Installing a granite backsplash can add elegance and value to your kitchen. Granite is a beautiful, durable, and easy-to-clean option that pairs nicely with most countertops. Attaching a granite backsplash is a project that most DIYers can tackle with the right preparations and techniques. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the entire process, from selecting your granite slab to properly securing it to the wall. With some planning and patience, you can enjoy the luxurious look of granite in your kitchen.
Selecting the Granite
The first step is choosing the perfect slab of granite for your backsplash. Consider the following when making your selection:
Granite comes in a diverse array of natural colors and patterns. Select a granite hue that complements your cabinetry, counters, flooring, and overall kitchen decor. Cool-toned grays, whites, and blues pair nicely with stainless steel appliances, while warm earth tones match well with wooden cabinetry.
The finish of the granite influences its maintenance and aesthetic. Polished granite has a smooth, shiny look that highlights the stone’s colors and veining. Honed granite is matte and understated. A flamed finish has a textured, rippled appearance.
Backsplash granite slabs are typically 3/8 or 1/2 inches thick. Thinner granite is lighter and may allow for easier installation. However, thicker granite is more durable and robust.
Measure the linear footage of your backsplash area to determine what size slab you’ll need. Keep in mind you may need to trim granite pieces to fit your exact backsplash dimensions.
Granite backsplashes can be a full slab, beveled-edge tiles, or mosaics. Choose the look that best suits your kitchen.
Once you select the perfect granite for your backsplash, order a slab sized slightly larger than your measured area to allow for potential breaks or cracks.
Preparing the Work Area
Properly setting up your workspace makes installation smoother. Follow these tips when prepping:
- Clear the area of appliances, cookware, and other items. Remove existing backsplash if present.
- Cover nearby surfaces with rosin paper or plastic sheeting to protect from spills and debris. Use painter’s tape to seal edges.
- Have all tools and materials easily accessible – granite slab, tile adhesive, grout, sponges, buckets, trowel, level, tape measure, utility knife, caulking gun, and more.
- Be sure the wall surface is clean, dry, smooth, and free of grease. Sand glossy areas for better adhesion.
- Wear safety gear like gloves, eye protection, and a dust mask. Work carefully when handling heavy granite.
Movable Work Table
Setting granite slabs on a movable work table makes installation much easier. Place the slab on the table, up against the wall where it will be mounted. You can then maneuver the slab into place more seamlessly.
Dry Fitting the Granite
Before applying any adhesive, do a dry fit to ensure your measurements are accurate and the granite backsplash fits correctly:
- Have an assistant help hold the granite slab in place against the wall.
- Use a level to double check that the slab is even and plumb. Mark areas that need adjustment.
- If needed, trim the granite with a wet saw. Make small precision cuts for a tight fit.
- Run caulking along corners and edges that will meet the countertop. This prevents water from seeping behind.
- Do any final sanding on the granite edges to smooth rough areas.
- Clean the back of the slab and wall area with denatured alcohol to remove residue.
Dry fitting first prevents headaches after the granite is secured when adjustments become much harder. Take your time with this step.
Applying the Adhesive
With the granite perfectly fitted, you’re ready to attach it to the wall. Proper adhesive application is key:
- Use a notched trowel to spread a thin, even layer of tile mastic adhesive on the back of the granite.
- Similarly apply adhesive to the wall area where the slab will mount. Cover the entire surface.
- Allow both sides to become tacky for 5-10 minutes. Test with your knuckle – it should feel sticky, not slippery.
- Be careful not to let the adhesive dry out completely. If it does, scrape it off and reapply fresh adhesive.
- The open time for tile adhesive is typically 20-30 minutes once applied. Work efficiently.
Applying adhesive properly ensures maximum strength and adhesion. Take care not to use too much or too little.
Mounting the Granite Backsplash
Once adhesive is tacky on both surfaces, it’s time to mount the granite backsplash:
- Have a helper lift and hold the granite slab against the wall.
- Starting at the bottom, press the slab firmly to the wall, sliding upwards and smoothing out air pockets. Apply even pressure across the entire slab.
- If needed, use a clean rubber mallet and wood block to gently tap the granite into place, closing any gaps. Be cautious not to crack granite.
- Use a level often to ensure the slab remains even. Make slight adjustments as needed.
- Permanently secure top edges with silicone adhesive. Hold in place with masking tape until dry.
- Avoid moving or jostling the slab. Allow adhesive to fully cure for 24-48 hours before grouting.
- After curing, inspect that all edges have sealed tightly to the wall with no gaps, air bubbles, or loose areas. Re- adhesive if needed.
Mounting the granite properly ensures it remains securely attached to the wall long-term. Taking it slow and steady is recommended.
Grouting the Joints
Once adhesive has fully cured, grout the joints between the granite slab and countertop/walls:
- Mask off countertops and nearby areas with painter’s tape to keep clean.
- Use unsanded grout for joints 1/8 inch or smaller. Sanded grout is best for wider joints. Match grout color to your granite.
