How Much Are Backsplashes?

Backsplashes are an important design element in kitchens and bathrooms. They serve both functional and aesthetic purposes. When considering installing a backsplash, one of the main questions is – how much will it cost? The price of a backsplash can vary significantly based on the materials used, the size of the project, and any custom design work. This article provides a comprehensive overview of the factors that influence backsplash costs and price ranges for different materials.

What is a Backsplash?

A backsplash is a protective surface installed on the wall behind sinks, stoves, ranges, and countertops. Backsplashes prevent water damage, staining, and wear & tear. They also add visual interest and personality to kitchen and bathroom spaces. Backsplashes are typically made of tile, stone, glass, metal, or other water-resistant materials.

The primary purpose of a backsplash is utilitarian – to protect the walls from moisture, grease, food splatter, and potential leaks. But backsplashes also serve as an integral design element that can tie together cabinetry, counters, appliances, and sink fixtures while introducing color, texture, and pattern.

Cost Factors for Backsplash Installation

Several variables affect the total cost of a backsplash installation project. The primary factors that influence price are:

Backsplash Material

The material chosen for the backsplash has a significant impact on the overall cost. Materials like ceramic, porcelain, or glass tile tend to be affordable options, while stone, metal, and custom mosaic or handmade tiles raise the price considerably.

Size of the Backsplash Area

The overall square footage needing to be covered by the backsplash affects the total tile and labor costs. A larger backsplash space means more materials, time, and work involved. Standard backsplash height is 4-6 inches from the countertop, but some designs extend to the ceiling.

Backsplash Design Complexity

Simple backsplash designs with basic tile patterns tend to be cheaper, while intricate mosaics, mixed materials, special shapes, and detailed patterns increase costs. Accent tiles and borders add design elements that raise the price as well.

Professional Installation

Professionally installing a backsplash costs more than a DIY project, but ensures proper techniques, tools, materials, and finish. Tiling requires skills and tools that homeowners may not possess.

Additional Materials/Modifications

Specialty grout, sealants, trim, decorative accents, lighting, electrical work, plumbing alterations, wall prep, and repairs can all add to the bottom line.

Factors That Impact Backsplash Material Costs

The material chosen for a backsplash plays a major role in determining the overall budget. Some types of backsplash tiles and materials are much more expensive than others. Key factors that affect material costs include:

Tile Type

Ceramic, porcelain, and glass tile tend to be the most budget-friendly options, starting around $5 per square foot. Stone tile like marble, slate, or granite can range from $15-50 per square foot. Metal tiles start around $25, while handmade or mosaic tiles have a wide cost range of $15-75 per square foot.

Tile Size

Larger format tiles are typically more expensive than small mosaics or standard 4 inch tiles. Oversized subway, planks, and large format tiles have a higher material cost.

Tile Finish and Grade

Tiles with polished, textured, or tumbled finishes are often pricier than smooth gloss tiles. Natural stone and glass tile prices depend heavily on factors like consistency, flaws, color variation, and overall grade.

Tile Brand and Quality

Well-known tile brands and designer series lines usually cost more than generic tiles. Higher end tiles tend to have tighter quality control, durability, and aesthetic appeal.

Custom vs. Stock Tile

Special order, custom fabricated, or handmade tile is almost always more expensive than in-stock options, sometimes four times the price of generic tile.

Delivery/Shipping Fees

Having tile shipped to your location can add delivery, shipping, and handling fees to the project costs.

Backsplash Installation Costs

In addition to material costs, professional installation is a significant portion of the total backsplash budget. The labor costs for installation include:

  • Initial planning and layout
  • Surface preparation – cleaning walls, assessing for damage/level
  • Applying waterproof sealants behind the tile
  • Measuring and cutting all tiles
  • Setting tiles and ensuring even spacing and pattern alignment
  • Grouting tiles
  • Sealing and finishing the tiles
  • Cleaning up work site after completion

For professionally installed backsplashes, labor averages $40-$80 per hour. Most installers estimatecosts as price per square foot based on the size of the project. Simple installations can run between $5-10 per square foot, while more complex tile layouts are $10-25 per square foot.

The overall installation cost is also influenced by the tile size – small mosaic tiles take longer to install than larger tiles. Meticulous handmade or mosaic tile projects can range from $25-50 per square foot for labor.

Cost Range by Backsplash Material

Here is an overview of estimated backsplash installation costs for some of the most popular backsplash materials:

Ceramic Tile

  • Materials – $5-20 per sq. ft.
  • Installation – $5-15 per sq. ft.
  • Total Cost – $10-35 per sq. ft.

