How Long Does It Take to Do Backsplash?

Installing a backsplash in your kitchen or bathroom can transform the look and feel of the space. But before taking on a backsplash project, it’s important to understand how much time the installation will require. Here is an in-depth look at how long it takes to do backsplash.

Planning Your Backsplash

The first step of any backsplash project is proper planning and preparation. This includes:

Selecting Your Materials

Many factors impact how long installation will take, and material is a big one. Handmade tile will take longer to install than uniform manufactured tiles. Natural stone tile will require more meticulous measuring and cutting than ceramic.

Glass, metal, and other mosaic tiles take the most time as each small piece must be placed individually. Avoid tiny tiles like 1-inch mosaics for a faster project.

Design and Layout

Simple layouts like subway brick patterns or stacked lines will be quicker to install than intricate designs. Opt for large uniform tiles and minimal grout lines to speed up the process.

Plan your design and tile placement in advance for maximum efficiency during installation.

Gathering Supplies

Be sure to have all necessary backsplash supplies before starting – tiles, grout, adhesive, spacers, grout float, mixing buckets, sponges, tile cutter, etc. Shop smart and order extra tile to account for cracked or damaged pieces.

Preparing the Surface

You’ll need to clear the installation area and ensure the wall surface is clean, smooth, dry and ready for tile application. Take time to remove any old backsplash, sand, patch holes, prime, and paint the wall as needed to create an ideal backdrop for tiles.

Hiring a Professional

While DIY backsplash installation is totally feasible for many homeowners, hiring a professional tiler is advisable for large or intricate projects. Their experience will streamline the installation process.

Backsplash Installation Timeline

Once you’ve crossed the above preparation tasks off your to-do list, you’re ready to estimate the hands-on installation time. Here’s a realistic overview of what to expect:

Day 1: Setting the Base Layer

Time required: 3-5 hours

This involves properly preparing and applying the mortar adhesive base layer that tiles will stick to. The time depends on the size of the installation space.

Steps include:

  • Mixing and spreading mortar adhesive on the wall area to be tiled
  • Applying the first row of tiles as a straight foundation row
  • Letting adhesive dry before proceeding

Day 2: Installing the Backsplash Tiles

Time required: 5-8 hours

Tiling the main backsplash area will take 1-2 full days depending on tile size, design complexity, and total square footage.

Work efficiently by pre-cutting all tiles needed for each row before starting. This prevents stopping to cut each piece separately. Apply in rows from bottom to top, letting adhesive dry between rows.

Be extra diligent with spacers for even uniform grout lines. Meticulous tile alignment pays off down the road.

Day 3: Grouting the Backsplash

Time required: 2-3 hours

Once all whole tiles are solidly installed, it’s time for grouting. Applying grout between the tile joints takes precision and patience.

When grouting, work in small sections for best results. Let each area dry before moving ladder down the wall to the next section.

Remove excess grout with sponges and allow to fully dry overnight before using kitchen appliances like the stove against the wall.

Day 4: Finishing Touches

Time required: 1-2 hours

The last installation day is for final details and clean up:

  • Applying trim pieces, end caps, or accent tiles
  • Sealing grout lines
  • Polishing off residual haze or film from tiles
  • Cleaning up construction mess from the installation process

Total Time to Install a Backsplash

Based on the timeline above, you can expect the total timeline for a DIY backsplash installation to be:

  • Small backsplash (5-15 sq ft): 1-2 days
  • Medium backsplash (15-30 sq ft): 2-3 days
  • Large backsplash (30+ sq ft): 3-5 days

This covers prep, installation, grouting, and finishing. Larger and more intricate tile projects will land on the longer end of these time ranges.

Having an experienced professional complete the work can condense the timeline down to 1-2 days total.

Factors That Increase Backsplash Installation Time

Many variables impact how long your backsplash tiling will take. Be aware of these factors that can extend your timeline:

Tile Size

Smaller tiles like mosaics, 1×1 inches, 2×2 inches, etc require more time as there are simply more pieces to install. Opt for normal 4×4 inch or 6×6 inch tiles for quicker application.

Tile Material

Fragile natural stone and marble take more time to precisely cut and handle than durable ceramic or porcelain tile. Glass and metal mosaic tiles also have a longer learning curve.

Intricate Design

Subway bricks and stacked patterns are simpler and faster than detailed mosaics, medallions, or combinations of specialty tile shapes. Limit multi-piece accent tiles.

Multi-Step Process

Creating a multi-step design with border inlays or decorative patterns adds steps to the installation process that increase overall time.

Irregular Shaped Walls

An indented cooktop, window ledges, or irregular walls require meticulous tile-cutting and custom fitting that adds hours to the timeline.

Grout Lines

Thin grout lines slow the grouting process. Wider grout lines speed up application but use more grout. Find the right balance for your tile design.

