How Much Should a Tile Backsplash Cost?

Installing a tile backsplash can greatly enhance the beauty and functionality of your kitchen. However, tile backsplash installation costs can vary widely depending on the materials used, the size of the project, and labor rates in your area. This comprehensive guide will provide tips to help you understand what impacts tile backsplash costs and estimate your budget.

Factors That Influence Tile Backsplash Costs

Several key factors affect the total cost of a tile backsplash installation project. Being aware of these considerations will help you plan your budget accurately.

Tile Material

The type of tile you select is one of the biggest factors affecting your backsplash installation costs. Materials can range from basic ceramic or porcelain to higher-end glass, metal, stone, and marble tiles. Generally, more expensive tile materials will increase the total project cost.

  • Ceramic tile – $2 to $10 per square foot
  • Porcelain tile – $4 to $20 per square foot
  • Glass tile – $10 to $30 per square foot
  • Metal tile – $15 to $50 per square foot
  • Stone tile – $15 to $50 per square foot
  • Marble tile – $40 to $100 per square foot

Keep in mind that the prices above are approximate ranges. Unique tile selections like handmade, customized, or imported tiles can be significantly more expensive.

Tile Size

The size of your tile also affects cost. Large format tiles are quicker to install than intricate mosaics, resulting in lower labor time and expenses.

  • Mosaic tiles – Longer installation time means higher labor costs
  • Standard tiles – 4 inches to 8 inches; moderate installation time
  • Large format tiles – 12 inches or larger; faster installation


Tile contractor rates for installation and materials also factor into your backsplash costs. Labor will be charged per hour or per day. Expect to pay:

  • Tile removal/preparation – $50 to $75 per hour
  • Tile installation labor – $40 to $80 per hour
  • Specialty contractor rates – $70 to $120 per hour

Labor accounts for 50% to 70% of your total tile installation costs on average. Highly complex tile patterns or specialty tiles will require more labor time.

Layout Complexity

Simple tile layouts are more affordable than intricate designs. Factors like:

  • Tile shape and size variety
  • Diagonal installations
  • Borders and accents
  • Niche or shelving additions

All increase layout complexity and labor time. Consider how elaborate you want your backsplash design to determine project costs.

Backsplash Size

The physical size of your backsplash also impacts the tile and labor costs. Larger backsplash areas require more materials and longer installation times. Measure your target backsplash space before budgeting to calculate the true tile square footage required.


Special backsplash accessories like:

  • Decorative borders
  • Niches
  • Shelving
  • Lighting
  • Accent tiles

Can heighten the design but also increase your costs. Factor these special details into your budget if desired.

Additional Factors

Other considerations that can influence backsplash installation costs include:

  • Delivery fees for heavy materials
  • Grout and wall preparation
  • Sealants and caulking
  • Extended height installations
  • Cutting tools and equipment
  • Special drill bits for tile work

How Much Does a Tile Backsplash Cost On Average?

With all of these factors at play, what is the typical range of costs for a tile backsplash installation?

  • Basic Tile Backsplash – $10 to $35 per square foot installed. For standard ceramic or porcelain tiles on a straightforward kitchen backsplash with no special factors.
  • High-End Tile Backsplash – $35 to $100 per square foot installed. Using premium tiles (marble, glass, stone), specialty shapes, and more complex designs.

To determine your estimated tile backsplash cost range:

  1. Measure your backsplash area to find the square footage needed
  2. Multiply by your desired price per square foot based on materials
  3. Add estimated labor fees at $40 to $80 per installation hour
  4. Include any additional accessories or materials costs

This will provide you an approximate tile backsplash installation budget. Be sure to get quotes from at least three contractors as well.

Factors That Increase Tile Backsplash Costs

There are certain choices and situations that will increase the costs of your backsplash tile installation. Being aware of these key factors allows you to set realistic expectations.

Custom Tiles

Ordering customized, specialty shape, or handmade tiles can significantly increase material costs. Made-to-order tiles often start at $50 per square foot and climb rapidly.

Natural Stone Tiles

Granite, marble, travertine and slate backsplash tiles are more expensive than ceramic or porcelain. Their raw material and quarrying costs exceed regular manufactured tiles.

Glass Tiles

While beautiful, glass tile costs are also on the high end, ranging from $15 to $30 per square foot on average. The material itself is pricier than basic tile.

Mosaic Tiles

Intricate mosaic tile patterns take much longer to install, increasing labor time and difficulty. Mosaic backsplash costs are 25% to 50% higher on average.

Full Height Backsplashes

If your backsplash extends above standard counter height, typically 18 inches, additional installation time and tile materials will be required.

Complex Layouts

Diagonal, herringbone, arabesque and other intricate tile layouts look amazing but also take advanced skills and more installation time that boosts costs.

Additional Accessories

Add-ons like shelving, lighting, trims, and accents raise the price as well. Take the extra effort to find pieces that match your tiles.

