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How to fabricate solid surface (corian) backsplash
12 • Vol. 7 / Issue 2 • International Surface Fabricators Association
When it comes to solid surface countertops, the
cove backsplash is one of the most powerful,
yet overlooked, options. It not only provides
numerous benefits, but also can be a great
selling point and a good opportunity for an
upsell. I really can’t say enough what an
important feature it can be.
When we think of countertops, most people
think of a pretty basic design, with flat cut-out
shapes that match the cabinetry it sits on. And
with many of the surfaces being installed, that
may very well be the case. However, with solid
surface there is the ability to go well beyond the
flat cut-outs. One of the options that allows this
is the cove backsplash.
As you probably know, the cove backsplash is
basically a way to connect the countertop to the
backsplash in a way that eliminates visible
seams, with the top sort of curving up into the
splash. This provides a number of benefits to the
Appearance – Kitchen tops that have a cove
splash scribed to the wall have the look of
custom craftsmanship, which, from a design
aspect, looks beautiful year-after-year and
stands the test of time. Also, even if the cabinets
settle over time, the backsplash is part of the
countertop, so you won’t be able to see any
unsightly lines on the wall that settling may
Sanitation – Solid surface is already nonporous,
meaning it doesn’t offer bacteria and germs a
place to grow, but cove backsplashes go one
step further. Because they have invisible seams
and are adhered to the countertop, there are no
cracks and crevices where the countertop meets
the wall for dirt or food to become trapped,
further eliminating places for dangerous
microbes to hide.
Convenience – Because the crevasse where the
top meets the wall is replaced by a virtually
seam-free curved cove, cleaning it is much less
of a chore for the end user.
So, the question then becomes, “Why aren’t
there more kitchen countertops with cove being
fabricated?” There are two main reasons: cost
and lack of know-how in fabricating the cove
In response, I am going to show here a basic
and relatively easy way to make a cove top that
does not require any different tools than what
are found in a typical solid surface shop. This will
help solve both the lack of information and the
cost problem on the fabrication side, which may
help you to be able to offer this option to your
clients without the price being a deal killer.
• Table saw
• 3 hp router,
• ⅜-in. core box bit with a ½-in. shank
(see Figure 1)
• ⅞-in. rabbit bit with a ½-in. shank
(see Figure 2)
Step 1 - Using the ⅜-in. core box bit, rout the
length needed on the full sheet of solid surface
before cutting your cove strips. Routing before
you cut the strips from the sheet will make it
easier to manage.
Step 2 - Using the table saw, cut the routed
end off of the sheet in a ⅞-in.-wide strip. This
will become the actual cove for the top/splash.
Note the back of the strip should have a ½-in.
deck (see Figure 3).
Step 3 - Cut the piece of solid surface needed
to make the desired backsplash height and
length. Remember to account for the thickness
of the cove strip (and also the depth of the rabbit
you will be cutting into the top in Step 7).
Step 4 - Run the back side of the backsplash
through the table saw at a depth of ¼ in. about 1
in. up, creating a groove (see Figure 4). This
groove will be used to help clamp the
backsplash to the top in Step 8.
From the desk of Jon Olson
The Importance of the Cove Backsplash
in Solid Surface and How to Fabricate It
Figure 1 – A ⅜-in. core box bit with a ½-in.
Figure 2 – A ⅞-in. rabbit bit with a ½-in. shank
Figure 3 – The ⅞-in. routed strip will become
the actual cove for the top/splash. Note: the
holes in the image are only there to indicate the
portion of the strip that should be ½-in. wide.
International Surface Fabricators Association • Vol. 6 / Issue 4 • 13
Step 5 - After you have cut the groove, glue the
backsplash to the cove piece (see Figure 5).
Step 6 - While the adhesive is drying, wipe
away any excess glue. This will mean less
Step 7 - Take the ⅞ rabbit bit and rout a rabbit
on the back of the top to accept the backsplash
(see Figure 6).
Step 8 - Glue the cove and backsplash to the
top using spring clamps to secure the top down
into the groove (see Figure 7). Remember to
wipe away any excess glue while it is drying.
Step 9 - After the glue has dried, sand to the
desired finish. I like using a 5-in. random-orbit
sander to smooth out the cove. (Just be careful
not to over sand.)
The Process for Cove Corners:
In some situations, you may have to make a
cove corner. This may look like a daunting task,
but it is easier than you think. Here are the
Step 1 - When routing your cove strip, stop the
bit short of the run. This needs to be done
because the backsplash will intersect into the
corner (see Figure 8).
Step 2 - Cut a piece of cove to the height
needed, remembering to take into account the
thickness of the cove strip and the depth of the
Step 3 - Cut a backup piece to beef up the
back of the corner (see Figure 9).
Step 4 - Glue all of the pieces up to the one
selected section of cove you are working on
(see Figure 10). Remember to wipe away any
excess glue while it is drying.
Step 5 – Sand out the cove. This is where
much of the work will take place. Some have
found using a dremmel tool or air file helps to
speed up sanding, especially if you’re doing a
If you don’t want to tackle the cove corner, you
could miter the corner instead.
Using these methods, you should be able to
make cove backsplashes relatively easily
without a bunch of specialized tools or
equipment. Then all you have to do is explain
the value to your customers and you will have a
new tool to increase your sales.
About the Author
Jon Olson works for DuPont as a key account
consultant for Corian and Zodiaq surfaces in New
England and has more than 30 years' involvement
in the solid surface industry, with experience in
all aspects of fabrication and sales. He is the past
recipient of ISFA’s Fabricator of the Year and Innovator
Awards and can be reached at jonathan.m.olson@
Figure 4 – Cutting a groove in the back side of
the backsplash will allow for easier clamping
during glue up.
Figure 5 – The backsplash will be glued onto
the top of the cove strip, so when measuring to
cut the splash, the thickness of the cove strip
should be taken into account (as well as the
depth of the rabbit that the strip will sit in).
Figure 7 – Spring clamps are used to hold the
cove strip and backsplash to the countertop
deck during glue up. The spring clamp should
sit easily in the groove routed into the back of
the splash during Step 4.
Figure 9 - A backup piece should be cut to beef
up the back of the corner.
Figure 6 – A ⅛-in. rabbit routed into the back of
the countertop deck will allow for the cove strip
to sit flush with the deck. Note: the holes in
the image are only there to indicate where the
cove strip will sit.
Figure 8 - When routing your cove strip for a
corner cove, stopping the bit short of the run
allows for where the backsplash will intersect
into the corner.
Figure 10 – Once all of the pieces are glued up,
all that remains is sanding and installation.