How to Install Stacked Stone Backsplash

Installing a stacked stone backsplash can add natural beauty and texture to any kitchen or bathroom. A stone backsplash made of materials like travertine, marble, granite, slate, or manufactured stone veneer creates a high-end, sophisticated look. With some planning and effort, you can install this eye-catching backsplash yourself and save on labor costs. This comprehensive guide will walk you through all the steps for a successful DIY stacked stone backsplash installation.

Choosing Your Stacked Stone Materials

The first step is selecting the type of stacked stone you want to use. There are many natural and man-made options to choose from:

Natural Stone

  • Travertine – This natural limestone comes in tan/beige colors with holes and pits that give it a rustic, Old World look. It’s on the affordable end for natural stone.
  • Marble – Elegant and decorative, marble has beautiful veining patterns. It comes in white, gray, black, and other colors. It’s more expensive than travertine.
  • Granite – Available in endless colors from black and red to white and blue, granite is highly durable and resistant to stains. It has an attractive, speckled appearance.
  • Slate – This metamorphic stone has an earthy, textured look and comes in shades of gray, black, purple, and green. It’s water-resistant and durable.
  • Limestone – Subtle cream/tan colors are common for this sedimentary stone. Limestone gives a timeless, Old World ambiance.

Manufactured Stone

  • Cast Concrete – Concrete is molded and dyed to mimic real stone textures. It’s economical and water/stain-resistant.
  • Pressed Polystyrene – Polystyrene aggregate is mixed with color dyes and pressed into lightweight veneers. It installs easily.

Consider the color scheme of your kitchen or bathroom and choose stacked stone in complementary neutral shades or a bolder hue as an accent. Also factor in your budget when deciding on a stone material. Then select the stone size, shape and pattern. Options include:

  • Rectangle or square cut stones
  • Irregularly shaped stones
  • Random or uniform patterns
  • Mix of sizes from small mosaics to large slab pieces

Shop at a stone supplier to see samples in person. Order 15-25% extra to allow for cuts, waste and pattern matching.

Tools and Materials Needed

Gather these supplies before starting your project:

  • Safety gear – gloves, goggles, mask
  • Stone veneer pieces
  • Mortar or thinset adhesive
  • Notched trowel
  • Grout
  • Grout sealer
  • Mixing tub and paddle
  • Bucket
  • Sponges
  • Tile spacers
  • Tile cutter (if needed)
  • Carbide blade for circular saw (if cutting stone)
  • Dust mask
  • Shop vacuum

Prepare the Surface

Proper surface prep is crucial for good adhesion. The backsplash area must be clean, dry and free of grease/oils. Here are the steps:

  1. Clean – Wipe down the backsplash area with a degreaser and rinse it thoroughly. Allow it to dry completely.
  2. Remove appliances/fixtures – Detach any appliances, sconces, shelving or hardware on the backsplash area prior to installation.
  3. Repair walls – Inspect the backsplash surface and make any needed repairs. Fill holes, fix cracks and smooth uneven areas.
  4. Prime – Apply a tile primer to provide extra adhesion for the mortar. Allow the primer to dry per manufacturer instructions.

With the surface prepped, you’re ready to start installing the stone backsplash.

Installing the Backer Board

It’s best to install a backer board as a base before applying stone veneer. Here’s how:

  1. Measure the backsplash area and cut cement board (or other backer board) to fit using autility knife.
  2. Apply mortar or adhesive to the back of the backer board pieces with a notched trowel.
  3. Press the backer boards onto the backsplash surface in the planned layout.
  4. Secure with backer board screws drilled into the wall studs. Place screws every 8-12 inches.
  5. Allow the mortar to cure for 24 hours before continuing.

The backer board gives a sturdy, water-resistant surface for sticking the stone veneer.

Dry Fitting the Stacked Stone

Do a dry run before actually attaching the stone. Follow these tips:

  • Play around with the stone pieces to get your desired pattern and look.
  • Use tile spacers between stones to set the grout joint size.
  • Cut any border/edge pieces with a wet saw or tile cutter.
  • Number the back of each piece with a pencil in the sequence it will be installed.
  • Sketch out a layout pattern to refer to.

Dry fitting ensures you have the right amount of stone and have pre-cut everything correctly. Now you’re ready for the real installation.

