Granite backsplashes can add a beautiful, durable accent to any kitchen. When installing a granite backsplash, one of the most important considerations is choosing the right thickness. Selecting the proper thickness impacts the look, durability, and cost of your backsplash installation. In this guide, we’ll discuss the factors to weigh when deciding how thick your granite backsplash should be.
What is the Standard Thickness for Granite Backsplashes?
The standard thickness for granite backsplashes is 1/4 inch to 3/8 inch (6 mm to 10 mm). This thickness range provides an ideal balance of aesthetics and practicality for most kitchens.
Thinner granite at 1/4 inch can be slightly more prone to cracking or chipping on the edges. However, it offers a very slim profile that maximizes the visible wall space in your kitchen.
Meanwhile, 3/8 inch granite is less likely to crack or sustain damage over time. The slightly thicker profile adds durability while still maintaining a relatively slim appearance.
For most environments, either 1/4 inch or 3/8 inch granite will be sufficient. Going any thicker than 3/8 inch is generally unnecessary, while thinner than 1/4 inch sacrifices too much strength.
Factors that Determine Backsplash Thickness
Several factors come into play when choosing the best thickness for your particular backsplash installation:
Location in the Kitchen
Consider the location of the backsplash and how much wear it will need to withstand. For example, the space directly behind a cooktop or sink will need to stand up to more heat, splashes, and abuse. A slightly thicker 3/8 inch granite is advisable for these heavy-duty areas.
Meanwhile, a backsplash along an empty stretch of wall away from appliances may only need a slimmer 1/4 inch for purely decorative purposes.
Type of Granite
The natural properties of the granite itself also determine ideal thickness. Softer, porous varieties are more prone to staining and etching. Going with a thicker 3/8 inch slab can provide better protection for delicate granites.
Harder, non-porous granites that are naturally more stain- and heat-resistant can get away with a slimmer 1/4 inch thickness in most spots.
How the backsplash will be installed impacts the suitable thickness. Granite tiles, for example, are typically 1/4 inch and installed similarly to ceramic tile. Large granite slabs can be cut to 3/8 inch or thicker for a seamless appearance.
Consider thickness in relation to the installation method for the desired look. A single thick slab can minimize visible seams compared to small tile pieces.
Naturally, thicker granite comes at a higher material cost. Opting to shave 1/8 inch off the thickness can add up to significant savings in both material and labor.
However, it’s important not to sacrifice too much quality or durability just to save a few dollars upfront. Carefully weigh the cost versus benefits of different thicknesses.
Pros and Cons of Thicker vs. Thinner Granite Backsplashes
Deciding between a thicker or thinner granite backsplash depends on your priorities:
Thicker Granite (3/8 inch):
- More durable and resistant to cracks
- Withstands impacts and heat better
- Less chance of sagging over time
- Provides more substantial feel
- Higher material costs
- Weight is heavier, making installation more difficult
- Appearance can be slightly bulky
Thinner Granite (1/4 inch):
- Lower cost for the granite slab
- Lighter weight eases installation
- Slim profile with more visible wall
- Modern, sleek appearance
- More chance of cracking or chipping
- Vulnerable to damage from impacts
- Prone to heat damage or sagging over time
- Can seem flimsy if not supported properly
In summary, thinner granite is visually minimalist but risks durability, while thicker granite emphasizes toughness at the expense of some added bulk.
Installing Supporting Brackets for Thin Granite
If choosing a thinner 1/4 inch granite backsplash, take steps to reinforce and support it properly:
- Use supporting metal L-brackets secured to the wall at the seams and corners. This prevents sagging or detachment over time.
- Optionally, install a water-resistant cement board behind the entire backsplash. This provides a stiff backing to attach the granite to.
- Use a high-quality tile adhesive and carefully follow all manufacturer installation instructions. Spread adhesive evenly across the entire back of the granite pieces to maximize bond strength.
- Consider added brackets or supports behind foreseeable impact zones near appliances. Reinforce areas where pots or tools may hit the backsplash.
- Seal and re-seal granite on a regular basis. Penetrating sealants protect fragile edges against moisture and staining.
Proper installation and sealing enables thin granite to withstand years of use despite its delicacy. Take the time to reinforce it during initial application.
Is There a Maximum Thickness for Granite Backsplashes?
