DIY marble tile backsplash?

juleecatJuly 7, 2013

The more I read online, the more confused I get! We hope to use crema marfil 3x6 tiles for the backsplash. We have tiled with travertine and porcelain in the past. I understand the need to seal the tiles before setting them and again after grouting. I am finding lots of different opinions on which thinset to use and now I am concerned about the grout scratching the tiles after reading posts on John Bridges' forum! Has anyone done this as a DIY project, and what words of advice can you share? I am going to Hamilton Parker this week to purchase the tile, and I hope to have more information so I can ask them intelligent questions? ;)

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Didn't the John Bridges forum say you could use unsanded grout which wouldn't scratch the tile? You just have to be sure to make the grout lines narrow enough that they won't crack with unsanded, but since you have smaller tiles it's not an issue to do that.

If you couldn't get the answer on the JB forums, I'd try the Bathrooms forum here on GW. Lots more tiling done in that forum and I know I've read about this scratching issue there, although re glass tile rather than marble.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 10:20AM
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Thanks, Tracie....I have posted a new thread on the John bridges' forum.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 11:37AM
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I didn't DIY my job but I bought some of the materials for my tile guy who did the job (for carrera marble) two weeks ago. Here are some things I learned:

1) You should use a thinset adhesive mortar, and not use mastic or any premixed adhesive, or an epoxy adhesive. I think virtually everyone uses thinset mortar for marble backsplash (my tile guy used Laticrete).

2) For grouting, you should use unsanded grout -- there are many stories of people using sanded grout which scratches the tile. The other issue is that unsanded grout is used when the grout spacing is less than 1/8" -- so hopefully that is what you are planning. We used 1/16".

3) You should color-match the grout with your tile (or at least think through how you want the grout color to look). In CA Home Depot and Lowe's generally won't stock what you're looking for. I went to a specialty store here called Bedrosian's to find this (we also bought Laticrete color-matched grout, but TEC and Custom also seem to be good choices that others recommend). There's probably a Web site where somebody has picked the best matching grout color for crema marfil (the color names are different for each grout manufacturer).

4) Almost everyone you talk to will say you should use color-matched caulk at edges (e.g. where your tile hits your counter if it goes down that far). Our tiler used grout, but at 1/16" I'm glad he did that. If it cracks we'll do it again, but there's so little in there I don't think it will matter. It is hard to find color-matched caulk that will work at 1/16" width -- so if you do use caulk, make sure you keep that edge at 1/8".

5) You mentioned this already, but seal before grouting, then seal again after the grout has set properly. We used Dupont Bulletproof sealer -- which was ridiculously expensive but seems to get good reviews. You can start grouting the same day after the initial sealing but you should wait a few days after grouting for the last seal (read the recommendations on the product you buy).

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 11:45AM
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Calumin, great information! Thank you!

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 3:51PM
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