How Much to Charge to Install Backsplash

Adding a backsplash is one of the best ways to upgrade your kitchen or bathroom. Not only does a backsplash provide an extra layer of protection from water damage, but it also allows you to add personalized style and flair. If you’re looking to install a new backsplash, one of the first things you’ll need to determine is how much to charge for the job. Pricing a backsplash installation project can seem complicated since many factors impact the final cost. We’ll walk through everything you need to consider when determining how much to charge to install a backsplash in a customer’s home.

Getting Accurate Measurements

The starting point for pricing a backsplash install is to get accurate measurements of the area. You’ll want to measure the length and height of the backsplash area in linear feet. This allows you to calculate the total square footage that will need tile.

Be sure to only measure areas that will actually get tiled. For example, if there is a section behind the stove that will remain exposed, do not include that area in your measurements. It’s also important to account for any outlets, cabinets, or irregular shapes that impact the total tileable area.

Once you have the measurements, multiply the length times the height to get the square footage. Having the exact square footage is crucial for determining how much tile and grout will be required.

Factoring in Tile Costs

One of the biggest variables when pricing a backsplash install is the cost of the tile itself. Tile can range from basic white subway tile at $5 per square foot up to high-end handmade tiles costing $50+ per square foot.

Be sure to get quotes on the actual tiles the customer wants prior to providing a final estimate. Some tile suppliers offer contractor discounts, so inquire about trade pricing. If the homeowner is purchasing the tile, get a copy of the receipt for the exact amount spent.

Calculate the total tile cost by multiplying the square footage of the backsplash by the price per square foot of the selected tile. Don’t forget to account for extra tile that will be needed to account for cuts and waste. A good rule of thumb is to add 10% onto the base square footage amount.

Factoring in Additional Materials

In addition to the tile itself, there are other required materials for a backsplash installation:

  • Mortar or adhesive: Recommended mortars can range from $15 to $50 per bag. Estimate how much will be needed based on square footage.
  • Grout: Grout costs around $15 to $30 per bag. More is required for wide grout lines. Allow for wastage by getting extra.
  • Sealer: Sealers cost around $20 per bottle. Usually one bottle is sufficient.
  • Backerboard: If the existing wall requires extra support, backerboard may be needed at around $10 per sheet.
  • Trim pieces: Decorative tiles, edging, and trim can add $5 to $20 per linear foot.

Be sure to account for all necessary materials, tools, and supplies when estimating the total costs. It may be necessary to include a trip charge if multiple visits to the hardware store for materials are required.

Determining Labor Costs

The largest component of a backsplash installation quote is labor. Even a simple backsplash requires expertise to install properly. Consider the following factors when determining labor costs:

  • Total work time: Estimate the total time required based on the project scope and your hourly rate.
  • Skill level required: Simple tile lays can be priced lower than intricate patterns or specialty tiles.
  • Surface prep time: Preparing the existing wall surface properly is crucial and adds hours.
  • Tile cutting time: Irregular layouts require much more tile cutting time.
  • Grouting and sealing time: Grout application and sealing is time-consuming.
  • Cleanup time: At least an hour should be allocated for cleanup each day.
  • Profit margins: Don’t forget to factor in your desired profit margin on top of the base costs.

Average hourly rates for backsplash installation range from $50 to $100 per hour. Set your rate based on your skill level, experience, and overhead costs.

Providing a Written Estimate

Once you’ve factored in all the material and labor costs, provide the customer with a written estimate. Be sure to include:

  • Exact tile being used and where it’s being purchased
  • Square footage and all required materials listed
  • Labor rate and estimated number of hours
  • Estimated start date and project duration
  • Payment terms and policy if additional time is required

Providing a detailed estimate sets customer expectations. Have the customer sign off on the estimate to secure the project and lock in pricing.

Questions to Ask Before Providing an Estimate

Before giving a backsplash installation estimate, ask the customer these key questions:

What Type of Tile Will Be Used?

The tile material makes a big impact on overall cost. Natural stone, glass, and ceramic tiles all have vastly different price points. Get tile samples or photos to ensure accurate pricing.

What Size are the Tiles?

Small mosaics take much longer to install than standard 4 inch tiles. Labor will be higher for intricate or repetitive layouts.

What Finish and Edges Do the Tiles Have?

Tile thickness, glossiness, beveled edges, or handmade irregularities affect cutting and installation difficulty. Smooth tiles are easiest for clean grout lines.

Will Decorative Accents Be Added?

Accent tiles, trim pieces, borders, and banding add complexity. Be sure to account for extra materials and labor time.

What Grout Color and Line Spacing Is Desired?

Contrasting grout or wide grout lines (1/8 inch or more) increase grouting time and difficulty.

Are There Any Electrical Outlets or Plumbing Fixtures?

Working around outlets or plumbing adds cutting challenges and layout restrictions.

What Condition Are the Walls In?

Freshly painted, smooth drywall is ideal. Masonry, plaster, concrete, or flawed walls increase prep work.

Is Special Waterproofing or Membrane Required?

Showers or behind sinks may require extra waterproofing steps which adds costs.

