Backsplashes are a great way to add visual interest, color, and texture to any kitchen. Installing a backsplash is also a relatively affordable way to update the look of your kitchen. However, like most home improvement projects, the cost of installing a backsplash can vary widely depending on the type of material you choose and the complexity of the installation. Here is an in-depth look at the factors that influence the cost of installing a backsplash and what you can expect to pay.
The material you choose for your backsplash is the biggest factor in determining the installation cost. Here are some of the most popular backsplash materials and their typical price ranges:
Ceramic tile is one of the most common and affordable backsplash materials. It comes in a huge range of colors, shapes, and sizes. The cost of ceramic tile ranges from $2 – $20 per square foot. Basic white 3 x 6 inch subway tiles tend to be at the lower end of that price range, while handmade or mosaic tiles are more expensive.
Pros: Very affordable, easy to clean, durable, wide variety of looks
Cons: Can be prone to cracking or chipping
Natural stone tiles like marble, travertine, slate, and granite make for a high-end, luxurious backsplash. Stone tiles range from $15 – $50 per square foot. The price depends on the type and quality of the stone. Marble is generally the most expensive natural stone option.
Pros: Elegant look, heat-resistant, variety of patterns and colors
Cons: Requires sealing, expensive, heavy
Glass tiles are colorful, versatile, and easy to clean. They cost $10 – $30 per square foot. Glass mosaics are especially popular for backsplashes.
Pros: Durable, stain-resistant, easy to clean, eye-catching colors and patterns
Cons: Can be prone to cracking, tends to be expensive
Metal backsplash tiles like stainless steel, copper, bronze, and aluminum create an edgy, industrial vibe. Metal tiles cost between $15 – $50 per square foot.
Pros: Durable, heat-resistant, easy to clean, modern look
Cons: Conducts heat rapidly, prone to fingerprints and scratches
Porcelain tiles have a classic, clean appearance similar to ceramic, but they are denser, more water-resistant, and more durable. Porcelain tiles cost $8 – $35 per square foot.
Pros: Extremely durable, stain-resistant, easy to clean, variety of styles
Cons: Can be prone to chipping if heavily impacted
Mosaic tiles use small, uniform tiles arranged in decorative patterns. Costs range from $5 per square foot for basic glass mosaics to $50+ per square foot for intricate designs using stone, ceramic, or other high-end tiles.
Pros: Eye-catching pattern, artistic, combines materials
Cons: Complex designs cost more in labor
Peel and Stick Tile
Peel and stick tiles have adhesive backing so they can be applied directly to surfaces without grout. They cost $2 – $10 per square foot.
Pros: Extremely easy installation, removable, affordable
Cons: Not as durable long-term as grouted tile
So in summary, you can expect to pay as little as $100 for basic peel and stick tile, around $500 for a simple ceramic subway tile backsplash, and up to $2,500+ for premium materials like natural stone. The material choices are virtually endless, so focus on picking a material in your budget that suits your kitchen’s style.
In addition to material costs, you also have to factor in labor expenses for installation. Labor will account for 50-75% of your total backsplash installation cost.
Some of the factors that influence labor costs include:
- Contractor Rates – Labor rates vary significantly based on the contractor’s skill level and experience as well as geographic location. In general, expect to pay $50 – $100 per hour.
- Layout Complexity – A simple grid pattern of subway tiles will take less time than a complex herringbone or mosaic layout. Complex patterns can increase labor time by 25% or more.
- Permits and Removal – If your contractor needs to obtain permits, remove old backsplash, or repair surfaces, this adds to job costs.
- Accessibility – Ease of access to the workspace also impacts the time required. Tight corners or awkward spaces usually take longer.
As a ballpark figure, expect to pay at least $400 – $600 in labor to install a typical 10 square foot ceramic tile backsplash. Larger or more complex projects could cost $2,500 or more in labor alone.
Beyond just materials and labor, there are a few additional expenses that factor into the cost of installing a backsplash:
- Backsplash design – Some contractors charge an hourly rate to help you design your backsplash layout and choose materials. This usually costs around $50-$150.
- Tile edging and accent trim – Moldings, tiles, or strips used to finish edges cost $1 – $5 per linear foot.
- Grout and grout sealer – Grout costs around $0.50 per square foot and sealant is around $7 per bottle.
- Adhesives and thinset mortar – Approximately $2 to $5 per square foot depending on type.
- Tools – If you need to purchase tile cutters, nippers, or other installation tools it can add $50 – $200 in expenses. Renting tools is often a cheaper option.
In total, these additional expenses usually amount to 10% – 20% of your total project cost.
DIY Backsplash Installation Cost
If you plan to install a backsplash yourself, you can save significantly on labor costs. However, keep in mind that high-quality professional installation is crucial for durability and proper sealing. Poor DIY installation can also lead to costly repairs down the road.
