Installing a tile backsplash in your kitchen can completely transform the look and feel of the space. However, like most home improvement projects, installing a backsplash comes with a price tag. The cost of your tile backsplash will depend on a variety factors – the size of the area being tiled, the tiles you choose, the complexity of the design, whether you do it yourself or hire a professional and more. This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about how much it costs to install tile backsplash in your kitchen.
Factors That Impact The Cost Of A Tile Backsplash
Several key factors will determine the overall budget for your kitchen tile backsplash installation project. Being aware of these factors will help you plan and budget accordingly.
Size Of The Backsplash Area
The size of the backsplash area you wish to tile will significantly impact the total cost. Measure the backsplash area lengths and heights and calculate the total square footage. Most standard kitchen backsplash areas are anywhere between 25 to 60 square feet. The larger the backsplash area, the more tiles, grout and labor will be required.
Tile prices per square foot can range dramatically – from as low as $2 per square foot for basic ceramic tiles to $50 or more per square foot for high-end tile materials like marble or granite. The tile material you select will play a big role in the project budget. Some popular backsplash tile options include:
- Ceramic tiles – Budget-friendly option at $2-$10 per square foot installed.
- Porcelain tiles – More durable and moisture-resistant than ceramic at $5-$15 per square foot.
- Glass tiles – Adds a modern, sleek look for $8-$20 per square foot.
- Natural stone tiles – Marble, granite, slate and travertine range from $15-$50+ per square foot.
- Metal tiles – Interesting accent option starting around $15 per square foot.
You can save significantly on your backsplash installation if you are willing to do it yourself. However, first-time tilers often underestimate the learning curve which can lead to uneven tile placement, crooked grout lines and other frustrations. Hiring a professional tilers will add $5-$10 per square foot for labor costs.
Simple tile layouts using one tile shape and color are the most budget-friendly route. Intricate designs using multiple sizes, mosaic patterns, special cuts and other details will increase material needs and labor time, driving costs up.
In addition to the tile and installation itself, your backsplash budget needs to include other supplies like grout, tile adhesive, tile-cutting tools, sealant and more which can tally a few hundred dollars. Recent kitchen remodeling will also impact costs. For example, if drywall repair is needed, or if you need to move electrical outlets to accommodate the new backsplash height.
How Much Does It Cost To Install Tile Backsplash Professionally?
Hiring a professional tiling contractor to install your kitchen backsplash will eliminate the learning curve and headaches that can come with DIY tiling. The national average cost to install a tile backsplash professionally is $1,800 to $2,300.
Based on typical 30-60 square foot backsplash areas, professional installation will cost in the range of $50 to $75 per square foot on average. This covers the typical $5-$10 per square foot for mid to high-end tile materials, plus $35-$45 per hour for qualified labor.
To determine the estimated cost for your specific backsplash, measure your space and multiply by the $50-$75 per square foot average. For example, installing professional tile backsplash in a 30 square foot space would cost around $1,500 at $50 per square foot. For a high-end slate tile backsplash in a larger 50 square foot kitchen, the estimated cost could be around $2,500 at $75 per square foot.
Keep in mind, simple designs with fewer tile cuts can be on the lower end of this $50-$75 per square foot range, while intricate patterns, mosaics and special tile shapes will be on the higher end due to extra labor and material costs. Get an exact quote from tilers before committing to gauge the exact costs.
How Much Does It Cost To Install Tile Backsplash Yourself?
One way to save money on your new kitchen backsplash is to tackle the installation yourself as a DIY project. The cost to install tile backsplash yourself is $200 to $600 for a 30 to 60 square foot area.
This breaks down to a materials cost of $5 to $12 per square foot for the tile, grout, adhesive and supplies. With DIY labor, the total cost per square foot ranges $10-$15 per square foot on average.
For example, installing a simple subway tile backsplash yourself in a 30 square foot space will cost around $300 to $450 at a rate of $10 to $15 per square foot. For a larger or more complex project covering 60 square feet, expect to spend $600 to $900.
While DIY installation can save thousands over hiring a pro, there are some hidden costs to consider:
- Learning curve – YouTube tutorials make tiling seem easy, but first-timers often ruin tiles cutting incorrectly, improperly space tiles and have other amateur mistakes.
- Time investment – Be prepared to spend full weekends watching online tutorials, making trips to the hardware store, carefully laying the tiles, and slowly grouting. Rushing leads to crooked lines.
