How Expensive is Backsplash? A Detailed Look at Backsplash Costs and Factors

Installing a backsplash is one of the most popular ways to upgrade your kitchen or bathroom. Not only does a backsplash protect your walls from water damage and stains, it can also add an element of style and visual interest to the space. But before taking on a backsplash project, it’s important to understand how much it will cost. The price of a backsplash can vary widely based on the materials, size of the project, and other factors. This article will examine the key considerations that determine backsplash costs and provide an overview of price ranges for different backsplash materials and installation.

What is a Backsplash?

A backsplash is a decorative, protective wall covering installed directly behind sinks, stoves, ranges, and other areas prone to splashing in kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms. Usually made of tile, metal, glass, or stone, a backsplash serves both practical and aesthetic purposes:

  • Protects walls from moisture, grease, food stains and potential water damage caused by sinks and cooktops. Prevents walls from being damaged.
  • Creates an attractive, easy-to-clean surface. The sleek materials used for backsplashes like glass, metal or stone tile ensure the area is hygienic and simple to maintain.
  • Acts as a decorative focal point. Backsplashes come in endless colors, textures, materials and styles, allowing you to accessorize and customize the look and feel of the space.
  • Adds visual interest and dimension. The backsplash serves as an eye-catching accent area that enhances the overall aesthetic.
  • Reflects your personal tastes. From rustic penny tile to modern glass mosaics, backsplash options let you incorporate your unique style.

When considering a new backsplash, it’s important to think about the look you want to achieve, the functionality required, and how much you can comfortably spend. Let’s examine the cost factors in more detail.

Factors That Impact Backsplash Cost

Like most home improvement projects, many variables affect the total installation cost of a backsplash. The major factors that influence price include:

Backsplash Material

The material you select for the backsplash will largely drive cost. Natural stone, metal and glass tend to be more expensive than ceramic, porcelain or plastic tile. Here’s an overview:

  • Ceramic tile: Budget-friendly option starting around $5 per square foot installed. Easy to clean, durable.
  • Porcelain tile: Slightly more expensive than ceramic at $7-$25 per square foot. Dense, low-maintenance, resistant to staining/chipping.
  • Natural stone: Marble, granite, travertine, slate, etc. Range from $15-$75 per square foot installed. Elegant but require sealing.
  • Metal: Stainless steel, copper, etc. $15-$50 per square foot. Modern, sleek, prone to scratches.
  • Glass: Tile or sheet glass in various textures/colors. $15-$50 per square foot installed. Shimmery, stylish accent.
  • Mosaic tile: Small glass, stone or ceramic pieces in patterns. $10-$50 per square foot installed. Intricate detail.
  • Brick, wood, recycled: Rustic/reclaimed options. $10-$30 per square foot. Natural, textured appearance.

The material choice will impact the project price range significantly. Natural stone and metal backsplashes will be much more expensive than basic ceramic tile.

Size of the Backsplash Area

The overall size of the area being tiled is a major cost determinant. A larger backsplash will require more tile and adhesive materials, more labor for installation, and more grout for sealing. Backsplash projects are priced by the square foot. Some general size parameters:

  • Small: 25-50 square feet. Example: Backsplash against a single sink vanity.
  • Medium: 50-75 square feet. Example: Backsplash covering full wall behind 4-burner stove.
  • Large: 75-150 square feet. Example: Full backsplash installation wrapping multiple walls in a commercial kitchen.
  • Extra large: 150+ square feet. Example: Backsplashes covering multiple surfaces and rooms.

Measure the backsplash area carefully to estimate the project size for accurate pricing. Shape of the space will also impact tile cuts required.

Backsplash Patterns and Designs

Backsplashes can be a simple single tile color or incorporate elaborate patterns, borders, mosaics, accents, and combinations of materials. Complex backsplash designs require more planning, custom-cut tiles, skilled labor, and installation time. Some options include:

  • Subway tile: Brick-like rectangular tiles in single color. Classic, clean look.
  • Herringbone: Angled tile pattern. Time-intensive professional installation.
  • Mosaic: Small tiles forming image/pattern. Fussy for DIY.
  • Accent band: Contrasting border or stripping tiles. Requires precise cutting.
  • Multi-layer: Combination of materials like stone + glass. More complex installation.
  • 3D or geometric: Dimensional shapes for texture. Higher cost.

The complexity of the backsplash design will increase both material requirements and installation labor needs.

Labor Costs

While DIY backsplash installation is possible for the very handy, professional tiling dramatically cuts mistakes and ensures a flawless finished look. Experienced backsplash contractors charge anywhere from $50-$150 per hour. Total labor costs are influenced by:

  • Installer’s skill level: Tile professionals with years of experience command higher hourly fees.
  • Prep work/de-installation: Removing old backsplash raises costs. Surface repairs also add labor time.
  • Level of difficulty: Intricate designs, hard-to-cut materials, custom accents all drive up installation time and price.

When budgeting your backsplash, don’t overlook the cost of hiring a pro installer. This can represent a significant portion of your total project investment.