- Holding a rubber grout float at a 45° angle, firmly press grout into the seams to fill completely.
- Wipe away excess grout with a damp sponge. Rinse sponge and re-wipe until no grout haze remains.
- Allow grout to dry for 72 hours, then seal with a penetrating granite sealer if desired for added protection.
Proper grouting keeps moisture from penetrating behind the granite backsplash. Let grout fully cure before using the area.
Helpful Tips and Tricks
Follow these additional pointers for a smooth installation:
- For easier handling, have granite slab cut into smaller sections if possible. Re-assemble against wall.
- When making cuts, tape the area first to prevent chipping. Go slowly with the wet saw.
- Use painter’s tape and plastic sheeting to protect walls, countertops, and floors from spills.
- Have a helper assist with lifting and placing the heavy granite slab. Practice safety.
- Let adhesive fully cure before grouting or making final inspections. Do not rush adhesive drying time.
- Clean any stubborn adhesive residue with denatured alcohol on a soft rag. Avoid abrasive cleaners.
- If re-mounting an old backsplash, scrape off all old adhesive and re-prepare the wall surface.
- For removing granite backsplash in the future, score the granite with a utility knife before prying it off.
Following these tips will lead to a stunning and long-lasting granite backsplash installation. Take your time and exercise patience.
Many DIYers have additional questions when installing a granite backsplash. Here are helpful answers to some frequently asked questions:
What kind of adhesive should I use?
Use a tile mastic adhesive specifically formulated for granite and other stone. These provide a strong, durable bond. Avoid multipurpose adhesives.
How long does the adhesive need to cure?
Adhesive cure times range from 24-48 hours typically. The granite should not be grouted or put into use until the adhesive has fully hardened.
Should I use sanded or unsanded grout?
For narrow joints up to 1/8 inch, unsanded grout is recommended. Wider joints will benefit from sanded grout for a durable fill.
What tools do I need for installation?
Helpful tools include a notched trowel, grout float, sponges, painter’s tape, silicone adhesive, denatured alcohol, buckets, utility knife, caulking gun, level, and wet saw if making precision cuts.
How do I cut the granite properly?
Use a wet saw with a diamond granite blade. Cut very slowly and steadily to avoid cracking or chipping the stone. Taping your cut line first also helps minimize cracking.
How do I remove excess grout from granite surface?
Wiping with a lightly dampened sponge in circular motions helps remove grout haze without smearing once it begins to dry. Rinsing the sponge helps keep it clean.
Can I install granite over existing tile?
Yes, as long as the existing wall surface is smooth, clean, and well-prepared. The adhesive will bond the new granite to old tile if proper technique is used.
Focus on safety, precision, and patience when installing your granite backsplash. Following the techniques outlined here will lead to stunning results!
Adding a granite backsplash provides elegance and luxury to any kitchen. While the installation process involves careful prep and precise technique, it is a DIY-friendly project with proper planning. Setting up a clean workspace, dry fitting the slab, using quality adhesive, neatly grouting, and employing helpful tips will allow you to transform your cooking space with beautiful and durable granite. Concentrate on each step and avoid rushing the process. Soon you will be enjoying the sophistication and shine of a new granite backsplash installed with your own hands.
How to Remove Granite Backsplash without Damaging Walls
Over time, tastes change and kitchen updates call for removing an old backsplash to install something new. Taking out a granite backsplash requires care to avoid harming your walls in the process. With the proper techniques and tools, you can remove your granite completely and safely. Follow these steps to take out your existing backsplash without causing wall damage:
Prepare the Workspace
As with any DIY project, proper preparation makes the work process smooth and successful:
- Clear the area of items and appliances that could get in the way or damaged.
- Cover nearby floors, countertops and ceilings with rosin paper or plastic sheeting taped at the edges. This protects surfaces.
- Have all necessary tools handy – hammer, chisel, pry bar, caulking gun, putty knives, shop vacuum, safety gear, rags, plastic bags for debris, and more.
- Turn off any appliances like overhead lighting that you may accidentally bump during the removal process.
Prepping your workspace takes a little time upfront, but prevents headaches and damage down the line.
Score Along Grout Lines
Before attempting to pry the granite slabs off, you need to carefully score them along all grout lines using a utility knife. This step is crucial:
- Hold the utility knife at a 45° angle and apply firm, even pressure as you trace along every grout line.
- Make several passes over each area to score through the adhesive completely.
- Take care to only score the granite and adhesive, not the drywall underneath.
- Scoring gives the pry bar or chisel a weak spot to focus on, preventing tearing of drywall.
- Go over the entire surface, scoring any seams, caulking lines, or joints as well.
Scoring adequately along grout lines takes patience but is the key to removing granite without ripping up drywall in the process.
Loosen Granite with Chisel and Hammer
With scoring complete, you can begin carefully chiseling the granite slabs off the wall:
- Place chisel tip on well-scored line and use hammer to gently tap it behind the granite.