What Is the Backsplash Height?

Standard height is 4 inches. Full height backsplashes require more tile and time. Height over 8 ft may need scaffolding.

Are Any Special Tools or Equipment Needed?

For high walls, glass tile, or intricate patterns, specialty cutting tools may be required.

How to Charge More for Complex Installs

Not all backsplash projects are created equal. Here are some situations where it’s reasonable to charge more:

Irregular Shapes and Angles

Backsplashes featuring bumpouts, niches, angles, and alcoves require much more cutting and detailed tile work. Charge an added hourly rate.

Intricate Patterns and Borders

Laying out repeating patterns, detailed borders, and mosaic arrangements drives up material and labor costs.

Natural Stone and Glass Tiles

Natural tile materials require special cutting tools and great care in installation. Tack on 10-15% onto labor costs.

Full Height Backsplashes

Floor to ceiling backsplashes use more tile and are difficult to reach. Charge by the additional height.

Severe Wall Damage and Flaws

Heavily repairing or resurfacing flawed walls adds significant prep time. Charge hourly.

Niche and Shelf Installation

Cutting precise openings for niches, outlets, and shelves is extremely time consuming.

Multi-Room Backsplash Projects

Connecting backsplashes through different rooms or onto multiple walls requires extra planning and tile purchases.

Rushed Timelines

For fast turnaround projects, charge a rush fee to account for extra labor pressures.

Backsplash Installation Process Overview

To provide an accurate quote, you need to fully understand the process and scope of a backsplash installation project. Here is an overview of the key steps:

Surface Prep

The surface must be cleaned, spackled, and primed to create a smooth and even base. Existing wall flaws, cracks, or uneven areas must be patched and leveled.

Planning and Layout

The tile pattern is mapped out, and all cuts are calculated to minimize waste. Accent tiles and trim locations are determined.

Applying Backerboard (If Needed)

For damp areas or flawed walls, backerboard is installed to provide a water-resistant base layer.

Adhering the Tiles

Tiles are set row by row using thinset mortar applied with a notched trowel. Grout line spacing is maintained.

Cutting and Installing Accent Pieces

Any borders, banding, trim tiles, or mosaics are precisely measured, cut, and installed.

Grouting Seams

Grout is pushed carefully into the seams to fill any gaps. Excess is cleaned off the tile faces. Multiple passes are made.

Sealing and Caulking

The tiles are sealed to protect from moisture and mildew. Caulk is applied along the edges and transitions.


All tools are cleaned and tile dust and debris is removed. The site is left neat and orderly.

Key Factors That Increase Backsplash Installation Time

To accurately estimate labor time, you need to understand the key factors that can add hours to a project. Be sure to account for:

  • Tile cutting time – Irregular patterns, mosaics, and small tiles require much more cutting.
  • Grouting intricacy – Thin grout lines and mosaics require slower, more careful grouting.
  • Number of accent pieces – Borders, banding strips, brackets, and trim add layout time.
  • Outlet and fixture holes – Cutting tile pieces to fit around outlets, pipes, and fixtures is tedious.
  • Wall surface prep – Deep patching, sanding, leveling, skim coating, and priming imperfect walls adds considerable time.
  • Height over standard backsplash – Full height backsplashes require scaffolding and involve more tile work overhead.
  • Number of grout colors – Additional grout colors add time for cleaning and multiple mixing processes.
  • Amount of tile waste – Professionals aim for the least amount of waste, which requires precision planning.
  • Number of corners and alcoves – Backsplashes wrapping around corners or in recesses require much more tile cutting.

Questions to Ask After the Job for Future Learning

Once a backsplash installation job is complete, be sure to follow up with the customer to ask these key questions:

Were You Satisfied With the Result?

This allows you to ensure the customer is totally happy with the end product. Address any concerns immediately.

Did the Backsplash Meet or Exceed Your Expectations?

Important feedback to gather to calibrate future project estimations and manage customer satisfaction.

Was the Process Smooth and the Timeline As Expected?

Helps you identify any hiccups or delays during the project you can improve upon for future jobs.

How Was Working With Our Team?

Gives insights into how courteous, professional, and respectful your crew was during the project.

Would You Recommend Our Services to Friends?

Determine if the client sees you as a trusted and reputable business they’d be willing to refer.

Do You Have Any Other Spaces You’d Like Done?

Opportunity to schedule a walkthrough to provide quotes on additional projects.

Are There Any Ways We Could Improve?

Ask for candid feedback about what you could do better to continually improve operations.

Key Takeaways on How Much to Charge for a Backsplash Installation

Pricing out backsplash installation projects involves many variables. Follow these best practices:

  • Gather precise room measurements to calculate the square footage of the backsplash area.
  • Confirm the exact tile the client plans to purchase and get supplier quotes.
  • Account for all necessary tools, materials, adhesives, grout, and sealants.
  • Estimate labor hours accurately based on tile complexity, prep work, and desired finish.
  • Charge premium rates for challenging layouts, intricate tiles, and accelerated timelines.
  • Provide a detailed written estimate for client approval before starting work.
  • Ask follow-up questions after project completion to improve future estimates.