Other Cost Factors

Additional aspects that affect the total backsplash expense include:

  • Specialty grouts/adhesives: Epoxy or latex-based grouts better for glass or stone. Cost more than basic cement grout.
  • Niche & accessories: Cutting recesses for soap/sponges requires masonry work. Add $200+
  • Permits: May be needed for structural changes. Permit fees add cost.
  • Removal of old backsplash: Takes extra time/labor if you currently have an existing backsplash.
  • Lighting: Undercabinet lighting can illuminate and enhance the backsplash. $150-$500 for materials and electrician fees.
  • Special backsplash cuts: Professional-grade wet saws needed for specialty tile shapes like hexagons. Added costs.
  • Sealing: Natural stone backsplashes require regular sealing. $150+ every few years.

Take measurements and account for all possible expenses in your tile budget, not just basic materials and installation.

Cost to Install Different Types of Backsplash Materials

The specific type of backsplash material you choose will have a direct impact the project price per square foot. Let’s examine typical price ranges for popular backsplash tile and accent options:

Ceramic Tile Backsplash

  • Cost per square foot: $5-$10 per square foot for materials. $10-$25 per square foot installed.
  • Pros: Budget-friendly, easy to clean, durable. Huge style/color range. Easy DIY option.
  • Cons: Prone to chipping. Grout can stain. Lacks high-end luxury finish.

Ceramic tiles make an affordable and practical backsplash choice. Manyhome improvement stores offer ceramic tiles for as low as $1 per square foot. With professional installation, small ceramic tile backsplash projects cost $500-$1,500 on average.

Glass Backsplash

  • Cost per square foot: $15-$30 per square foot for materials. $25-$50 per square foot installed.
  • Pros: Reflective, modern look. Stain/heat/moisture resistant. Easy to clean. Design versatility.
  • Cons: Prone to scratching/chipping. Harder DIY than ceramic or porcelain. Grout maintenance required.

From opaque colored glass to glittering mosaic tiles, glass backsplashes make a gorgeous contemporary design statement. However, the delicate materials drive up the installation costs. Expect to invest $2,000-$5,000 for professional glass tile backsplash installation in a medium-sized kitchen.

Porcelain Tile Backsplash

  • Cost per square foot: $7-$15 per square foot for materials. $15-$25 per square foot installed.
  • Pros: Extremely durable, stain/scratch resistant. Mimics look of natural stone. Impervious to moisture.
  • Cons: Heavy, prone to cracking. Hard cuts. Grout requires sealing. Cold surface.

Porcelain tiles offer an extremely durable and low-maintenance option perfect for active kitchens. With a comparable price tag to ceramic, porcelain backsplashes start around $1,000 professionally installed for a medium-sized project.

Natural Stone Backsplash

  • Cost per square foot: $15-$50 per square foot for materials. $25-$100 per square foot installed.
  • Pros: Elegant, luxurious look. Unique veining patterns. Withstands heat/moisture.
  • Cons: Heavy. Prone to staining/etching. Needs periodic sealing. Challenging DIY install.

From exquisite marbles to rugged slates, natural stone tiles create a timeless, opulent backsplash. The sky is the limit in terms of price. Total costs for a professional installation can easily exceed $5,000-$10,000 for a large project.

Metal Backsplash

  • Cost per square foot: $15-$30 for materials. $25-$50 installed.
  • Pros: Extremely durable. Modern, sleek, reflective. Resists stains/bacteria. Statement accent piece.
  • Cons: Prone to scratches and dents. Noise reverberations. Improper install can lead to rust.

Metal backsplashes like stainless steel, copper, and tin add brilliant luster and a contemporary edge. However, metals tend to be less forgiving than ceramic, glass or stone. Expect to invest $3,000+ for a professional quality metal backsplash install.

Mosaic Tile Backsplash

  • Cost per square foot: $5-$50 materials only. $15-$100 installed.
  • Pros: Can mimic stone at lower cost. Intricate artistic details. Comes in endless color/pattern options.
  • Cons: Fussy for DIY install. Grout requires more maintenance. Chips easier than solid tiles.

Mosaic backsplashes assemble small glass, ceramic, or stone tiles into images, patterns or accents. Hand-crafted mosaics take the most time and skill to install, driving costs above $100 per square foot installed.

Average Cost to Install a Backsplash

What can you expect to pay in total for a professionally installed backsplash based on project size? Here are some typical price ranges:

  • Small backsplash project: 25-50 square feet
    • Ceramic tile: $700-$1200
    • Glass tile: $1000-$2000
    • Natural stone: $1000-$3000
    • Metal: $1000 – $2500
    • Mosaic: $800-$2500
  • Medium backsplash project: 50-75 square feet
  • Ceramic tile: $1500-$2500
  • Glass tile: $2500-$5000
  • Natural stone: $5000-$7500
  • Metal: $3000-$5000
  • Mosaic: $2500-$7500
  • Large backsplash project: 75-150 square feet
  • Ceramic tile: $2000-$5000
  • Glass tile: $5000-$8000
  • Natural stone: $7500-$15,000
  • Metal: $5000-$10,000
  • Mosaic: $5000-$15,000
  • Extra-large backsplash project: 150+ square feet
    • Ceramic tile: $4000+
    • Glass tile: $8000+
    • Natural stone: $15,000+
    • Metal: $10,000+
    • Mosaic: $15,000+

These figures illustrate how the cost to install a backsplash can range dramatically from a few hundred dollars for a DIY ceramic tile project, up to $15,000+ for an expansive designer backsplash using premium materials. Natural stone, glass and metals command the highest prices.

