How Much to Pay for Backsplash Installation

Adding a backsplash to your kitchen can transform the look and feel of the space. But before installing a new backsplash, it’s important to understand how much it will cost. The price of backsplash installation depends on several factors, including the size of the project, materials chosen, labor costs, and more. This guide examines the key considerations for budgeting a kitchen backsplash installation project.

What Impacts the Cost of a Backsplash Installation?

Many elements influence the overall price tag for installing a new backsplash in your kitchen. Here are some of the main factors to keep in mind:

Size of the Backsplash

The total square footage of the backsplash will significantly impact the total cost. A small backsplash confined to a single wall behind the stove may cost $500 or less. A full backsplash running 4-5 feet high along multiple walls could cost $2,000 or more. Measure the target area to get an accurate idea of sizing.

Type of Materials

Simple ceramic subway tiles can cost as little as $5 per square foot. On the higher end, materials like natural stone, marble, or glass tile can range from $50-100+ per square foot installed. Pricier tiles will drive up labor costs too.

Labor Costs

Labor will often match or exceed the cost of the tile itself. Simple installations with basic tile can run $5-10 per square foot for labor. Complicated designs with tile cutting and intricate patterns can be $15 per square foot or more in labor fees.

Specialty Extras

Accent tiles, trim pieces, intricate patterns, niche shelving, and other specialty additions will also increase the final price. Any tile cutting, border work, or detailed arrangements will take more time and skill to install.

Contractor vs DIY

Hiring a professional contractor for installation tends to cost $500 or more, even for a small project. But attempting a DIY backsplash as a novice could take twice as long and not achieve the same quality results. Consider skill level and tools available before deciding between pro or DIY.


Don’t forget small additional expenses like grout, thinset, sealant, spacers, and tools. While not hugely expensive individually, these items can add a couple hundred dollars to the total project budget.

By understanding these factors, homeowners can better estimate a realistic budget and prepare for the full costs of a backsplash installation project. Get multiple quotes to compare pricing from contractors as well.

Average Costs: Total Installation Price

The total price can vary drastically based on the factors above, but here are some typical average costs homeowners can expect:

  • Small backsplash under 10 square feet: $300 – $800
  • Medium backsplash 10-25 square feet: $800 – $1,500
  • Large backsplash over 25 square feet: $1,500 – $3,000+

Many small kitchen backsplashes fall in the 10-15 square foot range, averaging $900 – $1,200 for a simple subway tile design installed by a professional.

For a full backsplash along multiple walls covering over 30 square feet or more, expect to pay $2,000 – $4,000+, again depending on the tiles and labor intensity chosen.

Use these numbers as a general guideline, but get detailed quotes for your exact project scope. The specific tile size, layout, labor rates, and overall complexity can all cause pricing to vary.

Factors That Increase Cost

Certain elements will drive up the price of a backsplash install compared to a basic project. These include:

Natural Stone Tiles

Marble, granite, slate and travertine tile cost $15 – $50 per square foot just for materials. Being difficult to cut and install, they also boost labor fees.

Glass Tiles

Stunning glass tile backsplashes can run $20 – $50 per square foot for iridescent, handmade glass tile. The material is also brittle and challenging to install.

Mosaic Tiles

Artistic mosaics made from stone, ceramic, or glass are priced at $10 – $30 per square foot. The tiny tile pieces take more time and skill to install correctly.

Intricate Designs

Patterns like herringbone tile layouts, creative borders, angular designs, accent tiles, and mosaic inserts require much more cutting and careful placement, increasing the installer’s time and skill required.

Niche and Shelving

Building recessed shelving into the backsplash for storing spices or displaying decor is a great way to maximize space. But this specialty tile work can add $500 or more in labor fees.

Complex Shapes

Backsplashes extending past standard rectangular shapes into curves, angles, or unusual dimensions often require extensive tile cutting. This drives up material waste and installation time.

High-End Contractors

Using the most premium contractors in your area will come at a higher hourly rate or overall project bid, likely 15-30% more than average. But they may provide quality warranties.

Any of these factors will increase the final price, sometimes drastically. Weigh the costs and benefits of high-end materials and custom designs versus more affordable options to stay within budget.

Cost-Saving Tips

For homeowners looking to cut costs on their backsplash installation, here are some money-saving tips:

  • Use affordable ceramic or porcelain tiles instead of pricier natural stone or glass. Materials make up a major portion of the project budget.
  • Install a smaller backsplash area like just over the stove top rather than full walls. Less square footage directly reduces cost.
  • Choose basic subway tiles and simple layout patterns to make installation faster and easier.
  • Use white grout instead of colored grout, which requires more skill to apply cleanly.
  • Install the backsplash yourself if you have DIY skills and tools. Labor typically accounts for over 50% of the total price.
  • Shop discount warehouses like Home Depot or Lowes for tiles, accessories and tools at lower prices.
  • Compare contractor quotes to find the best value installers rather than settling for the first bid.

