My tile guy put this in a few days ago, should marble be uneven

Amy Thalji
August 12, 2019
last modified: August 12, 2019

Comments (28)

  • R M

    They look good.....they obviously need a good wiping down with a soft cloth.

  • tatts

    Nice. I like the reflection of light off the surface as you move (based on the stove wall photo).

    Marble is real and isn't perfect. If you want perfect, get cheap tile from the home center. Perfectly boring.

  • cpartist

    Why did he extend the backsplash past the counter? That does not look good.

  • PRO
    LB Interiors

    It looks good from a distance. Only you can decide if it's good enough. The tile should be level to each other, no waves in the application.

  • Hillside House

    I would try wiping them down with cheesecloth, because the haze is probably residual grout that wasn’t cleaned all the way off.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “uneven.” Can you clarify?

  • kudzu9

    The first photo is problematic. I am assuming those are natural stone marble, and I would expect them to have flat faces (if they were tiles, they could be warped from firing). The fact that the tiles are not all set in a flat plane could be because: 1) they are not uniform in thickness and the tile setter did not compensate by varying the amount of thinset behind them, or 2) even if they are uniform in thickness, the tile setter didn't do a good job of setting them and some protrude because they have too much thinset behind them, while others have too little. I would not be happy with that appearance. A competent tile setter would be able to make the faces of all those tiles uniformly flush as long as they were flat to start with.

  • PRO

    The tiles need a good wash with copious amounts of water and a rag. The lippage I see in a few spots is probably due to a few tiles not perfectly flat to start. I see no chips or cracks, and if you do, I'd say he could have not used those, assuming you ordered enough to compensate for some shipping damage, which is commonplace.

    That said, I think a bigger issue is combining two different stones. In this case a granite with marble, and the busyness which will usually result.

    In any case, I see a lot of boxes on your floor.............thus the question. Were these sealed prior to install, and were they first laid out on the floor and inspected for chips, cracks, and warp? I'm guessing not. They were yanked from the box, and installed it would seem.. They were installed "a few days ago". Is there a reason you haven't ASKED the tile guy?

  • Jora

    The unevenness of the tiles are pretty prominent in the first pix you posted.

    I'm def. not a pro, but even if the tiles were not even on the back, I would think the tiler would (should) compensate for the uneveness.

    COMPLETELY off topic (sorry to deviate). Can you please share info. on your Fridge? Thanks!

  • wacokid

    Wheeler, no matter how much is paid, if a contractor accepts the job it should be done correctly. The OP is looking for guidance not another "what should have been done".

  • PRO
    Patricia Colwell Consulting

    As stated above this was a slap dash job from a poor tile setter if the tiles are not flat to begin with it is amost impossible to correct with those small tiles and to be honest the tiles do not work with the counter at all.Those tiles should have been sorted checked to make sure they were flat . As for the haze that is common and easily taken care of and of course I can’t see the scratches or the chips.

  • Kaylie Keesling

    Was the wall flat to begin with? Some of the tile in my bathroom sits like that, but it's because I live in a 120 year old house and the walls are uneven. The haze should go away with a good wipe down.

  • pippabean_5b

    Your tile install has four separate issues: Lippage, scratching and chipping and haze.


    An "uneven" or, not flat tile job is called "Lippage". Unlike porcelain tile, stone tile is never warped, but in lower quality product, can vary in thickness.

    Any tile installer worth his salt, checks the tile before installation for thickness, size, chipping etc.

    Minor differences in thickness, can easily be made invisible by pressing offending tiles a bit deeper into the thinset until the slightly thicker tiles line up with the surrounding tile. This is done when laying each tile and is routinely done by any good tile professional. In addition, a good grout job helps to hide minor lippage.


    While some scratching might have been present before the install, most likely the tiler used sanded grout, which is a no-no when grouting marble tile, as the sand scratches the soft marble during grouting. Unsanded grout should have been used. That said, minor scratches on marble can easily be sanded out, with fine sandpaper.


    If there are visible chips on uncut tiles, most likely, what you have is marble that didn't go through any quality control after manufacturing, nor did the tile pro check the tile and put them aside.

    If the chipping you see in on tile edges cut by the installer, he really is totally incompetent. Marble cuts cleanly using a wet saw with a decent blade.


