A kitchen backsplash is an important design element that can tie your whole kitchen together. But with so many backsplash options on the market, how much should you expect to pay for this essential kitchen feature? The cost of a backsplash depends on several factors, including the materials, size of the area being covered, and any custom work involved. Understanding these factors will help guide your budget and set realistic expectations when selecting the perfect backsplash for your kitchen.
Materials Impact Backsplash Costs
The material you choose for your backsplash will have a significant impact on the overall cost. Here are some of the most popular backsplash materials and what you can expect to pay:
Ceramic tile is one of the most common and affordable backsplash materials. The price for ceramic tile ranges from $5 to $25 per square foot installed. Factors like tile size, texture, and color patterns can drive the costs up for specialty ceramic tiles. Overall, you can expect to pay:
- Basic ceramic tile: $5 to $10 per square foot
- Hand-painted ceramic tile: $15 to $30 per square foot
- Mosaic ceramic tile: $15 to $25 per square foot
Ceramic provides a classic look and is very durable. The affordability makes it a great option for most kitchens.
For a natural stone look, expect to pay more than basic ceramic tile. Stone tiles like granite, marble, and slate range from $15 to $50 per square foot installed. The costs vary based on the type and quality of the stone. Unique stone options like travertine and pebble tile can cost $25 to $50 per square foot.
Glass tiles make a beautiful backsplash, but they do come at a higher price point. On average, glass tile ranges from $30 to $75 per square foot installed. The price depends on the texture and grade of the glass. High-end, hand-cut glass tiles can range from $50 to $100 per square foot. The sparkling look is perfect for contemporary designs.
Metal tiles like stainless steel, copper, and tin run between $30 to $100 per square foot installed. The contemporary look commands a premium price, especially for real metals like copper which offer antique patinas. However, you can find some affordable metal-look porcelain tiles in the $15 to $25 per square foot range.
Classic rectangular subway tiles range from $5 to $15 per square foot. Their simple design works with any kitchen style, making subway tile an affordable and versatile backsplash option. Handmade or uniquely colored subway tiles will cost more.
Backsplash Size Matters
The size of the area being covered is another key factor in cost. A larger backsplash area requires more tile and labor, driving up the total project price. As an estimate for standard rectangular backsplash areas:
- Small backsplash under 16 square feet: $500 to $800
- Medium backsplash, 16 to 30 square feet: $800 to $1,500
- Large backsplash over 30 square feet: $1,500 to $3,000
Keep in mind many backsplashes are not perfect rectangles, which can make calculating the size tricky. An experienced kitchen designer can help you measure and estimate your backsplash size.
For non-standard backsplash designs like accent sections behind a stove or materials covering an entire wall from counter to ceiling, costs are often estimated as price per square foot multiplied by the total area.
Custom Work Can Add Costs
Any additional customization, special materials, or complex designs will increase the total backsplash costs. Some elements that can drive up the price include:
- Decorative inlays, borders, designs: Adds $5 to $10 per square foot
- Specialty tiles or materials: Can range from $50 to $100 per square foot
- Non-standard installation like herringbone patterns or intricate designs: Adds $5 to $15 per square foot
- tiles requiring special cutting: Adds $100 to $300 for additional tile cutting
- Grout color upgrades or other specialty grouting: Adds $100 to $300 for added grout costs
- Installing lighting, outlets, or niches: Can range from $100 to $500 per item
For a completely customized backsplash with specialty materials and intricate designs, costs can easily exceed $100 per square foot installed. Simple, standard tile layouts help keep projects more affordable.
Factors That Impact Installation Costs
The installation accounts for a major part of your total backsplash costs. Most often, you’ll pay an hourly rate for professional installation. This covers the tile cutting, prep work, setting, and grouting. Expect to pay between $50 to $100 per hour.
For basic installations, you should estimate 1 to 3 hours per square foot. Complex patterns or tile cutting can take much longer, upwards of 5 hours per square foot.
Some specific factors that can increase installation costs include:
- Surface preparation needs like removing old backsplash, repairing drywall, etc.
- Niche or outlet installation requiring electrical or carpentry work
- Special waterproofing or treatments needed to prep surface
- Severe access limitations requiring more time and effort
- Intricate tile patterns requiring precision cutting and setting
Using a tile layout that minimizes cuts can help reduce the professional installation fees. Mosaic sheets that come mounted on backing are also faster to install than individual mosaic tiles.
Shop Affordable Backsplash Materials
While backsplashes offer huge design impact, you don’t need to break the bank for an eye-catching look. Here are some tips for finding budget-friendly backsplash materials:
- Check home improvement stores for in-stock ceramic tile options starting around $5 per square foot
- Look at metal-look porcelain tiles for a fraction of real metal tile prices
- Consider glass mosaic sheets starting at $10 per square foot
- Use subway tile or similarly sized rectangles to reduce cutting needs
- DIY with affordable mosaic tile and standard layouts to reduce installation fees
- Mix expensive accent tiles like marble with affordable ceramic for smaller splurges
- Install a smaller backsplash area to reduce budget needs
Prioritize your must-have material and looks for the focal point, and fill in other areas with more budget options. With smart planning and design choices, you can achieve a fabulous backsplash look at any budget level.