- Wasted supplies – DIYers often miscalculate how much mortar, grout and tiles they actually need leading to buying more materials than necessary once errors happen.
- Rental equipment – To make professional-looking cuts, you may need to rent a wet saw for a day which typically starts around $50 per day.
For DIY success, thoroughly research proper techniques, measure carefully, start in a small space first to practice, and invest in necessary tools like a tile cutter before tackling a full backsplash. Patience, precision and attention to detail are key.
Factors That Increase The Costs Of Tile Backsplash Installation
While a simple subway tile or single color ceramic tile backsplash can be budget-friendly, certain factors during the design and installation can increase the price significantly. Be aware of these potential added costs before settling on materials and layout:
- Intricate patterns – The more detailed your backsplash design – combining multiple tile sizes, mosaic sheets, diagonals – the higher the material needs and labor hours required.
- Specialty tile cuts – Any tile cuts around electrical outlets, for inset niches, or unique shapes like hexagons will take extra time and skills.
- Glass or stone tile – Glass, marble, travertine and other premium tile types can range $25-$100+ per square foot compared to $2-$10 per square foot for ceramic or porcelain.
- Custom open shelving – Adding floating shelves flanking the backsplash looks amazing, but also adds carpentry time and costs.
- Secondary prep work – Old plaster walls or textured paint will need smoothing before new tile can be applied, adding hours of labor.
- Electrical or plumbing changes – Moving outlets or plumbing lines to fit the new backsplash design adds project complexity and costs.
Knowing the factors that often increase budgets will help you make educated design decisions and plan for potential added installation expenses.
Smart Ways To Reduce The Cost Of Installing Tile Backsplash
If your dream backsplash tile is pushing the budget a bit too far, there are several smart ways to reduce the overall installation costs without sacrificing the style completely:
- Use accent tile strips – Frame basic white subway tile with a colorful glass or stone mosaic row trim to add pops of color at a lower price point.
- Opt for smaller grout lines – Narrow 1/8th inch grout lines use less grout overall compared to thicker grouted tiles.
- Paint existing wall – If walls are in good shape, a fresh coat of color paint can look as good as a pricey new tile job.
- Install a tile “rug” – Use tile just for a focal point behind the range, framed by surrounding painted walls.
- Mix materials creatively – Use stone or marble just for the first few rows or as insets to reduce overall square footage.
- Shop sales and clearance – Check home improvement stores for discounted or discontinued tile that works for your design.
- Finish the job after appliances installed – Have the pro do the tricky stove and sink areas. Do above the counters yourself.
With smart planning, you can install a beautiful, high-end looking backsplash on budget by reducing unnecessary tile usage, being creative with mixing materials, taking advantage of sales and handling simple areas like above counters yourself as a DIY job.
Hiring Qualified Tile Installation Contractors
Unless you are very experienced in tiling, hiring a qualified professional contractor is highly recommended to ensure your backsplash project results in a perfectly level, even and properly prepped installation. Here are tips for hiring the right tile pro:
- Verify licensing and insurance – Any contractor you hire should be licensed, bonded and insured. This protects you in case any damages occur.
- Check reviews – Online reviews along with photos of past tile work can give you a sense of the company’s quality and service.
- Get at least 3 project quotes – Be wary of extremely lowball bids. Compare pricing of top contenders to gauge competitive costs.
- Ask about process – A professional should outline their full process from prep, setting materials, tile leveling to grouting and sealing.
- Request a contract – Every detail of the agreed upon job – materials being used, timeline, pricing, payment terms, color selections – should be included.
- Check their portfolio – Review examples of previous kitchen backsplash projects, especially intricate designs similar to your plans.
Taking the time to vet contractors thoroughly and understand their full work process will give you the reassurance you need to hand over your project.
Step-By-Step Process For Tile Installation
When executed properly by a trained professional, installing a new kitchen backsplash follows a very methodical process to ensure proper prep, precise tile placement, cleanly grouted joints and long-lasting durability. Here is an overview of the full professional tile installation process:
- Pre-installation – The area is cleared of appliances, cabinets covered for protection, and electrical or lighting moved if necessary.
- Demolition – Any existing backsplash tile, drywall or plaster is safely removed and disposed.
- Inspection & repairs – The wall is inspected for any needed repairs or smoothing of uneven surfaces.
- Mark layout – Tile positioning is marked on the walls to plan the layout and alignment.
- Apply mortar – Mortar adhesive is troweled evenly onto the backsplash area for the tiles to adhere to.
