Adding a granite backsplash to your kitchen can be a great way to increase style and value. Granite is durable, easy to clean, and available in a wide variety of colors and patterns. Attaching a granite backsplash is a project that most DIYers can handle with the right planning and materials. This guide will walk you through the complete process of how to attach a granite backsplash in your kitchen.
Tools and Materials Needed
Attaching a granite backsplash requires some specialized tools and materials. Before starting, make sure you have the following:
- Granite tiles or slab for the backsplash
- Tile adhesive mortar
- Notched trowel
- Grout sealer
- Tile spacers
- Tile cutting tools – wet saw or angle grinder
- Dust mask and eye protection
- Rubber mallet
- Bucket or mixing trays
- Tile leveling system (optional)
Adhesive and grout: Make sure to use sanded grout for joints wider than 1/8″ and unsanded for anything narrower. An anti-fracture membrane thinset adhesive is recommended for the mortar. This will allow for small movements in the granite to prevent cracks.
Granite backsplash tiles: Pick granite tiles or a slab in your preferred color and style. Make sure tiles are uniform thickness. Granite backsplashes can be installed with either granite tile or a full slab.
Safety gear: A dust mask, glasses, and ear protection are essential when cutting granite tiles. Make safety a priority.
Prepare the Surface
Proper preparation of the surface is crucial for a long-lasting granite installation.
- Clean thoroughly. Use a degreaser to remove any existing grime or residues. Rinse and let dry completely.
- Remove existing backsplash. Carefully pry off and discard existing backsplash tiles or wall covering.
- Inspect drywall. Look for any damaged areas of drywall and repair as needed with joint compound.
- Prime. Before applying mortar, prime with a drywall primer to improve adhesion. Allow primer to dry fully.
The backsplash area should be clean, dry and ready for tile installation once prep is complete.
Plan Your Layout
Take measurements of the backsplash area and make a layout plan for the granite tiles. Having a layout drawn out will make the installation go smoothly.
- Measure. Determine the exact dimensions of the backsplash area – measure width and height.
- Map it out. Sketch a layout showing tile placement, pattern, grout lines and spacers.
- Account for cuts. Plan tile layout so edges of the backsplash require mainly small cut tiles.
- Apply mortar. Use a notched trowel to evenly spread tile adhesive on the bottom row area first.
Planning a logical tile layout will set you up for backsplash success.
Cut Granite Tiles
Cutting granite backsplash tiles to fit is often necessary around outlets, corners, and edges. Make precise cuts for a professional looking finished product.
- Mark measurements accurately
- Use a wet saw with a diamond blade
- Cut slowly to avoid cracking
- Make multiple light passes if needed
- Dry fit to test
- Wear proper safety gear
Investing in a quality wet saw is advisable for anyone doing multiple tile projects. Home improvement stores also commonly rent wet saws. For simple straight cuts, a carbide scoring tool and snap tile pliers provide a cheaper cutting solution.
Exercise caution when cutting granite! Wear eye and ear protection.
Set the First Row
With your surface prepped and tiles cut, you’re ready to set the first row. Use spacers to ensure even grout lines.
- Dry lay tiles. Set cut tiles in place without adhesive to test fit.
- Apply mortar. Spread a layer of tile adhesive on the backsplash area using a notched trowel.
- Set corner tiles first. Adhere corner tiles in place with tile spacers in between.
- Fill in center tiles. Press tiles firmly into adhesive starting from corners working inward.
- Check alignment. Make sure first row is perfectly straight using a level.
The first row sets the tone for the rest of the backsplash. Taking the time to properly apply mortar and align this row pays off later.
Continue Setting Granite Tiles
Work row by row from the bottom up until you reach the top. Use spacers for consistent spacing between tiles.
- Add adhesive. Spread mortar across the next row area using a notched trowel.
- Align tiles. Press tiles into the mortar firmly. Twist slightly to flatten. Use spacers.