Installing the Stacked Stone Backsplash

It’s time to attach the stone veneer pieces using mortar or adhesive. Follow these steps:

  1. Mix thinset or mortar – Prepare it per package directions in a mixing tub. Only mix what you can use in 30 minutes.
  2. Apply mortar – Use a notched trowel to spread a layer of mortar on the backer board where the first stones will go.
  3. Set the stones – Following your numbered sequence, press the first stone pieces firmly into the mortar. Use spacers between.
  4. Check level & plumb – Verify the stones are evenly spaced and lie flat in the mortar without any high or low points.
  5. Fill the joints – Use the notched edge of the trowel to rake mortar into the joints around the stones.
  6. Repeat process – Apply mortar and install additional stone pieces working in sections. Remove any excess mortar along the way.
  7. Let mortar cure – Allow the thinset to fully cure for 24-48 hours before grouting.

Be patient during installation and work methodically section-by-section until the entire backsplash is covered in stacked stone.

Grouting the Backsplash

Once the mortar has cured, it’s time to grout the joints between the stones:

  1. Mix grout – Prepare unsanded grout per package instructions with water in a bucket.
  2. Apply grout – Scoop grout onto the stone veneer and pack it deeply into the joints using a rubber grout float.
  3. Wipe off excess – Drag a damp sponge diagonally across the tiles to remove excess grout on the surface. Rinse the sponge frequently.
  4. Shape and clean – Once the grout has begun to set (usually 10-20 minutes), use a soft cloth to wipe any remaining haze and shape the grout lines as desired.
  5. Let cure – Allow the grout to fully cure for 72 hours before sealing it.

Grouting will complete your stacked stone backsplash installation.

Sealing the Grout

Sealing the grout makes it waterproof and stain-resistant:

  • Once fully cured, apply grout sealer to the joints with a small paintbrush. Avoid getting sealer on the stone surfaces.
  • Allow sealer to penetrate for 15-20 minutes, then wipe off any excess with a clean cloth.
  • Apply a second thin coat of sealer to ensure coverage.

With the grout sealed, your stylish prefabricated stacked stone backsplash is complete! Properly maintained, it will provide beauty and functionality for many years.

Stacked Stone Backsplash Maintenance Tips

Follow these care guidelines to keep your backsplash looking its best:

  • Seal the grout yearly to prevent staining and damage. Re-apply sealant if water doesn’t bead up on the grout.
  • Clean the stone only with mild dish soap and water. Avoid acidic cleaners which can etch the finish.
  • Blot spills quickly to prevent stains on the porous stone. Deep stains may require special poultice cleaners.
  • Re-apply stone sealer every 1-2 years per manufacturer recommendations. This prevents the stone from absorbing stains.
  • Avoid scraping or banging the veneer which can chip the corners and edges over time. Use soft cloths for wiping the stone.
  • Check for any cracked or loose grout, which should be repaired promptly to prevent moisture issues.

With proper sealing and care, your installed stacked stone backsplash will maintain its durable, distinctive look for many years of daily use.

FAQs About Installing Stacked Stone Backsplash

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about installing stacked stone backsplash:

What’s the best way to cut stone veneer pieces?

Use a wet saw with a diamond blade designed for stone. For detailed cuts, a stationary wet saw works better than a handheld one.

What type of mortar should I use?

Use a polymer-modified thinset mortar which provides a strong, water-resistant bond and flexibility. Latex or acrylic fortified mortars are also good options.

How long does mortar take to cure?

Curing time depends on factors like temperature and humidity, but generally mortar takes 24-48 hours to fully set before grouting should be done.

What’s the proper grout joint size?

For a stacked stone backsplash, a grout joint of 1/8-1/4 inches usually looks best. Use tile spacers when setting the veneers.

How soon can I seal the grout?

Wait 72 hours for the grout to cure completely before applying any sealer. This prevents issues with improper curing or weak, crumbly grout.

What’s the best way to apply stone sealer?

Use a paintbrush or sealant applicator pad to apply a thin coat of sealer directly on the stone surfaces, wiping off any excess after 15 minutes.

How do I remove excess thinset mortar from the tiles?

Carefully scrape off excess mortar with a plastic putty knife or wooden stir stick while the mortar is still wet. Wipe the tiles gently with a damp sponge.

Enhance Your Home With a Stacked Stone Backsplash

Installing a stacked stone backsplash provides an instant upgrade to your kitchen or bathroom. The natural textures and colors of materials like travertine, bluestone, quartzite, and others create depth and sophistication. As this guide shows, with the right preparation and simple techniques, installing the backsplash yourself as a DIY project is totally achievable. The end result is a stunning, high-end looking space full of character and visual interest. With proper care and maintenance, your new stacked stone backsplash will provide timeless beauty for your home.