How Long Does It Take to Do a Backsplash?

Installing a backsplash in your kitchen or bathroom can add visual interest, protect your walls from splatters and spills, and allow you to incorporate creative, decorative tile designs. But before taking on a DIY backsplash project, it’s important to understand how much time the process requires. The total time needed to do a backsplash depends on several key factors.

Planning and Preparation

Proper planning and preparation are crucial steps that can have a significant impact on your overall project timeline. Rushing into backsplash installation without taking time upfront to get organized and ensure you have all the necessary supplies on hand can end up costing you more time down the road. Here are some important pre-installation steps to take into account:

Design and Material Selection

  • Choose your backsplash tiles – Ceramic, porcelain, glass, stone, and metal are popular options. The materials you select will affect your total project time. Natural stone tiles take longer to cut and install than uniform ceramic tile.
  • Decide on your design – Opt for a basic straight pattern or get creative with mosaics, accents, borders, geometric shapes, and patterns. Complicated designs take more time.
  • Order all your tiles and supplies – Don’t underestimate your needs. Last-minute tile orders could delay your timeline.
  • Allow time for delivery – Especially for specialty tiles, shipping takes time so order well in advance.
  • Consider hiring a designer – They can help select tiles, design the layout, create a shopping list, and plan for common installation issues. This upfront investment can save hours of work in the long run.

Installation Preparation

  • Remove existing backsplash – DIY or hire a contractor to demolish and dispose of old backsplash materials properly.
  • Deep clean the area – Eliminate dirt, dust, grease, and soap scum so your backsplash adheres properly.
  • Make any needed repairs – Fix damaged drywall or wood supports behind your backsplash area prior to installation.
  • Paint the wall – A fresh coat of paint creates a sound surface for your backsplash tiles to stick to. Allow paint to dry fully.
  • Gather tools and materials – Markers, tile cutters, grout float, mixing buckets, sponges, tile spacers, caulk, and more. Having everything on hand prevents delays.
  • Watch tutorial videos – Familiarize yourself with all steps of the process before starting.

With the right planning and preparation, you can likely complete your backsplash installation in 1-3 days. Rushing in without proper planning can draw out the timeline to a week or more.

Factors that Influence Time to Complete a Backsplash Installation

Beyond thorough preparation, several other factors impact how long it takes from start to finish:

Type of Material

The material you choose for your backsplash tiles determining cutting method, thickness, fragility, and installation technique.

  • Ceramic or Porcelain – Most DIY friendly option. Easy to cut, handle, and install.
  • Natural Stone – Harder to cut and work with. Requires wide grout lines. Installs slower.
  • Glass – Can be intricate to cut. Installs quickly but requires extra care. Prone to cracking or chipping if rushed.
  • Metal – Often has flexible sheets rather than tiles. Fast installation but material can dent if handled roughly.

Size of Backsplash Area

The overall square footage you need to cover will determine the time required.

  • A small 4 foot by 4 foot area over a stove can install in 4-6 hours.
  • A full wall backsplash may take 15-25 hours.
  • Multiple areas like behind sinks, around windows, etc further adds time.

Tile Size and Shape

Smaller tiles and intricate shapes take longer to lay out and install.

  • Large tiles (4×4 inches or bigger) are fastest to install.
  • Subway tiles (3×6 inches) add moderate installation time.
  • Mosaic tiles with tiny 1-inch tiles require the most time and precision.

Non-square tile shapes can also slow installation.

Layout Complexity

  • Straight vertical or horizontal patterns are easiest
  • Diagonal layouts require more tile cuts
  • Intricate patterns, accent strips, borders, and combining tile sizes make the job more tedious.

Grout vs Ungrouted/Groutable

  • Grouted backsplashes take more time – Installing then cleaning off excess grout adds steps.
  • Ungrouted or groutable tiles adhere with mastic. Grout can be added later if desired.

Number of Outlets

Each light switch, electrical outlet, or plumbing fixture in your backsplash area must be worked around by cutting and fitting tiles. More fixtures equals more time.

Experience Level

Skill with tiling and DIY projects in general makes a difference.

  • Beginners will need extra time to learn techniques and correct mistakes.
  • Those with experience tiling can work faster and avoid rookie errors.

Backsplash Installation Process and Timeline

Now let’s look step-by-step at the installation process and how long each phase takes.

Step 1: Prepare the Surface – 3-5 hours

  • Remove old backsplash – Use a utility knife, heat gun, putty knife, chisel, or oscillating tool depending on materials. Dispose of properly.
  • Clean area thoroughly – Use a degreaser and scrub brush to remove residue.
  • Fill holes and Prime – Caulk gaps and let dry fully. Apply primer. Allow to dry overnight.

Time to complete: Approximately 3-5 hours

Step 2: Measure and Mark Layout – 1-2 hours

  • Determine tile layout – Mark center lines. Dry lay a section in your design.
  • Measure and mark lines – Mark the installation area based on your planned layout.
  • Determine tile cuts – Mark borders and outlets for any cut tiles needed.