Average Cost to Install a Backsplash
Given the range of prices for materials and professional installation, what is the typical total cost for adding a new backsplash?
For a standard 10 foot by 4 foot rectangular backsplash area (about 40 square feet) with basic subway tile and grout, expect total installed costs around:
- Ceramic subway tile backsplash installed: $400 to $700
- Stone subway tile backsplash installed: $800 to $1,200
- Glass subway tile backsplash installed: $1,200 to $1,800
- Metal or premium material backsplash installed: $1,600+
Upgraded materials, larger sizes, and custom designs can quickly increase costs. On the lower end, bargain ceramic tile or DIY installations under 100 square feet may cost below $500. For complete wall-to-wall backsplashes with premium materials, total costs can easily exceed $5,000+.
The national average cost for a professionally installed kitchen backsplash is $1,400. However, local costs in your area can vary. Get free estimates from contractors to understand precise costs for your specific backsplash project.
Backsplash Cost Per Square Foot Breakdown
Here is an overview of typical per square foot costs based on the main pricing factors:
| Material | Tile Cost per sq. ft. | Installation Cost per sq. ft. | Total per sq. ft. |
| Ceramic | $5 – $25 | $10 – $25 | $15 – $50 |
| Porcelain | $10 – $30 | $10 – $25 | $20 – $55 |
| Glass | $30 – $75 | $10 – $25 | $40 – $100 |
| Mosaic | $15 – $30 | $10 – $25 | $25 – $55 |
| Marble | $40 – $100 | $10 – $25 | $50 – $125 |
| Granite | $35 – $80 | $10 – $25 | $45 – $105 |
| Slate | $40 – $70 | $10 – $25 | $50 – $95 |
| Metal | $30 – $100 | $10 – $25 | $40 – $125 |
These per square foot prices offer a general guideline. Calculate your total backsplash size and use the ranges here to estimate your budget needs.
Factors That Lower Backsplash Costs
If your budget is limited, there are several ways to reduce your backsplash costs:
- Select affordable ceramic or porcelain tile rather than natural stone or glass
- Use basic colors and simple patterns to limit customization needs
- Install a smaller backsplash area like just behind the cooktop
- DIY the project if you have tiling experience
- Shop discount tile outlets for overstock materials
- Use white grout instead of expensive colored grout
- Choose a simple subway or brick pattern to reduce tile cuts
- See if any tools or materials can be borrowed instead of purchased
- Watch for seasonal sales around holidays to get discounts
Lower-cost backsplashes still provide stylish protection for your walls while keeping your kitchen remodel affordable. Focus the luxury splurges in visible focal points.
Recouping Backsplash Costs in Resale Value
A kitchen backsplash upgrade is certainly an investment, often totaling over $1,000 when professionally installed with quality materials. Is the expense worth it?
According to the National Association of REALTORS 2021 Remodeling Impact Report, the average resale value recouped for a minor kitchen backsplash update is 67%, while a full backsplash replacement returns around 75% of costs.
This makes backsplash installation a worthwhile upgrade for increasing your home’s value. Outdated, damaged, or missing backsplashes can reduce kitchen appeal and dated looks can deter buyers. Adding a fresh backsplash makes the whole kitchen feel new again.
For a major kitchen remodel, a new backsplash is essential. This small detail can take a kitchen remodel from boring to beautiful with big visual impact. Unique or high-end backsplash materials also help listings attract buyer attention.
Given the high return on investment, a new backsplash is money well spent whether you plan to sell soon or just update for your own enjoyment.
Hiring a Contractor for Installation
Installing a backsplash is no small feat. To ensure proper installation and get the professional results you deserve, consider hiring a backsplash contractor or tiling pro.
Look for contractors with these important qualifications:
- 2+ years of experience specifically with backsplash installation
- Knowledge of the latest backsplash trends and materials
- A portfolio showing previous backsplash projects completed
- Availability to complete the work on your timeline
- Strong attention to detail and commitment to quality workmanship
- Proper licensing and insurance coverage
When comparing quotes, look for detailed line items on material quantities, costs per square foot, and estimated labor hours. Ask plenty of questions to understand what is covered in their pricing.
Avoid unlicensed contractors offering dirt cheap quotes—the quality and expertise will likely reflect the low prices. Be wary of quotes that seem disproportionally low or high compared to other contractors as well.
Read reviews and talk to past clients to confirm they deliver the outstanding service and beautiful backsplashes promised. Investing in a pro you can trust ensures you get a backsplash installation you’ll absolutely love.
DIY Backsplash Installation Tips
If you’re up for a challenge, installing a backsplash yourself can majorly reduce costs. Follow these tips for DIY backsplash success:
Gather Supplies: Buy all required tile setting supplies like mortar, grout, tools for cutting, adhesive, spacers, sealant, etc. Renting specialty tools can save money.
Prep the Surface: Remove existing backsplash if present, clean thoroughly, and repair any damages to ensure an even surface for tiling.
