How Long Does Backsplash Take to Install?

Installing a new backsplash can transform the look and feel of your kitchen or bathroom. However, many homeowners wonder – how long does it actually take to install backsplash? The time needed can vary based on the size of the space, the complexity of the design, the materials used, and your skill level. With some planning and preparation, a DIY backsplash installation can be accomplished in a reasonable timeframe.

Factors That Impact Installation Time

Several key factors impact how long it will take to install a backsplash:

Size of the Backsplash Area

The overall size of the backsplash area is a major determinant of installation time. A small backsplash behind a single sink may only take a few hours. In contrast, tiling an entire wall of a large kitchen could take multiple days. Measure the space to get an estimate of the square footage you’ll need to cover.

Layout of the Design

Simple layouts with large uniform tiles are quicker to install than intricate patterns or mosaics. Complex designs require more tile cuts and careful placement. If doing multiple accents, borders, or specialty pieces, expect the project to take more time.

Type of Materials Selected

Natural stone, ceramic, glass, and metal tiles all install differently. Some materials like subway tile go up fast. Meanwhile, natural stone requires extra care in cutting and setting. Also, small mosaics with multiple pieces per sheet take longer than large format tiles. Consider the properties of the backsplash materials selected and how that impacts installation.

Experience Level with Tiling

Beginners often work slower and make more mistakes that need fixing. A first-time tiler should plan for the project to take at least twice as long as a seasoned pro. Practice patiently and allow extra time for the learning curve. If you want it done faster, consider hiring a professional installer.

Typical Timeframes for Installation

While exact timelines vary, the following provides general estimates for how long some typical backsplash projects take:

  • Small backsplash, simple design with ceramic subway tile – 4 to 6 hours
  • Medium backsplash with some accent tiles – 8 to 12 hours
  • Large backsplash with slate or stone materials – 16 to 20+ hours
  • Full wall backsplash with intricate mosaic pattern – At least 40+ hours

A pro tiler can often get each project done more quickly. But as a DIYer, expect each of the above scenarios to take at least a full day or multiple long weekends.

Tips to Speed Up Installation Time

If your goal is to minimize the installation time, here are some tips:

  • Choose large format tiles – Look for tiles greater than 4×4 inch dimensions. Larger tiles require less cutting and fewer pieces to set.
  • Pick rectangular subway tiles – Long rectangular tiles are faster to apply than small squares. Stick to simple brick patterns.
  • Select tiles that don’t require special cutting – Hand-cutting glass, limestone, or special edges takes more time.
  • Use tile sheets and mosaics – Tile sheets cover more area faster than individual tiles.
  • Reduce grout lines – Larger grout lines increase the number of steps. Minimize grout width.
  • Prepare the workspace – Have all tools, materials, and supplies ready to go before starting.
  • Follow proper processes – Don’t skip key steps that may slow you down later if mistakes happen.
  • Invest in useful tools – Quality tile cutters, spacers, and leveling systems speed up installation.

Rushing through your backsplash install often leads to sloppy results. Focus on careful technique for an efficient process. With some experience, you can learn to properly install backsplash in a timely manner.

Step-by-Step Installation Process

To give you a better idea of what’s involved, here is an overview of the key steps for how to install a tile backsplash:

1. Prepare the Surface

  • Clean and remove any old backsplash
  • Sand glossy surfaces to improve adhesion
  • Seal porous drywall or cement board

2. Plan Your Layout

  • Measure area and draw layout
  • Determine tile arrangement and pattern
  • Choose starting point based on focal area

3. Cut the Tiles

  • Make necessary cuts for edges and outlets
  • Cut accent tiles and specialty shapes needed

4. Apply Back Butter

  • Spread thinset mortar on back of each tile
  • Use notched trowel to create ridges

5. Fix Tiles to the Wall

  • Press tiles firmly into place starting at bottom
  • Use spacers between tiles for consistent spacing
  • Check tiles are level and plumb

6. Finish Grouting Seams

  • Allow thinset to cure fully before grouting
  • Spread grout carefully into tile seams
  • Wipe away excess grout with sponge

7. Seal and Finish

  • Allow grout to cure before applying final sealant
  • Seal grout joints for moisture protection
  • Remove spacers, clean area, and enjoy your new backsplash!

FAQs About Backsplash Installation

How long does it take to install a kitchen backsplash?

For a typical small to medium-sized kitchen backsplash of 10-30 square feet with subway tile and minimal special cuts, expect the DIY installation to take 8-16 hours across 2-3 sessions. Simple designs can be done faster by experienced tilers.

What is the fastest way to install a backsplash?

Using larger format tiles, minimal grout lines, and simple patterns will be the fastest installation method. Investing in quality tile tools and proper preparation also speeds up the process.

Should I hire a professional to install backsplash?

For complicated designs or expensive stone materials, hiring a pro can save time and prevent disasters. But for simple ceramic tile projects, do-it-yourself installation can produce great results with some patience.

How do I make my backsplash look professionally installed?

Focus on consistent spacing, proper cut alignments, clean finished edges, smooth grout lines, and a polished final sealant. Having the right tile tools and materials goes a long way towards a pro-quality finished backsplash.

Can I install backsplash tile over existing tile?

It is possible but not always advisable. Adding thinset and new tile on top of old often leads to uneven finished results. It’s best to remove old tile completely before installing new backsplash.


Installing a backsplash tile upgrade can be a satisfying DIY project if given the necessary time commitment. While professionals can complete jobs faster, first-timers should set aside at least a full weekend or more depending on the scope and materials involved. With careful planning and preparation, plus some tile cutting practice, even new tilers can achieve beautiful backsplash results. Focus on proper technique rather than speed to ensure your new backsplash looks fantastic and provides you with enjoyment for years to come.