Installing a quartz backsplash can transform the look of your kitchen or bathroom. With their sleek, modern aesthetic, quartz backsplashes are a stylish yet practical way to protect your walls from water damage and stains. While quartz requires more effort to install than ceramic tile or glass backsplash, it is a worthwhile upgrade that can increase the value of your home. This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know about how to install a quartz backsplash.
Selecting Your Quartz Backsplash
When selecting a quartz material for your backsplash, you’ll first need to decide on the color and finish. Quartz comes in a wide array of colors and patterns to suit any design aesthetic. You’ll also need to choose between a polished, matte, or textured finish. A polished finish offers a glossy look that reflects light well in a kitchen, while a matte or textured finish provides more grip and hides fingerprints.
You’ll also need to decide between slab or tile format. Quartz slabs allow for a seamless look, while tile provides more installation flexibility and allows you to create patterns. Keep in mind that slab installation requires more precision cutting.
Be sure to select a quartz material that is non-porous and specifically designed for backsplash use. Avoid types of quartz that require sealing, as this can lead to staining over time in a backsplash application. Brands such as Silestone, Cambria, and Caesarstone offer quartz options well-suited for backsplashes.
Preparing Your Backsplash Area
Installing a quartz backsplash requires in-depth preparation of your wall area:
- Remove existing backsplash: Carefully detach any existing backsplash material using a putty knife, chisel, hammer and pry bar. Scrape off any remaining tile adhesive.
- Clean thoroughly: Use a degreaser to remove any dirt, grease or soap scum on the walls. Rinse thoroughly. Allow to fully dry.
- Repair and level: Fill any holes or uneven spots with spackle or joint compound. Sand smooth for an even surface.
- Prime: Apply primer to give the quartz adhesive a surface to grip. Allow primer to dry fully before installing quartz.
- Measure: Take precise measurements of your backsplash area including outlets, windows and corners. Know the exact square footage to determine quartz needed.
Precisely prepping the surface is vital for proper quartz adhesion. Any unevenness or debris under the quartz can cause cracking or loosening over time.
Installing a quartz backsplash requires using the proper adhesives and tools. Be sure to have the following supplies on hand:
- Quartz slabs or tiles
- 100% clear silicone adhesive designed for quartz
- Notched trowel with 1/4″ V-notches
- Non-sanded grout
- Grout sealer
- Mixing bucket
- Grout sponge
- Grout float
- Rubber grout float
- Paper towels
- Painter’s tape
- Dust masks
- Ear protection
- Work gloves
- Safety goggles
- Tape measure
- Utility knife
- Jigsaw (for outlet cutouts)
- Circular saw with diamond blade (for slab cuts)
- Caulk gun
- Shop vacuum
Having the right quartz backsplash supplies will make installation much smoother.
Cutting and Preparing the Quartz
- For quartz slab: Use a circular saw with diamond blade to cut the quartz to size based on your measurements. Make precise cuts and smooth any rough edges.
- For quartz tile: You may need to cut border/edge tiles to fit with a utility knife and ruler. Cut slowly and steadily for clean edges.
Be sure to make any necessary cutouts for outlets, sinks or fixtures using a jigsaw prior to installation. Use a ruler and pencil to mark cut lines. Cut just inside the marks.
If needed, sand the back of the quartz pieces lightly with 100-grit sandpaper to improve adhesion. Rinse quartz with clean water and allow to fully dry before installing.
Applying Adhesive and Installing Quartz
- Start in the corner and apply a 1/4″ bead of silicone adhesive using a caulk gun. Spread evenly with the notched edge of the trowel.
- Gently press the first piece of quartz into place and push firmly for full contact adhesion. Use a level to ensure it is straight.
- Apply 1/4″ adhesive beads to the wall areas where the next pieces will be installed.
- Continue setting quartz pieces, wiping away any excess adhesive as you work. Use painter’s tape strips to keep pieces evenly spaced.
- For outlets or switches, turn off power. Carefully cut around the boxes and adhere quartz pieces on all sides.
- Allow adhesive to cure fully per manufacturer instructions before grouting or using quartz surface.
Take care when pressing quartz into place to prevent adhesive smears. Keep the quartz face clean as you work. Use shims if needed to keep tiles even.
Grouting the Quartz Backsplash
Once the adhesive has fully cured, it’s time to grout the seams:
- Apply masking tape around the perimeter to protect surfaces.
- Mix non-sanded grout per package instructions. Apply grout with float, pressing into seams.
- Let grout sit for a few minutes before wiping away excess with a damp sponge.
- After grouting, immediately remove tape and use a damp microfiber cloth to wipe the quartz face clean.
- Allow grout to fully cure, generally 24-48 hours. Then apply grout sealer, following product directions.
- Use a soft, clean cloth to polish and remove any remaining haze or residue.
When grouting, work in small sections for easier clean-up. Using a non-sanded grout prevents scratching the smooth quartz face. Promptly removing grout residue prevents staining or film from building up on the quartz.
Caring for Your Quartz Backsplash
Once installed, be sure to care for your quartz backsplash properly:
- Use a mild cleaner and soft sponge or cloth only to clean quartz. Avoid abrasive pads.
- Rinse off any cleaner residues to prevent buildup.
- Re-apply grout sealer every 1-2 years.
- Immediately wipe up any food, grease or liquids. Acids may etch quartz.
- Avoid hitting edges with cookware or heavy objects. Chips or cracks may occur.
- Check for loose grout or caulk and re-apply as needed to prevent water getting behind quartz.
Caring for your backsplash properly allows you to enjoy its beauty and durability for decades to come. Avoid harsh chemicals and cleaners. Repair any grout issues right away to prevent moisture damage.
FAQs About Installing a Quartz Backsplash
What’s the best quartz thickness for a backsplash?
The most common thickness for quartz backsplashes is 3/8″. This provides durability while keeping the weight manageable for wall application. 1/2″ thickness can also be used for a heavy-duty backsplash. Go thicker than 3cm only for full wall applications.
Should I use grout or caulk between my quartz backsplash pieces?
Grout is recommended, as it firmly adheres to the quartz to fill seams. After grouting, use a matching colored caulk where the backsplash meets the countertop or edges.
How is a quartz backsplash different than tile?
Quartz is an engineered stone made of natural quartz aggregates held together by resin. This makes it non-porous and more flexible for backsplash cuts. Ceramic or porcelain tile has unsealed grout lines prone to staining.
What color grout should I use with a quartz backsplash?
Use a grout color that matches or complements the quartz color. Contrasting grout can look too busy behind a patterned quartz. White or light grey are safe choices for most backsplash quartz materials and kitchens.
Should I seal my quartz backsplash after installation?
Sealing is not necessary for an already non-porous material like quartz. However, be sure to seal the grout lines to prevent staining or water penetration issues.
Installing a quartz backsplash brings a high-end, designer look to your space while also being sturdy and low-maintenance. With the right preparation, cutting, adhesive, grout, and care, you can enjoy a flawless, beautiful quartz backsplash for years of cooking and cleaning. While the installation process takes precision and patience, the final results are well worth the effort. With this guide’s step-by-step instructions, you can install a striking quartz backsplash that elevates your home’s style.