Time to complete: 1 to 2 hours

Step 3: Cut Tiles – 2-6 hours

  • Use proper tile cutter for material – Score and snap porcelain or ceramic. Use wet saw for natural stone. Shears or snips for metal. Grinder for glass.
  • Make precise cuts – Cut tiles to fit around outlets, edges, and corners.
  • Smooth any rough edges

Time to complete: 2-6 hours, depending on number of cuts

Step 4: Install Backsplash Tiles – 6-18 hours

  • Mix thinset mortar – Prepare thinset according to package directions.
  • Apply thinset to wall – Use proper trowel to spread evenly.
  • Place tiles – Press tiles into thinset, using spacers for consistent grout lines.
  • Check level and spacing – Make adjustments before mortar sets. Allow to dry.
  • Repeat to fill area – Work in sections until backsplash area is filled.

Time to complete: 6-18 hours depending on size of job.

Step 5: Grout Application – 4-8 hours

  • Prepare and apply grout – Follow package mixing directions. Use float to spread grout over tiles. Push into joints.
  • Clean excess grout – Wipe diagonally across tiles with damp sponge to remove residue. Rinse sponge frequently.
  • Seal grout – Once dry, apply grout sealer and allow to fully cure.

Time to complete: 4-8 hours

Step 6: Finish and Seal – 1-3 hours

  • Remove spacers once grout dry – Carefully remove tile spacers with needle nose pliers.
  • Caulk edges – Apply silicone caulk along top edges, corners, and transitions.
  • Seal tiles – Apply sealant to protect surface according to manufacturer directions.

Time to complete: 1-3 hours

Total Time to Complete DIY Backsplash Installation: Approximately 20-40 hours

Hiring a professional tiling contractor generally cuts the total installation time significantly, down to 1-2 days in most cases. But costs are higher – between $40-$100 per hour typically. Calculate whether the time savings outweighs the price difference for your specific backsplash project.

Tips for Expediting Your Backsplash Installation

If your goal is to minimize the total time your backsplash installation requires, here are some tips that can help:

  • Hire contractors to demolish old materials and make repairs so you can complete the tile installation faster.
  • Get help cutting tiles – have someone assist or rent an electric tile cutter.
  • Work in teams – Tackle mixing thinset, laying tile, and grouting concurrently.
  • Schedule full work days – Avoid starting and stopping. Work efficiently for long stretches.
  • Stay organized – Have all tools and materials handy to avoid hunting and wasting time.
  • Stick to simpler designs – Avoid intricate patterns or combining multiple shape and size tiles.
  • Keep the installation area clear – Don’t obstruct your work area with clutter or non-essential items.
  • Maintain proper spacing – Use plastic tile spacers for quick, even grout line alignment.
  • Follow product instructions – Read all labels thoroughly. Don’t take shortcuts that could cause issues later.

Rushing through your backsplash installation risks mistakes that end up taking extra time to fix later. Focus on maintaining quality, safety, and proper technique rather than speed alone. With an efficient process, strong prep work, and full work day schedules, most quality backsplash projects can install within a 3-4 day timeframe. Let the above factors guide your planning and expectations before tackling a DIY backsplash in your home.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take for a handyman to install a backsplash?

For an average sized backsplash area, a professional handyman will likely complete the job in 1-2 days. Handymen are experienced in proper installation techniques so the work goes faster compared to a DIY job.

Can you install a backsplash in one day?

It’s ambitious but possible to install a small, simple backsplash in a single day. Have all materials and tools ready and be prepared to work multiple hours non-stop. A larger and more intricate backsplash is more realistically a 3-4 day project.

How long does it take for backsplash adhesive to dry?

Adhesive mortars and thinsets take 24-48 hours to fully cure and dry. This drying time is crucial before grouting can begin. Rushing the drying can result in cracks or tiles lifting off the wall later on. Planning for this full curing time is key.

What is the fastest way to install a backsplash?

Using large format tiles and basic layouts is fastest. Pre-cut tile sheets or mesh-mounted mosaics eliminate cutting. Ungrouted or groutable tiles adhere faster too. However, don’t sacrifice your design vision purely for installation speed.

Can I install a backsplash over existing tile?

Installing over existing backsplash tiles is possible but not ideal. The extra layer makes walls uneven. Demolishing old tile, filling holes, and applying fresh paint creates the best surface for strong backsplash adhesion and visual appeal.


Installing a backsplash is an intermediate to advanced DIY project, but following the proper process and planning for the time involved results in beautiful satisfaction. From thorough preparation to methodical installation to meticulous grouting and sealing, allow 1-2 weeks for most quality backsplash projects depending on size. Rushing leads to frustration and imperfections while diligent patience and care yields backsplashes that enhance your space with durable, decorative appeal. With the right tiles and creative vision, you can install this focal point skillfully within a reasonable timeframe.