Staying flexible on tile materials and backsplash dimensions while finding an affordable installer are key to controlling costs and staying within your budget.

Factors That Reduce Cost

On the flip side, the following elements can potentially decrease the total costs:

  • Smaller size under 10 square feet
  • Simple rectangular shape
  • Basic white subway tiles
  • Standard running bond tile pattern
  • White grout for easy clean installation
  • Using a home improvement store for supplies
  • DIY installation by homeowner
  • Getting multiple bids from contractors

Carefully selecting these more affordable options while minimizing complex designs, upgraded materials, and custom add-ons allows homeowners to install an attractive, durable backsplash without overspending.

Backsplash Installation Cost Calculator

Use this simple cost calculator to estimate the total price of your backsplash installation:

Square footage of backsplash area:

Cost per square foot of tile materials:

Cost per square foot of labor:

Total tile materials cost:

Square footage x Cost per square foot of tile

Total estimated labor cost:

Square footage x Cost per square foot of labor

Total estimated cost:

Tile materials cost + Labor cost

This calculator provides a rough estimate based on standard tile prices and labor rates. Get quotes from contractors to dial in pricing for your specific project.

Backsplash Maintenance Costs

Beyond the initial installation costs, homeowners will need to budget for ongoing backsplash maintenance:

  • Grout cleaning – Plan to use a specialty grout cleaner and sealant once a year or as needed to keep grout looking fresh. This costs around $50 per year.
  • Re-sealing tiles – Natural stone tiles need resealing every 1-2 years, which runs $200 – $500 depending on the size of the backsplash.
  • Repairs – Cracks, chips or broken tiles are rare, but can cost $100 – $500 to spot repair and replace as needed over time.

Account for these standard maintenance expenses in your household budget to keep a fresh backsplash for years to come.

Backsplash Installation Price Per Square Foot

Here is an overview of typical price per square foot rates based on the type of tile:

  • Ceramic or porcelain tile: $5 – $10 per square foot
  • Natural stone tile: $15 – $40 per square foot
  • Glass tile: $20 – $50 per square foot
  • Mosaic tile: $10 – $30 per square foot
  • Labor: $5 – $15 per square foot

These numbers serve as useful baseline estimates when calculating project costs. But actual pricing depends on tile dimensions, tile patterns, local labor rates, and other installation factors.

Contractors determine pricing based on the entire job, not simply the per square foot rate. But estimating per square foot costs helps compare bids and understand where pricing stands relative to tile and labor market rates in your area.

Hiring a Contractor vs. DIY

Installing a backsplash yourself can save big on labor fees, but has some downsides:

DIY Backsplash Installation


  • Saves on labor costs
  • Complete control over project


  • Learning curve with first-time projects
  • Need for special tools like a tile cutter
  • Slower process without a pro’s experience
  • Tile mistakes are costly and permanent

Hiring a Pro Contractor


  • Perfect results from years of expertise
  • Efficient installation process
  • Warranties and protection from defects


  • High labor costs, sometimes matching material costs
  • Less flexibility and control over project
  • Contractors may be booked well in advance

Assess your skill level and budget to decide if hiring a backsplash installation company is worth the price premium over tackling the DIY route.

Backsplash Installation Process

Installing a kitchen backsplash involves careful planning and attention to detail. Here is an overview of the end-to-end process:

Design and Materials Selection

First, measure the space and determine the design, including the size of tiles, patterns, accents, and grout color. Order all materials once the design is finalized.

Prepare the Surface

Thoroughly clean the installation area and remove any old backsplash. Fill any holes or imperfections, and make sure the surface is smooth and primed.

Measure and Cut Tiles

Dry lay tiles on the countertop before installing to measure and cut to fit. Use spacers to account for grout lines in between tiles.

Apply Thinset and Tile

Mix thinset mortar adhesive and carefully apply it to the backsplash area. Press tiles into the thinset, periodically checking they are level.

Grout Application

After tiles cure 24 hours, grout the seams using a grout float. Wipe away excess. Seal grout once fully cured, usually 48 hours.

Seal and Finish

Apply a penetrating sealant to natural stone tiles. Buff tiles and grout lines. Finally, caulk edges and corners for a polished finish.

Take time to get each step right, and thoroughly clean the area afterward for a professional quality result.

Backsplash Tile Patterns

Choosing an interesting tile pattern adds visual flair. Here are some top backsplash tile layout styles:

Subway Tile

The classic rectangular subway tile laid in a brick-like running bond pattern provides clean lines and minimal grout seams.


For an angled geometric look, herringbone patterns install rectangular tiles in an interlocking zigzag.

Hexagon Tile

Hexagon shaped tiles, especially in a worn paint-like finish, create eclectic honeycomb patterns and textures.

Brick Tile

Staggered rows of brick-shaped tiles lend a traditional farmhouse style. Use contrasting grout colors to accent the pattern.

Penny Tile

Tiny round penny tiles set in zigzagging rows add old-world Mediterranean charm and visual depth.


The basketweave tile pattern uses weaving rows of rectangular tiles reminiscent of, you guessed it, a basket!