Here are typical price ranges for DIY backsplash installation:
- Ceramic subway tile backsplash – Approx. $300 – $600 depending on materials
- Mosaic glass backsplash – Approx $600 – $800 depending on complexity
- Peel and stick backsplash – Approx $200 – $400
The main expenses will be materials, equipment rentals, small tools/consumables, and your time. With proper planning, preparation, and attention to detail, DIY backsplash installation can cut your costs approximately in half compared to hiring a professional.
Factors That Increase Backsplash Installation Cost
There are a few variables and design choices that can significantly increase the cost of installing a backsplash:
- Natural stone tile – Due to the price of high-end material, stone backsplashes often cost over $2,500. Granite and marble are especially pricey.
- Mosaic patterns – Intricate mosaic tile layouts require more effort and precision to install correctly. This equates to higher labor time and expense.
- Niche or shelving – Adding recessed shelving areas for storing spices and condiments looks amazing but also boosts cost due to carpentry and tile work involved.
- Border designs – Borders with specialty tiles or accent trims add design flair. However, seamless integration of border patterns takes skill and time.
- Backsplashes over 8 feet tall – Oversized backsplash areas behind ranges or covering entire walls are gorgeous but use much more tile requiring additional installation time.
- Professional design fees – Full-service design consulting can cost hundreds of dollars but is highly recommended for complex projects.
- Tiered pricing for rush jobs – Contractors charge premium rates for expedited installations completed in just a few days. Always build extra time into a backsplash project to avoid rush fees.
How Long Does It Take To Install A Backsplash?
Another consideration in budgeting for your project is the timeline. How long your installation takes depends on the size of the area being tiled, as well as the complexity of the design.
Here are some typical timelines:
- Peel and stick tile: 1 to 3 days
- Basic ceramic subway tile: 2 to 5 days
- Stone, glass or mosaic backsplash: 3 to 7 days
- Backsplash covering multiple walls: 5 to 10 days
Most professional installers estimate that they can fully tile approximately 10 to 20 square feet per day for a straightforward layout. Be sure to account for additional days if your tiles need to be hand-cut or if your layout has peaked niches or an intricate border.
Installing grout and sealant will require another 1 to 2 days after the tiles are in place. Some materials like natural stone may also require extra curing time.
When coming up with your timeline, build in a buffer if you can in case any delays come up with material shipments or scheduling. Patience is definitely a virtue when it comes to tiling! The final results will be well worth it.
Cost To Remove Or Replace An Existing Backsplash
If you already have a backsplash installed that you want to remove and replace with an upgraded tile, expect to add the following costs:
- Removal of old backsplash – $300 to $800 professionally
- Disposal fees – $100 to $200
- Repair of drywall or wall surface beneath – $200 to $500
- Additional materials to patch and prepare surfaces
- Potential costs to repair adjacent surfaces like countertops if damaged in the removal process
Doing a complete tear-out of an existing backsplash and preparing the wall surface for new tile does require more time, effort, and materials. Often a fresh install with new tile looks best since you can address any underlying flaws or uneven areas on the wall before tiling.
Cost To Professionally Clean And Seal An Existing Backsplash
If your current backsplash is structurally sound but showing dirt, stains, or discoloration, a professional restoration can restore it affordably.
A typical backsplash cleaning and re-sealing costs between $300 to $700. An acidic cleaning solution is used to deep clean grout and dissolve built-up grime and stains. The tiles are then sealed with a fresh protective coat of sealant. This process can make even an old backsplash look new again at a fraction of the cost of replacing it.
Factors That Impact Durability Of Backsplash Tiles
The durability and lifespan of your backsplash depends on several factors:
- Tile material – Natural stones like granite are extremely durable while glass tile can crack more easily. Porcelain and ceramic offer a good balance.
- Quality of installation – Proper Prep and professional installation prevents cracking, chipping, and peeling.
- Sealants used – Penetrating sealants prevent moisture damage and staining. Re-seal every 1 to 3 years.
- Cleaning methods – Gentle cleaning prevents wear. Avoid abrasive scouring pads.
- Location – Backsplashes behind stoves tend to wear faster than protected areas.
- Regular maintenance – Re-grouting, caulking, re-sealing, and fixing cracks preserves longevity.
With proper installation and ongoing care, most quality natural stone or ceramic tile backsplashes can last upwards of 15 to 25 years before needing replacement. Glass or metal backsplashes may need redoing sooner.
DIY Versus Hiring A Professional For Installation
Installing a backsplash yourself can save on labor costs, but keep these tips in mind:
Consider hiring a pro if:
- You have minimal tiling experience
- Your design uses natural stone or intricate patterns
- Walls are uneven or need repair prior to tiling
- You want job done thoroughly and hassle-free
DIY approach best if:
- You are very handy and know how to tile
- Doing a simple and straightforward design
- Willing to take the time to learn proper techniques
- Want to save money on labor
Many homeowners do feel up for tiling their own simple backsplash. Be sure to watch tutorial videos and review tiling best practices before beginning. Patience and attention to detail are a must.