    Leftover grout. Your tiler should have washed off any leftover grout. Sometimes haze remains. The longer it's allowed to sit there, the harder it is to get it off. A wet rag will most likely do nothing any longer, as the grout haze was allowed to fully cure. There are grout removers on the market that can be applied. It takes lots of elbow grease though, and you will need to protect your counter. Best to call your installer to fix this issue.

    Design wise, as said by others, he should have stopped the tile at the end of the counter, with the shortened tiles in the corner. Personally, I don't like bullnose tile or Schluter edge profiles. I would have preferred for the installer to create a custom rounded edge for the visible cuts. With marble tile, it's easy to hone down the sharp cut edges by hand and create a soft slightly rounded and nicely finished look for the visible tile edge.

    I suggest you go over to the Tile Forum and Advice Board and start a thread with your questions and pics there. It's a very friendly forum with lots of very competent tile professionals, willing to give you good advice on how to proceed.

    (Unlike here, where you're told, unasked, that your tile doesn't match your counter).

    Best of luck to you!

  • jay06

    I've seen uneven marble tile in a backsplash, but the person installing purposely did that because she likes the look. Your tile person either didn't know how to level them or didn't bother with questioning you on your preference. I think installing the backsplash past the counter is a big red flag on the tile person's ability. It looks like he wanted to save work by using alternating whole tiles rather than taking the time to cut all the tiles at the counter's edge. He also should have bullnosed the end of the backsplash and not left rough open edges at the side and top.

  • Amy Thalji

    So I was limited to how many words I can add to my initial post. Just to clarify, I just finished building my first home. My tile guy is a really nice guy, he actually works for the builder who built my home. He tiled my bathrooms and did a great job. My bathrooms however are not marble. I’m not knowledgeable enough to know if this is the way the marble backsplash is supposed to look or not. I was seeking professional advice before I talked to him. Hence why I’m here asking for advice. Also, rather than text him (which I feel can come off very dry and unclear at times), I was waiting until he comes by to put the light plate covers back on to talk about it. Like I said he seems like a really good person and I was happy with the job he did in my home while working for the builder. So once we closed I felt confident in hiring him. The tiles (which are real natural stone marble) were purchased from Menards by the box. The tiles are also sold separately on sheets. I hand picked every sheet and put it into the box myself. I paid about $600 for the tiles. His charge was $560. I have washed the tiles down several times gently with a soft cloth and tried grout remover, I tested a small tile first to ensure that it doesn’t cause damage, it seems to have helped bring a little shine back, still not close to what they were. The tiles where not sealed before grouting :( I didn’t know that it would help prevent haze at the time. The grout that was used is un-sanded (I purchased it myself). I added a few more pics for the gentleman who commented that the lighting was different in the two pics. To me it seems like he brought out the tiles farther in the butlers pantry to make sure it lined up with the light. (I added a pic as an example). I just wanted to know if this was expected of marble or maybe he just wasn‘t knowledgeable on how to work with it, in which case I just wish he would have told me that. Oh and my fridge is by GE, it’s the cafe series. Hope that helps.

  • PRO
    LB Interiors

    Extending the tile past the counter edge is a design issue. Some might do it that way, to match the molding side. However, the left side has no molding. Aesthetically, and especially, in this situation, I would have ended it at the counter edge.

    All of it should have had a bull-nose finish tile also.

    I have not heard that marble is treated any different for installation.

    Google search says - The first is impregnator sealer, which is penetrating, meaning that it's designed to soak into the stone when applied. This type of sealer does not affect the appearance of the stone's surface. ... As a result, it's not recommended for polished or dense stones such as granite and marble. Impregnator is not a surface coating and will not alter the natural look.

    Also - Is this what was done?


    Mix grout according to manufacturer’s directions. Never use sanded grout for marble tile surfaces. Mix slowly until you reach a creamy consistency that remains fairly stationary on your grout float. Apply the grout to the grout join only. Avoid smeary grout over the enter surface of the tile. Allow to dry the recommended period (often not too long) before wiping grout off the surface. Do not wait too long – if the grout dries too much, it will make cleanup much more difficult.

    Fill a bucket with warm clean water and dampen a sponge to clean the excess grout away from the grout lines. Do not gouge or wash out the grout. Clean the entire surface with water, repeating as necessary, to remove all grout from the tops of the tiles.