There is no set maximum thickness, but most backsplashes should not exceed 3/4 inch to 1 inch depth. Excessive thickness results in:
- Substantially increased material costs and complex installations
- Overly bulky, distracting appearance that dominates the kitchen
- Potential weight concerns requiring reinforcement of wall studs
For comparison, full granite countertops are commonly 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches thick. This extra heft provides functional surface depth. But for vertical installations like backsplashes, such a thickness is visual and structural overkill.
Aim to strike a functional balance avoiding the extremes of either too thin or an unnecessarily thick slab. 3/8 inch suits most purposes for standard backsplash applications.
How Does the Thickness Impact the Cost of a Granite Backsplash?
Not surprisingly, thicker granite comes at a higher initial price:
- For material itself, a 3/8 inch slab generally costs 10-15% more than an identical granite at 1/4 inch thickness. This can add hundreds of dollars depending on the granite quality and total coverage area.
- Labor costs also increase approximately 5-10% for a thicker backsplash. More weight complicates installation, driving up project rates.
- Thicker granite also often translates to higher demolition costs if replacing an existing backsplash. Removing and disposing of larger pieces of the previous backsplash tacks on labor fees.
However, don’t let slightly higher costs deter you if the added thickness provides the benefits you want. The longevity and resilience of a thicker backsplash can more than justify the modest price difference in the long run.
Can You Use Laminated Granite for Reduced Thickness?
Laminated, or engineered, granite fuses a thin veneer of real granite to particle board or fiberboard. Total thickness can be as little as 3/16 inch.
While laminated granite provides a cost-efficient alternative, it has some downsides for backsplash use:
Drawbacks of Laminated Granite:
- Joints and edges are more visible and prone to damage.
- The adhesive bonding the granite layer can fail from heat or moisture over time.
- The composite backing lacks the strength and longevity of real granite.
- Appearance seems artificial and less like real stone.
For these reasons, most experts recommend full granite thickness, even if just 1/4 inch. Laminated granite works better for low-wear countertop surfaces than in the harsh backsplash environment.
Is a Granite Backsplash Always Installed Vertically?
Traditionally, granite backsplashes run vertically in a rectangular shape along kitchen walls. However, creativity with granite extends beyond just vertical facades. Other possible orientations include:
A horizontal backsplash provides a unique accent under wall-mounted cabinets. Visually, it draws the eye along the length of the kitchen. This ultra-modern look works best in contemporary spaces. Measure cabinet height carefully to allow the ideal splash clearance.
Angled or Mitered Edges
Adding elegant mitered edges to perimeter granite pieces dresses up basic right-angled corners. Chamfered edges and inlaid triangular accents also break up the straight vertical lines.
For open, rounded wall layouts, consider conforming the granite to the existing curves. Flexible granite can bend slightly to match smooth radiuses. Naturally, curved pieces demand expert installation skills.
Alternating triangle- and diamond-shaped granite tiles create geometric appeal. Mixing granite colors and textures within the patterns adds further visual punch.
Get creative with the shape, direction, and layout of your granite backsplash. Angles, curves, and artistic motifs make for eye-catching zoom backgrounds and custom looks.
What Finish Works Best for Granite Backsplashes?
Granite backsplashes traditionally feature a polished gloss finish. This high-sheen finish reflects light beautifully to make colors sparkle. The slick polish also resists staining and stands up well to spills and splashes.
However, polished granite requires diligent cleaning. Fingerprints, grease, and water spots show clearly on the reflective surface. Consider these alternative backsplash finish options:
A flat honed finish removes the polish for a matte, satiny look. Pores remain unfilled, creating more texture. Honed granite disguises marks better than polished.
A flamed finish involves rapidly heating the granite to create a rugged, textured appearance. This finish nicely masks fingerprint smudges.
Leathered or Antique Finish
Artisans use chisels or brushes to manually rough up the granite surface. A leathered finish lends an Old World, antiqued charm.
While polish remains the most common and flashy choice, weigh the practical benefits of the other finishes. Your backsplash usage, traffic, and cleaning habits help determine the best granite surface.
How is Thickness Measured for Curved Granite Backsplashes?
For convex curved backsplashes, the thickness typically matches straight slab installation at 1/4 or 3/8 inch. Flexing the granite minimally to fit the curve does not alter the depth significantly.
However, for more pronounced concave curved shapes, inside measurement determines thickness. The greater the degree of inward curvature, the thinner the granite ends up relative to a flat slab.
Concave curves practically limit how thick the granite can remain before becoming too unwieldy to shape accurately. Radiuses under 12 inches usually require shaving granite down to 1/4 inch or less.
