Is Marble OK for Kitchen Backsplash?

Marble is a popular and timeless choice for kitchen backsplashes. However, there are a few things to consider before installing marble in your kitchen.

What is Marble?

Marble is a metamorphic rock that consists mainly of recrystallized carbonate minerals, most commonly calcite or dolomite. It is formed when limestone is subjected to high heat and pressure deep in the earth’s crust.

Some key characteristics of marble include:

  • Beautiful veining patterns and colors ranging from pure white to gray, pink, green, gold and black. No two marble slabs are the same.
  • Considered a luxurious and prestigious material often associated with wealth and grandeur.
  • Dense and durable – less porous than many other natural stones.
  • Can be polished to a high shine.
  • Expensive compared to materials like granite or porcelain.

Pros of Using Marble for Kitchen Backsplashes

There are several benefits that make marble a popular backsplash choice:

Elegant Aesthetic

The colors, patterns and glossy finish of marble can elevate the look of any kitchen. Marble backsplashes create an elegant, luxurious aesthetic. The veining in marble makes each piece unique.

Easy Maintenance

Marble is non-porous which prevents staining. Marble backsplashes can be cleaned easily using warm water, mild dish soap and a soft cloth. Compared to other natural stones, marble does not require sealing.

Durable Material

When properly cared for, marble backsplashes can last for many decades. The dense composition makes marble very resilient.

Adds Value to Your Home

Marble is a high-end material that can increase the value of your home. Marble backsplashes and countertops are features often expected in upscale homes and luxury real estate.

Cool Surface

Marble maintains a cool temperature, making it pleasant to touch. This can be advantageous for surfaces like backsplashes located close to the cooktop.

Stylish Focal Point

A marble backsplash can act as a stylish focal point and help tie your kitchen design together. The veining patterns add visual interest and depth.

Cons of Using Marble for Kitchen Backsplashes

Despite its aesthetic appeal, there are some downsides to consider with marble backsplashes:

Expensive Material

Marble is one of the more expensive natural stone options for backsplashes. The material itself and the installation can be cost prohibitive for some budgets.

Susceptible to Staining

Although marble is non-porous, acidic substances like wine, fruit juice and vinegar can etch and stain the surface. Care must be taken to avoid exposing marble backsplashes to these acids.

Can Chip or Crack

Marble is durable but still vulnerable to chipping from impacts. Cracks can form if the marble is improperly installed or settles unevenly. Seams between marble slabs may chip or crack over time.

Requires Sealing

For optimal protection, marble should be sealed to limit staining and etching. This sealing must be repeated periodically. Unsealed marble is very prone to damage.

High Maintenance

Marble requires frequent cleaning and sealing to maintain its condition and appearance. Improper cleaning can damage marble surfaces.

Limited Heat Tolerance

Marble can only withstand moderate heat exposure. Prolonged high heat or sudden temperature changes can cause cracking or discoloration.

Is Marble a Practical Choice for Kitchen Backsplashes?

The elegance and luxury provided by marble must be weighed against the cost and maintenance required. Here are some factors to help decide if marble will work in your kitchen:

  • Budget – The upfront cost of marble tile or slabs and the professional installation is high. If cost is a concern, marble may not be feasible.
  • Cooking Style – Do you cook often with oils, acids or high heat that could stain or damage marble? Consider a more durable surface if so.
  • Maintenance – Are you prepared to promptly clean up spills, avoid exposing marble to acids and redo sealing every 1-2 years? Marble requires conscientious care.
  • Location – Backsplashes located right behind cooktops or ovens will experience more heat exposure. This placement risks cracking.
  • Aesthetic Priorities – If an elegant, luxurious look is paramount for your kitchen, marble may warrant the higher cost and care.

