Adding a backsplash to your kitchen can completely transform the look and feel of the space. However, before taking on a backsplash project, it’s important to understand how long the process takes from start to finish. The time it takes to install a backsplash depends on several factors, including the size of the area, the complexity of the design, the materials used, and whether you hire a professional or DIY.
In general, most small to medium-sized backsplash projects take 1-3 days from start to finish when done by an experienced installer. Simple weekend DIY projects can usually be completed in 2-3 days as well. Larger or more intricate tile layouts can sometimes take up to 5 days for a professional installer.
Below is a complete overview of all the steps involved and how long each stage of a backsplash installation typically takes. Understanding the full backsplash process from prep work to grouting will help set realistic expectations for how long your project may take.
Planning and Design Phase – 1-3 Days
The first stage of any backsplash project is the planning and design phase. This involves:
- Measuring the backsplash area and creating a layout – 1-2 hours
- Selecting your backsplash materials like tile, stone or glass – 1-2 days depending on availability
- Finalizing grout and accent colors – 1-2 hours
- Designing your tile layout and pattern – 1-2 hours
If hiring a professional installer, an in-home estimate may also be conducted during this initial phase, adding about 1-2 hours.
For a simple subway tile backsplash, the planning stage may only take 1 full day. More complex designs with special order materials can extend the planning phase to 2-3 days.
Prep Work – 1 Day
Once your backsplash design is finalized, the next phase is prep work. This includes:
- Protecting the countertops and removing appliances/fixtures from the backsplash area – 2-3 hours
- Thoroughly cleaning the installation surface – 30 minutes
- Marking the tile layout on the wall and cutting any outlet holes – 1-2 hours
- Applying primer/sealer if needed – 1-2 hours for drying time
A full day of prep work should be allotted to properly get the backsplash area ready for tile installation.
Installing Backsplash Tile – 1-3 Days
The tile installation phase usually takes the bulk of the time for a backsplash project. The basic installation process includes:
- Applying thinset mortar adhesive to the wall surface – 1-2 hours/day
- Mounting the tile and spacers on the walls – 4-6 hours/day
- Making any tile cuts – 30 minutes – 2 hours/day
- Allowing thinset to dry overnight – 8-12 hours
The time this stage takes can vary greatly depending on the size of the backsplash, type of tile used, and complexity of the pattern. Small backsplashes under 30 sq ft may take just 1 full day to install. Larger backsplashes over 50 sq ft or intricate patterns/materials generally need 2-3 full days of tile mounting.
Allow additional installation time if using mosaic sheets, marble, or specialty tiles like metal or glass.
Grouting the Backsplash – 1 Day
Once the tile adhesive has dried, the next step is adding grout:
- Mixing and applying grout between the tiles – 3-5 hours
- Cleaning off excess grout – 1-2 hours
- Allowing grout to dry overnight – 8-12 hours
It’s crucial to allow the prescribed drying time before sealing or using the backsplash. Plan for grouting to take up most of one whole day in your backsplash timeline.
Sealing and Finishing – 1 Day
The final steps include adding all finishing touches:
- Applying grout sealer 1-2 hours after grouting
- Reinstalling fixtures, appliances, etc – 1-2 hours
- Adding caulk trim or edge pieces if needed – 1-2 hour
- Cleaning the backsplash fully 1-2 times – 1-2 hours total
- Allowing caulk and grout sealer to cure overnight
Allocate another full day at the end for sealing, cleaning and inspecting your new backsplash.
Total Timeline Overview
To recap, the total timeline for a typical backsplash project includes:
- Planning & Design Phase: 1-3 days
- Prep Work: 1 day
- Tile Installation: 1-3 days
- Grouting: 1 day
- Finishing: 1 day
This totals up to an estimated 4-9 days from start to finish when completed by an experienced professional or dedicated DIYer.
The low end of the range is for very simple small backsplash projects around 30 sq ft. The high end is for larger or more complex backsplash tile designs.
Here is a quick overview of the typical backsplash installation timeline:
- Day 1-3: Planning, layout, material selection
- Day 4: Prep work
- Day 5-7: Tile mounting
- Day 8: Grouting
- Day 9: Sealing and finishing
Understanding the full backsplash process and how long each stage takes will help with setting realistic expectations. Be sure to build extra time into your timeline for potential delays or setbacks. Also allow 1-2 days for tile ordering and delivery if not purchasing locally.
With proper planning and preparation, you can successfully complete a stunning new backsplash in less than a week or weekend if tiling a small area. Just focus on tackling each step in the proper sequence and don’t rush through the drying times. Let the thinset and grout fully cure to ensure a long-lasting backsplash installation.
