How Much For New Backsplash

Adding a new backsplash can completely transform the look and feel of your kitchen. But before taking on a backsplash project, it’s important to understand the costs involved so you can budget appropriately. Here is a detailed overview of the factors that influence backsplash installation costs, average price ranges, and ways to reduce expenses.

What Influences the Cost of a New Backsplash?

Several key factors impact the total cost of installing a new kitchen backsplash:

Backsplash Material

The material you choose for the backsplash is the biggest contributor to overall project cost. Natural stone, ceramic or porcelain tile, metals like stainless steel or copper, glass tile, and mosaic tiles tend to be more expensive than basic plastic, wood, or laminate options. Pricing also varies widely within each material category based on factors like brands, sizes, grades, and quality.

Some average price ranges for popular backsplash materials:

  • Ceramic or porcelain tile – $5 to $20 per sq. ft.
  • Natural stone tile – $15 to $50 per sq. ft.
  • Glass tile or mosaic – $15 to $30 per sq. ft.
  • Metal tile – $15 to $50 per sq. ft.
  • Laminates or plastics – $1 to $10 per sq. ft.

More intricate tile designs, handmade tiles, and special finishes like crackled glazes or polished marble tend to fall on the higher end of these ranges.

Labor Costs

In addition to material costs, you also need to factor in labor expenses for installation. Backsplash installation typically ranges from $5 to $10 per square foot depending on complexity. The more difficult your layout or material, the more time and expertise required by the contractors.

Be sure to get an itemized estimate of labor costs rather than a single square foot price. Factors like number of focal points, accent strips, niche dimensions, and tile cutting intricacy can all drive up installation work costs.

Backsplash Size

The total size of your backsplash will determine how much material you need and how long installation takes. Measure the space carefully before budgeting to get accurate sq. footage. Don’t forget to account for any focal points, accents, or special treatments outside the main field tile area.

On average, kitchen backsplash installations range from 25 to 60 sq. ft. Expect to pay more overall for larger backsplashes due to increased material requirements.


Extra trim pieces, edge treatments, and decorative accents will add to your total backsplash spend. These optional extras are great for elevating the design, but avoid going overboard as too many upgrades can make the project pricey.

Special Equipment Rental

For some materials like natural stone or glass tile, your contractor may need to rent special cutting or drilling equipment to achieve intricate cuts. These equipment rental fees can add $50 to $100 or more to your overall project costs.

Removal of Old Backsplash

If your goal is to replace an existing backsplash, demolition and disposal fees will apply on top of the new installation costs. Backsplash tear-out typically adds around $150 to $300 depending on access and complexity.

How Much Does a New Backsplash Cost on Average?

With so many variables at play, it’s hard to pinpoint an average cost for new kitchen backsplash installation. However, here are some rough ranges you can expect:

  • Low end – $500 to $1000
    An inexpensive plastic, laminate, or DIY wood plank backsplash in a small to medium-sized kitchen.
  • Mid-range – $1000 to $3000
    A ceramic, porcelain, or mosaic tile backsplash install in a medium-sized kitchen.
  • High-end – $3000 to $10000
    A designer natural stone, metal, or glass tile backsplash install in a large, complex kitchen layout.

According to HomeAdvisor, most homeowners report spending between $1,139 to $3,455 for new backsplash installation. But your specific backsplash design and features could easily fall below or above this range.

Ways to Reduce Costs on a New Backsplash

If your budget is tight, there are a few effective ways to cut back expenses on your backsplash installation:

Shop Discounted Materials

Check home improvement stores for tile sales or discontinued stock to score discounts. Buying overstock online is another money-saving option.

Choose a Simple Layout

Grid, brick, or staggered layouts are cheaper to install than intricate patterns like herringbone. Limit decorative accents and focal points too.

Install DIY

Doing it yourself can save on labor, but only tackle DIY if you have tiling experience. Otherwise, you may end up paying more for corrections.

