How much does it cost to install a marble backsplash?
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Marble Backsplash Cost Guide
Updated: August 18, 2022
Marble is an instantly recognizable material that enhances the beauty of any place where it is installed. Marble is a metamorphic stone created from limestone that was subjected to enormous amounts of heat and pressure. This process means that the resulting stone is harder and more durable than limestone and can take a high polish. It comes in many colors, sizes, and finishes, which have different prices. This means that a marble backsplash has a wide range of costs.
The average range for a marble backsplash professionally installed is $900 to $2,000, with most homeowners paying around $1,200 for 30 sq.ft. of honed Bianco Venatino tile in a 3”x6” subway pattern. This project’s low cost is $600 for 30 sq.ft. of polished Bianco Carrara tile in 12” squares installed straight. The high cost is $6,000 for a 40 sq.ft. slab backsplash of polished Crema Luna.
Marble Backsplash Cost
|Marble Backsplash Installation Cost|
|National average cost||$1,200|
Marble Backsplash Cost by Type of Marble
There are many different marble types. Some are relatively common and easily accessible, while others are rare and delicate. For this reason, each type has a different set of costs. Prices are impacted by the grade of the marble and the size and finish, so each particular marble has a range of prices as well.
In addition, you can install marble as a tile or slab if you want it to match a marble countertop. Slab countertops are thicker and more expensive than tiles, but they can give you a cleaner, more luxurious look. Below are the costs of some of the most popular marbles for backsplashes and their costs as tiles and slabs.
|Type||Average Cost per Sq.Ft. (Tile)||Average Cost per Sq.Ft. (Slab)|
|Bianco Carrara||$7 - $30||$40 - $60|
|Giallo Sahara||$10 - $30||$60 - $80|
|Ming Green||$10 - $40||$80 - $100|
|Crema Luna||$10 - $50||$80 - $150|
|Bianco Venatino||$11 - $50||$80 - $100|
|Calacatta||$20 - $60||$180 - $200|
|Azul Celeste||$30 - $100||$200 - $300|
The cost of Bianco Carrara marble as a tile averages $7 to $30 a sq.ft. The cost of this material as a slab is $40 to $60 a sq.ft. Bianco Carrara is probably one of the most popular and instantly recognized marbles in the world. It is quarried in Carrara, Italy and is well known for its light gray to white background with darker gray veining. Carrara varies in appearance, with the whiter stones costing more than the grayer. It comes in many shapes and sizes and is readily available as both tile and slab.
The cost of Giallo Sahara averages $10 to $30 a sq.ft. for tiles. The cost of this material as a slab ranges from $60 to $80 a sq.ft. Giallo Sahara or Sahara Gold is a varied stone with a lot of movement and personality. It ranges in color from light yellow to deep golds, and when polished, it is very vibrant. Honed or tumbled, it is more muted in color with softer movement. It comes in a wide range of colors and sizes as well, with tiles being more common than slabs. Get samples from the current lot before you purchase this stone because its color and appearance vary too much to trust older samples or pictures.
Ming Green costs between $10 and $40 a sq.ft. for tiles. The cost of this material in a slab averages $80 to $100 a sq.ft. Ming Green is technically a serpentine mixed with calcite and not a true marble. It is, therefore, known as a “commercial marble” sold and marketed as a marble, but with the needs and characteristics of a serpentine. It is a beautiful, light green stone that varies from yellow to blue in tone, often with white veins. It comes in many sizes and finishes, but because of the serpentine, it hones and tumbles differently than other stones. Always request samples, and select slabs in person. It must be installed with an epoxy setting material.
The cost of Crema Luna as a tile averages $10 to $50 a sq.ft. The cost of this material in a slab ranges from $80 to $150 a sq.ft. Crema Luna is technically a limestone but is so hard and durable it is often sold as a marble. This is a light cream-colored stone with darker gold veining and fossils. It can be highly polished, honed, or tumbled and comes in a wide range of sizes. Some pieces can have a pink tone to them. The amount of fossils varies by lot.
The cost of Bianco Venatino marble is $11 to $50 a sq.ft. for tiles. The cost of this material in a slab is $80 to $100 a sq.ft. For those who like the look of Carrara marble but want a stone that is whiter with less prominent veining, Bianco Venatino is a good choice. It is a bright white stone with thinner, dark gray veins. It is not as readily available as Carrara, and if you want different tile shapes or sizes, you may have to pay your installer to cut them on-site. Slabs are more common and should be chosen in person.