Careful planning and cost estimation is crucial to ensure you price backsplash installation projects profitably while also providing customers with a fair and competitive quote. Use this guide as a basis for quoting your next backsplash tile project.

How Much Homeowners Typically Pay for Backsplash Installation

Many homeowners opt to install backsplashes during kitchen or bath remodels to add eye-catching style and protect walls from water damage. But what is the typical cost for hiring a pro to install a backsplash? Here is an overview of average prices:

Typical Backsplash Installation Costs Per Square Foot

The most common way contractors price backsplash installation is based on the total square footage of the area being tiled. Average costs range from $10 – $30 per square foot for labor and materials.

For basic square or rectangular layouts using standard ceramic or porcelain tiles, costs tend to fall on the lower end of that range between $10 – $20 per square foot.

More complex designs with stone tiles, mosaics, or special patterns may range from $25 – $30+ per square foot for added labor and intricate tile work.

What Impacts Total Project Cost?

The total project cost is determined by:

  • Square footage of the backsplash area
  • Tile selection – material, size, thickness, finish
  • Pattern complexity – mosaics, banding, cutouts
  • Condition of the existing wall
  • Labor hourly rate

Additionally, full height backsplashes that go floor to ceiling will be priced at a higher per square foot rate than standard 4 inch height backsplashes.

Cost to Install 100 Square Foot Backsplash

A typical medium size kitchen backsplash might be 100 square feet.

For a basic subway tile backsplash install, expect to pay around $1,500 – $2,000 total.

A more intricate backsplash with accent tiles and bands could run $2,500 – $3,000 for 100 square feet.

Cost to Install Backsplash in Small vs Large Kitchen

Here are typical backsplash installation costs for different kitchen sizes:

  • Small kitchen (50 sq ft) – $750 – $1,500
  • Medium kitchen (100 sq ft) – $1,500 – $3,000
  • Large kitchen (150+ sq ft) – $2,250 – $4,500+

As you can see, the price per square foot remains in the same range regardless of project size. The major cost factor is the complexity of the design, not necessarily the overall footprint.

Cost to Install Shower or Bathroom Backsplash

Bathroom backsplashes help protect the walls from moisture. Prices are similar to kitchen backsplashes:

  • Average bath backsplash (25 sq ft) – $400 – $800
  • Shower surround (50 sq ft) – $750 – $1,500

Waterproof backerboard, specialized mortars, and careful sealing may be required in wet areas – adding slightly to material costs.

Additional Cost Factors to Consider

  • Surface preparation – Drywall repair, spackling, smoothing, priming
  • Backerboard installation – Adding water-resistant layer if needed
  • Niche or shelf cutouts – For soap, shampoo, faucets
  • Border or accent tiles – Add detailed mosaic strips or geometric designs
  • Number of grout colors – Each color change adds labor time
  • Sealants and caulking – Water protection and mildew resistance
  • Cleanup fees – For tile dust, vacuum, damp mop, debris removal

Carefully account for all these factors when pricing a project and providing homeowners with quotes.

Backsplash Installation Cost Per Hour

In addition to pricing by the square foot, some contractors may charge by the hour. Typical installer hourly rates range from $50 – $100 per hour.

This allows you to price projects based precisely on the expected labor hours, rather than basing it strictly on square footage.

Charging by the hour also accommodates unknowns like extensive wall prep work, complex tile layouts, or issues that arise mid-project.

Hiring a Backsplash Installation Pro – Cost vs Value

Installing a backsplash yourself can certainly save on labor costs. But keep in mind:

  • Professionals have the right tools, materials, and experience for high quality results
  • The finished look will have fewer flaws and be more polished than a DIY job
  • Pros complete projects much faster with less hassle for homeowners
  • Work is guaranteed and insured by a licensed contractor

For most homeowners, the cost to hire a backsplash installation pro provides excellent return on investment in elevating kitchen or bathroom aesthetics and functionality.

Factors That Increase Backsplash Installation Costs

While each backsplash installation project is unique, there are some consistent factors that tend to increase the final price. Being aware of these cost drivers allows homeowners to plan budgets accordingly and allows contractors to provide accurate quotes.

Custom or Intricate Tile Choices

Tile selection makes the biggest impact on material costs. For example:

  • Handmade artisan or ceramic tiles – $15 – $50 per sq ft
  • Metal, glass, or stone mosaics – $25 – $100 per sq ft
  • Porcelain, marble, or granite tiles – $10 – $30 per sq ft
  • Multi-piece molded tiles – $5 – $20 per sq ft

The more intricate the tile design, the higher the price per square foot. Sticking with basic rectangular ceramic or porcelain tiles keeps costs down.

Thin Grout Lines

Grout fills the spaces between tiles. Thin grout lines (1/16” or smaller):

  • Require more precision and time to install
  • Involve specialized grout mixes and tools
  • Need frequent sealing to avoid cracking

Plan for $10 – $15 extra per square foot for labor-intensive thin grout.

Diagonal or Herring