Installing a marble backsplash is a great way to add elegance and visual interest to your kitchen or bathroom. Marble makes for a classic, timeless backsplash that pairs well with many design styles. With proper planning and preparation, you can successfully install marble tile on drywall for a stunning finished look.
Marble backsplashes can transform the look of a room, adding natural beauty and luxury. The veining and color patterns of marble make each piece unique. While real marble is more expensive than ceramic or porcelain tile, the visual impact is worth the investment. Installing marble tile as a backsplash is a DIY project that is achievable for many homeowners with some tile setting experience.
When installed properly, marble backsplashes are durable and low maintenance. The keys are making sure the drywall is prepared properly, using the right mortar and grout, and taking care to seal and maintain the marble. With attention to detail during installation and regular sealing, your marble backsplash can look amazing for years to come.
Things You’ll Need
- Marble tiles
- mortar or mastic adhesive
- tile spacers
- notched trowel
- mixing bucket
- measuring tape
- utility knife
- grout float
- grout sealer
- sponge and rags
- painter’s tape
- safety gear – gloves, goggles, mask
Preparing the Drywall
Proper drywall preparation is crucial for a long lasting marble backsplash installation. Here are the key steps:
Clean and Prime the Wall
- Wash the drywall with a cleaner to remove grease, dirt or soap residue.
- Fill any cracks or holes with drywall compound and let dry completely. Sand smooth.
- Prime the entire surface with a drywall primer to improve adhesion.
Mark the Tile Layout
- Measure the space and determine the tile layout you will use. Mark plumb vertical lines at the start and end points.
- Use a level and mark horizontal lines spaced the height of your tile apart. This creates a guide.
- Dry lay tiles on the floor first to find your desired pattern and layout.
Install Cement Board
- Cut cement board to fit your layout and screw it into the wall studs over the drywall.
- RedGuard waterproofing can be applied to cement board seams for added moisture protection.
The cement board provides crucial support and moisture protection behind the marble tiles. Take time to ensure the cement board is installed level and securely fastened. Now you are ready to begin setting the marble tile.
Installing the Marble Tile
Follow these best practices for flawless marble tile installation:
Choose the Right Mortar
- Use a white polymer-modified thinset mortar suitable for natural stone. This provides flexibility and stronger adhesion for the marble.
- Mix the mortar to a smooth, lump-free consistency according to package directions.
Apply the Mortar and Set Tile
- Use a notched trowel to spread a thin, even layer of mortar on the cement board.
- Set the marble tiles into place, using spacers for consistent grout line spacing.
- Push the tiles firmly into the mortar for a good bond and use a level to ensure they are even.
Let Mortar Dry Before Grouting
- Allow the mortar to fully cure for 24-48 hours before applying grout. This prevents cracking or discoloration.
- Dampen the tiles with a sponge just before grouting so the grout shrinks as it dries.
Grouting the Marble Backsplash
Grout fills the joints between tiles, finishing the installation and creating a unified appearance.
Grout Selection Tips
- Choose an unsanded grout suitable for marble with a color that complements the tile. White or off-white is common.
- Apply grout release or sealer to the marble tile surfaces first if needed to prevent grout staining.
Grout Application Steps
- Hold the grout float at a 45° angle and force grout deeply into the joints.
- Wipe diagonally across the tiles with a damp sponge to remove excess grout.
- After the grout sets, buff the tiles gently with a soft cloth to polish them.
Allow the grout to cure fully before sealing or using the backsplash. Once grouted and sealed, your marble backsplash is ready to enjoy! Maintain it by using gentle cleaners and re-sealing every 1-2 years.
FAQs About Installing Marble Backsplash on Drywall
Does marble tile need to be sealed before grouting?
Sealing marble before grouting is not mandatory but can provide added protection from staining. Use a penetrating sealer made for natural stone if sealing before grouting.
How do you cut marble tiles?
The best tool for cutting marble tile is a wet saw with a diamond blade. For intricate cuts, use a jigsaw with a marble cutting blade. Cut tiles slowly to avoid chipping.
What color grout looks best with white marble?
White and off-white grout are popular choices with white marble tile. You can also select a light gray or very soft contrasting color based on your design taste.
What thinset is best for marble tile?
Use a white polymer-modified mortar suitable for natural stone. This type of thinset has flexibility and higher adhesion strength to support heavy marble tile.
How long does marble tile mortar need to dry before grouting?
Let mortar dry and cure fully for 24-48 hours before grouting marble tiles. This prevents the grout from cracking or shrinking as it dries.
Installing a marble backsplash on drywall is an intermediate skill level DIY project that can create a high-end, elegant look in your kitchen or bath when done properly. With careful prep, an expert tile setting technique, proper grout and sealer selections, your marble backsplash can be a timeless focal point you will enjoy for decades. Be sure to maintain it by sealing the marble every year or two.