High Labor Rates

Specialty tile contractors or premium installers will charge hourly rates exceeding $70 per hour. Complex projects warrant their expertise but also higher prices.

Rush Orders

Expedited material shipping fees and labor overtime rates apply if your project requires an accelerated timeline, adding 15% to 25% typically.

Cost Saving Tips for Tile Backsplashes

If your budget is limited, there are several smart ways to reduce your tile backsplash installation costs.

  • Select mid-range ceramic or porcelain tiles rather than premium materials
  • Use basic colors like white or grey rather than intricate patterns
  • Choose larger tiles over mosaics to reduce labor time
  • Opt for simple layouts and minimal grout lines
  • DIY preparation and paint touch-ups to avoid added labor fees
  • Provide your own tile spacers, grout float, and mixing buckets
  • Have tiles delivered to your home to avoid delivery fees
  • Provide meals for contractors to avoid their meal charges
  • Schedule projects during their slower seasons for potential discounts
  • Get at least three detailed bids before choosing your installer
  • Negotiate pricing and ask for discounts on labor rates or materials
  • Purchase end-of-lot tiles and remnant materials from big box stores

With careful planning, material decisions, and contractor selection, installing an attractive tile backsplash does not have to break your budget. Focus on the key visible areas and splurge only for accent tiles in important spots.

Tile Backsplash Installation Cost Calculator

Use this simple tile backsplash cost calculator to estimate your total project price.

Step 1) Measure the backsplash area’s length & height to find total square footage needed

Length ft x Height ft = _ sq ft

Step 2) Select your price per square foot based on tile material

$_______ ceramic/porcelain tile per sq ft
$_______ glass tile per sq ft
$_______ stone tile per sq ft
$_______ marble tile per sq ft
$_______ metal tile per sq ft

Step 3) Multiply square footage x price per square foot

sq ft x $______ per sq ft = $________ tile material cost

Step 4) Estimate labor installation costs

hrs x $______ per hr labor rate = $________ installation cost

Total Tile Backsplash Cost Estimate = $________

Keep in mind this calculator provides a rough estimate only based on typical tile prices and labor rates. Be sure to get quotes directly from at least three tile installation contractors in your area to get exact project pricing. Custom or complex backsplash designs may also increase your total costs.

Hiring a Tile Installation Contractor

An experienced tile installer is essential for a professional-quality backsplash installation. Follow these tips when hiring tile pros:

  • Review examples of their previous tile projects, particularly backsplashes
  • Ask how many years of experience they have specifically with tile contracting
  • Verify they are licensed, bonded, and insured
  • Get at least three project quotes for cost comparison
  • Ask about timing commitments and project schedules
  • Understand how they handle contingency plans and delays
  • Ensure they have strong communication practices to keep you updated
  • Confirm they will handle securing all required permits
  • Request a lien waiver so subcontractors cannot put a lien on your home

Be wary of bids that seem too good to be true, as cheaper labor often reflects lack of expertise. Investing in a highly skilled tile pro is recommended to get your backsplash design installed properly on the first attempt.

DIY Tile Backsplash Installation Considerations

While a professional usually provides ideal results, a DIY backsplash tile installation is possible for some homeowners. Consider the following before tackling a backsplash project yourself:

  • Carefully review tile manufacturer installation guides
  • Understand the detailed steps involved
  • Have the necessary tools for tile cutting, drilling, leveling, and grouting
  • Be extremely precise with measurements and layout
  • Invest time in practicing techniques first on spare tiles
  • Work slowly and patiently
  • Finish the job even if it takes more time than expected

Keep in mind that imperfections like uneven tile spacing, crooked lines, or sloppy grout application will be highly visible on a backsplash. If you lack experience with tile work, the aesthetic risks often outweigh the cost savings of DIY installation.

Hiring Specialty Contractors

For complex backsplash projects involving structural changes, electrical work, plumbing, carpentry, or masonry, you may need to hire additional specialty tradespeople beyond your tile installer:

  • Electrician – For any required wiring of backsplash lighting
  • Plumber – If plumbing lines need relocating to accommodate backsplash tiles
  • Carpenter – To build custom shelving or trimwork integrated with the backsplash
  • Drywall Contractor – For patching and preparing the backsplash walls as needed
  • Mason – For structural modifications to the backsplash space

Always verify contractors have current licenses and liability insurance before hiring. Check references to confirm their expertise with your type of project as well.

When to Install a Backsplash in a Remodel

If your backsplash tiling is part of a larger kitchen remodel, proper project sequencing is key. Since new countertops and cabinets need to be installed before backsplashes, consider the following timeline:

  • Stage 1 – Demolition, wall prep, electrical
  • Stage 2 – New cabinet and countertop installation
  • Stage 3 – Painting, lighting, plumbing, flooring
  • Stage 4 – Backsplash tiling
  • Stage 5 – Final trim, caulking, cleaning, and inspection

It takes careful coordination of various trades to keep the job moving on schedule. Be sure to ask your general contractor about timeline specifics for your kitchen remodel.

