How to Do a Stone Backsplash


Adding a stone backsplash is a great way to upgrade your kitchen or bathroom. Stone backsplashes create a stylish, elegant look and are very durable. They are also relatively easy for a DIYer to install.

A stone backsplash can be made from various natural stones like granite, marble, travertine, limestone, and slate. Each type of stone has its own look, feel, and properties. Granite is probably the most popular choice for backsplashes because it is so durable and available in many colors and patterns.

In this comprehensive guide, we will walk through all the steps and considerations for how to do a stone backsplash in your home.

Choose the Stone Material

The first step is to select the type of stone you want to use. Consider the following stone options for backsplashes:


Granite is one of the hardest and most durable natural stones. It is heat and scratch resistant. Granite comes in a variety of colors and patterns. It can have a polished or honed finish. Polished granite has a glossy look while honed is more matte.

Granite works well for both traditional and contemporary kitchen designs. The most popular granite colors for backsplashes are black, white, and gray.


Marble is a metamorphic stone known for its elegance. It has a soft appearance with beautiful veining patterns. Marble is prone to etching and scratching so it requires more maintenance than granite.

Marble backsplashes created a classic, timeless look. White Carrara marble is a popular choice. But marble also comes in many colors like grey, black, green, and pink.


Travertine is a type of limestone formed by natural hot springs. It has a rustic, earthy look with pits and holes in its surface. Travertine comes in various colors like white, tan, cream, brown, rust, gold, and gray.

The natural imperfections give travertine a lot of character. But the holes need to be filled during installation. Travertine has a soft appearance that works great for Tuscan or Craftsman design schemes.


Slate is a foliated metamorphic rock known for its layered cleavage appearance. It comes in colors like black, grey, purple, green, and red. Slate has an inherently rustic, textured look.

Slate is naturally non-porous and stain resistant. It works well for backsplashes in traditional or farmhouse designs. The slate can be cut into various sizes and shapes.


Limestone is a sedimentary rock made of calcite. It comes in different finishes like honed, polished, and tumbled. Limestone ranges from white to cream in color and has distinct veining patterns.

Limestone offers a nice natural look of subtle sophistication. But it is softer and more porous than other stones, so sealing and maintenance is important.

Measure and Plan Layout

Once you have selected the material, the next step is to measure your backsplash area and plan the layout.

Make sure to measure both the height and length of the area. Most standard backsplash height is 4 inches from the countertop, but you can go higher if desired. Mark the area on the wall with painter’s tape to visualize it.

Decide on the layout pattern. Large solid stone tiles are common for backsplashes. But you can also do mosaics, ledgestones, or combinations. Make sure to account for the grout lines in your plan.

Have the stone tiles/sheets delivered a few days before installation to acclimate to your home’s temperature and humidity.

Prep and Waterproof the Wall

Preparing the wall surface is crucial for proper installation. Follow these steps:

  • Clean the wall thoroughly to remove any dirt, grease, or old paint. Use a degreaser and then rinse with clean water.
  • Fill any holes or cracks with spackle and let dry completely. Sand smooth.
  • Remove any loose paint or wallpaper. Scuff sand glossy surfaces.
  • Prime the wall with a masonry primer using a paint roller and let dry. This helps the thinset adhere.
  • Apply a waterproofing membrane like RedGard or Kerdi over the wall area. This provides a waterproof barrier preventing moisture damage. Roll or trowel on the product 1/8 inch thick.
  • Let the waterproofing fully cure for 24-48 hours before installing the backsplash.

