How Much Does Backsplash Labor Cost?

Installing a backsplash in your kitchen or bathroom can really take the design to the next level. However, in addition to the cost of the backsplash materials, you also need to factor in the labor costs for installation. Here is a detailed overview of how much you can expect to pay for backsplash installation.

Average Cost to Install a Backsplash

The average cost to install a backsplash ranges from $400 to $1000 for a simple subway tile or mosaic tile backsplash in a standard 10×10 kitchen. Prices go up for more intricate tile designs, larger backsplash areas, specialty materials like metal or glass tiles, and specialized labor like a professional tile setter.

Some of the key factors that influence backsplash installation costs include:

  • Size of the backsplash area – Larger backsplashes will require more tile and time to install, increasing overall costs.
  • Tile material – More expensive tile materials like natural stone, metal, or glass tile will boost labor costs compared to cheaper ceramic or porcelain tile.
  • Tile pattern and design – A intricate tile layout takes more time and skill to install correctly. Simple layouts keep costs down.
  • Specialized installation – A professional tile setter charges more compared to a general contractor.
  • Geographic location – Labor rates for tile installers vary across the country. Urban areas are generally more expensive.

With all these variables, it’s best to get several quotes to compare rates for your specific backsplash project. Many tile installers will provide free estimates.

Cost Factors for Backsplash Installation

Below is a more detailed look at the different factors that influence the labor costs for installing a backsplash.

Size of the Backsplash

The size of the backsplash in terms of square footage is one of the main variables that determines overall installation costs. A larger backsplash area will require more tile setting time and materials.

As a general guideline for size costs:

  • Small backsplash (10-25 sq ft): $200-500
  • Medium backsplash (25-50 sq ft): $500-800
  • Large backsplash (50+ sq ft): $800-1,500

To calculate the size, measure the length times height of the backsplash area. Count only the space from the countertop to the bottom of the upper cabinets.

Type of Tile Material

The tile material you choose for the backsplash also affects the installation labor costs. More expensive tile types require specialized skills and care to install properly.

  • Ceramic/Porcelain Tile: $2-5 per sq ft
  • Natural Stone Tile: $5-10 per sq ft
  • Glass Tile: $10-20 per sq ft
  • Metal Tile: $10-20 per sq ft

Tile material costs are in addition to basic labor rates for installation. Natural stone, metal and glass tiles will be at the high end of installation costs.

Tile Layout and Design

Simple tile layouts like basic straight rows are the least expensive to install. More intricate tile designs require more time and expertise for proper setting and grouting.

  • Basic brick/grid pattern: $3-8 per sq ft
  • Diagonal patterns: $5-12 per sq ft
  • Mosaic patterns: $8-15 per sq ft
  • Detailed murals/accents: $15-30 per sq ft

Factor these tile design costs in addition to the base rate for installation. A mosaic tile backsplash accented with border details will be at the high end of the price range.

Type of Installer

Who you hire to install the backsplash also impacts the total labor costs. A general contractor usually charges less compared to a specialized tile setter.

  • General contractor: $50-100 per hour
  • Tile setting professional: $80-150 per hour

A meticulous tile installer with experience setting high-end materials is worth the extra hourly rate to get details like grout lines perfect.

Geographic Location

Like most home renovation services, backsplash installation rates can vary depending on where you live. Labor costs tend to be higher in expensive urban areas.

  • Major Cities: $100-150 per hour
  • Suburban Areas: $80-120 per hour
  • Rural Areas: $60-100 per hour

These hourly rates apply to a professional tile setter, which would be at the high end of pricing. Always get quotes from local installers.

Additional Costs

Beyond the main installation labor, also factor in expenses for tile finishing and any special backsplash prep work.

  • Grout cleaning/sealing: $1-3 per sq ft
  • Tile edging/trimwork: $5-15 per linear foot
  • Additional plumbing/electrical work – $50-100 per hour
  • Removal of old backsplash – $50-150

Demolition of the old backsplash, making any electrical/plumbing changes for the new backsplash, and finishing the grout after installation will add to your total project budget.

Saving on Installation Costs

If the tile installer quotes seem too high for your budget, here are some tips to reduce backsplash labor costs:

  • Use a simple tile material like ceramic instead of natural stone.
  • Choose a basic tile layout like brick pattern instead of diagonal or mosaic design.
  • Install the backsplash yourself if you have tiling experience.
  • Hire a general contractor rather than a specialized tile setter.
  • Use backsplash panels made of cheaper material like laminate or vinyl instead of tile.

Installing the backsplash yourself can save thousands if you are up for a DIY project. There are also backsplash sticker panels that go up with adhesive for fast DIY installation.

Hiring a Backsplash Installer

When hiring a backsplash installation professional, be sure to get at least 3 quotes to compare rates. Get quotes rather than estimates whenever possible, as they will be more accurate. Be sure the quote includes:

  • An exact breakdown of labor hours and per hour rate.
  • Cost of all materials and supplies.
  • Tile finishing work like grout cleaning.
  • Removal and disposal of old backsplash if necessary.

And most importantly – get the final quote amount in writing before work begins! This will protect you from any surprise add-on costs after the project starts.

Also check reviews and examples of past backsplash projects to evaluate the installer’s tile setting skills. A true tile professional has an eye for detail that makes backsplashes look flawless.

Backsplash Installation Cost FAQ

Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about backsplash installation costs:

How much does it cost to install a kitchen backsplash?

For a typical 10×10 kitchen, expect to pay $400 to $1000 for backsplash installation. The final costs depend on the size of the backsplash, tile materials, and complexity of the design.

How much should labor cost to install a subway tile backsplash?

Simple white subway tile starts around $50 per square foot installed. The 3×6 classic size installed in a brick pattern is one of the most affordable options.

What is the typical price to install a marble backsplash?

Due to the delicate nature of natural stone, expect to pay $8-15 per square foot for marble backsplash installation. Hire an experienced stone setter.

How much does it cost to install a backsplash with mosaic tile?

Mosaic tiles take more time and skill to install properly. Plan on labor costs of $10-20 per square foot for mosaic backsplash designs.

Should I install a backsplash myself or hire a pro?

An experienced tile installer can ensure a flawless finished look. But if you have tiling experience, a DIY install can save on labor costs.


Installing a backsplash can often be one of the finishing touches that takes your kitchen or bathroom design to the next level. While tile and materials are one expense, the backsplash installation labor costs also need to be factored into your remodeling budget. Rates for professional installers vary based on the size of your backsplash, tile selection, complexity of the design, and geographic location. With some smart planning and cost saving measures, you can achieve the backsplash of your dreams without breaking the bank.