Cost Saving Tips for Backsplash Installation

If your budget is limited, consider these tips to reduce backsplash costs:

  • Select affordable ceramic or porcelain tile instead of premium glass or stone.
  • Use a simpler design like subway tile instead of intricate patterns requiring excessive tile cuts.
  • Install the backsplash yourself if you have strong DIY skills. Watch tutorial videos.
  • Shop discount or surplus tile outlets for overstock deals on quality materials.
  • Use decorative accents sparingly. Limit to a few feature areas vs. entire backsplash.
  • Install a smaller backsplash around the main work zones only instead of entire perimeter.
  • Change the paint color in the kitchen instead for a budget refresh vs. tiling.
  • Use removable wallpaper or decals rather than a permanent tile backsplash.
  • Consider faux tiles like laminate, vinyl or contact paper as an inexpensive alternative.
  • Enhance existing tile with regrouting and sealing vs. replacement.

With some savvy planning and creative compromises, you can create a stunning backsplash on a tighter budget.

Enhance Resale Value with a Backsplash

One major motivation homeowners have for taking on a backsplash installation project is enhanced resale value. The addition of a backsplash can make a significant difference in home value and appeal to prospective buyers. Key benefits include:

Increased Visual Appeal

The right backsplash transforms the entire aesthetic of a kitchen or bath. Eye-catching materials like glass, metal or stone tile make the space appear sleek and updated. Any dated backsplash detracts from buyer appeal.

Modernized Design

Outdated kitchens or baths with builder-grade ceramic tiles or worn Formica backsplashes seem “stuck in time”. A contemporary backsplash using fresh, on-trend materials makes the space current.

Protection of Walls/Durability

A high-quality backsplash prevents permanent stains, grease splatter, and water damage on walls around heavy use areas. This maintains the pristine look buyers want.

Cohesive Finished Appearance

The space appears polished and “complete” with the backsplash as an integral design element. Missing backsplashes seem unfinished.

Depending on the scope of the project, a new backsplash can provide up to 100% ROI if selling the home. Even smaller backsplash updates return 50-75% at resale by modernizing the space.

Finding Professional Backsplash Installers

Shopping on price alone is unwise when hiring a backsplash installation contractor. Poor quality prep work, substandard materials, or unskilled labor by cut-rate tilers leads to unpleasant results. When comparing bids, look for these traits:

Strong Portfolio

Examine past backsplash projects in the contractor’s portfolio. Check reviews and talk to past clients if possible. Quality tilers take pride in showing their work.

Experience with Materials

Look for expertise working with your chosen backsplash materials, whether glass mosaic, metal, or marble tile. An overall track record of 10-15 years installing various backsplashes is ideal.

Attention to Detail

The contractor should evaluate your space thoroughly, identify any problem areas that need special prep, and discuss pattern options. Rushed, generic bids signal problems.

Good Communication

From the estimate to work commencement to the final walk-through, you want a backsplash pro who contacts you promptly and answers all questions thoroughly.

Proper Licensing

Verify state licensing for contractors along with insurance and bonding to protect you from liability issues or defective workmanship.

Positive Reviews

Check third-party sites like Yelp along with the contractor’s own website. Consistently glowing feedback indicates a reputable backsplash installation company.

Take time to carefully select who you trust to handle your backsplash project. Skilled tilers with a proven history of success are worth the investment.

Backsplash Maintenance Tips

To keep your new backsplash looking pristine:

  • Seal natural stone with a penetrating sealer every 1-2 years as needed.
  • Re-grout any cracks or gaps, especially around joints. Match grout color.
  • Use non-abrasive cleaners. Avoid harsh chemicals/scrubbing.
  • Clean spills promptly to prevent staining of grout or tile.
  • Avoid metal pots/pans that can scratch surfaces. Use soft pads.
  • Prevent mildew growth by maintaining caulk and addressing moisture.
  • Polish metal backsplashes with approved cleaners to restore shine.
  • Check for loose tiles/damage and repair quickly to prevent further issues.

With proper care, your backsplash will maintain its beauty and function for decades, providing daily enjoyment and value to your home.

FAQ About Backsplash Costs and Installation

How much does a kitchen backsplash cost?

For a medium-sized kitchen backsplash of 50-75 square feet, expect to pay $1500-$5000 depending on your choice of materials. Ceramic tile starts around $1500. Glass, stone or metal backsplashes cost $2500 to $5000 installed.

What is the cheapest backsplash option?

Ceramic tile provides the most budget-friendly backsplash, starting around $5 per square foot. For small projects under 50 square feet, ceramic tile backsplashes can be installed starting at $700.

How can I save money on a backsplash installation?

Opt for basic ceramic tile rather