Ceramic is one of the most budget-friendly backsplash options. Costs range from plain white ceramic at $5 per square foot up to hand-painted or decorative ceramic tile at $15-20 per square foot.

Porcelain Tile

  • Materials – $8-30 per sq. ft.
  • Installation – $5-15 per sq. ft.
  • Total Cost – $15-45 per sq. ft.

Porcelain tile backsplashes provide an elegant look for slightly higher prices than ceramic. Costs range from $8 per square foot for basic white porcelain to over $30 per square foot for high-end artisan porcelain.

Glass Tile

  • Materials – $15-50 per sq. ft.
  • Installation – $10-25 per sq. ft.
  • Total Cost – $25-75 per sq. ft.

Unique glass backsplashes range from affordable colored glass tiles at $15 per square foot to ornate custom mosaic designs at over $50 per square foot. Beveled, frosted, and cracked glass also increase costs.

Metal Tile

  • Materials – $25-50 per sq. ft.
  • Installation – $10-20 per sq. ft.
  • Total Cost – $35-70 per sq. ft.

Metal backsplash tiles like stainless steel, copper, and tin bring industrial style for $25-50 per square foot. Prices vary based on the metal chosen and depth/dimension of tiles.

Stone Tile

  • Materials – $15-100 per sq. ft.
  • Installation – $10-25 per sq. ft.
  • Total Cost – $25-125 per sq. ft.

Natural stone tiles like marble, travertine, slate, and granite range dramatically in price from $15 per square foot for simple slate up to $100 for high grade marble or granite.

Peel-and-Stick Tile

  • Materials – $5-30 per sq. ft.
  • Installation – $0-5 per sq. ft. (DIY)
  • Total Cost – $5-35 per sq. ft.

Adhesive “peel-and-stick” backsplash tiles cost slightly less than traditional tiles and can be installed directly over existing surfaces. Material costs range from $5-30 per square foot.

Mirror Tiles

  • Materials – $10-40 per sq. ft.
  • Installation – $10-25 per sq. ft.
  • Total Cost – $20-65 per sq. ft.

Mirror backsplashes add light and the illusion of space. Mirror tiles range from affordable $10 acrylic options to higher-end real glass mirrors costing $40+ per square foot installed.

Factors That Increase Backsplash Costs

Several elements related to complex backsplash design and installation can drive up pricing significantly:

  • Intricate patterns or mosaic – Small tiles with complicated designs require more cutting and labor time.
  • Multiple materials or accent tiles – Combining materials like glass + stone mosaic tiles increases costs.
  • Niche or shelving – Specialty carved out nooks for storing spices or displaying decor are pricey.
  • Extending backsplash to ceiling – More square footage equals higher total cost.
  • Specialty grout/adhesives – Epoxy grout or specific glues can add $200 or more.
  • Plumbing or electrical work – Accommodating outlets, switches or pipes adds cost.
  • Removal of old backsplash – Demolition and disposal expenses if replacing existing backsplash.
  • Extra wall prep or repair – Drywall work, plastering, evening out uneven walls.
  • Designer tiles – Big names like Calacatta Borghini or Waterjet mosaics mean premium prices.

Cost Saving Backsplash Ideas

There are ways to get an attractive, high-end looking backsplash while keeping costs down. Some money-saving options include:

  • Select affordable ceramic or porcelain tiles rather than natural stone or glass.
  • Use a combination of decorative accent tiles sparingly along with more affordable field tiles.
  • Opt for simple uniform rectangular subway tiles rather than ornate patterns.
  • Install a smaller backsplash area rather than extending to the ceiling.
  • Use peel-and-stick backsplash over existing wall rather than removing and replacing.
  • Paint the wall your desired color and add strategically placed decorative tiles.
  • Look for tile sales or discount overstock items from big box stores.
  • Use recycled or upcycled materials like broken china, marbles or buttons for a eclectic mixed media backsplash.

Factors That Lower Backsplash Costs

There are certain choices that result in backsplash savings:

  • DIY installation – Completing work yourself rather than hiring a pro.
  • Standard backsplash height – 4 inches rather than full wall height.
  • Minimal prep/repairs – Even, undamaged wall that doesn’t require work.
  • Stock tiles – Using in-stock tiles avoids custom fabrication fees.
  • Tiles on sale – Discount tile helps lower material costs.
  • Self-adhesive tile – Peel-and-stick is generally cheaper to install.
  • Basic materials – Porcelain, ceramic, or glass rather than natural stone.
  • Simple tile patterns – Avoiding intricate designs with multiple tile shapes.
  • Solid color grout – More affordable than custom colored or epoxy grout.

Should You Install Backsplash Yourself?

