Installing a backsplash can greatly enhance the look and feel of your kitchen. However, before starting a backsplash project, it’s important to understand how much a backsplash installation typically costs. The cost of installing a backsplash can vary widely depending on the materials used, the size of the area being covered, and whether you do it yourself or hire a professional. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll break down the key factors that influence backsplash installation costs and provide cost estimates to help you budget for your project.
The material you choose for your backsplash will have a significant impact on the overall cost. Here’s an overview of price ranges for popular backsplash materials:
- Cost per square foot: $5 – $25
- Pros: Durable, easy to clean, variety of colors/patterns
- Cons: Can chip or crack, grout lines need maintenance
Ceramic tile is one of the most common and affordable backsplash materials. Simple ceramic tiles can cost as little as $5 per square foot, while handmade or mosaic tiles run $15 to $25 per square foot.
- Cost per square foot: $15 – $50
- Pros: Elegant, natural material, heat/stain resistant
- Cons: Heavy, prone to cracking, sealing required
Stone tiles like marble, granite, and slate add a classic, high-end look but also carry a higher price tag. Expect to pay $20 to $50 per square foot for stone tile backsplashes.
- Cost per square foot: $15 – $35
- Pros: Variety of colors, water-resistant, durable
- Cons: Difficult to cut, grout staining
Glass tiles lend a shiny, modern vibe. They cost $15 to $35 per square foot depending on the thickness and finish. Frosted, textured, and recycled glass tiles are on the higher end.
- Cost per square foot: $15 – $50
- Pros: Durable, water-resistant, modern look
- Cons: Can dent, needs resealing
Metal backsplashes like copper, stainless steel, and tin add an industrial flair. Copper tiles cost $20 to $30 per square foot, while stainless steel runs $15 to $50 per square foot.
- Cost per square foot: $50+
- Pros: Unique visuals, high-end look
- Cons: Expensive, high maintenance
For a true statement backsplash, luxury materials like quartz, glass bricks, and Mother of Pearl provide eye-catching style. However, these designer materials cost upwards of $50 per square foot installed.
Installation Cost Factors
In addition to material costs, several other factors affect the total installation price:
- Contractor vs DIY: Hiring a pro costs $40-$75 per hour, while DIY backsplash installation just requires time and tools.
- Backsplash size: The larger the backsplash area, the more materials and labor hours required.
- Backsplash design: Simple installations with fewer tile cuts are quicker than intricate patterns and mosaics.
- Accessibility: Easily accessed flat wall areas are simpler to install than tricky corners or surfaces requiring extra preparation.
- Additional charges: Demolition of old backsplash, plumbing changes, electrical work, and appliances moving during installation can add costs.
Backsplash Installation Cost Estimates
Now that we’ve reviewed the key cost factors, here are typical price ranges for installing different backsplash tile materials:
Ceramic tile backsplash installation
For a 30-50 square foot ceramic tile backsplash:
- DIY: $150-$300
- Pro installation: $500-$1,000
Ceramic tiles are the most budget-friendly option, keeping installation costs low.
Glass tile backsplash installation
For a 30-50 square foot glass tile backsplash:
- DIY: $200-$400
- Pro installation: $700-$1,200
The tricky cuts and grout staining issues make professional installation recommended for glass backsplashes.
Stone tile backsplash installation
For a 30-50 square foot stone tile backsplash:
- DIY: $400-$700
- Pro installation: $1,200-$1,800
Stone tile’s weight and fragility make professional installation highly recommended despite the higher cost.
Metal tile backsplash installation
For a 30-50 square foot metal tile backsplash:
- DIY: $300-$500
- Pro installation: $800-$1,300
Metal backsplashes require precision cutting and can dent easily, so pro installation yields the best results.
Cost to Install Backsplash per Linear Foot
Another useful metric is cost per linear foot, which allows you to budget for backsplashes of any length. Here are estimates per linear foot:
- Ceramic tile: $10-$30 per linear foot
- Glass tile: $15-$40 per linear foot
- Stone tile: $20-$60 per linear foot
- Metal tile: $15-$50 per linear foot
For example, a 4 foot long ceramic tile backsplash would cost around $40 to $120 in materials per linear foot.