Factors That Increase Timeline
While an average backsplash takes 4-9 days, there are several factors that can increase the installation timeline including:
- Larger backsplash size over 50 sq ft
- Intricate or mosaic tile patterns
- Specialty tile materials like travertine, marble or metal
- Outlets, niches orObstacles requiring complex tile cuts
- Lack of experience/first-time DIY installation
- Special ordering non-local materials
- Delays waiting for supplies or professional installer availability
Depending on the presence of these factors, a backsplash project could take upwards of 2 weeks or more from start to finish. Be sure to account for any special complexities before establishing your backsplash timeline.
Tips to Speed Up Installation Time
If trying to minimize the installation time, consider these tips:
- Hire an experienced professional installer to maximize efficiency
- Select simple rectangular tile layout like subway pattern
- Choose smaller backsplash area under 30 sq ft
- Use readily available basic tile materials like ceramic or porcelain
- Layout the design to minimize tile cuts
- Create a well-organized tile pattern map pre-installation
- Have all tools, tiles, and supplies on hand before starting
- Perform installation during weekdays if possible for quicker professional service
- Add 1-2 extra days as buffer for potential delays or setbacks
- Follow all drying time recommendations between steps
Rushing through the process incorrectly can ruin the end results. But some strategic planning can help expedite a quality backsplash installation.
Hiring a Professional vs. DIY Time Comparison
One of the biggest factors affecting backsplash installation time is whether you hire a pro or DIY:
Professional Installer Timeline
- Total Time: 4-7 days
- Benefits: Faster overall installation time thanks to experience
DIY Weekend Timeline
- Total Time: 6-9 days
- Benefits: Cost savings despite longer overall timeline
Because professionals work full-time on installations and haveSpecialized tools, their total active working time is generally 25-50% less than a DIY weekend warrior.
However, pros are also juggling multiple clients and are not always available for consecutive full workdays on your project. Planning around installer availability balances out some of the time savings versus a DIY tackling the project steadily over weekends.
If time is your top priority, hiring a pro can shave off 1-3 days of active installation. But a dedicated DIYer can complete a quality backsplash themselves with just a little more time invested.
Setting a Realistic Backsplash Timeline
Keep your backsplash area, material choices, skill level, and installer availability in mind when planning your timeline. Establish an estimated schedule but add in 2-3 day buffer for flexibility. Gather all materials ahead of time. Follow drying recommendations carefully between steps. With reasonable expectations set, your beautiful new backsplash can be completed and enjoyed in less than a week’s time.
How to Estimate Your Timeline
Installing a backsplash in your kitchen or bath can take as little as a weekend or up to a week and a half, depending on the size of the project and materials you choose. Follow this guide on how to estimate your own backsplash timeline.
Step 1: Measure the Area
- Use a tape measure to measure the length and height of the backsplash area.
- Don’t forget to calculate any accent walls or special niches that need tiling.
- Jot down the measurements and use them to determine the square footage.
Step 2: Assess Tile Layout
- Decide on the tile size, shape and pattern you want to use.
- Measure a sample tile and spacing to estimate pieces needed per square foot.
- Simple layouts require fewer tile cuts and install faster than intricate patterns.
Step 3: Factor in Prep Work
- Consider time needed to remove appliances and fixtures from the area.
- Allow for thorough cleaning, priming and layout marking on the wall.
- Prepping adequately prevents issues during the installation.
Step 4: Estimate Installation Time
- Research the time needed per square foot for the tile type chosen. Porcelain may go faster than natural stone.
- Factor at least 8-12 hours of drying time per day between installing tile and grouting.
- Allow several hours for precise tile cutting around outlets, edges or niches.
Step 5: Add Finishing Steps
- Don’t forget grouting and sealing will need most of a full day once tile is mounted.
- Reinstalling fixtures and multiple backsplash cleanings takes additional time.
- Build in some wiggle room in the timeline for potential delays or re-dos.
Step 6: DIY or Hire Out?
- DIY installations generally take 25-50% more hands-on time versus hiring a pro.
- But pros juggle multiple jobs while your DIY project has laser focus until completion.
- Consider your skill level and schedule flexibility when deciding between DIY or professional installation.
Step 7: Order Materials Early
- Check material lead times and order tile/supplies several weeks in advance.
- Have everything on hand before beginning to prevent timeline delays waiting for deliveries.
By following these planning steps, you can estimate a realistic timeline and prepare for a successful, timely backsplash installation. Adjust your schedule as needed to allow for proper drying and setting of all materials.
Common Backsplash Questions
Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about how long backsplash installations take.
How long does it take to install a kitchen backsplash?
For an average sized kitchen backsplash of 10-30 square feet, the total installation time is usually 4-5 days. Smaller “backsplashes” limited to just behind the stove may only take 2-3 days.
