Are you renovating your kitchen and trying to decide if a marble backsplash is worth it?
In this guide, I break down the pros and cons of marble backsplashes. You’ll learn about their design, stain and heat resistance, longevity, trendiness, price, and more.
Use the links below to navigate the guide:
- What Is Marble?
- Pros of Marble Backsplashes
- Cons of Marble Backsplashes
- Bottom Line: Is a Marble Backsplash Worth It?
Before I get into the pros and cons of marble backsplashes, it’s important to understand the basics of the material.
At its core, marble is limestone’s glamorous cousin, transformed through intense heat and pressure. The minerals within the limestone rearrange themselves during this metamorphosis, creating the unique, striking veins that make each marble slab one of a kind.
Marble forms ins several countries, but most of the world’s supply comes from Italy, China, India, and Spain. Once mined, these colossal pieces of rock undergo a meticulous process before they can adorn your kitchen.
Crafting a marble backsplash begins with a careful cut. Artisans size down the raw slab using specialized saws, creating pieces suitable for backsplash panels.
Next comes polishing—a step crucial in determining the marble’s final look. Manufacturers use abrasive pads with different grit sizes for this task. Finer grits yield a shiny, polished appearance, while larger grits create a softer, more natural look.
Ultimately, marble is a product of nature, with each piece as distinct as a snowflake. It’s essential, however, to remember that the splendor of marble does come with certain considerations.
So before you fall for its beauty, let’s dig into the pros and cons.
Marble backsplashes can give your kitchen a luxurious feel, increasing the value of your home. But what other benefits do they provide? In this section, I highlight the advantages of marble backsplashes.
The charm of a marble backsplash often boils down to one significant aspect—its natural stone appearance.
Unlike man-made alternatives, marble doesn’t follow a predictable pattern. Each slab showcases a unique set of veins, forming an unpredictable pattern exclusive to your kitchen.
In a world where uniqueness is prized, marble offers a touch of individuality and elegance, making your kitchen space truly your own.
Another benefit to marble backsplashes is their longevity.
According to a study on home components’ life expectancy by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), natural stones such as marble can last a lifetime.
This stands in stark contrast to “cultured marbles,” the manufactured alternatives that combine marble dust with binding elements. Cultured marbles only last 20 years, according to NAHB’s report.
With a marble backsplash, you’re making a long-term investment in your home.
Another benefit of installing a marble backsplash is it can increase your home’s value. As noted by the National Association of Realtors, marble countertops rank highly among features that boost home values.
Applying the same luxurious aesthetic to your backsplash can provide a consistent, upscale look to your kitchen that future buyers will love.
Since marble is thick and dense, it has a high thermal mass. It can absorb and store significant heat without damaging or cracking.
And since there are no resins in marble, you don’t have to worry about the heat from the stove melting elements of the stone and causing permanent discoloration. If a hot pot or pan accidentally rests against the marble, it won’t cause any damage unless the pan is over 482°F.
In contrast, heat stains are a common problem with quartz backsplashes, especially when they’re behind professional stoves with high BTUs or the cooktop is installed too close to the wall. When exposed to high heat, the resins in quartz melt, causing irreversible damage.
Marble backsplashes are easy to clean, but you need to remember a few critical points.
First, for a general clean-up, use a mild, non-abrasive soap. Specially-made stone cleaning solutions like Method Daily Granite Cleaner work great, but even everyday dish soap gets the job done.
Mix a small amount of soap with warm water in a spray bottle or directly on a soft cloth. Then, gently wipe your marble surface with this soapy mixture. Follow up quickly with a rinse and dry. It’s important not to go overboard with the soap as it might leave a filmy residue on your marble.
Avoid acidic cleaners like vinegar, Windex, bleach, and lemon juice when cleaning a marble backsplash. The acidity in these solutions can start etching the stone almost immediately. Also, stay clear of any rust-removing solutions, which often contain acid.
