How to Cut Marble Backsplash

Marble backsplashes can add elegance and visual interest to any kitchen. However, cutting marble requires special tools and techniques to achieve a professional result. This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about how to cut marble backsplash tiles yourself.

Selecting the Right Marble for Backsplash

When choosing marble for a backsplash, consider the following:

  • Stone Type – Carrara, Calacatta, and Statuario are common white marble options. Select a material that matches your aesthetic and budget.
  • Tile Size – Smaller mosaic tiles can be tricky for DIY installation. Larger 12″ tiles are beginner-friendly.
  • Tile Finish – Honed marble has a matte look, while polished marble is shiny and reflective. Finish preferences are purely aesthetic.
  • Veining – Look for uniform veining throughout tiles to achieve a cohesive look. Veining ranges from subtle gray lines to dramatic dark veins.
  • Thickness – 1/4″ thick marble tiles are lightweight and suitable for backsplashes. Thicker 3/4″ tiles can be used for floors and walls.

Consider ordering 10-15% extra marble to account for cuts, cracks, and future repairs. Always inspect tiles carefully before installation.

Tools and Materials Needed

Cutting marble backsplash tiles requires a wet saw with a diamond blade. Never use a wood-cutting blade, as it will shatter the stone. Most tile stores will make straight cuts for you upon purchase.

In addition to a wet saw ($50+ rental), you’ll need:

  • Diamond blade for wet saw ($25-40)
  • Eye protection
  • Ear protection
  • N-95 dust mask
  • Gloves
  • Tape measure
  • Marker
  • Straight edge
  • Gun grip cutters ($15-30) – manual nipper for freehand cuts
  • Sandpaper – for smoothing cut edges
  • Mineral spirits – cleans saw water lines
  • Bucket of water – for wet saw

Avoid power tools like an angle grinder that produce marble dust. Stick to wet cutting methods only.

How to Cut Marble Tiles

Follow these steps for safe and accurate marble tile cuts:

1. Measure and Mark Cut Lines

  • Use a tape measure to determine the size needed. Account for 1/8″ grout lines in your math.
  • On matte marble, use a pencil. On polished marble, use a marker. Never use ink, as it can stain the stone.
  • Mark your cut line across the full width of the tile. Don’t just mark the corners.
  • For outlets and irregular shapes, mark the pattern on the backside of the tile.

2. Score the Marble Tile

  • With a straight edge as a guide, use the gun grip cutters to score along the cut line.
  • Make several passes applying moderate pressure to create a deep score line.
  • This weakens the top layer before wet sawing.

3. Cut on a Wet Saw

  • Fill the saw reservoir with water before starting to reduce dust.
  • Align the marked cut line directly over the saw blade. Anchor tile firmly in place.
  • Turn on saw and wait for blade to reach full speed before lowering into the tile.
  • Gently feed the tile through the blade at a steady pace for a clean cut.
  • Cut slowly and patiently to avoid cracking marble near the cut line.

4. Smooth Rough Edges

  • Use a rubbing stone or sandpaper to gently smooth cut edges.
  • Rub side-to-side rather than back-and-forth to avoid rounding edges.
  • Work carefully to avoid damaging tile faces. Rinse tiles when done.

5. Make Finish Cuts and Holes

  • For outlets, faucets, etc measure the space and transfer shape to the tile back.
  • Drill out circles first before sawing outer shape for clean results.
  • For notches on end tiles, chisel out with gun grip cutter and smooth edges.

Rinse tiles thoroughly after all cutting to remove debris before installing. Wear safety gear throughout the cutting process. Take your time for accurate results.

How to Install a Marble Backsplash

Once cuts are complete, follow standard backsplash installation techniques:

Prep the Surface

  • Scrape old adhesive and debris from wall area. The surface should be clean and smooth.
  • Paint on a skim coat of thinset mortar if walls are heavily textured or uneven.

Apply Thinset Mortar

  • Use white thinset mortar adhesive designed for natural stone.
  • With a notched trowel, apply a 1/4” layer of thinset to the installation area.

Mount Tiles in Place

  • Press tiles into the thinset firmly, using spacers for even 1/8” grout lines.
  • Don’t slide tiles through mortar once placed. Adjust position before pressing in.
  • Work in small sections, wiping away excess thinset as you go.

Let Mortar Cure

  • Allow thinset to cure for 24 hours before grouting marble tiles.
  • Use clamps or tape to secure any tiles that feel loose.

Apply Grout and Seal

  • Mix and apply matching marble grout, wiping away excess. Seal tiles with a penetrating sealer.
  • Avoid moisture and cleaning for 72 hours while grout fully cures.

With proper tools and patience, DIY marble backsplash installation can give you major design impact. Be sure to work carefully and safely when cutting this delicate natural stone. The elegance of marble will bring warmth and luxury to your kitchen.

FAQs About Cutting Marble Backsplash Tiles

What kind of saw do I need to cut marble tiles?

You need a wet saw with a diamond blade designed for stone. Never cut marble dry or with a wood blade, as it will chip and shatter the material.

Can I use an angle grinder to cut marble?

No. Angle grinders produce harmful marble dust and may crack tiles. Always use wet cutting methods for smooth edges.

How do I cut a hole in a marble tile for an outlet?

Mark the outline on the back of the tile. Drill interior circles first, then use a saw and nippers to cut out the shape carefully. Smooth edges gently with sandpaper.

What blade should I use with a wet saw to cut marble?

Use a diamond blade designed specifically for stone and tile, not wood or metal. This will give you smooth cuts in the marble without cracking it.

How much water should be used when cutting marble?

Keep the blade fully submerged to reduce dust. The tile should be wet while cutting and you should pour water over the cut line regularly. Minimize overspray onto unfinished tile faces.

What rpm should I run the wet saw at for marble?

Refer to your saw’s manual, but generally 1800-4000 rpm is appropriate for marble. Cut slowly and gently to avoid cracking at cut edges. Let the blade do the work.

Can I use gun grip cutters to cut a marble backsplash all the way through?

No. The manual cutters are best for scoring and snapping mosaic sheets. Use the wet saw to fully cut through the thickness of marble tiles.

What happens if I crack the marble tile while cutting?

Unfortunately, cracks and chipping are hard to repair on marble. Try to cut very carefully to avoid damage. Consider ordering 10-15% extra tile for losses during cutting and installation.

How long does it take for thinset to dry when installing marble tile?

Allow the thinset mortar adhesive to cure for a full 24 hours before grouting marble tiles. This prevents loose tiles, cracking, and poor adhesion. Be patient for best results.


Installing a marble backsplash offers natural elegance, but requires care in cutting the delicate stone. With proper tools like a wet saw, diamond blade, and eye protection, you can accurately measure, score, and cut marble to fit your space perfectly. Take time to smooth cut edges for a seamless finish.

Marble backsplashes can be an intermediate DIY project with patience, precision, and the right techniques. Just maintain safety at all times when handling and cutting stone. With a sharp blade and steady hand, your custom marble backsplash can become the stunning focal point of your kitchen design.