Granite countertops are a popular choice for kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects thanks to their natural beauty, durability, and variety of colors and patterns. Pairing the right backsplash with granite countertops is key to creating a cohesive, stylish look. The backsplash serves both aesthetic and functional purposes, protecting the walls from splashes while also providing visual interest. This guide will explore how to select the perfect backsplash to complement your granite countertops.
Choosing a Backsplash for Granite
When deciding on a backsplash for granite countertops, you’ll want to consider the color, pattern, and texture of your granite.
Complementing the Granite Color
Picking a backsplash color that complements the tones and patterns in your granite is the first step. If your granite has a solid, uniform appearance, opt for a backsplash that incorporates some of those color tones. For example, a black granite pairs nicely with a backsplash containing dark metal, slate, or black tiles.
If your granite has a lot of movement or variegation, look for a backsplash with colors that reflect some of the tones seen in the stone. For a brown granite with gold, burgundy, and gray veining, a multicolored glass, stainless steel, or natural stone mosaic makes a lovely accent.
Contrasting the Granite
Another approach is choosing a backsplash color that contrasts sharply with the granite. The bold juxtaposition of a dark granite and a crisp white backsplash can look very dramatic and modern.
Keep in mind that too much contrast between the countertops and backsplash can look disjointed. If going for a strong contrast, incorporate some color, texture, or patterning to tie the two elements together.
Matching the Granite Pattern
Besides color, also consider how the backsplash pattern interacts with the granite pattern. Busy granites with a lot of movement, veining, and speckles pair best with uniform, solid backsplash tiles. This helps ground the space and keep the overall aesthetic balanced.
For more uniform granites, bring in some visual intrigue with an artful backsplash. Subway tile, marble mosaic, painted ceramic tile, and handmade tile can all complement a plain granite beautifully.
Complementing the Granite Texture
Granite comes in various finishes, including polished, honed, and flamed. Take the texture of your granite into account when selecting a backsplash.
Polished granite has a shiny, smooth face that suits glass, metal, ceramic, travertine, and other glossy backsplash tiles.
Honed granite has a matte, soft finish that pairs nicely with less reflective materials like unpolished stone tiles, porcelain, or enameled tiles.
Flamed granite has a textured almost rough face that demands a backsplash with some surface interest. Natural cleft slate, textured glass, 3D tile, or handmade tile help continue the visual tactile interest.
Popular Backsplash Options for Granite
Now that you know how to approach backsplash and granite selection, here are some of the most popular and stylish backsplash tile options for pairing with granite.
Glass tile backsplashes offer tons of versatility in color, finish, and texture. Options like subway glass tile and frosted brick glass tile pair beautifully with polished granites. Iridescent glass mosaics with metallic shimmer complement granites with mica flakes. For honed granites, consider a sleek rectangular stacked glass tile backsplash. The translucency and sheen of glass tile adds light and luminosity. Glass tile is also easy to clean and extremely durable.
Metal backsplashes bring contemporary glamour and sheen, complementing polished and flamed granite finishes. Oiled bronze, brass, nickel, and copper backsplashes pair strikingly with black, brown, and beige granites. Modern stainless steel or aluminum tiles in sleek subway, penny round, or stacked layouts accentuate boldly patterned granites. Metal backsplashes also have antimicrobial qualities and stand up well to moisture.
Stone Tile or Slabs
For a cohesive aesthetic, natural stone tiles in materials like travertine, marble, and slate beautifully match granite countertops. Stacked stone slab backsplashes in coordinating earth tones maintain the natural vibe. With a range of surface finishes from polished to tumbled and textured available, stone backsplash options suit any granite finish. Stone backsplashes convey elegance and work especially well in old world or farmhouse style kitchens.
Ceramic or Porcelain Tile
Glazed ceramic and porcelain backsplash tile offer immense versatility and style at a budget-friendly price point. From ultra-modern solid colors to Moroccan-inspired decorative patterns, the varied looks of ceramic and porcelain pair with any granite. Match the sheen by pairing polished ceramic with polished granite. Opt for matte porcelain or textured finishes with honed or flamed granite. Grout colors can also be customized to complement the granite hue.
