Installing a ledgestone backsplash can add beautiful, natural texture and visual interest to any kitchen or bathroom. Ledgestone refers to thin, irregularly shaped pieces of natural stone that create a rustic stacked stone appearance when arranged together. With some planning, basic tools, tile adhesive, and grout, you can achieve the look of an authentic stone ledgestone backsplash in your home.
Choosing Ledgestone Tiles
When selecting ledgestone, you have a few options to consider regarding color, texture, size, and edges:
- Earth tones like tans, browns, grays, and neutral shades are popular for a natural ledgestone look. However, you can also find ledgestone in bolder colors like reds, blues, and greens.
- Look for color variations with different natural textures within each tile for a true ledgestone appearance. Subtle veining, mottling, or fossils add interest.
- Smaller ledgestone pieces ranging from 1″-6″ long create a more hand-stacked, irregular look.
- Larger 6″-12″ tiles make the installation process easier but have a more uniform, planned appearance.
- Natural, jagged edges add authenticity while squared edges look more modern and planned.
- Combining both jagged and squared pieces creates visual interest.
- Ledgerstone tiles are typically around 1⁄4” to 1⁄2” thick. Thinner tiles are lighter and often have a faux finish while thicker stones add more dimension.
Preparing the Surface
Preparing the installation surface properly ensures the ledgestone adheres securely long-term:
- Clean – Wipe away any grease, oil, soap residue, or dirt so the tile adhesive bonds tightly.
- Smooth – Any surface imperfections can cause tiles to crack or detach over time. Fill holes or grooves with patching compound and sand bumps.
- Prime – Priming helps the adhesive stick to surfaces like new drywall or freshly skim coated walls. Use a drywall primer or masonry primer for other surfaces.
- Level – Verify the surface is plumb and flat. Shims can level small low spots.
Planning the Layout
Take careful measurements and spend time arranging the ledgestone pieces on the floor before installing:
- Measure the space and calculate the tile coverage needed based on the tile sizes. Having 10-15% extra tiles allows for cuts and mistakes.
- Mix tiles from several boxes together to blend color variations.
- Lay tiles out in the desired pattern and make adjustments before installing. A random or ashlar pattern works well.
- Cut perimeter and niche tiles with a wet saw or tile cutter for an exact fit.
- Pre-assemble some clusters of small tiles together on a backing mat for easier installation.
Installing the Ledgestone Tiles
Follow these steps for proper installation:
1. Apply the Tile Adhesive
- Use a notched trowel to spread a thin layer of latex-modified thinset mortar adhesive on the surface, holding the trowel at a 45° angle.
- Apply only a small section at a time so the adhesive doesn’t dry out before setting the tiles.
2. Set the Tiles
- Arrange the ledgestone pieces close together with tight seams according to your pre-planned design.
- Push each piece firmly into the adhesive and slide it slightly back and forth to set it.
- Use tile spacers between pieces to get straight grout lines. Remove them before the adhesive dries.
- Work in sections and let the adhesive fully cure before moving on. Follow adhesive directions.
3. Grout the Ledgestone
- Once adhesive has cured per manufacturer directions, mix unsanded grout and apply it over the tiles with a rubber grout float or squeegee.
- Push grout deeply into gaps between pieces and wipe excess off the stone faces.
- Cleanup any haze or film with a damp sponge and wipe diagonally across joints to avoid pulling grout out.
- Let the grout cure fully before exposure to moisture.
Installing Ledgestone Around Obstacles
Fitting ledgestone neatly around outlets, pipes, corners, and edges takes some finesse:
- Outlets or switches – Surround boxes with thin tiles and small grout lines. The box should sit just behind the face of the tile.
- Interior corners – Alternate long and short tiles in a staggered pattern coming together at the corner for a clean finish.
- Exterior corners – Use bullnose tiles that wrap just slightly around the corner edge.
- Niche cutouts – Use a wet saw to notch tiles for a clean opening. Smooth the cut edges with sandpaper so they don’t cut fingers.
- Top edges – Bullnose or other finishing pieces give a polished edge against walls or cabinets.
Sealing and Caring for Ledgestone
Sealing and ongoing care ensures your ledgestone backsplash remains beautiful:
- Seal tiles and grout – Use a penetrating grout and stone sealer to resist stains and moisture. Reapply sealer yearly.
- Clean regularly – Use a pH-neutral stone cleaner and soft cloth to keep the ledgestone free of kitchen grime and grease. Avoid harsh chemicals.
- Address stains quickly – Rinse food or grease stains right away to avoid deep set staining. Check manufacturer cleaning recommendations.
- Re-grout as needed – Cracks or missing grout can lead to damage. Rout out old grout and re-grout any problem areas.
Installing a ledgerstone backsplash takes planning and care but delivers a stunning result full of natural texture and interest. With proper installation techniques and ongoing sealing and cleaning, your ledgestone backsplash can be enjoyed for many years.
Frequently Asked Questions About Installing Ledgestone Backsplash
What tools do I need to install a ledgestone backsplash?
Here are the basic tools needed:
- Notched trowel for spreading tile adhesive
- Grout float for applying grout
- Spacers to set uniform grout lines
- Mixing bucket for adhesive and grout
- Rubber grout float and sponges
- Tile cutter and/or wet saw for cutting
- Tile nippers for irregular cuts
- Clean buckets for water
Safety gear like gloves, dust mask, and eye protection are also recommended.
What is the best grout color for ledgestone?
Neutral colored grout like tan or light gray blends in well with natural stone ledgestone. White can provide nice contrast against darker tiles. Colored grout can look great with some installations but can also make a space look busier.
What kind of backsplash goes well with ledgestone?
Other types of natural stone like travertine, marble, or slate complement ledgestone nicely. Tile shapes that mimic the irregularity of ledgestone, like handmade art tile, also pair attractively. Simple subway tile or ceramic tile often clashes with the rustic look of ledgestone.
How do I cut ledgestone tiles?
Irregular hand-cut edges suit ledgestone, so you can use tile nippers to break and nibble away small pieces. For cleaner cuts, mark tiles and score with a tile cutter before snapping pieces off with pliers. For intricate cuts like around outlets, a wet saw works best.
Can ledgestone tiles go directly over drywall?
Ledgestone should always be installed over cement board, not directly onto drywall. Cement backer provides the proper moisture barrier and holds tile adhesive much better than drywall alone.
How long does ledgestone tile adhesive take to dry?
Adhesive drying times vary by product but are usually 24-48 hours before grouting can begin. Check manufacturer guidelines, as latex-modified thinset takes longer than rapid-set adhesives. Don’t rush, allow the adhesive to fully cure to prevent tiles detaching later on.
Installing an authentic looking ledgestone backsplash brings natural charm and texture to any space, while avoiding the weight and expense of full ledgestone slabs. With thoughtful planning to create the stone patterns you love and proper installation technique, you can achieve a stunning ledgestone backsplash that captures the rustic elegance of stacked natural stone. Just take care to seal and maintain it properly, and your new ledgestone backsplash will provide lasting beauty.