Can You Put Tile Over Granite Backsplash?

Installing tile over an existing granite backsplash can be a great way to update the look of your kitchen without undergoing a full remodel. With proper preparation and technique, tiling over granite can transform the space. Here is a detailed guide on how to tile over granite backsplash.

Overview of Tiling Over Granite Backsplash

Tiling over an existing granite backsplash is possible with the right approach. The key steps include:

  • Cleaning and preparing the existing granite surface
  • Applying a bonding agent or mortar to the granite
  • Ensuring the tile and grout lines align with the existing granite
  • Using a tile that is rated for walls/backsplashes
  • Grouting and sealing the new tile properly

With careful installation, the new tile can adhere strongly and look seamless. The result is an updated backsplash look without removing the existing granite.

Benefits of Tiling Over Granite

There are a few advantages to tiling over existing granite:

  • Cost savings – Installing tile over granite is typically cheaper than replacing the entire granite backsplash. The installation work is minimized.
  • Preserves countertops – Tiling over granite allows you to keep the existing granite countertops intact. Only the backsplash area is updated.
  • Quick update – Installing tile over granite can be done relatively quickly. The turnaround time is much faster than a full backsplash replacement.
  • Customize the look – Tiling over granite lets you change the style and color of your backsplash without a full renovation.

As long as the granite is prepared properly, tiling over granite can be a simple weekend project that makes a big visual impact.

Preparing the Granite Surface

Proper prep work is crucial when tiling over granite. Here are the key steps:

  • Deep clean the granite – Use degreasing cleaners to remove all dirt, grease, and grime from the surface. Rinse thoroughly.
  • Sand the granite (optional) – Lightly sanding with 120-150 grit sandpaper can help the tile adhere better by roughening the surface.
  • Apply bonding agent – Use a granite bonding agent or primer to help the thinset mortar stick to the granite. Let it fully dry.
  • Mark proper layout – Mark the granite with a chalk line to establish the layout of the new tile. This will be your guide.

Preparing the granite properly before tiling is the most important step. Rushing this risks the tile not bonding correctly.

Choosing the Right Tile

Picking the proper tile is also key when tiling over granite:

  • Porcelain or ceramic tile – Use tile rated for walls and backsplashes. Porcelain or ceramic tiles are ideal. Avoid soft, porous tiles.
  • Smaller tiles – Smaller tiles like 4 inch squares are easier to install than large tiles. Smaller grout lines also blend better.
  • Complementary color – Choose a tile color that complements the existing granite color. Contrasting colors can also work well.
  • Matte finish – Use tile with a matte or satin finish. Super glossy tile may not bond as tightly to granite.

Having the right tile on hand will make the installation process go much smoother. Always check the manufacturer’s rating before purchasing.

How to Install Tile Over Granite Backsplash

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to install tile over existing granite:

Step 1: Apply Thinset Mortar

  • Use a notched trowel to spread a layer of thinset mortar on the back of the granite.
  • Apply in sections and work in small areas at a time.
  • Use thinset designed for tile projects. Let it sit 5-10 minutes.

Step 2: Set and Grout the Tile

  • Press the tiles into the thinset one by one using a twisting motion.
  • Make sure tile edges and grout lines align with the existing granite.
  • Let the thinset cure fully per manufacturer instructions.
  • Mix grout and apply over all tile grout lines, wiping excess.

Step 3: Seal and Finish

  • Once grout has cured, apply grout sealer using a sponge or applicator.
  • Use caulk to fill any edges between tile and granite countertops.
  • Clean off any residue or haze from the tiles using a damp sponge.

With the right products and techniques, the tiles should bond tightly to the granite surface. Be sure to let the thinset and grout cure fully before using the backsplash.

Tips for Long-Lasting Results

Follow these tips to help ensure your new tile sticks well and lasts over time:

  • Check that the granite is properly sealed before tiling. Reseal if needed.
  • Use a white thinset mortar to prevent bleed-through on lighter granite colors.
  • Apply tiles gently and evenly to prevent cracking or lifting edges.
  • Use sanded caulk between the countertop and tile edges. Avoid silicone-based caulk.
  • Go slowly and let all thinset, grout, and sealers dry fully between steps.
  • Clean spills right away to prevent staining of the grout over time.

With care and patience, your tile over granite project can provide a brand new backsplash look! Be sure to maintain it properly once installed.

FAQ About Tiling Over Granite

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

Can any tile be used over granite?

No, tiles meant for walls and backsplashes should be used, not all floor tiles. The tile should be rated as fine to use in wet areas. Porcelain, ceramic, and natural stone tiles are commonly used.

Does the granite have to be sanded first?

Sanding is an optional preparatory step but not absolutely mandatory. It helps roughen the surface for better adhesion. Use 120-150 grit sandpaper and sand lightly.

How long does it take for thinset mortar to cure?

Thinset curing times vary by brand, but generally take 24-48 hours to cure fully. The mortar should be solid before grouting or sealing. Check the thinset directions.

What type of grout should be used over granite?

An unsanded or fine grout is best for the small grout lines in a backsplash. Avoid large aggregate grouts with granules or sand. Use a grout color that matches the new tile.

Is any special sealer needed after grouting?

Yes, it is important to seal the grout lines after installation to prevent staining. Use a water-based grout sealer and apply liberally across all grout lines and edges.


Installing tile over an existing granite backsplash is a thrifty and effective way to update your kitchen’s style without a full renovation. With proper preparation, careful installation, and regular sealing, the tile can have long-lasting adhesion and transform the space. Be sure to use the right mortar, tile, grout, and sealer for success. With some patience and handy work, you can achieve a brand new backsplash look over your existing granite.