Small mosaic backsplash tiles pack visual punch, creating captivating focal points above granite countertops. Glass, ceramic, porcelain, and stone mosaic tiles inspiring shimmering, multi-colored or geometric backsplashes. Mosaics work well with heavily patterned granites, coordinating beautifully without competing. Varying the mosaic tile shape, color, and material within a single backsplash adds even more customization options. Mini mosaic tiles also suit small spaces like powder rooms where large format tiles would overwhelm.
Classic white 3 x 6 inch glossy ceramic subway tiles lend an enduring, clean look, suiting both traditional and modern kitchens. Contrasting stark white subway tile with dark rich granites is bold and dramatic. Complementary colored subway tile in grays, beiges, blues, and greens blends seamlessly with the tones of lighter granites. Stacking subway tiles in an offset, herringbone, chevron, or basketweave pattern adds more dimension and visual texture.
Marble backsplash tile provides natural veining that softens and complements the flecks and patterns seen in many granites. Honed marble finishes match nicely with similarly textured granites. The subtle variations in marble tile colors ranging from crisp white to grey, blue, green, pink, or black make for gorgeous pairings with granite in the same color family. Carrara, Calacatta, and Statuary marbles are some of the most popular options.
Design Tips for Granite and Backsplash Combos
Beyond just choosing complementary materials and colors, proper design principles help granite and backsplash pairings look their best. Keep these tips in mind:
- Pair a single large statement backsplash tile with busy granites to avoid clashing patterns.
- Vary tile size, shape, layout, and finish between the backsplash and countertops. Too much matching can look monotonous.
- Introduce other materials like natural wood or metals beyond just the tile backsplash to tie the whole space together.
- Zone the backsplash to only a portion of the countertops rather than floor to ceiling. This defines the workspace without overwhelming.
- Map out the color percentages of the granite pattern and make sure the backsplash incorporates those shade percentages.
- Include an accent color that pops in small doses for contrast against neutral backsplash and granite tones.
- Incorporate design elements seen in the granite into the backsplash tile pattern. Reflect speckles in mosaic dots, match marbling in subway layouts.
- Pay attention to grout color. Lighter grout with dark granite and tile keeps the space open. Dark grout with light materials grounds the look.
- Consider finishing the backsplash edge with a trim or accent border tile that complements the other materials.
10 Steps for Installing a Backsplash with Granite Countertops
Once you’ve selected the perfect backsplash to pair with your granite, proper installation is key to getting a seamless finished look. Follow this 10 step process:
1. Gather Supplies
- Backsplash tile and any decorative trim or border tile
- Thinset mortar designed for walls
- Grout in a color that complements the backsplash tile and granite
- Grout sealer
- Tiling trowel with notches sized for the tile thickness
- Mixing bucket for thinset
- Rubber grout float
- Sponges for wiping away excess
- Tile spacers
- Tile cutter or wet saw
- Eye and ear protection
2. Prepare the Space
- Remove existing backsplash if present using a putty knife and hammer
- Clean the wall surface thoroughly
- Fill any holes or uneven spots with spackle; let dry and sand smooth
- Mark the tile layout on the wall using a level
- Apply painter’s tape to the edges of the countertops to protect the granite
3. Cut the Tile
- Measure and mark each tile needing cuts or special fits
- Cut the tiles to fit using the wet saw or tile cutter
- Keep cut tiles grouped so you know their location
4. Mix the Thinset
- Pour thinset mortar powder into a bucket per package directions
- Slowly add the right amount of water and mix to a thick, lump-free consistency
- Only mix what you can tile in 30-60 minutes to avoid thinset drying out
5. Apply Thinset to the Wall
- Use the notched edge of the trowel to spread a thin, even layer of thinset on the wall, scraping away excess
- Spread only a small section at one time to prevent premature drying
- Use the flat side of the trowel to flatten and smooth the thinset
6. Set the Backsplash Tiles
- Press tiles firmly into the wall using a slight twisting motion for maximum adhesion