The cost of Calacatta marble is $20 to $60 a sq.ft. for tile. The cost of this material as a slab averages $180 to $200 a sq.ft. Calacatta or Calacatta Gold is a bright white stone that has both gray and gold veins. Depending on which variety you receive, it may have a lot of gold or very little, and the veins are prominent or thin. This is considered a premium stone.
The cost of Azul Celeste is $30 to $100 a sq.ft. for tile. The cost of this material as a slab ranges from $200 to $300 a sq.ft. Azul Celeste, also known as Sky Blue, is a quartzite that is often sold as a marble. It is very light blue with a crystalline appearance and a white vein. It is sometimes paired with Ming Green and white marbles in a mosaic or installed on its own. It is possible to find this material in larger slabs than many other marbles.
Marble Backsplash Cost by Finish
Marble comes in a few finishes that give your backsplash different looks. Not every type is available in every finish as a tile, although some finishes are custom ordered if not readily available. Finishes impact the cost of the marble, but keep in mind that size and type are the biggest factors in the price of the material.
For slabs, a polished finish has no additional costs. However, if you want to add any other finish, such as honing, leathering, or caressing, there will be an additional cost per square foot added to your total costs.
Below are the average costs of the most popular marble finishes for tiles and slabs, as well as their costs per square foot for tiles and additional costs per square foot for slabs.
|Finish||Cost Range per Sq.Ft. (Tile)||Additional Cost per Sq.Ft. (Slab)|
|Polished||$7 - $30||No Additional Cost|
|Honed||$10 - $40||+$10 - $20|
|Tuscan||$12 - $40||+$15 - $30|
|Tumbled||$15 - $40||N/A|
|Chiseled||$20 - $40||N/A|
|Leathered||N/A||+$20 - $30|
|Caressed||N/A||+$30 - $35|
The cost of polished marble tiles averages $7 to $30 a sq.ft., although some stones may cost more. There is no additional cost to polish a slab. It is the most common and readily available type. The surface of the marble is ground and polished to a mirror finish. This deepens the color of the marble and creates a more dramatic look.
The cost of honed marble tiles averages $10 to $40 a sq.ft. If you choose to hone your marble slab, expect to pay an additional $10 to $20 a sq.ft. It has a flat or matte finish. Some marble is available in a high hone, which has a slight sheen to it, rather than a completely flat look. Most marbles are available honed.
The cost of a Tuscan finish on marble tile averages $12 to $40 a sq.ft. This finish on a slab costs an additional $15 to $30 a sq.ft. A Tuscan finish means that the marble has a slightly undulating surface and soft edge. The marble comes pre-sealed with a wax finish that gives it a very soft feel. It does not need to be sealed after installation and lasts longer between sealings. Only a few marbles are available with this finish, but Bianco Carrara and Crema Luna are usually available. Slabs in this finish must be special-ordered and cannot generally be selected in person.
The average cost of tumbled marble tiles is $15 to $40 a sq.ft. It is created by taking marble tiles and placing them in a drum with rocks, sand, and water. The tiles are literally tumbled over and over until they have a worn face and a rough edge. Tumbled marble is muted in color unless a color enhancing sealer is used, and it requires a larger grout joint because of the worn and sometimes chipped edges and corners. This type is more expensive because the process often leads to more broken tiles, and the larger the tile you want, the higher its price will climb. Because of the process, slabs are not available tumbled.
The average cost of chiseled marble tiles is $20 to $40 a sq.ft. Chiseled marble is not as common but is found in several types. It has a honed surface but an edge that is rough and closer in appearance to tumbled marble. There are fewer fissures and visible pits on the surface, and the color is brighter, while the edge still has a rustic look. This finish is not available on slabs.
The cost of adding a leathered finish to your slab backsplash averages $20 to $30 per sq.ft. additional. Leathering is a rich, textured finish created by a diamond-tipped wire brush being rotated over the slab at high speed. The weaker particles on the stone’s surface are brushed away, while the stronger particles remain. This creates a deep color without the shine of polishing. This finish has more texture and is not always advised for weaker stones. Some fabricators do not offer this finish.
The cost of adding a caressed finish to your marble slab backsplash is $30 to $35 a sq.ft. additional. If your stone is strong enough to undergo the leathering process, it can also be caressed. Caressing begins with a leathered surface where the weaker particles are removed. The high points on the surface are then polished, smoothing out the texture slightly and giving it a deeper look. Like leathering, this is not available at all manufacturers. Likewise, the finish cannot be done on all stones.
