Adding a backsplash to your kitchen can completely transform the look and feel of the space. However, before installing a new backsplash, it’s important to understand how much it will cost. The price of installing a backsplash can vary greatly depending on the materials you choose, the size of the area being covered, and labor costs. In this article, we’ll break down the factors that determine backsplash installation costs and provide average price ranges so you can budget for your project. We’ll also offer tips to help keep your backsplash installation affordable. With some planning and smart decisions, you can get the look you want at a price you can afford.
What is a Backsplash?
A backsplash is a protective surface that is installed on the wall behind a countertop, stove, or sink. Backsplashes are typically made of tile, metal, glass, or stone. They serve both practical and decorative purposes in the kitchen.
On a practical level, a backsplash safeguards the walls from water damage, grease splatters, and other types of mess. The water-resistant materials used for backsplashes make them easy to clean and maintain. Aesthetically, backsplashes inject visual interest, color, and texture into the kitchen décor. They can complement your cabinetry, counters, appliances and overall design scheme.
Backsplashes are installed directly onto the wall and span from the countertop to the bottom of the upper cabinets. Depending on your kitchen layout and personal preference, backsplashes may cover small sections behind select areas or run the full length of the wall.
Factors That Determine Cost
Several key factors impact the total cost of installing a backsplash in your kitchen:
Size of the Backsplash
The size of the backsplash is measured by its square footage. The more surface area you need to cover, the greater the overall cost. Full wall backsplashes that span multiple feet naturally cost more than small, focused backsplashes behind a stove or sink.
On average, simple 4 x 8 foot backsplash runs between $400 and $600 installed. A backsplash for a larger kitchen with 30 square feet of coverage could cost $2,000 to $3,000 installed.
Type of Material
Backsplash materials range widely in price from inexpensive to luxury-level. On the lower end, ceramic subway tiles and stone tiles average $5 to $10 per square foot. Middle tier options like metal or glass tile cost $15 to $30 per square foot. High-end materials like marble, travertine, or mosaic tiles can range from $50 to $100+ per square foot. The specific material you select will factor heavily into the overall installation cost.
In additional to material costs, you’ll need to account for labor charges for installation. Labor typically costs $40 to $80 per hour. The time required depends on the size of the job and complexity of the design. Simple installations could take 5 hours, while large format tiles or intricate patterns take longer. Make sure to get an estimate of hours from the contractor.
The complexity of your backsplash design also affects installation costs. Solid backsplashes with basic tile patterns or single large format tiles are cheaper and quicker to install. Intricate mosaics, angled shapes, border details or mixing multiple tiles drives up labor time and expenses.
Apart from the backsplash materials and labor, your contractor may also charge fees for subcontractors, tile cutting, special tools, permits or waste disposal. These miscellaneous costs are typically marked up and can increase your total price by 10% to 15%.
Cost by Backsplash Material
Here is an overview of average installed costs for popular backsplash tile materials:
- Ceramic tile: $5 to $20 per sq. ft. installed
- Porcelain tile: $8 to $25 per sq. ft. installed
- Glass tile: $15 to $30 per sq. ft. installed
- Metal tile: $15 to $35 per sq. ft. installed
- Stone tile: $15 to $50 per sq. ft. installed
- Marble tile: $40 to $100 per sq. ft. installed
- Mosaic tile: $20 to $50 per sq. ft. installed
- Travertine tile: $20 to $70 per sq. ft. installed
- Pebble tile: $20 to $40 per sq. ft. installed
- Subway tile: $5 to $15 per sq. ft. installed
- Penny tile: $10 to $35 per sq. ft. installed
- Wood plank tile: $10 to $35 per sq. ft. installed
Keep in mind that unique designs, patterns, custom shapes or high-end tile upgrades can push costs to the top of these ranges or beyond.
Cost to Install by Size
In addition to material costs, the overall size of your backsplash impacts the total installation price. Here are rough estimates for how much you can expect to pay for backsplash installation based on square footage:
- 4 sq. ft. backsplash – $200 to $600 installed
- 8 sq. ft. backsplash – $400 to $1,000 installed
- 12 sq. ft. backsplash – $600 to $1,500 installed
- 30 sq. ft. backsplash – $1,500 to $3,500 installed
- 50 sq. ft. backsplash – $2,500 to $5,000 installed
- 100 sq. ft. backsplash – $5,000 to $10,000 installed
As you can see, the cost jumps up significantly for large, full wall backsplashes. But even doing a small 4 square foot backsplash behind your range can give you a taste of that high-end look. Focus the backsplash on key areas to maximize visual impact while controlling your budget.
Factors That Increase Cost
Certain backsplash installations incur additional costs on top of the base price due to extra steps or challenges. Common factors that bump up the price include:
- Demolition of old backsplash: Removing and disposing of an existing backsplash adds $200 to $400 or more to the job.
- Poor wall conditions: Walls that are uneven, damaged or require extensive prep work add $200 to $600 in labor and supplies.