- Tap gently with a rubber mallet to ensure proper thinset contact
- Place spacer strips between tiles for consistent spacing
- Periodically check for level and plumb
7. Cut In Outlets, Light Switches, Etc.
- Measure and cut tiles to fit around any outlets, switches, or plumbing
- Dry fit first and test fittings before adhering with thinset
- Wipe away any thinset that gets on fixtures before drying
8. Let Tile Set
- Allow thinset to cure for at least 24 hours without disturbance
- Keep foot traffic away and don’t allow water on backsplash
- Curing time depends on factors like temperature and humidity
9. Grouting Tile Joints
- Mix grout with water or latex additive to a thick peanut butter consistency
- Force grout into joints with the rubber float, scraping excess off tile faces
- Wipe remaining grout haze with damp sponge in circular motions
- Rinse sponge frequently to prevent grout film
10. Seal Grout
- Allow grout to cure fully, generally 48-72 hours
- Apply grout sealer with a small paintbrush or foam applicator
- Avoid sealer puddling in joints; wipe gently with soft cloth
- Repeat sealer coats every 6-12 months
Following proper installation techniques ensures your new backsplash and granite countertops maintain their beauty for years to come. Take care to clean with only gentle cleaners and immediately dry any water on the backsplash.
What color backsplash goes best with dark granite?
Dark granites like black, deep brown, or dark green Pair beautifully with lighter creamy backsplash hues like white, off-white, light gray, or beige. Crisp white backsplashes offer nice contrast while soft beiges or grays gently complement the dark stone.
What color backsplash goes with Uba Tuba granite?
Uba Tuba granite features a rich green background with golden brown and black mica flecks. Green glass or stone mosaic backsplashes help pick up the green tones while coordinating beiges and browns tie in nicely. Neutral subway tiles also suit Uba Tuba granite.
What backsplash goes with black granite?
Black granite demands a backsplash with visual contrast. Crisp white, soft beige, warm walnut, or even a polished metal like stainless or chrome all pop against the dark stone. Unique options like bold graphic patterned or iridescent glass tile provide contrast with added flair.
What kind of backsplash goes with white granite?
White granite requires care to avoid a washed out look. Delicate pastel glass, marble or stone mosaic backsplashes create soft contrast. Warmer woods like Baltic birch pick up tan flecks in white granite. Stainless steel, silver or pewter backsplashes add shine and complement the granite’s subtle grays.
What backsplash goes with New Caledonia granite?
New Caledonia granite features dramatic movement in shades of brown, black, silver, white, and burgundy. A backsplash that incorporates a few of those tones without competing works great. Multicolored stone or glass mosaics, textured metallic tiles, or simple subway tile are all compatible pairings.
Can you put tile directly on granite?
It is not recommended to apply tile directly on top of existing granite countertops or backsplashes. The weight could compromise installation or lead to cracks. Remove old backsplashes completely and prepare the wall properly before tiling. Use caution to protect granite countertops when tiling above.
Should backsplash match countertops?
It’s not mandatory for backsplashes to directly match countertops but some coordination helps. Colors and textures in the backsplash should tie into those found in the granite. The level of match depends on whether you prefer contrasting or blended styles. As long as the palette complements, mismatching granite and backsplash can look very attractive.
How thick should backsplash tile be?
For wall backsplashes, tile thickness can range from 1/4 to 3/4 inches. Thinner tile like mosaics suit flat walls best. Heavily textured wall surfaces may require thicker tile 1/2 inch or more to flatten imperfections without cracking. Consider thickness in relation to the look, weight, and ease of cutting when selecting backsplash tile.
Is backsplash necessary with granite?
While not absolutely necessary, quality backsplashes are highly recommended with any countertop material. Backsplashes protect the walls from moisture damage. They also enhance granite’s beauty by providing decorative accent. Durability, ease of cleaning, simplicity of installation and affordability make backsplashes a smart pairing.
How high should backsplash be with granite?
Standard backsplash height when pairing with granite countertops is 4-6 inches above the counter. Full height backsplashes extending from counter to cabinets offer even more protection. For a statement look, bring the backsplash up behind cooktops or sinks only. Adapt height to your functional and aesthetic needs.
Installing a backsplash tailored to your specific granite countertops makes a huge impact on your kitchen or bath design. Carefully weighing factors like color, texture, and pattern creates cohesive style. Balancing contrast and complementing tones prevents clashes. With endless backsplash tile options from metal and glass mosaics to marble, subway and stone, opportunities abound to perfectly match any granite. Following proper installation techniques ensures your new backsplash and granite combination withstands the test of time with enduring beauty. With the right choice, you can enjoy a custom backsplash that showcases your gorgeous granite for years to come.