How Long Does it Take to Put Up Backsplash?

Installing a backsplash can transform the look and feel of your kitchen or bathroom. But how long does it actually take to install backsplash tile? The time needed depends on several factors.

Planning and Preparation

Before starting to install backsplash tile, proper planning and preparation are crucial for a smooth and successful project.

Selecting the Tile

First and most importantly, you need to select the backsplash tile. The tile material (ceramic, glass, metal, etc.), size, color, pattern, and finish will impact the overall look and coherence with the rest of your kitchen or bathroom. Take time to get tile samples and visualize how they fit with cabinets, countertops, appliances and other finishes.

Plan for 10% overage to allow for breakage, cutting, and pattern matching. Consider delivery times when ordering tiles and supplies.

Design Layout

Determine the layout design for the backsplash. A basic straight lay is the easiest. For more visual interest, consider designs like a herringbone pattern, mosaics, or decorative inserts. Create a layout plan including measurements and tile cuts.

Gather Supplies

Make a list of all the tile installation supplies needed, like mortar, grout, spacers, tile cutter, sponges, buckets, tile sealer, etc. Ensure you have the right tools for the tile material chosen. Having all materials ready avoids delay.

Prepare the Surface

Proper prep work is vital for backsplashes. Remove any old backsplash and thoroughly clean the wall surface. Fill any holes or imperfections in the wall. Apply painter’s tape around the edges to protect cabinets and countertops.

Cover outlets and switch plates. Sand and prime very slick or glossy surfaces for better adhesion. This prep work takes 2-3 hours.

Time Requirements

  • Planning tile selection: 2-3 hours
  • Creating layout design: 1-2 hours
  • Gathering supplies: 1-2 hours
  • Prep work: 2-3 hours

So the total planning and prep time is approximately 6-10 hours.

Installation Process

The hands-on installation time depends on the tile size, overall area to be tiled, and complexity of the design.

Applying Mortar and Tiles

Spreading thinset mortar on the wall and applying the tile is the most time consuming part. Work in small sections, spreading mortar and firmly pressing tiles into place. Use spacers between tiles to get consistent grout lines.

Time will vary based on tile size – small mosaics and tiny subway tiles take much longer than larger tiles. A moderately complex design will add time too. Allow 24-48 hours for mortar to cure before grouting.

Grouting Tile Joints

Grout installation goes quickly, but allow ample drying time. Spread grout over the tiles and use a grout float or rubber grout squeegee to work into joints. Wipe away excess grout with a damp sponge. Cure time is 24-72 hours.

Cutting and Installing Accent Tiles

Measure, mark, and cut any specialty edge pieces, trim tiles, or accent tiles using a wet saw or tile cutter. This precision work takes time. Insert accent tiles into the main field tile area as desired.

Sealing and Finishing

Apply a penetrating sealant to protect the grout lines and enhance water-resistance. Buff off any remaining grout haze or film from the tile surface. Install any trim pieces like bullnose or specialty edges.

Time Requirements

  • Applying thinset and tile: 16-24 hours over 2-3 days
  • Grouting: 4-6 hours over 1-2 days
  • Cutting accent tiles: 2-4 hours
  • Sealing and finishing: 1-2 hours

The hands-on install time ranges from 24-36 hours, depending on the scope of the project.

Total Time

For a 50-75 sq ft kitchen backsplash using standard 8”x4” ceramic subway tiles and basic straight lay, the total time would be:

  • Planning and Prep: 6-10 hours
  • Installation: 24-36 hours

So allow 3-5 days total for a simple backsplash install.

For a more complex backsplash with various materials, intricate patterns, niche, and special edges, total time could extend to 5-7 days.

Factors that can increase overall time:

  • Larger backsplash area
  • Intricate tile layout patterns
  • Very small mosaic tiles or larger format tiles
  • Irregular shaped accent tiles requiring extensive cutting
  • Specialty grouts or finishing processes

Tips to Save Time

  • Have all materials and tools ready before starting
  • Work in small sections for easier install and clean up
  • Use tile spacers for quick, even spacing and straight grout lines
  • Cut tiles with a wet saw for fast, clean cuts
  • Allow proper drying and curing time between steps
  • Seal grout and tile to make cleaning easier

Installing a backsplash requires careful planning, patience, and skill. But with proper preparation and efficient work, you can achieve a stunning backsplash transformation in 3-5 days. Allow extra time for larger or more complex designs. With the right tiles and layout, your new backsplash will improve your kitchen or bath for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long should it take a professional to install a backsplash?

For an experienced contractor, it may take only 1-2 days to install a simple backsplash. They have specialized tools, materials ready, and skills to work quickly. Get an estimate of hours from professionals.

Can I install a backsplash myself in a weekend?

For a small, simple backsplash it’s possible to DIY in a weekend. Have everything ready to start Saturday morning. Install tiles Saturday. Grout and seal on Sunday. Larger or intricate layouts will likely take longer.

What increases the installation time?

Small tiles, mosaics, intricate patterns, specialty cuts, multiple materials, large areas, and special finishes will all add hours to the install time. Allow more time if new to DIY tiling.

How can I make the installation go faster?

Proper planning, efficient layout, having all materials ready, working in small sections, allowing proper curing time, and using time-saving tools like tile spacers all help speed up the process.

Should I remove an old backsplash before installing a new one?

Yes, remove old backsplash completely before installing new tile. This avoids uneven surfaces and adhesion issues. Proper prep is key for success.


Installing a kitchen or bathroom backsplash can take 3-5 full days for most standard tile projects. The total time depends on the scope of work, tile selection, layout complexity, size of area, and your skill level. Careful planning and preparation will help ensure an efficient installation. Take time to properly lay out the design, gather quality materials, and prep the surface. Use tile spacers, work in sections, allow curing time, and utilize proper tools. With some patience and technique, you can gain a stunning backsplash in less than a week.