- Niche for outlets: Cutting the tile to fit around outlets costs around $100 per outlet.
- Intricate designs: Patterns like herringbone or mosaic tiles take more time and skill to install, adding $400 or more.
- Multiple materials: Blending different tiles or metals has a higher labor cost of $300 to $500.
- Natural stone: Stone tile requires extra cutting precision and waste factor costs.
- Larger tile: Oversized tiles like 12″x24″ are harder to maneuver and install.
- Backlighting: Wiring and installing lights adds electrical work for $200 to $400 more.
- Permits: Your city may require a permit for electrical or plumbing work, adding permit fees.
How to Get the Best Price
While backsplash installation is an investment, you can take certain steps to keep costs in control:
- Get quotes from 3 contractors – compare rates and see what factors cause price variances.
- Provide your own tile – supply the tiles yourself instead of going through the contractor’s supplier to possibly save.
- Standard size and simple tile layout – avoid large format, specialty shapes or intricate patterns.
- Minimize demolition – if possible, install over existing backsplash instead of tearing it out.
- Focus on prime areas – forgo the full wall and just do sections behind the stove, sink, etc.
- DIY prep and repairs – do basic wall repairs and painting prior to pro installation.
- Avoid moved outlets – work around existing outlet placements instead of relocating.
- Choose lower cost tiles – subway, ceramic, porcelain or stone tiles are budget friendly.
- Off season installation – avoid peak seasons like summer when demand is high.
Backsplash Size Cost Calculator
Use this simple cost calculator to estimate how much your backsplash installation might cost based on size and materials:
Backsplash Size (sq ft):
- Ceramic ($5/sq ft)
- Porcelain ($8/sq ft)
- Glass ($20/sq ft)
- Stone ($30/sq ft)
- Metal ($25/sq ft)
- Mosaic ($30/sq ft)
- Marble ($50/sq ft)
- Other ($?/sq ft)
Total Materials Cost:
x Labor ($50/hour):
= Estimated Total Cost:
This tool provides a rough estimate only, but helps illustrate how size and tile choice impact overall installation costs for budgeting purposes. Exact pricing depends on your kitchen layout, tile specs and local rates.
Enhancements That Increase Value
Upgrading certain elements of your backsplash can heighten the functionality and visual appeal in your kitchen. While these enhancements add cost, they also boost the value and enjoyment you’ll get from your new backsplash.
Extending your backsplash to full height from countertop to ceiling makes an eye-catching statement. It also provides more splash protection on the walls. This upgrade costs an additional $8 to $15 per square foot for materials plus added labor time.
Accent Borders and Banding
Defining the edges of your backsplash with border tiles in a contrasting color or material elevates the design. Popular choices for borders include metal tile, glass tile or marble inserts. Allow for an extra $4 to $10 per linear foot for accent tiles.
Strategic use of decorative tiles can infuse personality into your backsplash pattern. This could include a focal medallion, metal or glass accent tiles or carved stone tiles. Budget an extra $100 or more for specialty decorative tiles.
LED lighting installed under cabinets or around the backsplash creates a functional and stylish focal point. Depending on the lighting format, plan on an added cost of $200 to $400.
Niche or Shelving
Cutting out a niche or shelving area in the backsplash is great for storing cooking oils and spices. This custom detail costs around $200 to $300.
Backsplash Installation Cost Comparison by City
Like all home improvement projects, backsplash installation costs vary across the country. Higher labor rates in expensive urban areas often bump up the price. Here are example average costs for a 30 sq ft ceramic tile backsplash in major US cities:
- Houston, TX – $2,000 to $2,800 installed
- Phoenix, AZ – $2,100 to $3,000 installed
- Miami, FL – $2,200 to $3,200 installed
- Dallas, TX – $2,200 to $3,100 installed
- Atlanta, GA – $2,300 to $3,300 installed
- Detroit, MI – $2,400 to $3,400 installed
- Denver, CO – $2,600 to $3,600 installed
- Seattle, WA – $2,800 to $3,800 installed
- Chicago, IL – $3,000 to $4,000 installed
- New York, NY- $3,200 to $4,500 installed
- San Francisco, CA – $3,500 to $4,800 installed
- Los Angeles, CA – $3,200 to $4,500 installed
Individual bids may vary based on the contractor, intricacy of the design and other specifications for your project. But you can reference typical area pricing as a baseline for budgeting.
DIY Backsplash Installation Cost
What if you want to cut costs and tackle backsplash installation as a DIY project? The potential savings come from avoiding paying for professional labor. DIY materials cost about the same as what contractors pay wholesale.
Realistically you can save 50% or more on labor by installing it yourself. However, keep in mind that doing it yourself requires tile experience, skill working with specialty tools, and the confidence to achieve the finished look you want. Safety working on ladders is also a consideration.