It’s not just the acid you need to be careful about, but also alkali substances—those are the opposite of acids, but they can be just as harmful to marble. And use caution with gritty cleaners or rough sponges; they can scratch the marble’s finish.
So, cleaning your marble backsplash isn’t hard, but you need to avoid acidic solutions and rough scrubbers.
Marble backsplashes are available in various surface finishes, allowing you to customize your kitchen’s look. Here’s a quick overview of each option:
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Polished: This approach results in a high-gloss, highly reflective surface, accentuating the natural veining of the marble.
Honed: The second option is a honed finish, which results in a smooth, matte surface with a satin-like touch. This finish is especially popular due to its scratch-resistant qualities. It’s also efficient in concealing any scratches that do occur, thanks to its low sheen.
Leather: The third option is the leather finish, also referred to as suede or antique. It results in a low-gloss surface that has a tactile, leathery feel. This finish is particularly suited to darker marbles, enhancing their depth and texture beyond what’s achievable with a flat, honed finish.
Sandblasted: Lastly, the sandblasted finish creates a coarsely textured surface, giving the marble a weathered, rustic look.
In terms of popularity, the honed finish leads the pack. Its durability, coupled with the way it subtly highlights the marble’s veining, makes it a favorite among homeowners.
Choosing a marble backsplash is not just about its aesthetic appeal and functional benefits—it’s also about making a timeless choice.
If you’re wondering about the popularity of marble backsplashes, let me share some insights from Google Trends.
Since 2004, Google searches for the term “Marble Backsplash” have steadily increased, showing its growing allure among homeowners and designers.
In contrast, “Granite Backsplash” peaked in 2015 but has been slowly declining since.
As the data shows, opting for a marble backsplash means you can rest easy knowing your kitchen design won’t go out of style any time soon.
Now that you understand the benefits of marble as a backsplash material, let’s talk about the downsides.
While marble backsplashes offer undeniable beauty and charm, they require more maintenance than other materials like porcelain or glass tiles.
For example, you should clean your marble backsplash at least once a week. Use a soft sponge or cloth and a mild cleanser to remove dust and unnoticed splatters, which can harden over time and become difficult to clean. Marble is susceptible to staining, so don’t let water, oil, or sauce sit on it for long.
Yearly upkeep is equally essential. Your marble backsplash and its grout should be sealed at least once a year to preserve its resistance to water and stains. Since backsplashes are vertical, the usual water test to check if marble needs sealing isn’t practical. A good rule of thumb is to reseal it every six months.
Fortunately, sealing marble is as simple as cleaning it thoroughly, spraying a stone sealer on the surface, and wiping it off.
While the beauty of marble is timeless, it’s also one of the pricier backsplash materials available.
The cost per square foot can vary wildly, from $7 to $300, based on the marble’s type and the complexity of its installation. According to Angi.com, an average installation might set you back anywhere from $900 to $3500.
To give you an idea of how marble variety affects cost, here are some average per-square-foot prices:
|Marble Variety||Cost Per Square Foot|
But the costs don’t end with the type of marble. Expect to pay extra if you want to add a unique finish to your tiles. Here’s what you might expect to pay for special finishes:
|Special Finish||Cost Per Square Foot|
Marble is luxurious and stunning, but it comes with a catch — its weight. A 1.25-inch thick slab of marble can weigh approximately 17 pounds per square foot, making the installation process rather challenging.
Small tiles are usually manageable due to their size, but it’s a whole different story when dealing with a solid slab of marble.
The weight doesn’t just affect the ease of installation — it also influences the type of supports and fixings you’ll need to secure it in place safely and effectively.
Installing a marble slab backsplash is not a do-it-yourself type of project. You’ll need to hire a professional that has experience with slab installation and knowledge of your local building codes.
Another problem with marble backsplashes is their vulnerability to stains. Marble is porous, which means it can absorb liquids. And when those liquids penetrate the stone, you’re left with unsightly stains that can be difficult and sometimes impossible to remove.