- Set tiles – Tiles are placed carefully on the mortar and spaced evenly and aligned.
- Cut tiles – Any specialty edge pieces, outlet cutouts or other unique tile cuts are made.
- Grout application – Grout is forced into joints between tiles for a smooth finish and sealed, clean look.
- Seal & finish – Sealant is applied to protect porous tile materials and leave a polished look.
- Cleanup – Grouting residue is cleaned away, site cleared, and appliances replaced.
Understanding the full installation process helps set accurate expectations for project timelines, steps where DIYers can assist and stages where professionals’ expertise is key for success.
Tile Backsplash Maintenance Tips
Investing in a quality tile installation and proper ongoing maintenance will help your new backsplash stay looking fabulous for decades to come. Here are some backsplash care tips:
- Use a gentle cleaner – Harsh cleaners can erode grout and etch the tile surface. Mild dish soap or gentle cleaners are ideal.
- Re-seal grout periodically – Applying grout sealant every 1 to 2 years protects against stains and moisture damage.
- Address cracks immediately – Even tiny grout cracks provide access for moisture and grime. Don’t delay repairs.
- Clean spills quickly – Don’t allow food, grease or soapy residues to linger which can lead to etching or stubborn stains.
- Consider re-caulking perimeter – As walls or countertops shift slightly over time, re-caulking edges keeps water out.
- Check for loose tiles – If any tiles become detached, have them promptly removed and replaced to avoid damage.
With proper care, your kitchen backsplash tile can stay looking like new for 10 to 15 years. When the time comes for a kitchen update in the future, the backsplash is designed as a modular accent so you can change just that element without a full kitchen gut job.
Answering Common Questions About Backsplash Installation
Many homeowners have additional questions when installing their first tile backsplash. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions:
How long does it take to install a kitchen backsplash?
For an average sized backsplash of 30-60 square feet, professional installation typically takes 1 to 3 days from start to finish. Total project time depends on the demolition of the old backsplash, any repairs needed, tile delivery timelines and the complexity of the new tile design. DIY installation generally takes 2 to 4 weekends.
What thickness of tile should I use for kitchen backsplash?
The most common and recommended tile thickness for backsplashes is 3/8th inch to 1/2 inch. Thinner tiles under 3/8th inch have a higher chance of cracking or chipping over time. Maximum thickness is usually 3/4 inch for most kitchen backsplash designs.
Should backsplash tile match floor tile?
Matching floor and backsplash tile creates a unified, seamless look. However, it’s also fine to use totally different styles, colors and textures to create contrast. Mixing materials in the same space can add interest. Go with whichever aesthetic you prefer.
Should I seal my tile backsplash?
It is highly recommended to seal any natural stone backsplash tiles like marble, travertine, slate or limestone to prevent staining and etching. Ceramic and porcelain tiles do not require sealing. Use a penetrating sealant recommended for your specific tile material. Reapply sealer every 1 to 2 years.
Can backsplash tile be installed over existing tile?
It’s possible but not recommended. The mortar bond will be compromised trying to adhere new tile over old. The finished height may also end up problematic. Removing old tile is the best practice for proper adhesive contact and alignment.
How high should a backsplash be?
Standard backsplash height is 4 inches from the countertop up the wall. This protects the wall from splashes while minimizing water exposure. Full height backsplashes extending to 18 inches or higher are also popular modern options. Appliance garage height can be determined based on the dimensions of the appliances.
Understanding the required timeline, appropriate tile types, proper height and other backsplash basics helps ensure your expectations are set accurately from the start of your kitchen project.
Key Takeaways On The Costs Of Installing Tile Backsplash
- Costs to install tile backsplash professionally range $50 – $75 per square foot for labor and mid-range tile materials.
- DIY installation can reduce total costs to $10 – $15 per square foot but require tile skills.
- Many factors like tile choices, size of area, design complexity and prep work impact the costs.
- Smart design decisions can help reduce installation costs without sacrificing the style.
- Proper installation and maintenance are key for long-lasting durability and appearance.
- Setting an appropriate budget helps you select the best backsplash tile materials for your kitchen space and style.
With some planning and design considerations, it is possible to install an elegant, high-end backsplash – even on a limited budget. Focusing on quick impact areas or mixing materials creatively can help cut costs. With a qualified tile contractor and commitment to ongoing care, your kitchen backsplash will be a focal point you can enjoy for many years.