Opt for Smaller Tile

The smaller your tile size, the less material needed overall and the lower your costs. Mosaics offer visual impact for less.

Skip Decorative Upgrades

Avoid extras like tile trims, listellos, borders, and specialty grout. Stick to clean white grout lines between tiles to save money.

Work With Your Contractor

Ask if they have any surplus tile from other jobs to get discounted materials. See if they’ll install your DIY purchase to save on labor.

Setting a Realistic Budget for Your Project

The average cost of a new backsplash can vary so widely that it’s essential to budget based on your specific kitchen and design plans. Here are some tips for setting a realistic budget:

  • Measure your space carefully and estimate exact tile coverage required. Remember to account for focal points and accents.
  • Research pricing on your preferred backsplash materials and styles. Look at multiple sources to find the best value options.
  • Get quotes from at least 3 contractors on both material and installation costs. Compare itemized breakdowns.
  • Add 20% extra to your budget as a buffer for any unforeseen access issues, damaged tiles that need replacement, or equipment rentals.
  • If costs are exceeding your budget, look for areas to scale back like reducing accent tiles or choosing smaller mosaics.
  • Read reviews and check references thoroughly before selecting a contractor. Be wary of prices that seem too good to be true.
  • Confirm what is included in the quote and schedule – demolition, disposal fees, sealing, and grout color selection.

With careful planning, it is possible to achieve a stunning new backsplash installation while sticking to your budget. Focus on choosing the right materials and contractor for your project goals and timeline.

Factors that Impact Tile Quality and Price

Not all tile is made equal when it comes to backsplash installations. Several factors impact the look, durability, and cost of backsplash tile. Understanding these quality markers can help you invest your budget in the best possible materials.

Tile Grade

Similar to lumber grading, tile has a grading system from low to high quality:

  • Grade 1: Highest quality for residential use with strict quality control. Tile is 90% free of defects. Ideal for backsplashes.
  • Grade 2: Slightly more defects allowed but still good durability and appearance.
  • Grade 3: Economy grade suitable only for covered exterior uses like siding. Too flawed for interior backsplashes.

Check manufacturer grading before purchase. High traffic kitchens benefit from Grade 1 durability.

Tile Hardness

The Mohs hardness scale rates tile from 1 (talc) up to 10 (diamonds) based on mineral content. Porcelain (7-8 rating) has excellent hardness for kitchens. Ceramic and natural stone fall around 4-7 on the scale depending on type. Softer tiles show wear over time.

Tile Density

Higher tile density means increased durability and stain resistance. Porcelain tiles typically have higher density than ceramic due to production under extremely high pressure and heat.

Tile Size

Larger format tiles have fewer grouted joints so minimize chances of staining or debris build-up. Popular backsplash sizes range from 1 inch mosaics up to 4×12 inch subway tiles.

Tile Thickness

Standard wall tiles are around 1/4 inch thick. Thicker tiles provide more strength for long-term durability. Porcelain tiles as thick as 3/8 inch or more are ideal for kitchens.

Tile Finish

Unglazed, matte, and honed finishes hide flaws well. Very glossy tiles make imperfections like cracks or chips more visible. Textured finishes like leathered, brushed, or flamed add grip and hide water spots.

While grade, hardness, density, size, thickness, and finish impact tile quality, also pay close attention to manufacturer reputation. A reliable brand provides an indication of consistent, high-quality materials.

Smart Strategies for Purchasing Tile

Follow this checklist when purchasing backsplash tile to maximize the value of your investment:

  • Review technical specifications – Check tile grade, hardness, density, thickness, and finish to evaluate quality.
  • Examine tiles in person – Look for color consistency, size accuracy, and flaws under natural light. Reject chipped or cracked tiles.
  • Feel tile weight – Heavier tiles signal higher density and quality. Lift a few samples to compare.
  • Order extra tiles – Purchase 5-10% overage to allow for cuts, replacements, and future repairs. Leftovers are handy for other projects too.
  • Buy all materials together – Ensure uniform batch and dye lots on tiles, grout, trim, and accent pieces.
  • Check return policy – Save receipts in case any tiles need to be exchanged for flaws, damage, or dye lot issues.
  • Talk to sales staff – Ask about stock availability, new collections, sales, and discontinued items to find potential savings.