One decision that can significantly impact the cost of a backsplash project is whether to do it yourself or hire a professional installer. Here are some factors to help decide which route is right for your project:

Benefits of DIY Installation

  • Significant cost savings on labor
  • Greater flexibility and control over the project
  • Opportunity to customize backsplash design as you go
  • Learn a new skill and the satisfaction of installing it yourself

Benefits of Hiring a Pro

  • Ensures proper preparation and installation
  • No learning curve – experts know the most effective techniques
  • Efficiency – projects are completed faster
  • Access to professional-grade tools and materials
  • Warranty or guarantee for workmanship defects
  • Able to handle complex designs
  • Frees up your time for other tasks

Determining If DIY Is Right For You

Consider if you are able to:

  • Invest significant time and energy into the project
  • Learn specialized skills like cutting tile
  • Have patience for the process since it may take longer
  • Accept small mistakes versus perfection
  • Handle the physical demands of tiling
  • Work within a fixed budget for materials and tools

For many homeowners, DIY backsplash installation is rewarding, cost-effective, and achievable. But for larger or more complex projects, hiring an experienced tile installation pro can give peace of mind.

Hiring a Backsplash Installer

If you opt to have your backsplash installed instead of DIY, here are tips for hiring the right backsplash installation contractor:

  • Review examples of their previous backsplash projects.
  • Ask for references from recent clients.
  • Verify they are licensed, bonded, and insured.
  • Get an itemized estimate of project scope, materials, labor rates, and timeframe.
  • Look for Tile Contractors Association members.
  • Specify clean-up responsibilities and policies.
  • Ask about warranties or guarantees they provide.
  • Check that they have strong attention to detail.
  • Communicate schedule expectations and work hours.

A quality backsplash company will ensure an efficient installation process and excellent finished product. Take time to research and evaluate options.

Backsplash Maintenance Costs

While backsplash installation is a bigger upfront investment, keep in mind that proper backsplash materials are very durable and require little ongoing maintenance. Annual costs may include:

  • Occasional re-sealing – $3-5 per sq. ft. every 2-5 years
  • Grout cleaning – Diy solutions or professional grout deep cleaning service $200-300
  • Re-caulking joints – $100-200 every 5-10 years
  • Cleaning solutions – $50-150 per year
  • Replacing broken tiles – Minimal unless damage is extensive

With proper care, most quality backsplash materials can last 20-30 years or longer before needing replacement. Caring for your backsplash helps maintain its functional protection and visual appeal.

Backsplash Price Per Square Foot By Material

Here is a breakdown of typical per square foot material costs for popular backsplash tiles:

MaterialPrice per sq. ft.
Stone (slate)$15-30
Stone (granite)$80-100
Stone (marble)$50-80
Peel and stick$5-30

The Takeaway

The cost of a new backsplash depends on square footage, materials, designs, pro vs. DIY installation, and several other factors. In general, you can expect to invest $10 – $50 per square foot for most quality, professionally installed kitchen or bathroom backsplash projects. Carefully considering your budget, design goals, installation options, and material choices will help guide you to the ideal backsplash solution for your space and budget.

Frequently Asked Questions About Backsplash Costs

Here are answers to some common questions homeowners have about backsplash project costs:

How much does a basic subway tile backsplash cost?

A basic white 3×6 subway tile backsplash costs $7-15 per square foot including affordable tile and professional installation.

How can I get an affordable backsplash on a budget?

Stick to ceramic, porcelain, or glass mosaic tiles rather than natural stone. Install a smaller backsplash area rather than a full wall. Use peel-and-stick backsplash and DIY install.

Are backsplashes cheaper if you install them yourself?

Yes, DIY installation can save 50% or more on labor costs compared to hiring a professional tiler. But factor in tools, learning curve, and potential for mistakes.

Should I get quotes from multiple backsplash installers?

It’s recommended to get 2-3 quotes. Compare the scope of work, materials, pricing, and reviews. Make sure you get an itemized quote breaking down material and labor costs.

How do I know if a backsplash quote is too expensive?

Review the average per square foot costs for the materials used. If costs exceed $10-25 per square foot for basic installation with standard tiles, the quote may be overpriced.


The cost of installing a new backsplash ranges widely based on the size of the project, materials selected, complexity of the design, and who does the installation. In general, backsplash installation costs from $10 – $50 per square foot. Carefully weigh the options for tiles, DIY vs. professional installation, and design elements to find the right backsplash solution for your budget and vision. Considering the daily wear and tear that backsplashes endure, investing in quality materials and proper installation is worth the investment. With proper maintenance, your new backsplash will maintain its beauty while protecting your walls for decades to come.