Installing a tile backsplash can enhance the beauty and functionality of your kitchen. With so many tile options—from ceramic and porcelain to glass and stone—deciding on a material is just the first step. You’ll also need to factor in backsplash installation costs.
The cost to install a tile backsplash ranges from $600 to $3,000, with the average homeowner spending about $1,800. The exact cost depends on the size of your backsplash, tile material, special patterns and borders, the need for removal of your existing backsplash, and any repairs to the wall behind it. Professional installation tends to be about $150 per square foot.
This guide will help you understand what impacts the cost of a tile backsplash installation, ways to save money, and how to get the look you want while staying within your budget.
What Influences the Cost of a Tile Backsplash Installation?
Many factors impact the total installation cost of a tile backsplash. The main considerations include:
Size of the Backsplash
The size of your backsplash determines how many tile you need and the amount of labor required. The bigger the backsplash area, the higher your installation costs.
- Small backsplash (25 square feet or less): $600 – $1,200
- Medium backsplash (25 to 50 square feet): $1,000 – $2,000
- Large backsplash (more than 50 square feet): $2,000 – $3,000
Measure the backsplash area you want to tile before getting estimates to get the most accurate quotes.
Type of Tile
Tile material influences price in two ways: cost per square foot and installation labor. Fancier tiles require more skill to install properly.
- Ceramic: $1 – $10 per sq. ft.
- Porcelain: $4 – $15 per sq. ft.
- Glass: $10 – $30 per sq. ft.
- Stone (marble, granite, etc.): $40+ per sq. ft.
Rustic handmade tiles and stone tend to be the most expensive and challenging to install.
Tile Shape and Size
Smaller tiles mean more grout lines and fussier installation. Larger tiles speed up installation.
- Mosaics: 1” to 4” tiles
- Standard tiles: 4” to 12” tiles
- Subway tiles: 3” by 6” rectangular tiles
- Large format tiles: 16” to 24” tile slabs
Irregular or handmade tiles also take more time and skill to install than uniform machine-made tiles.
If you want the grout color to match or contrast with the tiles, that must be purchased separately and carefully applied. White grout is standard.
- Matching grout adds $1 – $3 per sq. ft.
- Contrasting grout adds $1 – $3 per sq. ft.
Epoxy grout is more expensive but provides stain resistance.
Any embellishments like borders, tile inserts, or mosaics in a pattern will increase material costs and labor time.
- Decorative tile borders: $10 – $20 per linear foot
- Accent tile inserts: $100 – $300
- Geometric or mosaic patterns: $500 – $1,500+
The more complex the design, the higher your installation costs.
Existing Backsplash Removal
If you’re replacing an existing backsplash, the tear-out and disposal process takes extra time and labor.
- Remove existing tile: $150 – $300
- Remove adhesive from wall: $100 – $200
Repair any wall damage beneath old backsplash.
Preparing the wall surface properly is crucial for durability. One common step is applying cement backerboard behind the tile.
- Install backerboard: $150 – $300
- Smooth wall bumps: $100 – $300
- Prime painted walls for adhesion: $100 – $150
Level any uneven surfaces behind the tile.
Electric and Plumbing
If any electrical or plumbing changes need to be made, those costs add up quickly:
- Add or move electrical outlets: $100 – $200 per outlet
- Plumbing alterations: $200 per fixture
Coordinate this work so it’s completed before tiling begins.
Ways to Save Money on Tile Backsplash Installation
To reduce the cost of your backsplash installation, consider the following money-saving options:
Choose an Affordable Tile Material
Stick to standard ceramic, porcelain, or glass tile rather than natural stone. Check big box stores for sales on tile.
Use Large Format Tiles
Fewer pieces means faster installation and lower labor costs. Use 12” x 12” or larger tiles.
Skip the Borders and Inserts
Fancy borders or decorative insets drastically increase tile cuts and installation time. Opt for solid tiles.
Install the Backsplash Yourself
With proper planning and patience, DIY installation can save you about 50% on labor costs. Watch online tutorials.
Hire an Independent Contractor
Independent tilers tend to charge less per hour than large tile companies. Get multiple bids.
Shop Discounted Remnants
You can find leftover or discontinued tile on clearance for significant savings—if you have a small backsplash area.
Standardize Grout Color
White or gray grout is the cheapest option. Custom colored or epoxy grout adds expense.
Minimal Backsplash Prep
If your walls are smooth and don’t need backerboard or other repairs, you’ll save on prep work.
Factors That Impact Tile Backsplash Installation Costs
Many elements influence the total cost of installing a tile backsplash. Being aware of these cost factors will help you plan your budget and make decisions to keep your backsplash affordable.
The type of tile you select has a significant impact on overall project cost. Tile prices range widely from inexpensive ceramic and porcelain to premium materials like marble, granite, and glass tile.