Design Trends for Tile Backsplashes

While timeless white subway tile never goes out of style, there are several fresh backsplash tile trends to consider:

Mixing Tile Shapes

Combining rectangular, square, and hexagon-shaped tiles adds modern interest. Extending the tile layout from the backsplash to the same patterns on the walls and floors creates a cohesive look.

Moroccan-inspired Tiles

Intricate mosaic-like patterns influenced by Moroccan designs are popular, often using metallic tiles. Terracotta, mustard, and blue hues blended with neutral tones evoke an exotic yet elegant style.

Bold Colors and Patterns

Vibrant solid colors like forest green, deep navy, black, and brick red make for an eye-catching backsplash. Retro geometrics, vintage florals, or minimalist grids patterns also add flair.

Oversized Tiles

Large format rectangular tiles, 12 inches by 24 inches or bigger, create a contemporary, sleek look. These generously sized tiles make a smaller kitchen appear more spacious.

3D Tile Effects

Textural, multi-layered tiles provide enticing depth and shadow lines. Subway tiles with horned corners, fishscale shapes, pressed metal designs, and molded surfaces all provide a three-dimensional aesthetic.

Kitchen Sink Extensions

Continuing the backsplash tile into the sink area provides a seamless transition that appears custom-designed. This treatment unifies the look across the entire back wall.

Backsplash Ideas for Specific Kitchen Styles

Your backsplash tile choices tie directly into the overall kitchen design style you want to achieve:

Farmhouse Kitchen Backsplashes

Classic white subway tile, brick motifs, natural stone, and wood plank tiles work beautifully in farmhouse spaces. Accent with metal penny rounds or antique-inspired ceramic pieces.

Modern Kitchen Backsplashes

Clean lines, solid colors, oversized rectangles, and glossy metallics align with contemporary styles. Use sparingly instead of over-the-top mosaics.

Rustic Kitchen Backsplashes

Stone and wood-look tiles complement rustic kitchens, along with handmade ceramics for old-fashioned appeal. Copper and bronze add touches of artsy flair.

Transitional Kitchen Backsplashes

For an eclectic blend, combine tiles with mixed textures like glossy and matte finishes. Marble subway tiles with metal inlay borders create transitional allure.

Backsplash Maintenance Tips

To keep your tile backsplash looking like new:

  • Seal grout lines periodically to prevent staining and resist moisture
  • Use gentle cleansers designed for natural stone if needed
  • Avoid abrasive scouring pads or harsh chemicals that can damage surfaces
  • Quickly clean up any food, grease or soap spills to prevent buildup in grout
  • Use a soft, damp microfiber cloth to wipe down tiles
  • Re-apply sealants or penetrating sealers as needed per manufacturer instructions

With proper care, your backsplash tile can provide beauty and enjoyment for many years in your kitchen.

Frequently Asked Questions About Tile Backsplash Costs

Many homeowners have additional questions about budgeting for their ideal backsplash project. Below are answers to some of the most common inquiries:

How much does a basic subway tile backsplash cost?

For white 3″ x 6″ glazed ceramic subway tiles and standard installation, expect to pay $5 to $15 per square foot including labor and materials. A typical 10 sq ft backsplash would be $100 to $300.

What is the most affordable type of backsplash tile?

Standard unglazed ceramic tiles from big box stores start at $0.50 per tile. However, check quality as imperfect tiles require more cutting and waste. Porcelain tiles offer durability at a budget price of $2 to $5 per sq ft.

What backsplash tiles are easiest to install?

Uniform squares or rectangular tiles with consistent size and color are beginner-friendly. Avoid tiny mosaics. Go for larger format tiles requiring fewer grout seams. Save cutouts for an experienced tile pro.

Should backsplash tile match countertops?

It depends on the look you want. Matching materials can provide a cohesive, seamless appearance. Contrasting tiles creates definition. Consistent hues, but differing textures/patterns, offer middle ground.

Should I get backsplash samples before deciding?

Definitely order tile samples, usually free or low cost from manufacturers. Colors, texture and scale can vary surprisingly from online images. Handling real tile samples ensures you choose correctly.

Does backsplash height matter for pricing?

For full height backsplashes reaching 4+ feet or extending above standard backsplash height near the range hood, expect up to 25% higher tile and installation costs vs standard height.

How can I get the most value from my backsplash dollar?

Select economical tiles (porcelain, ceramic) in simple colors for most of the backsplash expanse then use premium decorative tiles strategically as accents around range or sink.


Installing a tile backsplash can make a dramatic difference in your kitchen’s appearance. With an understanding of the primary factors affecting tile backsplash costs, you can determine an estimated budget that matches your preferences. Be sure to get multiple bids from experienced contractors before proceeding. With careful planning and smart design choices, you can control project costs while still achieving a beautiful, high-end backsplash design.