Purchase Supplies and Tools

Gather all the tile setting supplies and tools you will need:

Tile adhesives and grout

  • Thinset mortar (polymer modified thinset for stone)
  • Grout (sanded grout for joints wider than 1/8 inch)
  • Grout sealer


  • Notched trowel for spreading thinset
  • Grout floats for applying grout
  • Grout sponge
  • Mixing bucket
  • Mixing paddle and drill
  • Tile spacers and levels
  • Tile cutter for scoring and snapping (or wet saw for intricate cuts)
  • Safety glasses and gloves


  • Painter’s tape
  • Rags
  • Bucket for water
  • Nail punches and hammer for removing tile spacers
  • Clean sponges and buckets

Install the Stone Tiles

Now comes the fun part of actually installing the stone backsplash tiles. Follow these steps:

1. Plan your tile layout

Dry lay the tile sheets on the countertop to determine the optimal layout. Ensure you have proper overlap for bonding and account for cut edges. Mix tile sheets from different boxes.

2. Mix the thinset

Mix the thinset mortar with water per manufacturer instructions. Let it slake for 10 minutes before use. The consistency should be like a thick pancake batter that sticks to the trowel. Remix occasionally.

3. Apply the thinset

Use the notched side of the trowel to spread a layer of thinset onto a section of the wall, about 1/8 inch thick. Hold the trowel at a 45 degree angle.

4. Set the tiles into place

Firmly press the tiles into the thinset starting at the bottom. Use spacers between tiles for consistent grout lines. Check tiles are level and spacing is even. Push out any air pockets.

5. Let thinset cure

Allow the thinset to cure for 24-48 hours before grouting. Keep the tiles protected and undisturbed while curing. Do not get the tiles wet.

6. Clean any thinset residue

Use a damp sponge to wipe any thinset residue from the tile faces so it doesn’t dry on the surface. Rinse sponges frequently.

7. Apply grout between tile joints

After thinset has cured, mix up grout per package directions. Use a rubber grout float to spread it across the tiles, pressing into joints.

8. Clean excess grout

Let grout get firm, then use a damp grout sponge in a circular motion to clean off excess from the tile surface. Rinse sponge frequently.

9. Seal grout

Once grout has dried 24 hours, apply grout sealer with a small foam brush. This will protect grout from stains.

Finish and Seal the Backsplash

You are almost done! Finish up your stone backsplash installation:

  • Use caulk between the countertop and backsplash to seal any gaps.
  • Seal the stone tiles and grout with a penetrating stone sealer. This is crucial to protect the backsplash. Apply with a paintbrush or sponge.
  • Buff off any haze or residue with a soft cloth after 20 minutes. Reapply yearly.
  • Admire your stunning new stone backsplash! It will add beauty and value to your kitchen or bath for years to come.


Here are some commonly asked questions about installing a stone backsplash:

What kind of thinset should I use for a stone backsplash?

Use a polymer-modified thinset mortar specially formulated for natural stone. This provides maximum adhesion and flexibility.

Can I use marble or travertine for a backsplash around a stove?

Marble and travertine are softer stones and more prone to etching from acids. Granite, slate or ceramic is a better choice behind a range.

How long does it take for thinset and grout to fully cure?

Allow 24-48 hours for thinset to cure firmly before grouting. Let grout dry 24 hours before sealing or exposing to moisture.

Should I seal my stone backsplash?

Definitely seal your stone backsplash with a penetrating sealer. This protects the stone from stains and makes cleaning easier. Reapply sealer every 1-2 years.

What’s the best way to cut stone tiles?

You can use a wet saw with a diamond blade for precise cuts. Or score and snap the tiles with a tile cutter for straight cuts. Use a grinder for edging.

How do I clean and care for my stone backsplash?

Use a pH neutral stone cleaner. Avoid abrasive cleaners or scrubbing pads. Blot spills quickly with a towel to prevent stains. Reseal grout and stone annually.


Installing a stone backsplash is an easy weekend project that can completely transform the look of your kitchen or bathroom. Proper planning, careful prep work, and attention to detail will ensure you end up with a stunning backsplash installation.

Just take it step-by-step from choosing your stone, prepping the wall, applying thinset and grout, to sealing the finished project. Your new stone backsplash will upgrade your space with stylish, durable beauty.

Meta Description

This guide covers everything needed to know about how to do a stone backsplash. Learn how to choose stone tiles, prepare the wall, install with thinset and grout, finish and seal a beautiful stone backsplash in your home.