Ceramic tile starts around $1 per square foot. Glazed ceramic tiles offer an impervious glass coating for easy cleaning. Porcelain tile ranges from $4 to $15 per square foot. Made from refined clay, porcelain is dense, low maintenance, and chip resistant.
On the higher end, glass tile costs $10 to $30 per square foot. Translucent glass varieties let light pass through for a shimmering effect. Natural stone tiles like marble, travertine, limestone, and granite tend to run upwards of $40+ per square foot. Keep in mind that natural stone requires extra care during installation and sealing.
Mosaics made up of small 1-inch to 4-inch tiles typically cost more due to the intricate installation work. Handmade art tile and special finishes like crackle glaze or metallic will add cost as well.
To save money, stick with affordably priced ceramic, porcelain, or glass tile rather than premium materials like granite slabs or stone mosaics. Check big box home improvement stores for sales. Shop discount outlets for overstock or discontinued tile.
Tile Size and Shape
The size of your tile also affects installation time and cost. Tiny 1-inch mosaic tiles take much longer to set than large 12-inch tiles, increasing labor expenses. Standard tiles range from 4-inch squares to 12-inch squares or rectangles. Long subway tiles measuring 3 by 6 inches are a classic choice for backsplashes.
For quick installation and lower costs, choose the largest tiles that work with your design—12-inch, 16-inch, or even 24-inch tile slabs. Keep tile shape consistent too. Irregular handmade tiles or combining many sizes leads to complicated cuts and patterns.
Grout fills the spaces between tiles with color and texture. White is the most common and affordable grout color. Custom grout color coordinated or contrasting to your tile adds $1 to $3 per square foot for materials and labor. Epoxy grout resists staining but costs more than standard cement-based grout.
Limit grout color changes across the backsplash. For instance, use white grout but add a decorative border of tiles with contrasting gray grout. Consistent grout color is the most budget-friendly option.
Patterns and Borders
Intricate patterns, mosaics, geometric designs, specialty borders, and decorative insets all increase the installation work and price. Each tiny accent tile must be hand-cut and set. Just adding a strip of mosaic tiles as an accent border can add $10 to $20 per linear foot in labor and materials.
For a less expensive option, stick to solid tile across the entire backsplash area without fancy add-ons. Or use borders and accents minimally.
Existing Backsplash Removal
If you’re replacing an outdated backsplash, the tear-out and disposal process adds cost. Labor to remove existing tile and adhesive materials costs $150 to $300 depending on the size. Repairing any damage to drywall or repairing uneven spots behind the old tile might be needed as well.
Save money by installing right over some existing backsplashes like plastic laminate or painted drywall rather than taking the time to remove them.
Preparing the wall surface properly before installation is key for long-lasting results. Often cement backerboard gets installed behind the tile to create a durable, water-resistant backing. Backerboard costs $150 to $300 to install.
The wall surface must be smooth, clean, and free of old adhesive, grease, or flaking paint. Fresh drywall needs priming and possibly sanding. Expect to spend $100 to $300 addressing any wall prep issues before your tiles go up.
Electrical and Plumbing
If you’re adding new outlets or making any plumbing changes behind the backsplash, factor in those electrical and plumbing costs. Moving an existing electrical outlet to accommodate your backsplash height costs around $100 to $200 per outlet. Plumbing alterations like moving or adding sink faucets can run $200 per fixture.
Coordinate this work so it’s completed before the backsplash installation begins. Trying to work around half-finished plumbing leads to frustration.
DIY Backsplash Installation vs Hiring a Professional
Can you save money by installing a tile backsplash yourself instead of hiring a professional? Here’s a look at the DIY backsplash cost versus pro installation.
DIY Backsplash Installation Cost
With proper planning, patience, and attention to detail, an experienced DIYer can install their own backsplash for 50% less in labor costs compared to hiring a pro.
- DIY Materials: $300 – $1,500
- DIY Labor: 20 – 40 hours
- Total DIY Cost: $600 – $2,000
Keep in mind as a DIYer you have to pay for tile, supplies, and tools upfront unlike a professional tiler who carries materials inventory. Watch online video tutorials to prepare.
Professional Backsplash Installation Cost
Hiring a professional tile installation company generally costs $150 per square foot including labor and basic materials like tile, thinset, and standard grout color. Additional costs may apply for wall prep, tile removal, plumbing or electrical work.
- Professional Labor: $50 – $200 per hour
- Professional Materials: Varies
- Total Pro Cost: $1,000 – $3,000
Pros complete the project much faster than DIY and have specialized tools and knowledge for a quality result. Get multiple bids to compare pricing.
Although DIY installation may cost less overall, the tradeoff is spending days on lengthy installation and having to learn as you go. For many homeowners, professional installation is worth the added cost.
Backsplash Size Cost Calculations
The exact size of your backsplash impacts how much it will cost to install. Use these size guidelines to estimate your budget:
- Small backsplash: 25 square feet or less
- Tile installation cost: $150 per sq. ft.
