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Tumbled Marble Backsplash

Beth Asaff
Tumbled Marble Combined with Ceramic Tiles

As one of the most popular kitchen designs of all time, the tumbled marble backsplash has infinite variations for use.

Tumbled Marble

When most people think of tumbled marble, they envision a rustic, 4-inch stone tile. But what is tumbled marble really?

Tumbled marble is the term used for any stone tile that has been placed inside a large drum filled with water, sand and rocks. The drum is turned, or tumbled until the tiles inside have been worn down to a rustic finish. Edges may chip off, fissure or pits may form and the tiles will have a smooth, warm finish.

Any type of stone tile can be tumbled, but the most commonly seen materials include travertine, marble and limestone. Tumbled marble tiles are available in sizes ranging from 3/8-inch up to 12-inch and occasionally larger. Subway tiles, diamond shapes, hexagons and octagons are all available in tumbled finishes.

Designing a Tumbled Marble Backsplash

Tumbled marble rose to popularity as a kitchen backsplash tile during the late 1990s. The warm, rustic appearance of the stone, along with natural stone's variation of color and pattern gave any kitchen an instant style upgrade.

The first tumbled marble backsplashes made use of 4-inch tiles, set straight or on the diagonal in a single color. The most commonly used stones were Botticino, Jerusalem Gold and Bianco Carrara. Each of the designs were meant to be subtle.

Today's tumbled stone backsplashes incorporate a wealth of colors, shapes and sizes. As the finish grew in popularity, more manufacturers began to produce tumbled marbles in colors like Ming Green, Blue Celeste and Rosso Asiago, giving homeowners the chance to incorporate more color into their tumbled marble design.

If you are interested in using tumbled marble in your kitchen, consider some of these options to make the most of the space and material.

Combine Materials

Tumbled marble is a very subtle material. It isn't glossy or flashy. It doesn't come in patterns or intricate designs. Therefore, it makes the perfect backdrop for other materials.Combine tumbled marble with ceramic tiles for a sudden pop of color and texture. Or mix tumbled marble mosaics with hand-cut recycled glass mosaics for a rustic design with depth, color and interest.

Random Patterns

Create a patchwork of color in your kitchen by using four or five colors of tumbled marble at once. Use your countertop as the jumping off point of color. A counter such as Giallo Ornamentale, for example has a cream background with deep brown, gold and flecks of burgundy. Complement it with a tumbled stone design mixing Crema Marfil, Travertine Noce, Jerusalem Gold and Rosso Laguna. Play with the percentages of color until you get just the mix you desire. For example, use 50% Crema Marfil as a backdrop for the richer browns, golds and burgundies of the other three stones.

Shapes and Sizes

Diamonds, rectangles and squares are all available in tumbled finishes, so why not use two or three at once? Use elongated diamonds in one color behind the cooktop, and use a second, complementary color stone in subway tiles along the counters. Separate the two with a tumbled marble chair rail for a focusing effect.

Deepening the Color

Since tumbled marble has a rustic face, the color of your backsplash will be muted. Punch it up by applying a color enhancing sealer to the design. Wipe on a product such as Miracle Sealants MiraMatte and watch as the color instantly deepens and darkens. You can focus the eye by applying an enhancer to specific areas, such as the space behind the cooktop, while the rest of the design fades back for additional interest.


Tumbled marble backsplashes are timeless, elegant and informal all at once. Whether you are designing a Tuscan kitchen, updating a traditional design or simply looking to add some warmth and texture to the space, tumbled marble delivers.

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Tumbled Marble Backsplash