- Continue tapping lightly along the length of the grout line or seam. Go slowly to minimize granite cracking.
- Once you feel the granite begin to lift, move to an adjacent line and repeat the process.
- Work methodically around the perimeter before moving to inner areas.
- As you loosen pieces, use a pry bar to gently lift further but do not rip them completely off yet.
Use light yet firm force so you gradually break the adhesive’s grip without damaging walls. Practice patience during this important step.
Remove Granite Completely
With the granite fully loosened, you can now finish removing it fully:
- Starting in a corner, grip the slab firmly and pull toward yourself at a 45° angle. Removed nails as you go.
- Place removed pieces front-side down on a protected work surface to prevent scratching.
- Check that you’ve removed all adhesive residue along with the granite pieces. Scrape off any remaining bits.
- Use the pry bar to peel off any stubborn chunks still sticking to the walls.
- Avoid simply ripping pieces off as this can pull drywall off with it.
Work methodically to remove all granite and adhesive until you’re down to the bare wall surface again.
Clean and Prepare Walls
With the backsplash totally removed, the last step is cleaning and prepping the bare wall area:
- Use a stiff putty knife to scrape off any remaining adhesive globs until only drywall remains.
- Wipe the wall down with denatured alcohol to remove all residue.
- Sand lightly with fine grit sandpaper to smooth any rough patches or uneven areas.
- Fill any gouges in the drywall with spackle compound. Allow to dry fully and then sand smooth.
- Carefully cut out and replace any areas with damaged drywall. Tape joints with drywall mesh tape.
- Vacuum up all granite dust and debris. The area is now ready for your new backsplash!
Properly preparing the bare wall ensures your new backsplash gets mounted on a clean, smooth surface for lasting results.
Helpful Removal Tips
- Go slowly and exercise patience to avoid damaging walls. Don’t rush or forcefully rip.
- Have a helper assist with lifting off heavy granite pieces safely. Use proper body mechanics.
- Wear eye and hand protection when chiseling and prying granite. Sharp edges can break.
- For stubborn adhesive, heat with a hairdryer then scrape immediately once softened.
- Dispose of granite debris properly. Granite cannot go in regular garbage pickup.
- If reusing granite pieces, label their position and store safely on a protected surface.
With care and the proper prep work, you can remove a granite backsplash smoothly without causing any wall damage in the process. Focus on working slowly, scoring grout lines, loosening pieces carefully, prying gently, and cleaning walls thoroughly. Soon you’ll have a blank slate ready for your new dream backsplash design.
How to Measure for a Granite Backsplash
An accurately measured granite backsplash ensures a tailored fit and professional looking final result. Follow these techniques to measure like an expert:
Have these items on hand before starting:
- Measuring tape
- Painter’s tape
- Notepad or smartphone for writing measurements
- Camera to take photos of the process
Accurate measurements require taking your time and using the right tools. Have everything ready beforehand.
Remove everything from counters and the backsplash area. This allows full access for exact measurements:
- Take everything out of cabinets below and clean interior surfaces.
- Clear counters of appliances, cookware, and accessories. Store items safely.
- Have unobstructed access to the entire backsplash area, from countertop to ceiling.
- Use painter’s tape to mark off a 6 inch border around the perimeter of backsplash area.
A clean, clear workspace lets you take detailed measurements for a custom fitted backsplash.
Measure all length segments needing coverage:
- Start in a corner. Measure across to the next corner and record. Repeat on all sides.
- For sections exceeding typical granite slab sizes like islands, measure smaller segments instead.
- Use a level often to ensure you measure evenly across. Measurements must be accurate.
- On uneven walls, take multiple length measurements to account for imperfections.
- Write down all measurements neatly or enter them in your phone. Double check accuracy.
Carefully measuring all required lengths provides the footprint needed to size your granite slabs.
Determine the vertical height you want the new backsplash to cover:
- Measure from countertop up to bottom of wall cabinets or ceiling.
- Check plumb level and adjust if the height varies. Record the precise measurement.
- For a truly custom look, continue backsplash granite behind stove hoods and light fixtures.
- On uneven ceilings, measure height at multiple points and make note of inconsistencies.
- Remember to leave room at the bottom for backsplash to slip under cabinet lip.
Having an accurate vertical height ensures your granite backsplash reaches the proper place between counter and ceiling.
Mark Outlets, Switches, and Obstacles
Note the exact position of any outlets, switches, plumbing fixtures, or other obstacles on the wall:
- Measure distance from corner to center point of each item needing marking.
- Use painter’s tape to outline boxes precisely. This will guide cutouts later.
- Similarly mark positioning of any pipes, vents, brackets, or other specialty items.
- Take close up photos of all areas needing cutouts for reference.
Marking obstacles clearly makes cutting granite easier later for a custom fit around fixtures.
Double Check Totals
Carefully total all measurements and verify:
- Add up the length and height segments needed. Include irregular areas.
- Review notes and re-measure any unclear spots. Catch errors now, not later.