Marble Backsplash Installation Tips

If you decide to install marble backsplashes, follow these best practices:

  • Have the marble installed by an experienced professional. Pay close attention to seams and grout lines.
  • Use a high-quality non-sanded grout for marble. Unsanded grout is less likely to discolor or crack.
  • Seal the marble backsplash 2-3 times during installation for optimal protection. Use a penetrating sealer specifically formulated for marble.
  • Carefully check for cracks, chips or uneven tile surfaces and address any issues before finishing.
  • Consider finishing edges with bullnose marble trim. The rounded edges help minimize chipping.
  • Install any supply lines, ductwork or heavy hardware before installing marble to prevent impact damage.
  • Install backsplashes before countertops. This prevents cracking from countertop weight or settlement.
  • Avoid installing marble tile directly behind cooktops if possible. Move higher to reduce heat exposure.
  • Select solid marble backsplashes or choose tiles with thin, consistent veining for most durable results.

Caring for Marble Backsplashes

Marble requires some maintenance and care. Here are the most important practices for your backsplashes:

  • Seal annually – Penetrating sealers help protect marble from stains and etching. Reapply sealer every 1-2 years.
  • Clean spills quickly – Immediately wipe up any spills, especially acidic liquids like wine or fruit juice. This prevents permanent stains.
  • Avoid abrasives – Never use abrasive cleaners, pads or sponges on marble surfaces. Use soft cloths only.
  • pH-neutral cleaner – Clean marble with a pH-neutral stone cleaner. Dish soap works in a pinch. Avoid acidic cleaners.
  • Dry with soft cloth – After washing marble, dry thoroughly with a soft towel. Allowing liquids to air dry leads to buildup of mineral deposits.
  • Avoid direct heat – Do not place hot pans, appliances or heat sources directly on marble backsplashes. Prolonged heat exposure can cause cracks.

With proper installation and regular care, marble backsplashes can maintain their elegant beauty for many years. Their vulnerability to acids, heat and stains make them high maintenance. For cooks wanting maximum durability, alternative materials like granite, quartz or ceramic may be preferable. The luxury look of marble must be weighed against its susceptibility to damage in the kitchen environment. With careful use however, a marble backsplash can be a gorgeous focal point.

FAQ About Marble Backsplashes

Is marble better than granite for backsplashes?

Granite is generally more durable and lower maintenance than marble for backsplashes. Granite is less prone to staining or etching and requires less frequent sealing. However, marble provides a more elegant, luxurious aesthetic.

What are the best marbles for kitchen backsplashes?

The best marbles for backsplashes are types with consistent veining patterns. Options like Carrara, Calacatta and Statuario marble have beautiful white backgrounds with thin gray veining that resists showing damage.

What stone is similar to marble but more durable?

Quartzite has a marble-like appearance but is non-porous and more resilient than marble. It does not easily scratch or stain. It is a metamorphic rock like marble but harder and denser.

Can you put marble behind a stove?

Marble tiles can crack under prolonged direct heat exposure. It is not recommended to install marble directly behind stovetops if possible. Leaving a gap of several inches reduces the risk of heat damage.

Does marble get damaged by steam?

Frequent exposure to steam, such as from a coffee maker or boiling water, can damage marble surfaces over time. The moisture gets trapped in the marble, causing discoloration and corrosion. Keep steam sources away from marble backsplashes.

Does marble stain easily?

Marble is prone to staining from acidic liquids like wine, vinegar and citrus juice if not sealed properly and cleaned up promptly. These liquids etch the marble surface. Staining also depends on marble variety – less porous, more uniformly colored marble is most stain resistant.


Marble delivers sophisticated style, but requires maintenance and care when used for kitchen backsplashes. Its vulnerability to acids, heat damage and staining make marble a high maintenance choice. For cooks who routinely work with hot pans, food splatters and steam, a more durable surface like granite is preferable. However, if the elegant look of marble is a top priority, it can make a timeless backsplash with proper precautions. Consider your cooking habits and weigh the aesthetics against upkeep before deciding if marble backsplashes are right for your kitchen. With cautious use however, marble backsplashes provide a touch of luxury.