Installing a backsplash can greatly enhance the look of your kitchen or bathroom. But before taking on a backsplash project, it’s important to understand the costs involved so you can budget accordingly. Here’s a detailed look at what goes into backsplash installation and how much you can expect to pay.
What is a Backsplash?
A backsplash is a decorative, protective wall surface installed on the area above a countertop and below the wall cabinets. Backsplashes are commonly made of ceramic or porcelain tile, natural stone, glass, metal, and other materials.
Backsplashes serve both form and function:
- Visually, they can tie together your kitchen or bath design, providing eye-catching style.
- Functionally, they protect the walls from water damage, stains, and splatters.
So while a backsplash upgrades the look of the space, it also preserves the integrity of the walls behind sinks, stoves, and other areas prone to messes.
Factors That Impact Backsplash Installation Cost
Several key factors determine how much you’ll pay to install a backsplash:
The material you choose has a significant influence on cost. For example:
- Ceramic or porcelain tile: $5-$25 per sq. ft.
- Natural stone: $40-$100 per sq. ft.
- Glass tile: $10-$30 per sq. ft.
- Metal: $15-$50 per sq. ft.
More exotic materials like hand-painted tile or semi-precious stone will fall at the higher end of these ranges.
In addition to the cost of materials, you’ll need to factor in labor charges for installation. This can range from $5-$10 per square foot depending on the complexity of the design. Simple tile layouts or large-format tiles will be at the lower end, while intricate patterns, mosaics, or small tiles require more work and are pricier to install.
Size of the Backsplash
The overall size of the backsplash surface you wish to cover will also impact the bottom line. Measure the areas you want to install tile to determine total square footage. Even small kitchens usually have 25-50 square feet of backsplash space.
Simple designs with larger tiles tend to cost less than intricate patterns or mosaics which require more tile-cutting and careful placement. Any decorative accents, borders, niches or special treatments will increase labor time and expenses.
Don’t overlook added components that may be part of your backsplash installation:
- Backerboard: Cementboard installed behind the tile adds stability and moisture protection.
- Trim pieces: Bullnose trim and edge pieces require extra cuts for a finished look.
- Grout and sealants: Quality grout and sealers are essential to durability and appearance.
Typical Backsplash Installation Costs
Given all these factors, here are some typical price ranges for backsplash installation:
- Ceramic or porcelain tile backsplash: $3-$10 per sq. ft. for materials and $5-$10 per sq. ft. for installation. Total: $8-$20 per sq. ft.
- Glass tile backsplash: $8-$20 per sq. ft. just for the tile and $5-$10 for installation. Total: $13-$30 per sq. ft.
- Natural stone backsplash: $15-$50 per sq. ft. for materials and $5-$10 for installation. Total: $20-$60 per sq. ft.
- Metal backsplash: $10-$40 per sq. ft. for materials and $5-10 for installation. Total: $15-$50 per sq. ft.
So for example, if you’re installing a 30 sq. ft. porcelain tile backsplash at $15 per sq. ft. total, expect to pay in the $450 range overall.
For a higher-end install with natural marble slab backsplash at $60 per sq. ft., that 30 sq. ft. area would cost around $1,800.
Saving on Backsplash Installation
If your budget is tight, there are ways to save on a backsplash project:
- Choose affordable tile like ceramic instead of pricier materials.
- Opt for simple designs with larger format tiles rather than intricate patterns.
- Install the backsplash yourself if you have tiling experience.
- Shop discount or surplus tile stores for deals on materials.
- Use backsplashes selectively only behind the stove vs. entire wall areas.
However, it’s important not to cut corners on key components like backerboard and grout that can compromise the end result.
Is a Backsplash Worth the Investment?
While pricier than painting or wallpaper, a high-quality backsplash brings significant benefits. It can transform the look of your space, adding color, texture and interest. It also serves an important protective function, keeping walls pristine and easing cleaning.
For kitchens and baths, a backsplash is a classic finishing touch that boosts functionality and provides design impact. Doing your homework on costs now can help you invest wisely to enjoy the benefits of a backsplash you’ll appreciate for years to come.
Frequently Asked Questions About Backsplash Installation Costs
How much does it cost to install a backsplash per square foot?
On average, expect to pay $8-$20 per square foot for a ceramic, porcelain or glass tile backsplash. Natural stone backsplashes range $20-$60 per square foot. More premium materials can exceed $100 per square foot when combined with labor.
What is the cheapest backsplash to install?
Ceramic and porcelain tile provide an affordable backsplash option at $3-$10 per square foot for the tile itself. Opting for simple patterns using large format tiles also helps reduce the installation work and costs.
Should I install the backsplash myself or hire a pro?
For beginners, it’s best to hire a backsplash installation professional to ensure it’s done properly. If you’re an experienced DIYer, you can save on labor costs by installing it yourself. Be sure to follow all preparation, tile-setting and grouting procedures correctly.
Can I install a backsplash over existing wall tile?
It is possible but not ideal. The existing wall tile must be in excellent condition with no cracks, damage or loose tiles. The new tiles must also be compatible with the old ones. It’s best to remove the old tile for proper backsplash installation.
How long does it take to install a kitchen backsplash?
For an average sized kitchen backsplash of 30-50 square feet, an experienced tile installer can usually complete the job in 8-16 hours over 2-3 days depending on complexity. DIY projects will take longer – up to 1-2 weeks for novice tile setters.
Adding a backsplash is one of the most effective ways to elevate the style and functionality of your kitchen or bath. While quality backsplash materials and professional installation does represent an investment, the visual impact and protection it provides make it well worth the cost for many homeowners. Carefully calculating the square footage you need to cover and shopping materials wisely can help keep your backsplash project within budget.