Factors That Increase Installation Cost
There are several scenarios where backsplash installation costs can be higher than average:
- Heavily textured wall surface – Extra preparation needed to flatten and smooth walls adds labor time.
- Outdoor backsplash – Outdoor backsplashes need specialized materials able to withstand temperature variations and moisture.
- Backsplash with specialty accents – Handpainted tiles, borders, and intricate mosaics require more design expertise.
- Backsplash with electrical and plumbing – Integrated outlets, switches, and piping require electricians and plumbers.
- Large backsplash area – Larger backsplashes mean more materials, time, and potential waste.
- Higher labor costs – Premium contractors in expensive urban areas charge higher hourly rates.
Factors That Decrease Installation Cost
On the other hand, the following scenarios would lead to lower backsplash installation costs:
- DIY installation – Completing the project yourself saves on labor fees.
- Simple tile pattern – Grid layouts with larger tiles are quicker to install than intricate designs.
- Standard backsplash height – Standard 18-24 inch height means less materials than a full height backsplash.
- Small backsplash area – Tiny focal point backsplashes use fewer tiles and take less time.
- Flat, smooth wall surface – Prepped walls are ready for tile installation without extra work.
- Stock tiles – In-stock tiles don’t have shipping fees like special ordered materials.
Backsplash Installation Cost Calculator
Use this simple calculator to estimate the cost of installing a DIY or professionally installed backsplash:
- Measure the backsplash area width and height and multiply to get the square footage.
- Multiply the square footage by your desired tile material cost per square foot.
- For professional installation, multiply the square footage by the installer’s hourly rate.
- Add up the tile and labor costs for the estimated total.
For example, a 30 square foot glass tile backsplash at $25 per square foot would be $750 in materials. With a pro charging $50 per hour for an estimated 15 hour installation, the total cost would be around $1,125.
How to Save Money on Your Backsplash Installation
If your budget is tight, there are ways to save on your backsplash installation:
- Do it yourself – DIY installation saves on labor, but finish quality depends on your skill level.
- Use low-cost materials – Standard ceramic, porcelain, or faux tiles cost much less than real stone or glass.
- Limit the backsplash area – Concentrate on a smaller focal point backsplash instead of full wall.
- Use stock tiles – Custom ordered or imported tiles add shipping costs.
- Install a tile border – Borders use fewer materials than a full backsplash.
- Shop sales and clearance tiles – Check home improvement stores for discounted quality tiles.
Hiring a Backsplash Installation Contractor
Installing a backsplash involves careful prep work, precision cutting, and expert grouting to get clean results. For complex or expensive backsplash materials, hiring a qualified local contractor is worth the investment.
When getting quotes, look for contractors who:
- Have excellent reviews and portfolio of past backsplash projects
- Offer a fair hourly or square footage rate
- Have expertise with your specific backsplash material
- Carry liability insurance and worker’s compensation
- Are licensed if required by your state
Be sure to get a written contract outlining the project scope, timeline, materials being used, payment schedule, and warranty coverage.
DIY Backsplash Installation Considerations
While DIY backsplash installation can save on labor costs, there are some important considerations:
Time commitment – Be prepared to spend a full weekend or more on the project, especially if it’s your first backsplash. Rushing through steps can compromise the quality.
Learning curve – Watch online tutorials to familiarize yourself with all the steps involved and techniques for cutting tiles, applying thinset mortar, proper grouting, etc. Mistakes can get expensive.
Safety – Wear protective eyewear and masks when cutting tiles and proper kneepads for working at floor level. Have a first aid kit on hand.
Mess and dust – Tile cutting creates lots of debris, so lay tarps and mask off the work area. Vacuum and mop thoroughly afterwards.
Results – An imperfect DIY backsplash may bother you every time you use the kitchen. Weigh the cost savings versus long-term satisfaction.
Backsplash Installation Steps
If you plan to DIY your backsplash installation, follow these key steps:
- Remove existing backsplash – Take down old tile or wallcovering and prep the surface.
- Measure and mark layout – Map out tile placement, measure for cuts, and mark with guides.
- Cut tiles – Use a wet saw for stone, specialty snips for glass, shears for metal.