With some savvy shopping techniques, you can buy top-quality backsplash materials for the best return on your tile investment. Take your time considering all options within your budget range.

Hiring Qualified Tile Installation Contractors

No matter how beautiful your tile selection, the quality of installation workmanship makes or breaks your finished backsplash. Finding experienced tile contractors should be a priority. Here’s how to identify qualified installers in your area:

Look for Specialized Experience

Choose tilers who specifically highlight tile work in their marketing, not general contractors who “do it all.” Ask prospective hires how many years they’ve installed tile backsplashes. Look for 5+ years of specialization.

Verify Licenses and Certifications

Many states require tile contractors to hold licenses or trade certifications for flooring/tile work. Verify current licenses and check for complaints. The National Tile Contractors Association offers installer certification.

Review Online Portfolios

Leading tilers publish portfolios showcasing their backsplash projects. Browse photos to evaluate quality of materials used and finished aesthetics. Check that styles match your own vision.

Ask for Referrals

Friends who have had backsplashes installed are great referral sources. Facebook and NextDoor neighbors can recommend local tilers too. Verify referrals line up with contractors’ online reviews.

Interview Thoroughly

Talk with potential hires about your project vision, timelines, materials, and prep work expectations. Get a sense of their communication style and expertise. Take notes on warranties or guarantees offered.

Check References

Ask contractors for 2-3 backsplash client references. Contact them to ask about workmanship, timeliness, communication, and if final costs matched estimates.

Taking time to carefully vet tile installation pros ensures your finished backsplash not only looks stunning but also performs well long-term. Don’t automatically choose the lowest bidder – quality craftsmanship holds the most value.

Common Backsplash Installation Challenges (And How to Avoid Them)

While a new backsplash can give your kitchen a fresh facelift, the installation process also brings potential for some challenges. Being aware of common trouble spots ahead of time allows you to proactively prevent issues.

Out-of-Plumb Walls

Walls that aren’t perfectly level will become evident when tile is installed. This may leave wider grout lines in some spots or tiles that don’t line up evenly.

Prevention Tips: Have installer check for levelness and use tile leveling systems and spacers during install. Choose grout color and thickness that minimizes uneven lines.

Hidden Electrical Issues

Trying to install backsplash tile around electrical outlets or switches can reveal problems behind walls like faulty wiring, no backer board, or improper blocking.

Prevention Tips: Hire an electrician to inspect and correct any issues before the tile work begins. Consider hiring separate contractors for electrical and tiling.

Insufficient Planning

Not thinking through details like tile layouts, outlet positioning, niche and accent placement can lead to delays once installation begins.

Prevention Tips: Mock up the backsplash design in advance with all measurements, patterns, and accent tile placements detailed.

Incorrect Tile Selection

Choosing the wrong tile type for a kitchen environment can cause issues like staining, cracking, or water penetration over time after installation.

Prevention Tips: Vet your material choice carefully and select tile rated for high-moisture areas. Ask contractor for their input on durability.

Poor Cutting & Drilling

Intricate tile shapes are prone to cracking or breaking if cutting and drilling isn’t done correctly by experienced pros.

Prevention Tips: Review installer’s portfolio for examples of delicate tile work. Ensure the contractor has access to proper wet saws and drill bits.

With careful planning, inspection, and hiring qualified tile installers, it is possible to avoid the most common backsplash pitfalls. Don’t let potential challenges deter you from getting the backsplash design you desire.

