How Long Does it Take to Tile a Backsplash?

Tiling your kitchen backsplash can transform the look and feel of your cooking space. However, installing tile is a project that requires careful planning, skill, and of course, time. If you’re wondering how long it takes to tile a backsplash, here is an overview of what to expect.

Planning and Preparation

The time needed to tile a backsplash starts long before you ever pick up a trowel. Proper planning and preparation are crucial for achieving a successful result. Rushing into tiling without taking key preliminary steps will likely lead to mistakes, delays, and frustration.

Some key tasks to complete ahead of time include:

  • Selecting your tile: Choose the size, texture, color, and style that aligns with your design vision. Order enough tile to cover the space with extras to allow for cuts and waste.
  • Designing the layout: Map out the tile pattern and arrangement. A well-thought-out design ensures proper spacing, alignment, and aesthetics.
  • Gathering supplies: Purchase high-quality adhesive, grout, spacers, tools, and sealant. Verify you have all required materials before starting.
  • Prepping the surface: Thoroughly clean the backsplash area and make any needed repairs. Remove existing backsplash if present. Ensure the surface is smooth, dry, and ready for tiling.

Depending on the backsplash size and complexity, you should budget 1-3 days just for proper planning and material acquisition. Rushing this stage can cost you more time down the road.

Installation Time Estimates

The hands-on installation time depends on several key factors:

  • Size of the backsplash: Larger backsplash areas take more time compared to a contained space behind a single sink.
  • Tile size: Smaller tiles require more effort than large format tiles to set pieces and grout the increased number of seams.
  • Complexity of tile pattern: Intricate designs with special cuts take longer than basic straight layouts. Experienced tilers work faster.
  • Access to the area: Tiling around cabinets, counters, and appliances presents challenges versus open wall space.

As a general guideline for the average DIYer, expect tiling to take:

  • Full wall backsplash: 2-3 days
  • Single sink backsplash: 1-2 days
  • Mosaic or small tile backsplash: 2-4 days
  • Subway tile backsplash: 1-3 days

A professional tiler can typically complete jobs twice as fast. Complex patterns or backsplashes over 50 square feet may take pros up to 5 days.

Key Tiling Steps

Though tile installation seems straightforward, success requires following essential techniques and steps:

Surface Prep

  • Make repairs and eliminate rough areas
  • Clean thoroughly to remove grease, grime, and debris
  • Apply primer if painting existing backsplash
  • Remove any existing backsplash tile

Adhesive Application

  • Determine proper trowel size based on tile type
  • Spread thinset mortar evenly over sections of the surface at a time
  • Use spacers between tiles to achieve even grout lines
  • Be mindful of open times – only spread adhesive you can tile over before drying

Cutting and Setting Tile

  • Measure and mark tile for accurate cuts
  • Use a wet saw for most cuts and nippers for small notches
  • Set tiles gently but firmly into the adhesive
  • Check alignment and spacing as you go
  • Allow adhesive to cure fully before grouting

Grouting Tile Joints

  • Mix grout per package directions
  • Apply grout over all tile joints using a trowel or float
  • Let grout harden slightly and then clean excess from tile faces
  • Apply sealant/polish once grout has dried for 72 hours

Achieving Quality Results

Tiling a backsplash takes hard work and patience. But allowing adequate time for planning, setup, and installation is the key to achieving professional-looking results. Avoid frustration by not rushing the process. And keep in mind that tiling projects often take DIYers at least twice as long compared to seasoned tile contractors. If done properly, your new backsplash will provide lasting function and beauty for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long should I wait before grouting a new backsplash?

It’s best to wait at least 24 hours after setting the tiles to apply grout. This allows the tile adhesive to cure properly and prevents tiles from shifting when you grout.

What mistakes cause tiling projects to take longer?

Common mistakes like inadequate surface prep, improper adhesive use, and lack of layout planning can all result in slower progress and rework. Rushing also leads to sloppy results and delays.

Should I hire a professional tiler or DIY my backsplash?

For large or intricate backsplash projects, hiring an experienced tiler is worth the cost to ensure quality results and avoid beginner mistakes. Simple DIY backsplashes can be managed if you prepare, take it slow, and follow best practices.

How much does a professional charge to install a backsplash?

On average, expect to pay $50 to $100 per hour for a professional tiler. Complex or large projects may also require a minimum labor charge. Quality tile and material costs are extra.

What’s the easiest backsplash to install as a beginner?

Classic white 3×6 subway tile is one of the easiest styles to install. The large uniform size minimizes cuts. A basic grid pattern over a contained single sink space is also ideal for DIY beginners.


Tiling your own backsplash can be a rewarding upgrade to your kitchen. With proper planning and setup, even DIYers can achieve beautiful results. Be sure to follow essential installation steps like prepping the surface and applying adhesive correctly. While tiling does take time and diligence, the final product will bring you years of enjoyment. Approach the project with patience and care, and soon you’ll have the backsplash you’ve been dreaming about!