Can you install a backsplash in one day?
It’s extremely difficult for most DIYers to fully install a backsplash in only one day. The tile mounting alone usually takes 1-2 days, with additional time needed for quality grouting and sealing. The fastest timeline is 2-3 days for very small backsplash scopes.
How long does it take for backsplash adhesive to dry?
The tile adhesive or “thinset mortar” used in backsplashes needs 24 hours to fully cure and dry before grouting or sealing. This drying time must be allowed for a successful installation.
What is the shortest time to grout after tiling?
Grouting should be done no sooner than 24 hours after installing the tiles. The tile adhesive beneath needs this long to properly cure so grouting does not disturb the tiles.
Can backsplash be done in a day?
For professional tilers completing a very simple, small backsplash, the installation is possible in one 10-12 hour workday. But allowing dry times means the finished project cannot be completed fully in only one day. 2-3 days is more realistic for quality results.
How long should grout dry before sealing?
Grout requires a minimum of 24 hours drying time before applying a protective sealant or using the backsplash. Ensure the grout is fully hardened first.
What is the minimum time for grouting after tiling?
Grouting can begin after tile adhesive has cured for at least 24 hours. Allowing a full day or overnight for the thinset mortar to properly harden prevents issues with tiles shifting or popping off.
Careful planning and allowing ample drying times for thinset adhesive and grout is crucial in achieving a long-lasting backsplash installation. Rushing through the steps or overlapping stages too quickly often leads to problems down the road. Be patient and follow the recommended tile setting and curing times in your project.
Tips for a Faster Installation
Wish your backsplash project could be sped up? Here are 8 tips for completing your backsplash installation faster:
1. Hire a Pro
Hiring a professional tiler is generally 25-50% faster than DIY. Their experience leads to maximum efficiency.
2. Simplicity is Key
Choose a simple style like subway tile in a straight layout to eliminate intricate tile work.
3. Buy Pre-Mixed Thinset and Grout
Pre-mixed adhesive and grout mixtures eliminate mixing time onsite.
4. Limit Cuts Needed
Strategize tile layouts that minimize the need for special cuts around outlets.
5. Opt for Peel and Stick
Self-adhesive “peel and stick” backsplash panels install in a fraction of the time versus tile.
6. Stage Materials Onsite
Have all tools, tiles, and supplies ready to go before starting work each day.
7. Start on a Wednesday
Mid-week starts allow for installers to work consecutive days without weekend breaks.
8. Inspect Thoroughly Throughout
Carefully inspect progress at each stage to avoid having to redo work later on.
Balancing speed with quality is key, but smart planning can help accelerate your backsplash installation timeline. Just don’t rush the all-important drying times required between steps.
Backsplash Installation: Step-by-Step
If tackling a backsplash as a DIY project, follow this step-by-step guide for a successful installation:
Step 1: Prepare the Surface
- Clean the wall surface thoroughly and fill any holes or imperfections.
- Apply painter’s tape around the perimeter to protect the countertops and edges.
- Prime and seal the installation area if needed.
Step 2: Plan Your Layout
- Map out the tile layout you want to follow including any accent tiles.
- Draw reference lines on the wall to guide the layout and make it straight.
Step 3: Cut Tiles (If Needed)
- Measure and mark any specialty cuts needed for outlets, corners, etc.
- Use a wet saw to accurately cut tile pieces to fit.
Step 4: Apply Adhesive Thinset
- Spread the thinset mortar adhesive evenly across one section of the wall using the appropriate trowel.
Step 5: Mount Tiles
- Press tiles into place following your mapped out design and pattern.
- Use plastic spacers to maintain even grout line width.
Step 6: Let Adhesive Cure
- Allow thinset adhesive to fully cure for 24 hours before grouting (do not skip this!).
Step 7: Mix and Apply Grout
- Prepare grout mix according to package directions. Spread into tile joints letting it set 10 minutes before wiping clean.
Step 8: Seal and Finish
- Once grout dries 24 hours, apply protective sealer and caulk edges if needed.
- Finally, remove painter’s tape and enjoy your new backsplash!
Carefully following each step in the proper order results in a stunning DIY backsplash in less than a week. Never rush through the all-important drying times required between steps.
How long does backsplash take? For most small to medium home backsplash projects, the complete installation process takes 4-9 days from start to finish when tackling it yourself or hiring a pro.
The most variable factors are the backsplash size, tile complexity, and DIY vs pro skill level. Be sure to allocate the proper drying times for thinset adhesive and grout of 24 hours each. Don’t rush – a quality backsplash is worth waiting for!
With reasonable expectations set on the timeline, planning your materials accordingly, and following each step carefully, you can transform any kitchen or bath with a beautiful new backsplash in less than a week.