- Apply mortar – Spread thinset adhesive mortar evenly on the wall.
- Set and grout tiles – Press tiles into mortar and let cure 24 hours before grouting.
- Seal tiles – Apply sealer on porous natural stone, grout, and cut edges.
Thoroughly research all details for your tile material and tools before starting. Having the right equipment and understanding each step in the process will help your project go smoothly. Consider practicing tiling a small area first.
Backsplash Installation: Do’s and Don’ts
Keep these do’s and don’ts in mind for a successful backsplash installation:
- Carefully plan tile layout to minimize cuts.
- Leave proper spacing for grout lines based on tile size.
- Mix thinset mortar to a paste-like consistency.
- Use tile spacers for even alignment and straight grout lines.
- Wipe away excess grout before drying using diagonal motions.
- Allow tiles, mortar, and grout to cure fully before sealing.
- Apply sealer carefully following product directions.
- Rush through steps – allow proper drying times.
- Spread mortar too far ahead, it can dry out before tiles applied.
- Forget the thinset mortar behind mosaic sheets or small tiles.
- Grout tiles tightly packed – leaving room is better.
- Grout all the way up to countertop lip – caulk this gap instead.
- Grout before tiles are firmly set – movement can crack grout.
- Get sealer on the tile faces – immediately wipe off.
Maintaining Your Backsplash
Once your beautiful new backsplash is installed, maintain that pristine look with proper care:
- Use mild soap and soft cloth for regular cleaning. Avoid abrasive cleaners.
- Immediately wipe up oils or acidic foods that drip on backsplash.
- Re-seal natural stone tiles once a year to protect from stains.
- Apply fresh grout sealer every 2 years to protect grout color and prevent mildew.
- Inspect for loose or cracked tiles and re-adhere or replace immediately.
With proper maintenance and care, your backsplash can stay looking like new for many years past its installation.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does it cost to install a backsplash yourself?
A DIY backsplash using low-cost ceramic tile and basic materials may cost $150 – $300. More complex materials like natural stone or glass tile cost $200 – $700 if installing yourself.
Should I install backsplash tile horizontally or vertically?
Orientation is an aesthetic choice that can complement your design. Horizontal elongates the space while vertical draws the eye up. Mixing directions adds interest.
What height should a backsplash be?
The most common backsplash height is 4 inches (to protect the wall from splashes), but 18-24 inches is popular for more dramatic visual impact. Full height backsplashes make a very bold statement.
How long does it take to install a kitchen backsplash?
For an experienced pro, a 30-50 square foot backsplash installation takes 6-10 hours. DIY backsplash projects typically take 15-30 hours, with natural stone or mosaic tiles taking longer.
Can backsplash tile be installed over existing tile?
It’s not recommended to install backsplash tile over existing tile. The layers can separate over time. Removing old tile allows inspecting for damage and proper surface prep.
Is it cheaper to install backsplash before or after countertops?
Installing backsplash before countertops can save money by eliminating need to cut tiles around a countertop. It also avoids damaging countertops during the backsplash installation.
Can I install backsplash tile directly to drywall?
Tile should never be adhered directly to drywall, it cannot support the weight. A concrete board, fiber cement board, or water-resistant drywall should be installed before tiling a backsplash.
- Material costs, area size, tile pattern, accessibility, and DIY vs pro installation all impact backsplash costs.
- Simple ceramic tile backsplashes can be $5-$25 per square foot, while premium materials like metal or glass run $15-$50 per square foot.
- Professional installation typically ranges $40-$75 per hour based on your location and contractor’s rates.
- Careful prep work, proper spacing and alignment, adequate drying time, and sealing are keys to a long-lasting backsplash.
- Maintaining your backsplash only requires gentle cleaning methods and occasional re-sealing or re-grouting.
- Planning your project, shopping sales, and DIY labor can help reduce backsplash costs.
Installing a backsplash is a great way to add visual appeal and protection to your kitchen. With the range of materials and installation options available, there are backsplash solutions suitable for most kitchens and budgets by keeping the size reasonable and opting for less expensive materials. Arm yourself with accurate cost information, and you can feel confident tackling a cost-effective backsplash project that upgrades the heart of your home.