Consult your granite installer on achievable thicknesses for highly curved designs. The nature of the bend ultimately dictates how thin granite must get installed properly.
Is Backlighting an Option with Granite Backsplashes?
Backlighting adds gorgeous eye-catching ambiance to a granite backsplash. Done right, it creates a focal point within the kitchen. Consider these tips for backlighting:
- For a continuous lit appearance, install LED lighting along the top and bottom edges of the backsplash. Opt for wider 4-5 inch strips to better distribute light.
- LED strips must make complete contact with the granite. Accomplish this by cutting shallow channels to recess lighting strips flush into the granite.
- Edge lighting alone generally needs thinner 1/4 granite to transmit sufficient light. To backlight thicker slabs, install additional lights positioned farther out from the granite.
- Make any wiring cuts and connections before securing granite permanently. Check that lights work before completing the job.
- Choose LED strip lighting offering high color rendering (CRI) to accurately convey granite’s hue.
Ambient backlighting livens up neutral granite colors and adds extra visual flair. With smart installation planning, even thick granite slabs can glow beautifully.
How Thick is Granite Backsplash – In Summary
When deciding how thick your granite backsplash should be, keep these guidelines in mind:
- Standard thickness for granite backsplashes falls between 1/4 and 3/8 inch. This suits most kitchens well.
- Consider the backsplash location, type of granite, installation method, and budget when selecting thickness.
- Weigh the pros and cons of thin vs. thick. Thinner saves money but sacrifices durability, while thicker is brawnier but costs more.
- For thin granite, take steps to properly reinforce it using brackets and cement board backing.
- Unnecessarily thick backsplashes are impractical and expensive overkill. Keep thickness reasonable and not over 1 inch.
- While laminated granite is cheaper, it is too vulnerable for long-term backsplash use. Stick with real granite thickness.
- Feel free to get creative with granite orientation, shape, edges, and artistic patterns.
- Honed, flamed, or leathered finishes make smart alternatives to high-gloss polish for granite backsplash surfaces.
- Concave curved granite necessitates thinner cuts to properly fit the shape. Backlighting pairs beautifully with granite.
Considering these tips when planning a granite backsplash installation ensures you choose the ideal thickness for both form and function. Paired with pro installer craftsmanship, the right thickness results in a stunning, lasting backsplash centerpiece.
Frequently Asked Questions About Granite Backsplash Thickness
Here are answers to some common questions about choosing the right thickness for a granite backsplash:
How thick does a granite backsplash need to be to support screws?
To securely hold screws for hanging items on a granite backsplash, a minimum thickness of 3/8 inch is recommended. This gives screw threads sufficient depth to grip tightly. For heavy-duty attachments, opt for 1/2 inch thickness or more.
What thickness of granite is flexible enough to curve?
Granite can be flexed to fit curved spaces starting at 1/4 inch thickness. Any thicker, and it generally becomes too rigid for curving. For tight radiuses under 12 inches, thinner than 1/4 inch may be required.
Can you use 1/8 inch thin granite for backsplashes?
At just 1/8 inch, granite layers are prone to cracking and debonding when used vertically as a backsplash. While very thin granite saves on cost, it lacks the structural strength for this application. Stick to 1/4 inch or 3/8 inch for backsplashes.
Does thicker granite reduce noise from appliances?
Thicker granite can provide marginal noise reduction from dishwashers, blenders, and other loud appliances. However, insulation and sound-dampening materials within walls make far more impact on deadening noise.
Is the edge thickness the same as the overall slab thickness?
When granite is cut, installed edges are commonly built up using additional stone material and bonding epoxy. This strengthens edges against blows. So edge thickness may exceed the slab’s overall nominal thickness.
Can I install new granite over an existing laminated backsplash?
It is not recommended to install real granite over laminated backsplash materials. Laminates lack the strength to properly support a heavy stone overlay. Remove laminates first before installing new full-thickness granite.
The ideal thickness for a granite backsplash strikes a balance between sleek form and rugged function. While 1/4 inch granite provides a lightweight, economical option, step up to 3/8 inch or more for heavy use areas wanting enhanced durability. Consider the location, budget, installation method, and backsplash design when choosing which thickness works best. Plan any edge reinforcements needed to support thin yet gorgeous granite backsplashes. With smart thickness selection, your new granite backsplash stays beautifully intact for decades to come.