Should I Remove Granite Backsplash Before Tiling?

Installing tile over an existing granite backsplash is possible, but there are some important factors to consider before making that decision. Here is a detailed look at the pros and cons of removing vs. leaving the granite in place when tiling a backsplash.

Overview of Removing the Granite

Removing the existing granite backsplash prior to tiling has some potential advantages:

  • Allows you to start completely fresh with no limitations on tile layout or design options.
  • Provides the opportunity to make any needed repairs or improvements to the wall behind the granite.
  • May be necessary if the granite is damaged, outdated, or does not provide an even surface for tiling.
  • Gives you the chance to choose a new backsplash height or shape if desired.

However, granite removal also has some downsides to weigh:

  • It is a dusty, noisy, labor-intensive process, usually needing professional removal.
  • Disposal of the granite offcuts can be a challenge.
  • The wall surface may need extensive patching, priming, leveling after granite removal.
  • Risk of damaging the wallboard or drywall during granite removal.
  • Added cost for removal tools, materials, disposal fees, and potential wall repairs.

Factors Supporting Tiling Over Existing Granite

Leaving the granite backsplash in place has its own set of pros and cons to consider:

Ease and Cost: Tiling over granite is generally simpler and more affordable than removing it. The existing granite provides an instant ready-to-tile surface.

Minimizes Wall Damage: Leaving the granite intact avoids the risks of damaging the walls during the removal process. No patching or repairs needed.

Saves Time: Skip the lengthy removal process and start tiling right away with the granite still in place.

No Disposal Issues: Bypass the headache and fees associated with properly disposing of the granite offcuts after removal.

Supplemental Bonding: High-quality tile adhesives today allow tiling direct to granite with proper preparation.

Aesthetics: The new tile can visually update the space while benefiting from the durability and sanitation of the existing granite.

Existing Backsplash Size: Keeping the original granite size and shape maintains the previous backsplash footprint.

Environmental Factors: Leaving the granite helps avoid landfill waste.

Key Considerations for Tiling Over Granite

Tiling over existing granite can work well, but has some specific considerations:

  • Granite Condition: The surface must be in generally good condition, without cracks, damage or extensive flaws.
  • Surface Preparation: Proper cleaning and roughening of the granite so the tile adhesive bonds effectively. May require an adhesive primer.
  • Flatness: Any significant seams or unevenness in the granite could transfer through the new tile. Shimming or leveling compounds may be needed.
  • Tile Choice: Use a high-quality tile properly rated for bonding to granite surfaces. Porcelain or ceramic tile are common options.
  • Grout Planning: A flexible or epoxy-based grout may handle subtle granite movement better than standard grout.
  • Lippage: Use tile spacers consistently to avoid some tiles edging higher than others along the uneven granite.
  • Wall Transition: A clean transition from new tile to existing wall may require trim pieces or creative tile layout.

Steps for Tiling Over Granite

Follow these best practices for a successful granite tiling project:

  1. Clean and roughen the granite surface using a granite polishing compound or sandpaper.
  2. Apply any needed leveling materials if granite is uneven. Let dry completely.
  3. Prime the surface with a specialty granite bonding primer if needed.
  4. Use a notch trowel to spread a thin, even layer of tile mastic adhesive suited for granite.
  5. Press tiles firmly into place with consistent spacing using plastic tile spacers.
  6. Allow tile to set undisturbed according to adhesive instructions.
  7. Apply grout, letting it fully dry before sealing and normal use.
  8. Seal grout and re-seal granite periodically to protect surfaces.

FAQs About Tiling Over Granite

Should I definitely remove my granite backsplash before tiling?

  • Not necessarily. With proper prep and materials, tiling over granite can often be successful. Evaluate the specific pros and cons for your situation.

What issues should I watch for with granite I want to tile over?

  • Major cracks, damage, uneven surfaces or flaws in the existing granite that could impede proper tile adhesion or finish.

What kind of tile works best when tiling directly over granite?

  • Porcelain or ceramic tile are most often used successfully. Choose tile rated for use on granite surfaces. Avoid softer, more flexible tiles.

Can any tile adhesive be used to attach tile to my granite backsplash?

  • No, you need a high-quality adhesive specifically made for bonding tile to granite or other stone surfaces. Consult the manufacturer.

How can I get tiles flush across my granite if it has seams or uneven areas?

  • You may need to use self-leveling compound, tile shims or other leveling products first to compensate for any granite unevenness.

Is it okay to just use regular grout when tiling over an existing granite backsplash?

  • Epoxy or flexible grout products are a better choice than standard grout which may crack over time on granite movement.


Installing tile over an existing granite backsplash is certainly feasible in many situations with careful prep and the right materials. Evaluating the condition of your specific granite installation and your style goals for the end result will determine whether removing or keeping the granite in place makes the most sense for your particular kitchen tiling project. With proper planning and execution, tiling over granite can extend the life of your backsplash with beautiful new tile on a budget.