Polished vs Honed Marble
When it comes to the backsplash, the finish you choose for your marble is purely aesthetic. There is no difference in the way that your tile or slab will perform. Polished marble has a glossy surface that reflects light, while honed marble has a flat finish with a softer appearance. While on flooring and countertops, honed marble may hide wear slightly better, but backsplashes do not see the same type of traffic or use. Both finishes hold up equally well, so the finish you choose for this area is a purely personal preference.
Marble Backsplash Tile Shape
Marble comes in nearly any tile shape or size as other materials. Some have to be special-ordered or cut to order either by a fabricator or company that specializes in marble patterns, either mosaic or waterjet.
It is easy to find several of the more popular marble colors in several sizes and readymade patterns. The shape of the marble does not have much impact on its cost. The size, type, and finish are the biggest contributing factors to the cost of the material. You may find various shapes with costs from $7 to $50 a square foot, depending on the material.
The most common shape for all marble is a square, with 12” being the most common, but 4”, 6”, and mosaic sizes are also available for some stones. Rectangles, such as subway tiles, are also fairly easy to find and very popular for many homes. You will find most popular marbles in rectangles of several sizes, including the standard 3”x6” and smaller 2”x4” and larger 4”x8”.
Less common shapes include hexagons for popular marbles. These come in several sizes and may be mixed in a mosaic with different colors of stone.
Mosaics of all shapes and sizes are also available in nearly all marbles. These start at ⅜” and can be as large as 2”. Custom marble mosaics can create murals or patterns using varying amounts of all marbles. These can have much higher costs than the average, with custom mosaics beginning at $50 a sq.ft. and going as high as $400 a sq.ft.
Marble is also waterjet cut into a variety of interlocking shapes. Costs for these shapes start at closer to $30 - $50 a square foot regardless of the type and increase for more exotic marbles.
Marble Backsplash Patterns
Marble tile backsplashes can be made from simple patterns of squares to very elaborate mosaic or waterjet designs. If the installer creates the pattern, expect to pay at least 20% more in materials and installation costs because more material is needed for cuts, and more time is required to lay the tiles. If the pattern is a ready-made mosaic, purchase at least 10% more in materials, and your labor costs will be roughly 25% higher due to the extra steps needed.
If the pattern is custom created for you, expect to pay at least $100 - $200 per square foot, with many costing $400 a square foot or higher. The installation costs will be roughly 25% more as well.
It is common for marble mosaic patterns to contain a mixture of other materials, including glass, metal, or other stones like slate. These mosaics have starting costs of $30 - $50 a square foot on average, and some may cost as much as $100 a square foot for premium materials.
Popular patterns for marble backsplashes include off-set or running bond patterns made with rectangular tiles. This creates the popular “subway” tile look and can often be found in several sizes. Other popular patterns include mixing squares and rectangles of larger polished tiles for a modern look, using hexagons of single or multiple colors, and stacking square or rectangular tiles in straight rows.
For mosaics, there are countless patterns available, from common fan patterns to elaborate murals. If you choose a custom pattern, send the exact dimensions of the backsplash in so that it can be made to fit.
Labor Costs to Install a Marble Backsplash
The labor cost to install a marble backsplash varies, depending on the marble type, size, and whether you use marble tiles or a slab. All marble is installed by the square foot. For tile, expect labor costs of between $10 and $15 a sq.ft. on average. This cost is higher than ceramic or porcelain tile installation because marble requires sealing after setting but before grouting. The sealant is necessary to prevent the marble from staining during grouting and to help make the grout easier to release. In addition, some types - like green marble - must use special setting materials that can make installation more difficult. Mosaics can also cost more to install, with some mosaic installations costing $20 a sq.ft.
The average backsplash size in the U.S. is around 30 sq.ft., so the average cost for labor to install a marble backsplash ranges from $300 to $450. If your installer bullnoses your edge tiles on-site, cuts larger tiles down to smaller sizes prior to install, or if your backsplash design is very complex, expect your labor costs to climb closer to $600.
For a slab backsplash, your labor costs include not only the installation but also the fabrication of the slab to fit your backsplash. This is usually $20 to $30 a sq.ft. for most backsplashes, plus the cost of your material. Therefore, a slab backsplash may cost $600 to $900 in labor for 30 sq.ft.
|Type||Average Labor Costs per Sq.Ft.|
|Marble Tile||$10 - $15|
|Marble Mosaics||$15 - $20|
|Marble Slab||$20 - $30|
Pros and Cons
Marble is a beautiful material with natural variation, color, and interest. No two pieces are ever exactly the same, so it has a unique appeal. It also has many colors, sizes, and patterns to choose from.