Choices for Backsplash and Countertop Transition Areas

The transition line where backsplash tile meets countertop material is a detail that can make or break the whole kitchen’s cohesive style. Smart design choices here allow you to blend these two elements seamlessly.

Here are suggested options to beautifully marry backsplash and countertop zones:

Matching Materials

Selecting the same surface for backsplash and countertops creates a streamlined look. Natural stone slabs on the countertop extend to tile on the backsplash is a popular choice.

Coordinating Tones

If countertop and backsplash materials differ, choose tiles and slabs in coordinating tones. For example, pair neutral granite countertops with creamy subway tiles.

Shared Finishes

Opt for the same visual texture on the countertop and backsplash like honed finishes or matching polished sheens. This creates harmony between the surfaces.

Border Tiles

Use a row of mosaic, brick, or listello border tiles to frame the transition between backsplash tile and countertop slab.

Countertop Backsplash Lip

Some countertops have a small backsplash lip built right into the front edge. Pairing this with additional backsplash tile balances the transition.

Progressive Color Change

Gradually transition color in the backsplash tile from darker to lighter moving up from the countertop line. This avoids an abrupt color change.

Decorative Edge

Add trim pieces like crown molding to bridge backsplash and countertops with an elegant architectural detail.

With planning, it’s easy to achieve a holistic kitchen design that blends countertops and backsplash tile beautifully. Don’t overlook this important transition zone when creating your overall backsplash vision.

Creative Ideas for Backsplash Accent Tiles

While your main backsplash tile establishes the overall kitchen color scheme and style, don’t underestimate the impact creative use of accent tiles can make. Accent tile strategies can take the design to the next level.

Extend Accents to Other Areas

Pick up accent colors or textures from the backsplash and repeat them on tiles for the kitchen entryway, hallway, mudroom, or powder bath to coordinate the whole space.

Frame Mirrors and Artwork

Use beautiful accent tiles to make framed mirrors, art prints, or family photos pop on surrounding walls. This ties the elements together.

Line Niche Edges

Framing kitchen niches with accent border tile or mosaics gives depth and dimension while also coordinating with the backsplash.

Create Geometric Patterns

Alternate accent tiles with main tiles to form geometric shapes, diagonal grids, arrow patterns, octagons, or edged starburst designs.

Form Creative Borders

Accent the transition between backsplash and wall with eye-catching borders using glass, metal, or handmade art tiles.

Add Floating Shelves

Install slim floating shelves lined with accent tiles that complement the backsplash below for pretty and practical open storage nooks.

Define Range Hoods

Use accent tiles or mosaics to create a frame around range hoods that coordinates with the backsplash tile motifs and colors.

Layer Materials

Combine materials like stacking glass and stone mosaic sheets or pairing metal and ceramic tiles for dimensional, cascading accent rows.

With strategic and thoughtful use of accent tiles, you can craft a truly distinctive kitchen backsplash design that reflects your personality and style.

Expert Tips for Grout Selection and Grouting Process

After carefully selecting backsplash tiles, don’t undermine the installation impact by overlooking grout considerations. Thoughtful grout choices and proper application technique allow your tiles to shine.

Choose Grout Style

Sanded grout with some texture works well for wider grout lines on larger tiles. Smooth, finer unsanded grout suits tight grout lines under 1/8 inch like with mosaics.

Select Durable Epoxy Grout

For heavy-use kitchens, epoxy grout resists stains and damage better than standard cement grout over time. Use colorfast pigments to prevent fading.

Match Grout Color to Tile

Matching the grout color as closely to the tile color as possible provides a seamless look. For white tiles, bright white grout keeps the palette clean.

Consider Contrasting Grout

Alternatively, choose grout in a lighter or darker contrasting color to add definition around each tile. Especially effective on boldly colored tiles.

Follow Application Directions

Carefully follow manufacturer directions on proper mixing technique, working times, and cleaning methods to achieve grout longevity. Don’t rush the process.