Get creative combining shapes, layouts, contrasts, and colors that complement your overall kitchen decor style.

Hiring Professional Backsplash Installers

When hiring a contractor, here are tips for finding qualified professionals:

  • Search online reviews sites like Yelp or HomeAdvisor to research local companies.
  • Verify necessary licenses, insurance, and bonding from any contractors.
  • Ask to see examples of past backsplash projects in their portfolio.
  • Get at least 3-4 written estimates to compare bids.
  • Ask about warranties – good tilers offer 1-3 year defect warranties.
  • Look for 5+ years of experience successfully installing a variety of tile types.
  • Check responsiveness and communication style before committing.

Take time to vet tilers carefully, get quotes from multiple companies, and verify they have strong experience with backsplash installations specifically to get results you’ll love.

DIY Backsplash Installation Considerations

Installing a backsplash yourself can save substantially on labor, but keep in mind:

  • There is a learning curve if you’ve never tiled before – be prepared to take your time.
  • Proper tools like a wet saw tile cutter are required for accurate cuts. Renting costs around $50 per day.
  • Mismeasured tiles and crooked lines can’t be undone. Tiling mistakes are very noticeable but hard to fix.
  • Removing old backsplash completely before new install takes time and elbow grease.
  • Total DIY costs may end up 50% or more over initial budget once tools, adhesives, grout and mistakes are factored in.

While DIY provides satisfaction along with lower costs in some cases, be realistic about the demands, patience, and persistence needed to tackle a first-time backsplash project.

Factors That Increase Project Time

More complex backsplash designs and installations will inherently require extra time:

  • Intricate patterns with focal accents or borders
  • Mosaics, which have hundreds of tiny tiles per square foot
  • Irregular shaped backsplashes or non-rectangular installation areas
  • Natural stone tiles requiring extra prep and care to install
  • Removing previous backsplash before new installation
  • DIY by an inexperienced homeowner

Rushing through cutting, setting tiles, and grouting risks expensive mistakes. Allow plenty of time for careful precision at each stage for high-quality results.

Backsplash Alternatives by Budget

If a tiled backsplash isn’t in the budget, consider these affordable alternatives:

Low Budget – Under $100

  • Peel and stick backsplash tiles – Easy DIY application, many styles available
  • Vinyl backsplash rolls – Cut to size and install using adhesive, about $20 per 3 foot x 8 foot roll
  • Repainted existing backsplash – Freshen up with coats of fresh paint

Mid-Range Budget – $100 – $500

  • Tin ceiling tiles – Victorian-era vintage appeal, many colors
  • Beadboard – Timeless wood paneling, often seen in cottages
  • Recycled glass sheets – For a green sustainable glass option
  • Metal backsplashes – Stainless steel and tin backsplashes available

Higher Budget – Over $500

  • Stone slab backsplashes – Elegant and upscale like marble or travertine
  • Designer wallpaper backsplash – Some wallpapers now moisture and grease resistant
  • Reclaimed wood planks – Rustic appeal from salvaged barnwood

Get creative fitting a backsplash style to match your kitchen’s decor with any budget. The options above can all provide an attractive, mess-protective backsplash.

How Long Does It Take to Install a Backsplash?

The installation time depends on the size of the area and complexity of the design:

  • Simple small backsplash under 10 square feet – 1 full day
  • Medium backsplash 10-30 square feet – 2-3 full days
  • Large intricate backsplash over 30 square feet – 4+ full days

Most standard sized kitchen backsplash projects take 2-3 days total for an experienced contractor. Building out shelving, removing old backsplash, and DIY by a homeowner can all add extra time.

Allot time after the install for tiles to fully cure before grouting, sealing, and using the backsplash. The entire process typically takes 5-7 days start to finish.

Signs You Need a New Backsplash

Here are signs it may be time for a kitchen backsplash makeover:

  • Tiles are cracked, missing, or falling off – This signals poor installation or moisture damage.
  • Grout lines are dingy or moldy – Discolored grout needs deep cleaning or regrouting.
  • No backsplash currently exists – Protect walls and add a focal point by installing one.
  • Current tile looks dated – Updating to modern styles can completely transform the space.
  • You want to change the look – Such as going from neutral to colorful tile.
  • Countertops or appliances were replaced – Install backsplash tile that matches the updated elements.

Use these signs your backsplash needs replacement as motivation to research options and renovate this important kitchen feature.

Backsplash Tile Texture Options

Beyond colors and patterns, backsplash tile comes in many textural finishes:


Matte tiles have a flat non-reflective surface. They hide fingerprints and feel almost soft or powdery.


Gloss tiles have an ultra-shiny mirrored surface. They illuminate and reflect light beautifully.


Metallic backsplashes add glamour through rich textures like hammered copper, stainless steel, or rustic tin.


Crackled tiles mimic antique aged ceramics with a network of fine crazing lines across the surface.

Frosted or Etched

Frosted and etched glass tiles have a lightly worn translucent finish.