Here is an overview of typical DIY costs:
- DIY Materials: $3 to $35 per sq. ft. depending on tile type
- DIY Labor: Free (your time)
- Total DIY Cost: $300 to $1,000 for 10 sq. ft. backsplash
If doing it yourself sounds appealing, be sure to account for expenses like tile cutters, adhesive, grout and sealant in your budget. And leave room for extra tiles and supplies in case of breakage or errors.
Maintaining Your Backsplash
Once your beautiful new backsplash is installed, you’ll want to keep it looking like new for years to come. Follow these maintenance tips:
- Seal grout and tile surfaces with a penetrating sealer annually to resist stains.
- Use gentle cleaners designed for natural stone if applicable. Avoid abrasive scouring pads.
- Immediately wipe up spills and splatters to prevent staining.
- Check for sagging or worn caulk around edges and re-caulk as needed.
- Limit direct sunlight exposure, which can cause fading over time.
With proper care and cleaning your backsplash should maintain its beauty and function. Resealing and regrouting periodically will keep surfaces protected.
Hiring a Pro Backsplash Installer
Installing backsplashes requires precision cutting, expertise working with tile adhesives, and finishing skills for a seamless look. Unless you have tiling experience, hiring a professional installer is advised.
Here are tips for finding the right backsplash installer:
- Review examples of previous backsplash jobs in their portfolio.
- Ask about experience with your type of tiles.
- Request 3 to 5 project references to call.
- Verify they are licensed and insured.
- Get a detailed written estimate spelling out materials, labor rates, and timeline.
- Check reviews for ratings and feedback from past clients.
- Ask about warranty coverage on workmanship defects.
Taking time to vet contractors carefully gives you the best odds of success. For custom or high-end backsplashes, you want someone with artistic skill along with technical abilities.
Backsplash Installation: Key Takeaways
The prospect of choosing and installing a backsplash can be daunting given the options and costs involved. Keep these key tips in mind as you plan your project:
- Prep your walls thoroughly for the cleanest finish.
- Focus splashes on prime decor spots instead of entire walls to save money.
- Allow extra time for specialty patterns like herringbone and mosaics.
- Grout sealing is essential for stain protection and easy maintenance.
- Adding LED lighting creates visual interest and functionality.
- Hire an experienced installer if you lack tiling expertise.
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Frequently Asked Questions
How much does it cost to install a backsplash?
The cost to install a backsplash ranges from $400 to $3,500 or more depending on the size, tile material, and labor. Simple ceramic tile backsplashes start around $5 per square foot for materials and $40 per hour for installation labor. Large designer backsplashes with materials like marble, metal or glass tile can cost $50 to over $100 per sq ft installed.
Should I get quotes from multiple contractors?
Yes, it’s recommended to get at least 3 quotes from licensed and insured backsplash installation contractors. Comparing detailed estimates allows you to evaluate what factors cause pricing differences. Make sure all contractors see your space and understand your design before quoting.
What are signs of a good backsplash installer?
Look for an installer who has several years of experience installing your type of backsplash, provides references from recent jobs, shows a portfolio of their work, has good reviews, offers a warranty on labor, and is properly licensed and insured.
How long does it take to install a kitchen backsplash?
A typical kitchen backsplash installation takes 1 to 3 days from start to finish. Small simple backsplash projects under 10 square feet can sometimes be completed in one day. Larger or more intricate tile layouts will likely require several days for proper prep, installation, and grouting/finishing.
Can I install a backsplash myself?
Installing a backsplash without professional experience can be challenging, but is feasible for DIYers who are handy with tile. Be prepared for the process to take significantly longer. Follow tutorials and access the specialty tools needed. Know that mistakes will be costly. Many still opt to hire a pro to ensure quality results.
What is the most popular backsplash tile?
The most popular backsplash tiles based on usage include porcelain, ceramic, glass, marble, and metal like stainless steel or tin. Subway tiles and mosaics are common styles. Price, ease of maintenance, and versatility make ceramic, porcelain, and glass very popular backsplash options.
How do you cut costs on a backsplash installation?
Ways to cut backsplash installation costs include using smaller spaces strategically instead of full walls, installing yourself if experienced, shopping sales and closeouts for tile deals, using white grout instead of colored, and choosing affordable tile types like ceramic, porcelain or faux materials.
What makes a backsplash tile high end?
Features that denote high-end, luxury backsplash tiles include natural stones like marble or travertine, mosaic patterns, metallic finishes, glass or crystal tiles, handmade artisan tiles, large format tiles like 12×24 inch, and specialty shapes like hexagons or herringbone patterns. These tiles range from $50 to over $100 per square foot.
Can you install backsplash over existing tile?
In some cases it may be possible to install a new backsplash directly over existing tile. It depends on the current wall and tile condition. The existing tile must be firmly attached, properly sealed, grease-free, and provide a smooth, uniform surface for the new tile to adhere to. This avoids additional demo costs.
How do you waterproof a backsplash?
To waterproof a backsplash, use water-resistant backer board behind the tile and waterproofing membranes along the bottom edge. Then apply waterproof grout and sealers to the tile