Hiring a seasoned professional ensures your backsplash is perfectly plum, level, and constructed to last using proper waterproofing methods. This gives homeowners peace of mind. Both solid options have their advantages depending on your skillset and budget.
Tips For Reducing Your Backsplash Installation Costs
If you are looking for ways to cut costs on your backsplash installation, consider these money-saving tips:
- Use a simple tile layout like a basic grid pattern which requires less tile cuts.
- Set a budget and only look at backsplash tile options that fit your budget parameters.
- Order all your tile at once and overestimate by 5-10% to avoid running out or dealing with additional shipping charges on a small supplemental order.
- Install the backsplash yourself if you have the ability. Watch online video tutorials.
- Talk to multiple contractors and get 3-4 competitive bids before choosing your installer.
- Provide your own breakables like tile cutters and spacers to save rental fees.
- Schedule the project during your contractor’s slower season or weekday schedule when their rates are lower.
- Instead of a full backsplash, opt for a more economical 4 inch backsplash or tile just a focal area behind the stove.
Every dollar saved on materials and labor can add up with strategic and savvy budgeting. Get creative to come in under budget on your dream backsplash project.
Is It Worth Paying More For High-End Backsplash Tile?
Premium tile materials definitely cost more up front. However, they often provide a better return on investment long-term. Consider paying extra for upgrades like:
- Porcelain tile – More durable and stain-resistant than ceramic
- Natural stone – Adds luxurious feel and value to the home
- Hand-crafted tiles – Unique artistic details with visual appeal
- Larger format tiles – Minimizes grout lines for smoother appearance
- Mosaic tiles – Eye-catching and elegant focal point
Lower-priced tiles may be prone to damage or staining down the road. The goal is choosing a backsplash that retains its beauty while standing up to decades of cooking, cleaning, and busy kitchen life. Paying a little more for quality tile is almost always worth it in the end.
Should I Install The Backsplash Before Or After New Countertops?
This is an important install order decision when remodeling your kitchen. There are good reasons to support either approach:
Backsplash first pros:
- The wall can be prepped perfectly before tiling
- No worries about damaging a brand new counter during install
- Easier to achieve full edge-to-edge tiling on the wall
Countertops first pros:
- Backsplash tiles can be precisely cut to fit right to the edge of the counters
- Countertop installation won’t disrupt freshly tiled backsplash
- Permits installing countertops and backsplash simultaneously
Many contractors prefer to install countertops first, then do the backsplash up to the countertop edges. This may involve careful tile cutting but allows both elements to integrate seamlessly. However, either order can work fine as long as your contractor has the proper skills. Communicate your concerns and preferences to decide the best sequence.
Backsplash Ideas For Rental Properties
Not sure whether to install an expensive backsplash if you don’t own the property? Here are some great rental-friendly options:
- Peel and stick tiles – Affordable, easy to install, and removable
- Painted tile pattern – Uses removable paint to mimic tile
- Painted glass tile – Use glass paints on inexpensive plain glass tiles
- Vinyl tile sheets – Cut to size and install over existing wall
- Contact paper – Some high-end contact paper has tile designs
- Removable tile decals – Tile stickers that can be switched out
These temporary solutions protect your investment while still allowing you to enjoy the look of a decorative backsplash during your lease term. Opt for budget-friendly materials and application methods that won’t permanently alter the property. With some creativity, you can get the backsplash style you love in a rental, condo, or apartment.
Incorporating Accent Tiles In Your Backsplash Design
One simple trick to take your backsplash to the next level is incorporating accent tiles. Contrasting accent tiles can add eye-catching pops of color, texture, or pattern. Here are some accent tile ideas:
Use a border row of small specialty tiles along the top, bottom, or as a middle divider stripe. This can be a contrasting color or intricate mosaic.
Install unique shaped or patterned tiles behind appliances, around windows, or other focal points.
Try using accent tiles for niches, shelves, or geometric cutout spaces.
Intersperse sporadic accent tiles throughout your main field tile in a random, artful pattern.
When mixing and matching tile designs, limit accent tiles to 25% or less of the total area. Allowing one style to dominate helps maintain balance. Incorporate accent tiles thoughtfully for maximum visual pop.
Choosing Grout Color For Your Backsplash
While tiles make the main visual impact, grout lines also affect the overall look. Here are tips for picking the best grout color:
- Match grout to tile color for a monochromatic look
- Choose white or light grey grout with darker tiles to accentuate individual tiles
- Consider black or dark grey grout with lighter tiles for bold definition
- Match wall paint color if minimizing grout appearance is preferred
- For mosaics, use grout that matches background color between accent tiles
- Contrast grout with tile if wanting grout lines to stand out
Always view tile and grout samples together before deciding. Samples will give you the best sense of how colors and contrasts work. With the right grout color choice,