How Long Does It Take to Install a Backsplash?

Installing a backsplash is a great way to add visual interest and personality to your kitchen. But how long does it actually take to install a backsplash? The time required depends on several factors, including the size of the project, the materials you choose, the complexity of the design, and your skill level. Here is an in-depth look at what’s involved and how long it typically takes to install a backsplash in your kitchen.

Planning and Preparation

Before you can start installing your backsplash, there are some important steps to take in order to plan and prepare for the project. Proper planning and preparation will ensure the installation goes smoothly and efficiently.

Choose Your Materials

The first step is selecting your backsplash materials. Common backsplash materials include:

  • Ceramic or porcelain tile
  • Glass tile
  • Metal tile
  • Stone tile
  • Mosaic tile
  • Stainless steel
  • Tin backsplashes
  • Mirrored backsplashes

The material you choose will impact the total installation time. Tiles that are small or intricate patterns, like mosaics, take longer to install than larger, simple tiles. The material also affects the preparation work. For example, glass tiles require specialized cutting tools and extra care in handling.

Measure Your Space

You’ll need to carefully measure your backsplash area to determine the square footage and purchase enough materials. It’s always best to measure multiple times to ensure accuracy. Don’t forget to account for pattern repeats and awkward angles. Having to make multiple trips to the store for more materials will add time to your project.

Create a Design Layout

Map out the design and layout of your backsplash. Sketch ideas and play with different patterns. Measure the countertop area and create a grid to help lay out the design. This prep work will make the installation go much faster.

Gather Your Supplies

Make sure you have all the supplies you need for installation. This includes tile adhesive, grout, grout sealer, tile spacers, tile cutter, mixing buckets, trowels, sponges, and any specialty tools needed for your tile material. Having the right tools on hand will prevent delays.

Prepare the Surface

Properly preparing the surface is crucial for a long-lasting installation. Remove any old backsplash material or wall coverings. The surface should be cleaned and free of grease, dirt and soap scum. Fill any holes or imperfections with spackle and sand smooth. Primer may be needed on some surfaces before applying tile adhesive. Taking time to correctly prep the surface will prevent problems down the road.

Tile Layout

Do a dry layout before installation to ensure your measurements are accurate and the pattern aligns properly. Adjust the design if needed. This will prevent problems and rework after the tile is on the wall.

With careful planning and preparation, you’ll be set up for success!


Once the prep work is complete, it’s time for installation. The installation itself involves several key steps.

Apply Adhesive

Apply a thin layer of tile adhesive to the backsplash area, using a notched trowel. Only apply as much adhesive as can be tiled in about 10-15 minutes before it skins over. The tile bonds best when applied to fresh, wet adhesive.

Set the Tiles

Following your layout, carefully set the tiles into the adhesive. Use plastic spacers between tiles to maintain even grout lines. Be meticulous to keep lines straight and patterns aligned. Work in small sections so the adhesive doesn’t dry before tiles are set.

Cut Any Custom Pieces

Use a wet saw or tile cutter to cut any custom tiles needed to fit around outlets, corners, or edges. Precision in cutting is important for a professional finish. Cuts may need to be made throughout the installation as you encounter edges and obstacles.

Allow Time to Dry

Let the tiles sit undisturbed for at least 24 hours after all tiles are applied. This allows the adhesive to fully cure and form a strong bond to the tiles and surface. Removing spacers too soon or walking on tiles right away can cause shifting and damage.

Grout the Joints

Mix up grout and apply it over the tiles to fill in all the joints and gaps. Grout adds structural integrity and gives a finished look. Use a grout float and sponge to spread grout and wipe away excess. Perfecting your grouting technique takes practice, so allow extra time if it’s your first backsplash project.

Seal the Grout

Once grout has cured fully, apply a penetrating grout sealer. This adds protection and waterproofing to help keep the grout looking new. Allow time for the sealer to dry as directed.

The hands-on installation time varies based on the size of your backsplash project, as well as your skill level with tiling. Do allocate additional time for the tile adhesive and grout to fully cure before completing the job.

Factors that Impact Installation Time

Several key factors will determine how long your backsplash installation takes from start to finish.

Size of the Backsplash Area

The total square footage of the space you’re tiling will have a significant impact on installation time. A small backsplash may take only a few hours, while tiling a full wall of 20 or 30 square feet may take multiple days.

Layout and Tile Pattern

Simple layouts with large format tiles or a basic grid go faster to install than intricate patterns, angled designs, or mosaics. Fussy, complex designs require more precision and custom cuts.

Type of Material Used

Natural stone, large format tiles, and mosaic sheets can install faster than intricate glass mosaics or tiny mosaic tiles laid individually. The required tools and handling time also factor in.

