Tumbled Stone kitchen backsplashes, should I or shouldn't I?

silken1November 25, 2013

We have just finished getting our counter tops replaced with Titanium granite and are now looking at tile samples for the back splash. We have been looking at beige tile and came upon some nice tumbled stone 4 x 4 tiles. We had said right from the start we weren't even looking at stone since it needs to be regularly sealed and is maybe not practical for a kitchen backsplash. This sample is fairly smooth and non-porous compared to many. So far it seems to be the best choice as far as what we like and how it complements the granite. Despite our vow not to go with a porous tile here we are liking it the best!

So my question is for those of you who have had tumbled stone backsplash or know of someone and if you are happy you got it or sorry that you did. How long have you had it and what kind of maintenance is required to keep it looking nice.

Any comments and suggestions will be appreciated.

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Here's a picture of my tumbled stone backsplash. We had it for 7 years (then we moved) we loved it, and we never sealed after the initial sealing when it was installed.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2013 at 12:20AM
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We had split faced travertine for our last backsplash and loved it. It's probably the least practical stone backsplash ever. But after three years it still looked perfect. We never sealed it.

I think it depends on your cooking lifestyle, we don't fry barely ever, boiling pots of spaghetti sauce always had a lid.... I would do it again in a heartbeat.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2013 at 12:35AM
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Thanks for insight sjhockeyfan and xc60. I won't be so worried about it if we decide on the tumbled stone in the end. The backsplash we recently removed had pure white grout and after 20 years it was almost spotless looking so I guess I am reasonably neat in the kitchen.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2013 at 12:34PM
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"This sample is fairly smooth and non-porous compared to many. "

If this is an important characteristic to you, get a box or at least several tiles from the lot you will purchase from. That sample tile could be quite different than what you will receive or be just one of many variations of what will receive in the whole lot.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2013 at 12:40PM
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How much wear and tear do you really expect your backsplash to get? That is the real reason to reseal periodically. A floor or countertop gets far more wear and tear.

We sealed our travertine backsplash in our last house when we first installed it and that was it. We sold the house several years later and didn't have any problems, even with spaghetti sauce splashing up on the backsplash many a time. Wipe it down and good to go.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2013 at 1:02PM
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snookums2, good thought. I will have to check with the salesman how that will work since we have to order it in.

gpraceman, Thanks for the reply. I am not worried about wear and tear on a wall tile. I am concerned about an open porous tile absorbing grease and sauce splashes near the stove and water splashes from the sink. I'm trying to determine how hard it is to keep this type looking clean compared to maintenance free glazed ceramic tile.

Sounds like it might not be too bad.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2013 at 1:54PM
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We installed tumbled travertine 2 years ago and sealed it after install. It has absolutely no issues. Maybe one of these days I'll seal it again, but there's no rush.


    Bookmark   November 26, 2013 at 4:55PM
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Suzanne, I'm just curious whether you did what we did - pop out random 2x2s and insert glass tiles (see my picture above)? We also used very similar granite! Mine was Crema Bordeaux, what's your's?

    Bookmark   November 26, 2013 at 5:06PM
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Just use a really good sealer and you'll be fine with the tumbled stone. Miracle Porous Plus is excellent for areas that are subjected to grease and food splatters.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2013 at 5:15PM
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Tumbled marble is great over granite. You have the smooth "modern" look of the granite and the rough, "tuscany" look of the backsplash. Used it dozens of times.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2013 at 6:29PM
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Thanks for the feedback everyone. Still trying to make up our minds but I don't think I will be afraid of the tumbled stone tiles if that's the direction we want to go.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2013 at 10:39PM
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We just finished our kitchen in June and went with the travertine backsplash. Really the area you have to worry about is behind the stove. I don't fry much but I was making chili for a crowd and it splattered on it, it did stain it ever so lightly, I notice it but others wouldn't. I do worry about it but I love the look of it so much that its worth my obsessing.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2013 at 11:51PM
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What sealer did you use, dermnp?