Tomato sauce, water, oil, coffee, and wine are notorious for causing stubborn stains on marble.
Since spills are spatter are unavoidable, the best way to minimize stain
ing is to seal the marble regularly (every six months) and wipe up messes as soon as they happen.
With a hardness rating of 3 on the Mohs Hardness Scale, marble is relatively soft compared to other materials commonly used for backsplashes, such as quartz, granite, and tile. Therefore, marble is more vulnerable to damage from accidental impacts or abrasion.
Even a minor collision with a heavy pot or kitchen utensil can leave visible scratches on the surface of the marble backsplash.
These scratches can detract from its aesthetic appeal and may require professional restoration to repair. In some cases, the impact can even result in chipping or cracking, which can be more challenging and costly to fix.
Repairing marble backsplashes can be a challenging task. While minor scratches can often be buffed out to some extent, addressing chips or stains typically requires professional assistance.
Attempting to repair these issues without the necessary expertise can further damage the marble surface.
Professional repairs for marble backsplashes can be costly, ranging from approximately $200 to $500.
Over time, marble backsplashes develop a natural patina as the marble reacts to its environment and usage. This aging process affects the appearance of the stone.
Areas that receive more wear, like around the stove and sink, tend to darken faster.
While some people appreciate the unique charm and character that patina brings, you may prefer a backsplash material that maintains its original appearance over time without significant changes.
Another drawback of marble slab backsplashes is the noticeable seams. The unique veining in each slab means when two pieces meet, a seam forms. And when the vein patterns do not align perfectly, your backsplash has a noticeable division.
Imagine an art canvas with an abrupt line breaking the pattern—that’s how seams might interrupt the visual flow of your marble backsplash. If you’re after a seamless aesthetic, this could pose a problem.
Now that you know the pros and cons of marble backsplashes, it’s time to decide if it’s the right choice for your kitchen.
Before I offer my advice, let’s quickly recap the advantages and disadvantages of marble backsplashes.
Marble backsplash pros:
- Natural Stone: Each marble slab is unique, creating an unpredictable pattern that makes your kitchen stand out.
- Longevity: Marble backsplashes are a long-term investment, outlasting manufactured alternatives like cultured marbles.
- Increased Property Values: Marble features, including backsplashes, boost home values significantly.
- High Heat Tolerance: Marble’s high thermal mass allows it to withstand heat without damage.
- Easy Clean-Up: Marble backsplashes are easy to clean with mild, non-abrasive soap, but you must avoid acidic cleaners.
- Multiple Surface Finishes: Marble backsplashes come in various finishes like polished, honed, leathered, and sandblasted.
- Increasing Popularity: According to Google Trends data, the popularity of marble backsplashes has been growing steadily since 2004.
Marble backsplash cons:
- High Maintenance: Marble backsplashes need regular cleaning and yearly sealing to maintain their beauty.
- Price: Marble is expensive, and the price varies significantly based on type and finish.
- Difficult to Install: Due to its weight, installing a marble slab backsplash is challenging and requires professional assistance.
- Stains Easily: Marble’s porous nature makes it susceptible to staining.
- Scratches Easily: Marble is relatively soft and can easily get scratched.
- Difficult to Repair: Repairing marble damage, especially chips or stains, often requires professional help.
- Patina: Over time, marble develops a patina, or aging effect, that darkens it.
- Noticeable Seams: Marble slab backsplashes have visible seams where pieces meet, disrupting the visual flow.
Bottom line — Marble backsplashes are a luxurious choice for a kitchen, enhancing its aesthetic appeal and boosting property value. Their natural beauty, variety of finishes, and longevity are significant positives.
However, marble is high maintenance, expensive, and prone to staining and scratching.
Before you decide if a marble backsplash is right for your kitchen, weigh these factors against your budget, willingness to commit to upkeep, and personal aesthetic preferences.
If you appreciate the unique charm of natural stone and are prepared for the additional care and cost, a marble backsplash could be a stunning addition to your kitchen.
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