Map the Layout: Measure carefully and map out your tile layout to minimize cuts and waste. Mix up tile sheets for best results with patterns.
Cut Tiles Precisely: Use a wet saw for clean cuts. Make gradual cuts rather than trying to break off large pieces. Set cut tiles at edges and ends.
Apply Mortar: Spread thinset mortar evenly across the area using a notched trowel. Only cover sections that tiles will immediately be applied to.
Set Tiles: Arrange tiles on the mortar, using spacers between. Press gently but firmly to adhere. Check alignment often using cross strings.
Grout Seams: Once the thinset cures, mix grout and press into tile joints. Wipe away excess grout with a damp sponge.
Seal and Finish: Allow grout to fully cure, then seal the tiles and caulk edges for a polished finish.
Clean Up Properly: Rinse all tools and supplies thoroughly. Discard excess materials. Remove spacers, strings, etc. from tiled area.
Patience and attention to detail are required, but DIY tiling can result in huge cost savings on your backsplash installation.
Creative, Budget-Friendly Backsplash Ideas
If a professional stone or glass backsplash isn’t in the budget, don’t fear. There are lots of clever ways to get a beautiful, custom look on a budget:
- Patterned wallpaper or contact paper: Choose a bold print to mimic expensive tiles at $5 to $20 per roll.
- Painted backsplash: Use painters tape and paint for straight, crisp lines. Try trompe l’oeil block patterns. Costs just $30 to $60.
- Vinyl stick-on tiles: Peel and stick tiles look like ceramic at $0.50 to $5 per square foot. Easy DIY installation.
- Reclaimed materials: Use scraps of old wood, tin ceiling tiles, or other repurposed materials.
- Removable wallpaper or decals: Allows changing up patterns anytime. Costs around $10 to $25 per roll.
- Glass sheet panels: Lightweight and affordable at around $5 per square foot.
- Mirror tiles: Add shine for $5 to $15 per square foot; a fraction of metal or stone tile costs.
With clever ideas and budget materials, you can still get a showstopping backsplash. Let your creativity shine!
Enhancing Your Backsplash Design
You can make your dream backsplash design a reality at any budget level. Keep these tips in mind:
- Combine a few expensive feature tiles with standard tiles to cut costs.
- Install a small, impactful designer backsplash just behind the cooktop.
- Use mosaic sheets for ease of install and big visual pops of color.
- Mimic patterns seen in nature like fish scales, leaf shapes, and pebbles.
- Try trending geometric or moroccan-inspired tile designs.
- Incorporate backsplash storage with shelving or spacers for herbs and spices.
- Light it up with under-cabinet lighting or glow-in-the-dark glass tile accents.
- Contrast vibrant backsplash tile with neutral cabinetry and countertops.
Design the backsplash of your dreams affordably when you plan smart, get creative, and use top techniques.
FAQs About Backsplash Installation Costs
How much does it cost to install a kitchen backsplash?
The average cost to install a kitchen backsplash professionally is $30 – $70 per square foot, including materials and labor. Small backsplashes under 30 square feet range from $500 – $1,500 total, while larger projects up to 100 square feet usually range from $1,500 – $5,000 total.
What is the cheapest backsplash option?
The cheapest backsplash options are peel-and-stick vinyl tiles at around 50 cents to $1 per square foot and painted backsplashes using stencils at about $1 per square foot. Ceramic tile starts at $5 per square foot but offers a much more durable and quality result.
What backsplash adds the most value to a kitchen?
Stone and glass backsplashes tend to add the most value by modernizing kitchen aesthetics. However, even affordable tile backsplashes in the $3-$10 per square foot range offer great return on investment. Avoid eclectic or bold backsplash looks unless that suits your style.
Should a backsplash match the countertops?
Not necessarily. Contrasting your backsplash from countertops can create an eye-catching focal point. Coordinating countertop and backsplash colors is recommended to look cohesive. Try varying just the backsplash finish or texture, like pairing polished granite counters with a uniqe subway tile backsplash.
How much does it cost to install a marble backsplash?
For marble tile, expect to pay $40 to $100 per square foot for materials and $10 to $25 per square foot for professional installation. The total for a marble backsplash will range from $50 to $125 per square foot depending on tile grade, patterns, customization, and local installer rates.
Can I install a backsplash over existing tile?
Installing over an existing backsplash is not recommended. The layers of tile build up the surface unevenly, preventing proper thinset mortar adhesion. Removing the old backsplash fully provides the best result. If not removing tile, ensure existing tile is in flawless shape and roughen the surface before applying new tile.
Should backsplash tile go all the way to the ceiling?
Extending backsplash tile from counter to ceiling creates a clean, seamless look. However, taller backsplashes cost more in tile and labor. Many backsplashes stop at 4 feet high or stub out the bottom of wall cabinets. Opt for full height only if budget allows and you love the streamlined style.
Can backsplash tile be returned if unused?
Unfortunately, returns for unused backsplash tile are rarely accepted. Tile is a specialty-cut material and sold as final sale. Overbuying a little extra is recommended anyway to allow for breakage and remnant scrap pieces. Buy tile all at once so