, should I assume the tile installer will take care of all of the caulking?

I'll just note we haven't met the tile installer yet - they are coming to measure next week, and we're still trying to find appropriate pencil trim tile for the edges.

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    Countertops are usually the last install, so caulking is usually the last also. If you are using the sink/water and want to prevent water from getting behind, then can caulk now. Caulking usually is easy to remove with a little work/sharp knife/razor blade.
    – crip659
    Commented Dec 21, 2023 at 16:49
  • @crip - this wasn't a full remodel, just replacing the countertops, painting and new tile backsplash, but the old laminate countertops had a poorly made (and water damaged) laminate backsplash. I'll add a photo, which I meant to do in the first place.
    – RisingZan
    Commented Dec 21, 2023 at 17:14
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    Before going to too much work where your tile is going to go, check with your tile installer and see how they want the tile surface prepared. They may not want it finish painted so the mastic has a rougher surface for adhesion.
    – Milwrdfan
    Commented Dec 21, 2023 at 17:20
  • @Milwrdfan Most of the wall where tile will be going is already painted from the previous owner. We plan on changing the colors. I'll will ask the installer if I should do anything in that area, but I was thinking I would like to apply the mold & mildew primer everywhere, if possible.
    – RisingZan
    Commented Dec 21, 2023 at 17:42
  • Your tile is going down to the counter surface? Looks like the old counters had a granite backsplash, or were the laminated type with a built-in backsplash.
    – Huesmann
    Commented Dec 22, 2023 at 17:17

3 Answers 3

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Caulk last, after the tiles go on. That's your final seal between counter & wall.

If you can temporarily use tape to prevent any spill-over, that should keep the tiler happy. If not, the tiniest bead of caulk that can either be cut away after, or not get in the way of the tiling, then put your final bead on at the end.

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Use an acrylic caulk sparingly to seal the small gap.

Then do nothing. The tiler should be able to handle the wall. It is not very damaged, ( compared to many that I have seen).

The final seal between the counter and backsplash will be handled by the tile installer. This is common.

For the edge trim look at aluminium edge trim. Many options and sizes for the correct thickness of the tile. Pencil tile is rarely used any longer, but you may find what you like.

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Caulk connects the counter to the tile. There's no need for any caulk between the wall and the counter. Best case scenario, it would do nothing. Worst case scenario, it would interfere with the tile installation. Just be tidy with your paint.

The caulking should be part of the tiler's scope. It adds a bit of polish to the job, so he'll probably want to do it. You can casually mention the vertical joint at the edges of the counter to be sure that he does that little extra bit beyond the tile-to-counter joint. Continuing the caulk down those vertical joints will make that caulk unpaintable, so the wall at that joint should have been painted in the distant past.

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