How Long to Install Backsplash? A Detailed Guide

Installing a stylish backsplash is one of the most popular ways to upgrade your kitchen’s aesthetic. With the right materials and some DIY know-how, you can add an eye-catching focal point to your cooking space. However, many homeowners wonder – just how long does it take to install a new backsplash?

The time required depends on several factors:

The Size of the Backsplash

Naturally, a larger backsplash area covering more square footage will require more time. A full backsplash along the counters behind a sink, stove, and prep areas can take 16 hours or more. A simpler application highlighting just a section of wall may only take 4-6 hours. Measure your target area and calculate the square footage to estimate materials and time requirements.

Type of Materials

Simple materials like ceramic subway tile are relatively quick to install. More complex or natural materials like travertine or marble require more prep work and careful placement, adding to the timeline. Handmade tile or intricate mosaic patterns also take longer due to the meticulous installation process. Consider the materials and style you want when estimating your time investment.

Experience Level with Installation

An experienced tiler can install backsplash materials efficiently with the right tools and techniques. DIYers doing their first backsplash project will need extra time to learn proper methods and correct any novice mistakes. Complex patterns or unfamiliar materials also present learning curves for beginners. Be honest about your skill level when calculating how long installation will take.

Condition of the Wall Surface

sometimes, preparing the wall surface can take as long or longer than the actual material installation. If your walls are uneven, heavily textured, damaged, or painted with glossy enamel paint, more time is needed to smooth or resurface the area for a clean backdrop. Checking walls and planning any repairs ahead of time allows for better time estimates.

Electric and Plumbing Features

Working around outlets, switches, and plumbing lines will also increase installation time. Carefully removing and replacing light switches or outlet covers, cutting tile or other materials precisely to fit around obstacles, and working in tight spaces will all slow down your backsplash project. Identify potential problem areas beforehand.

Now that the key factors are clear, let’s explore rough time estimates based on specific backsplash materials and applications.

Subway Tile Backsplash Installation Time

Popular 3×6 or 4×12 subway tiles make an economical and classic backsplash choice. The small uniform size allows for quick installation compared to large format tiles.

  • Prep time – 2-3 hours to clean and evaluate walls and mark tile layout.
  • Adhesive application – 1-2 hours to spread thinset and comb for tiles. More time needed for large areas.
  • Tile cutting – 30 minutes to 1 hour to cut border and outlet tiles with wet saw.
  • Tile installation – 2-3 hours for a 6 sq ft area. Add 1 hour per additional 2 sq ft.
  • Grout application – 1 hour for a 6 sq ft space. Add 30 minutes per extra 2 sq ft.
  • Sealant/caulk – 30 minutes to apply and cleanup.
  • Total time for 6 sq ft backsplash – 7-9 hours
  • Total time for full kitchen backsplash (~30 sq ft) – 16-20 hours

An experienced tiler could shave off 1-2 hours. Building in extra time for potential hiccups is wise for DIYers.

Glass Tile Backsplash Timeframe

While beautiful, glass tile needs careful handling and placement, increasing installation time.

  • Prep time – 3-4 hours to clean walls, add backerboard if needed, and mark layout.
  • Adhesive application – 1-2 hours to spread thinset mortar.
  • Tile cutting – 1-2 hours to carefully cut glass tiles with wet saw. Much slower than ceramic.
  • Tile installation – 4-6 hours for 6 sq ft area. Add 1.5 hours per extra 2 sq ft.
  • Grout application – 1.5 hours for 6 sq ft space. Add 45 minutes per additional 2 sq ft.
  • Sealant/caulk – 30 minutes to apply and cleanup.
  • Total time for 6 sq ft backsplash – 12-16 hours
  • Total time for full kitchen backsplash – 25-35 hours

Cutting and placing the glass tiles take special care, lengthening the timeline.

Natural Stone Backsplash Time Estimates

Stone materials like marble, travertine, or granite have unique installation considerations.

  • Prep time – 3-4 hours for cleanup, adding backerboard, and layout marking.
  • Adhesive application – 1.5-2.5 hours to spread mortar and back-butter tiles.
  • Tile cutting – 1-2 hours for simple cuts with wet saw. More time needed for specialty blades and cuts.
  • Tile installation – 5-7 hours for a 6 sq ft area. Add 2 hours per extra 2 sq ft.
  • Grout application – 1.5 hours for a 6 sq ft space. Add 45 minutes per additional 2 sq ft.
  • Sealant/caulk – 30 minutes to apply and cleanup.
  • Total time for 6 sq ft backsplash – 13-18 hours
  • Total time for full kitchen backsplash – 30-40 hours

Natural stone is thicker and often larger format, requiring special cutting tools and more prep work. Take your time to ensure proper placement and minimal tile damage.

Factors That Can Increase Backsplash Installation Time

While the above provides general time estimates, here are some project-specific factors that can further lengthen your installation timeline:

  • Old wall surface that needs extensive smoothing or re-drywalling
  • Full tile backsplashes covering multiple walls or full room height
  • Intricate or multi-piece mosaic tile patterns vs basic rectangles
  • Outlets, switches, and plumbing lines that require special tile cutting
  • Natural stone tiles with varying thickness or veining requiring extra prep
  • Glass or marble tiles that need precision cutting and placement
  • DIYers doing first-time tile project with mortar and grout learning curve
  • Addition of decorative accents like edged tiles, medallions, or borders
  • Limited work time each day based on schedule

Building in plenty of extra time for unexpected issues is wise to allow for a careful installation and avoid feeling rushed. Assembling all tools and materials beforehand ensures efficient work once started. While tiling does require some physical exertion, be sure to pace yourself instead of racing through the process.

Tips to Install Backsplash Tile Efficiently

To help your project go smoothly and efficiently, keep these tips in mind:

  • Carefully measure and calculate materials needed to avoid shortages mid-project. Have at least 10% extra tile on hand.
  • Gather all required tools – tile cutter, buckets, trowel, grout float, sponges, tape, etc.
  • Clear your schedule as much as possible during the tiling days to allow full work time.
  • Follow all manufacturer’s instructions for mortar/adhesive mixing and application.
  • Use tile spacers for consistent spacing and alignment.
  • Work in small sections, completing all steps before moving to the next area.
  • Clean tiles frequently while working to remove excess mortar before it dries.
  • Allow proper thinset mortar drying times before grouting or walking on tiles.
  • Apply sealant/caulk along countertops, edges, and around fixtures for finished look.
  • Don’t rush through grouting to avoid smearing. Allow proper drying time before cleanup.
  • Research cuts needed around outlets before starting to avoid mistakes.
  • Have a clear workspace for cutting tiles and a large enough surface for layout mock ups.


Installing a fresh backsplash is a satisfying DIY project that can completely transform the look of your kitchen. Once you select your materials and styles, allow plenty of time for proper installation based on the size and intricacy of your design. Careful prep work, efficient tools, and patience during the tiling process will pay off with beautiful results you’ll enjoy for years to come. Allow yourself more time than initially expected and don’t be afraid to call in a professional if the project becomes too complex. With some planning and diligent work, your new backsplash can be a focal point you’ll be proud to show off.