DIY Installation

First time DIYers will work slower than pros. Consider hiring a professional tiler at least for the intricate parts like uneven cuts around outlets and appliances.

Tips for a Faster Installation

Use these tips to streamline your backsplash installation whether DIY or done by a pro:

  • Buy extra tile. Have 5-10% extra to account for damaged or improperly cut tiles. Avoid mid-project shipments.
  • Start with a clean slate. Proper prep of the wall surface will prevent adhesion issues down the road.
  • Cut tiles ahead. Pre-measure and cut all whole and specialty tiles needed for each row before starting.
  • Use uniform large tiles. Standard 4×4, 6×6 or subway bricks are fast and forgiving.
  • Limit grout lines. Wider grout lines speed up grouting but require more product. Find the ideal spacing.
  • Mix thinset in batches. Fresh mortar leads to maximum stick. Don’t spread too far ahead of your tile placing.
  • Work bottom to top. Build each row on the last for exquisitely straight lines. Use levels religiously.
  • Let adhesive and grout fully cure before moving on to prevent cracks or damage.
  • Hire professionals as needed. Some special cuts or complex designs warrant an expert.

DIY Backsplash Installation Considerations

Installing a backsplash yourself can save on labor costs. But make sure your skill set matches your design vision before committing.

Assess the Layout

Can you handle all the necessary tile cuts – around receptacles, inside corners, appliances? Irregular layouts require mastery of a tile wet saw.

Evaluate Intricacy

Fancy mosaics, stacked patterns, medallions may look amazing when done right but also allow little margin for error. Simple is faster.

Be Real About Your Skills

No need for perfection on your first try, but recognize what’s beyond your current abilities. Tap pros as needed.

Expect a Learning Curve

Leave ample time your first DIY backsplash project. You’ll gain skills and speed with each additional installation.

Hiring Professional Tilers

Complex backsplash designs or installations in tricky tight spaces often warrant hiring a pro.

Shop Around for Quotes

Get bids from 3-4 tilers to compare pricing. Verify they are fully insured and licensed.

Check Portfolios and References

Review examples of their prior backsplash work and call references to confirm quality and reliability.

Provide Layout Plans

Give tile pattern drawings, dimensions, tile samples, and product specifics to get accurate time and cost estimates.

Agree on Daily Rates

Hourly pay may encourage stretching the project. Opt for set day rates to incentivize efficiency.

Schedule Drop Off and Pick Up

Have tiles and setting materials delivered a few days before. Schedule debris haul away a day or two after.

Plan for Parts of Days

If the total labor time is less than a full day, you may still be billed for a full day depending on company policies.

Maintaining Your Investment

Once your beautiful new backsplash is installed, maintaining it properly ensures it will last for years of cooking messes and daily wear-and-tear.

Use Gentle Cleaners

Harsh acidic or abrasive cleaners can damage backsplash surfaces. Use mild dish soap and water for daily cleaning needs.

Seal Grout Lines

Applying grout sealer 1-2 times per year prevents stains from penetrating porous grout and makes cleaning easier.

Address Cracks Immediately

If grout lines or tile corners crack, address right away before moisture seeps underneath and causes greater damage.

Limit Moisture Exposure

Excessive steam and humidity prematurely degrade backsplash materials. Ensure proper kitchen ventilation with hood vents.

Handle with Care

Take care not to bang pots, pans, appliances, or other objects against the backsplash that can lead to cracked tiles or grout.

Renew Caulk Seal

Re-apply a thin bead of silicone caulk along the joint between the backsplash and countertops every 2-3 years as needed.

FAQs About Backsplash Installation Time

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about how long it takes to install a backsplash:

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

A pro can typically install a medium sized backsplash of 15-30 square feet in 1-2 days. Simple layouts take just a day. Intricate patterns or natural stone may require 2-3 days.

Should the tile adhesive dry between rows?

Yes, it’s crucial to let tile mortar adhesive fully cure before applying the next row. This prevents slipping and movement leading to cracked grout.

How long should grout dry before sealing?

Grout needs a full 72 hours to cure before applying grout sealer. This allows moisture from the grout installation process to fully evaporate.

Can I speed up installation by applying adhesive rapidly?

No. Adhesive that is spread too far ahead of tile application can skin over and not stick properly. Work in small sections.

Should I remove existing backsplash before installing new?

Yes, it’s best to remove old backsplash completely down to the bare wall for proper adhesion. Use care not to damage drywall.

Achieve Your Dream Backsplash

Determining how long it takes to do a backsplash is an important early step for success of your kitchen or bath renovation project. Once you know what to expect for your particular tile design and layout, you can better plan any time off needed from work and adjust your schedule expectations.

With the right combination of strategic planning, problem-solving skills, and tenacity, you can achieve the backsplash of your dreams – whether DIY or installed by pros. Just be sure to build in a little extra time for the inevitable hiccups along the way. The end result will be well worth the time and effort for a backsplash you can enjoy for decades to come.