    After you’ve allowed your grout to dry for 24 hours, make sure the surface is clean, and free of dirt. Apply a tile sealer, made specifically for marble, according to manufacturer’s instructions. Apply as many coats as it takes until the marble tile and the grout stops absorbing the sealer

  • PRO

    I paid about $750 to have my kitchen backsplash (3 walls) tiled. He is a respected installer who works for the top kitchen/bath store in my city. I used honed marble, large subway tiles from

    My tile was amazingly consistent,. Even the color was consistent. It was also quite reasonably priced.

    Price clearly depends on the area of the country.

  • Te Tenille

    Unfortunately the tile installers who work the builders (especially production home builders) are not the best at their craft. They usually select the lowest bidder to due the job. So much so that I would never hire any of the vendors that my builder hired.....from the painters, to the hardwood installers and the tile pros. The $2500 for the back splash sounds about right. My contractor had his tile pro install a backsplash in the galley kitchen of my old condo. It was a much smaller area than your kitchen and the cost 10 years ago was $1200. I was quoted $2600 for the backsplash for my current kitchen (the tile I selected was a mix of glass, travertine and metal). I decided to do it myself because the tiles were pricey, so I wanted to avoid spending about $3500 on a backsplash when I had several other projects that I wanted to hire a pro for. My tile job isnt perfect, but I can live with it. I certainly made beginner mistakes, but even mine has a more flat install than what this tile setter has done for you. Everyone including my contractor is surprised that I installed it, but I will never do it again. The next tine I will just pay the seasoned pros to do it.

  • Jora

    Amy - I think your kitchen looks beautiful (even with the uneven tiles).

    Thanks for the info. on your fridge! Ours JUST gave out. :(

  • Haley

    Amy- To reassure you, I think it looks great! Is it a 9 instead of a perfect 10? Maybe, but heck I’ll take a 9 for $500 instead if sinking all my money into home improvement projects. Save the extra $2K and go on a vacation and make real memories. I enjoy getting ideas from this site, but find the pressure to obtain perfection very offputting by many of the commenters. We can enjoy our homes and create beautiful spaces without going broke. We can shop at big box stores (gasp!) and achieve similar results without breaking the bank. Bottom line, your space is beautiful, the imperfections are perfect, your judgement is sound. Get cooking and start celebrating life in the space you have created. Most people in this world could only dream of having a kitchen as stunning as this.

  • Jora

    Well said Haley. It's wonderful to read positive posts here.

  • PRO
    Home Art Tile Kitchen & Bath

    I agree with the comments that your backsplash looks great in spite of the tile being uneven. Marble is a natural stone and is tricky for installation. Just give your backsplash a good wipe and see the difference. If you're up and have a budget for a redo, then start all over again with a different installer and have it done exactly as you would like to. Let them see the current situation and ask them how can they make it better. But if you are comfortable with the current look, then start enjoying it fully today. Congrats on your new kitchen!


    Hi Amy,

    Congrats on new home!

    Can you post your original inspiration picture please?

    Just curious.

  • jay06

    I also agree that despite the imperfections, your kitchen and the tile look fantastic. The responses you got pointing out those items were only given because you asked if there was a problem with the installation, not to be unnecessarily critical. But yes, we posters should also see the forest, not just the trees! Your room is beautiful.

  • Sandybean

    This is a case of live and learn. When I had my kitchen redone the builder said he could also do the backsplash tile so I, not knowing a thing about tiling, of course said yes. I thought it looked ok until I saw the same tile in someone else's home installed by a true tile guy, wow, what a difference.
    If you can't live with the job then I think the only alternative is to have it removed and hire a tile guy.

  • PRO
    Joseph Corlett, LLC

    "Why did he extend the backsplash past the counter?"

    The answer is in the 4th picture down. He didn't want to change the wall switch position. He wanted tile all around it.

  • jay06

    I would agree with Joseph's thought about the tiler wanting tile to surround the switch plate, but there are much better ways to achieve that without extending the tile so far. Also, he extended that side more than the other side, which doesn't make sense at all. But the kitchen is still beautiful! :-)

  • st5330

    i think it looks great. its not perfect, but from a distance u cant tell and even up close, who cares? its good enough. i like what someone else said about all the other ways u can spend the $2k you saved

  • Sandybean

    In the small area, I would have the side tiles removed and just paint there. It looks strange the way it is, especially since he didn't end the tile evenly on both sides.

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