Tile Cuts Required

The number of required tile cuts affects installation time. Large format tiles require fewer cuts than small mosaics or subway tiles. Intricate patterns or working around outlets increases cuts.

Experience Level

Skill with tiling and backsplashes can significantly reduce installation time. Beginners should allow extra time to learn techniques and perfect the details as they work.

Stage of the Project

Preparation takes up a big portion of time before tile ever hits the wall. Existing backsplash removal, surface prep, planning, and shopping must happen before install.

Typical Installation Timelines

To give you a better idea of real-world timeframes, here are some estimates for typical kitchen backsplash installation projects:

  • Small backsplash under 4 sq ft – Approximately 2-5 hours for an experienced DIYer. Planning and prep may take 1-2 hours, 1 hour for installation, and 1 hour for grouting and sealing.
  • Medium backsplash around 10 sq ft – Around 5-9 hours total for someone comfortable with tiling projects. Allows 2-3 hours for planning and prep, 2-4 hours for install, and 1-2 hours for grouting and sealing.
  • Large backsplash up to 30 sq ft – Could take 15-20 hours or more for an ambitious DIYer. Bump up to 25-30 hours for first timers. Allows 4-6 hours planning/prep, 8-12 hours for install, 2-4 hours grouting/sealing.
  • Full professional installation – Often ranges from 2 days to 5 days depending on size. A pro may complete a small backsplash in 1 day, while a large designer backsplash may take 3-5 full workdays with multiple installers.

Tips for Minimizing Installation Time

Here are some tips to help reduce the time required for your backsplash installation:

  • Do detailed planning upfront to avoid missteps or rework.
  • Gather all needed tools and materials ahead of time.
  • Limit patterns and complex tile layouts.
  • Buy extra tile to avoid running out mid-project.
  • Prep the surface fully – don’t skip steps.
  • Allow time for adhesive and grout to cure fully between steps.
  • Watch tutorial videos to perfect techniques in advance.
  • Start with a small backsplash to build tiling skills if new to DIY.

Hiring an experienced professional tiler is also an excellent way to speed up installation time significantly versus learning as you go.

Enjoy Your New Backsplash!

Installing a backsplash is a satisfying project that can completely transform the look of your kitchen. With proper planning and preparation, even an inexperienced DIYer can achieve beautiful results. Allow plenty of time for each step in the process, and don’t be afraid to call in a tile pro if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

Keeping realistic expectations for both the workload and time investments required will set you up for success. With some dedication and care, you’ll have a stunning new backsplash design to enjoy for many years.

Frequently Asked Questions About Installing Backsplashes

Many homeowners have additional questions about the timeline and process for installing a backsplash. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.

How much time should I budget for a DIY backsplash install?

For your first backsplash project, budget at least double the estimated tile installation time. As a beginner, the prep work and learning curve as you go will add hours. It also pays to go slowly and carefully your first time.

Can I install a backsplash over existing tile or wall coverings?

It’s possible but not ideal. Removing old backsplash materials allows you to inspect and prepare the surface for proper adhesion. Covering over existing tile also reduces the usable space for the new backsplash.

How soon can I grout after installing the tiles?

Wait at least 24 hours for tile adhesive to fully cure before applying grout. Grouting too soon can allow tiles to shift and become misaligned during the process.

Should I seal my grout?

Sealing grout is highly recommended to protect it from stains and damage, extending the like-new look. Allow grout to cure fully first before applying sealer. Resealing annually is a good idea.

Is it okay to install a backsplash directly over drywall?

Preparing the surface with a tile-friendly substrate will increase adhesion. Cement board, fiber board, or a membrane can provide extra stability for heavy tile.

How do I cut a hole in my backsplash for a fixture or outlet?

Use a rotary tool or oscillating tool with a tile blade to carefully cut accurate openings. Turn off power and protect fixtures for safety.

What’s the easiest backsplash tile for a beginner DIYer?

Larger format solid color ceramic, porcelain, or granite tiles keep it simple. Basic stones and glass sheets are also fairly straightforward for DIY. Intricate patterns in small mosaics are much trickier.

How can I reduce mess during installation?

Have a shop vac and dustpan nearby to frequently clean up debris. Keep a bucket of clean water for washing tiles before sticking to the wall. Lay drop cloths and mask surrounding areas.


Installing a backsplash can take as little as a few hours for small projects up to several days for larger or more intricate designs. Allow sufficient time for planning, preparation, proper materials, and proper drying between steps. While backsplashes require some work, the results are well worth the investment for a gorgeous focal point in your kitchen. With realistic expectations about the workload and a deliberate approach, you can achieve beautiful results.