- Continue in rows. Repeat process row by row until you reach the top.
- Check level often. Use a level on tiles to ensure the rows stay straight.
Moving methodically up the wall takes patience but prevents slipped or crooked tiles. Don’t rush through the steps.
Cut and Install Final Row
The last row often requires cut tiles to fit properly. Take time to measure and cut the tiles for a perfect fit.
- Dry lay tiles. Set the last row in place without adhesive to test sizing. Mark any tiles needing cutting.
- Cut tiles. Use a wet saw to cut marked granite tiles to fit.
- Set final row. Spread adhesive on last row area. Press cut tiles into place.
- Grouts joints. Be sure top row tiles are aligned evenly and spacer joints match below.
- Let cure. Allow tile mortar adhesive to fully cure for 24-48 hours before grouting.
Completing the final row can be tricky but makes a big impact on the finished look. Precisely cutting these accent tiles finishes the job.
Apply Grout Between Granite Tiles
Grouting fills the joints between tiles. Choose an appropriate grout color to complement your granite.
- Mix grout. Prepare grout by mixing powder with water in a bucket to a thick peanut butter consistency.
- Apply grout. Use a rubber grout float to spread grout over the tile joints, pressing into gaps.
- Wipe away excess. Allow grout to set just until hazy on tile surface, then wipe diagonally across joints with a sponge.
- Clean residue. Rinse sponge frequently to remove remaining grout residue. Buff surface with a cloth.
- Seal grout. Once grout has dried fully, apply a grout sealing product.
Tip: Choose a grout color that matches or contrasts the granite depending on the look you want.
Seal and Finish Granite Backsplash
Sealing the granite and caulking the edges finishes your new backsplash installation.
- Apply granite sealer. Use a spray-on stone and granite sealer to protect the surface according to manufacturer directions.
- Caulk edges. Run a bead of kitchen/bath silicone caulk along top and side edges between backsplash and wall.
- Clean up. Remove any remaining debris, spacers, or tile adhesive from the backsplash area.
- Enjoy! Your granite backsplash is complete and ready to use. Admire your handiwork.
Routine maintenance: Re-apply granite sealer once a year. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasives on the surface.
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about installing a granite backsplash:
How long does it take to install a granite backsplash?
For an experienced DIYer, expect the installation to take 2-3 days from start to finish. Exact timeframe depends on the size of your backsplash area and tile layout complexity.
What thickness granite should be used for backsplash?
3/8″ thick granite tiles are recommended for backsplashes. Thinner tiles can crack more easily. Granite slabs are typically 3/4″ thick for backsplashes.
Should I use mosaic sheets or individual tiles?
Individual granite tiles are preferred, as mosaic sheets have a meshed backing that complicates cutting. Smaller mosaic tiles also have higher grout maintenance.
What type of mortar should I use?
Use a tile adhesive mortar designed for natural stone like granite. Anti-fracture thinset mortars provide more flexibility.
How soon can I use the backsplash after installing?
Wait a full 24-48 hours after setting the tiles before grouting or using, to allow the mortar adhesive to fully cure and harden.
What maintenance does granite backsplash require?
Granite is highly durable but sealing it annually will protect from stains. Avoid abrasive cleansers which can damage the surface.
Installing a granite backsplash can add instant style and value to your kitchen. With proper planning and materials, this is a DIY project worth tackling. The finished product will provide a beautiful, low maintenance surface that can be enjoyed for decades. Take your time installing the granite backsplash correctly, and you’ll be rewarded with stunning results.
Attaching a granite backsplash provides a gorgeous upgrade to any kitchen. With the right tools and preparation, the installation process is totally doable. The key is taking the time to properly measure, cut, and place the granite tiles row by row. Remember to account for outlets and edges that require cut tiles. Once the granite is set, be sure to use spacers, grout properly, and seal the surface. Follow the techniques outlined above and you’ll have a stunning new backsplash that elevates your space with natural stone beauty.