The variation in marble is seen as a drawback by some people. Always ask to see pictures of the current lots when choosing tile, or visit your stone yard to select your slab to understand the exact color and vein pattern you are receiving, particularly with more variable stones. Otherwise, you may find that your backsplash does not look like what you intended.
Marble requires more maintenance than other materials, but the backsplash does not see frequent water like a shower does, nor does it get foot traffic. Keep it sealed so that any splashes from the counter or stove do not stain the material. Failure to seal it regularly results in stains, while using the wrong cleaning product changes the tile’s finish.
While marble is considered a high-maintenance material, backsplash maintenance is fairly low. The marble should be sealed prior to grouting, and when using a color enhancing sealer, this should be applied after the grouting is finished. Always wash the backsplash with a pH neutral cleaner designed for stone, and wipe up any splashes as soon as they are seen. Backsplashes need to be resealed once every few years, depending on how often they are cleaned to impede staining.
Marble vs Porcelain Backsplash
Marble is just one of many materials used on the kitchen backsplash. Porcelain is another popular material that may also be used. Marble is a natural material that comes in nearly endless colors, sizes, and patterns. Porcelain is a manmade tile that can mimic the look of marble, as well as other stones, fabric, wood, or metal.
Porcelain is lower in maintenance than marble and has less variation, so you will have fewer surprises between lots. However, porcelain does not have nearly as many choices for size, color, and pattern as marble does. And while porcelain slabs exist, they cannot be as easily fabricated for backsplashes at this time. So if you want a slab backsplash, marble is your better choice. Both materials have similar cost ranges for tile, although you may have more difficulty finding the same patterns or sizes in porcelain.
Below are the average costs for a 30sq.ft. backsplash of both materials installed.
|Material||Average Costs (Installed)|
|Porcelain||$600 - $1,200|
|Marble||$900 - $2,000|
Enhancement and Improvement Costs
Old Backsplash Removal
If you currently have a backsplash, it needs to be removed before the new tile can be installed. Old backsplashes are fairly easy to remove, although this occasionally means the drywall must be repaired before the tile is installed. The cost to remove an old backsplash is usually around $1 to $3 a sq.ft.
Removing an old backsplash sometimes damages the drywall, which may require repair before the new tile can be installed. This is not always necessary. Sometimes, new tile can be installed over the damaged areas. If you need it repaired, this can add $60 to $100 to the cost of the project.
Changing your backsplash is a great time to change your countertops as well because the two areas coordinate. A new countertop costs between $1,500 and $4,500. You can install marble backsplashes with countertops of any material.
Additional Considerations and Costs
- Alternatives. If you like the look of marble but want consistency and lower maintenance, purchase porcelain that looks like marble or use a quartz slab. There are fewer options available for size and color, but the costs for the two are similar.
- Coordination. Your backsplash might match or coordinate with your counter or contrast it. If you try to match it exactly, keep in mind that unless you are installing a slab countertop with a slab backsplash of the same material from the same lot, they will not match exactly. Marble has too much variation otherwise. Most people choose granite counters and pick up a fleck of color from there to introduce into the backsplash.
- Grout. Carrara marble is one of the most popular colors for backsplashes. If you choose this, consider using a light gray grout to blend it in. Wait until the tile is on hand before selecting the grout to get the best match.
- Removal. If you decide to replace your existing backsplash, make sure it is removed carefully, one tile or section at a time to avoid damaging the wall. This keeps costs down.
- Aesthetics. The backsplash is the most decorative part of your kitchen design and is for aesthetics only. Let it shine and take center stage by pairing a marble backsplash with a more sedate countertop.
- Is marble good for a backsplash?
Marble makes a beautiful backsplash, coming in many colors, sizes, and styles. It needs to be sealed, and wipe up splashes from acidic foods like lemon or tomato right away to prevent etching.
- How much does a marble backsplash cost?
The average cost of a marble backsplash is around $900 to $2,000, but prices vary depending on the pattern and color.
- Is a marble backsplash hard to maintain?
No, it should be sealed during installation, washed with a pH neutral cleaner, and resealed every few years. Pay attention to splashes, particularly from acidic material, and wipe them up right away to prevent etching.
- Should I seal a marble backsplash?
Yes, it should be sealed during installation, and then resealed every few years to impede staining. Choose an impregnating sealer that is designed for stone.