- Total small backsplash estimate: $600 – $1,200
- Medium backsplash: 25 to 50 square feet
- Tile installation cost: $150 per sq. ft.
- Total medium backsplash estimate: $1,000 – $2,000
- Large backsplash: Over 50 square feet
- Tile installation cost: $150 per sq. ft.
- Total large backsplash estimate: $2,000 – $3,000
Measure your backsplash area length times height to get the square footage. Multiply the sq. ft. by $150 for a rough estimate on professional installation cost.
For example, if your backsplash dimensions are 8 feet wide by 4 feet high = 32 sq ft. At $150 per sq. ft for installation, that’s a $4,800 backsplash install cost.
Use these ballpark figures to plan your budget. Get multiple detailed bids from tile contractors to confirm exact pricing.
Cost-Saving Tips for Your Tile Backsplash Project
If your dream backsplash tile busts your budget, here are some handy ways to reduce the cost:
- Choose affordable tile material – Standard ceramic, porcelain, or glass tiles cost less than natural stone or mosaics. Check big box stores for sales.
- Buy overstock tiles – Tile liquidators sell discounted remnants, discontinued, or excess stock tiles at a fraction of retail price. Great option if you just need small quantities.
- Install large format tiles – 12×12 inch or larger tiles are quicker to install than small mosaics or subway tile. Fewer pieces means lower labor cost.
- Skip the fancy add-ons – Solid tiles across the whole backsplash keep costs down. Intricate borders, bands, medallions, and mosaics increase expense.
- Standardize grout color – White or gray grout is the most affordable option. Custom colored or epoxy grout adds cost.
- Do your own backsplash installation – DIYing the project cuts labor expense almost in half compared to professional installers.
- Hire an independent contractor – Solo tilers or handymen tend to charge less per hour than large kitchen and bath renovation companies.
- Minimize special backsplash prep – If you don’t need to remove old tile or do major wall repairs behind the new backsplash, you’ll save upfront.
With strategic choices, you can create a stunning backsplash design while sticking to your budget parameters.
Hiring Professional Tile Installers
Unless you’re an extremely skilled DIYer, hiring professionals yields the best backsplash installation results. Here are tips for hiring tile installers:
- Get referrals – Ask neighbors, friends, realtors for backsplash installer recommendations. Check ratings and reviews online.
- Verify licensing and insurance – Confirm they carry the proper business licenses as well as liability insurance and bonding to protect you.
- Check their tile portfolio – Look at photos of past backsplash projects to evaluate the quality of their work.
- Get 3+ written estimates – Don’t go with the first bid. Get estimates from at least 3 installers for comparison.
- Ask lots of questions – Interview installers thoroughly about process, materials, time frame, clean up, etc.
- Confirm experience – Choose a tile company that has been in business for 5+ years and asks the right questions.
- Get everything in writing – The estimate, project scope, material payments, timelines, warranties, etc. should all be documented.
- Trust your gut instinct – If you don’t feel comfortable with a tile contractor, keep looking for the right pro for the job.
Tile Backsplash Design Tips
Here are a few tips for choosing tile colors, materials, sizes, and designs:
Coordinate with Countertops
Pick up colors from your countertop in the backsplash tile to tie the areas together. For example, use white subway tile with gray marble counters.
Contrast with Cabinets
A backsplash color that contrasts with neutral colored cabinets makes both elements pop. Ex: navy blue tile backsplash against white cabinets.
Choose backsplash tile in the same finish as stainless steel appliances for a cohesive look. Like a stainless steel subway tile or metal mosaic.
Extend to Ceiling
Take rectangular subway tile or other uniform tiles up to the ceiling for a tall, clean look.
Incorporate Natural Textures
Natural stone like travertine, marble, or pebbled tile brings organic texture. Or ceramic tile made to mimic stone works too.
Install LED Lighting
Install undercabinet puck lights or a light rail to illuminate the backsplash. Lighting accentuates the color and texture.
Add a strip of decorative listello tiles between countertop and backsplash as an accent.
Backsplash Installation Process Overview
The typical installation process involves:
- Measure the backsplash area and make a tile layout plan. Order materials.
- Prepare the wall surface – install backerboard, smooth bumps, prime painted walls, etc.
- Remove existing backsplash if there is one and make any electrical or plumbing alterations.
- Mark reference lines on the wall to guide tile placement.
- Mix thinset mortar and apply it to the backsplash area.
- Cut any specialty border or accent tiles first.
- Place the field tiles first, then fill in borders and accents.
- Allow tiles to set, then apply grout between tiles. Remove excess.
- Seal grout and tile surface with sealant.
- Caulk edges and make any final backsplash trim adjustments.
Backsplash Installation FAQs
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about installing a tile backsplash:
How long does it take to install a tile backsplash?
The timeframe can range from 1 to 3 days depending on size. A skilled professional may be able to install a 30 sq. ft. backsplash in 1 full day.