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 12:07AM
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sjhockeyfan - yes we did just pop out random tiles, 1x1 in this case, and replace them with the glass. Our granite is Kashmir Gold, but I think it's a pretty light version of that particular granite. The tile store has a display with Crema Bordeaux and I swear you'd have to place them side by side to tell the difference.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 2:13AM
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I agree with dermnp. The only part you should have to worry about is the section behind the stove or stovetop. We did a honed marble subway for BS, but did tumbled marble stone as a feature behind the stovetop and that is the only part that I worry about. To cut down my angst, I just lean some of my Pimpernel placemats against the BS to guard against big splashes. Just last night my daughter asked when we would cook without those in place. My answer? Probably never because it is easier to wipe down the placemats than worry about staining the BS.****Please note that there is an update to this entry******It can be found below.

This post was edited by goldengirl327 on Wed, Nov 27, 13 at 12:47

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 9:43AM
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That's my main concern, behind the stove. I have a slide in range so there is no stove 'backsplash' as in the free standing models. I wouldn't be much concerned if I had that, as the back off the stove would catch most of the splatters. I find any tomato sauce has a tendency to sputter and splatter even when gently simmered. And you can't always have the lid on or it never thickens. I do have a metal 3 way folding splash guard that I can use. But it is only about 8 inches tall.

dermnp and goldengirl327, I guess you could try and find one of those. It folds up flat and has 3 panels that open out and stand on its own like a little room divider would stand.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 10:58AM
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@goldengirl327 - Putting placemats behind your stove really seems like a fire hazard. Anyways, that is why you seal the tile in the first place, so it will not stain. With a good sealer applied, you should not have to do anything extra.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 11:15AM
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Gpraceman--Good point! If someone had a gas stove or a slide in, this method would NOT be a good idea. I probably should have specified that I have a glass stove top unit inset into the counter and there is plenty of space behind the unit to lean them against the wall. They do not sit on the stove top nor are they in the way of my cooking. Also, here is a link to the type that I use.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pimpernel

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 12:43PM
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I don't know how combustible those are but there is also the issue of a fat fire or something, mishaps which can happen with any setup. You can get similar mats in glass, even at the supermarket. I guess they are probably cutting boards.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 12:59PM
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Snookums2--another good point--I'll look into those. Thanks!

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 3:45PM
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Off topic, but I'm curious as to how you like your titanium granite? We are considering the same for our cottage kitchen renovation.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 12:03PM
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We've only had the granite for a couple months but we totally love the look of it! We had a slab picked out that had a lot of greyish areas along with the caramel and cream swirls and we thought we really loved it. But when they went to cut it, they noticed a number of scratches in areas that made it un-useable. So they asked us to come and select another slab. The longest run in our kitchen is 9 ft. and they had two smaller slabs that they couldn't use for some of the large kitchens. So they showed them to us and it was love at first sight. The scratches in the other slab were meant to be! It is more overall black with lovely streaks and swirls and we are so glad we had a chance to choose it.

But... I was told by many people and did lots of research on the web, that this granite is particularly dense and durable. And that dark granite is more durable than light. But early on I managed to make a tiny scratch in it. I had a ceramic urn as a kitchen catcher. It was glazed except for the bottom which was a rough grainy texture. I was going to put a protective base on it and hadn't yet. When I slid it on the counter I could feel it scratching. I used a bit of black felt pen and even I can't find the scratch anymore. But it was an eye opener!

Maybe this is normal. I don't know since its the first granite we have had. But we sure love the look of it.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 9:45PM
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You can put large cookie sheets up against your backsplash while cooking. I've had a sealed travertine backsplash for several years and when I'm cooking something that might seriously splash I put those cookie sheets behind the range. Easy to clean and easy to put on and take off.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 11:43PM
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That's a good idea bluebird. We just finished our backsplash a week ago and put 2 coats of penetrating sealer on the tile and grout. It sure seems sealed and waterproof at the moment.

I have a handy 3 panel metal shield that has hinges and folds up to one flat square. It is very handy to stand up behind a pot or fry pan. It is only about 10 inches tall so the cookie sheet would be useful for real messy cooking!

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 10:44AM
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