How Much to Replace Tile Backsplash

Replacing a tile backsplash can refresh the look of your kitchen or bathroom. However, it’s important to understand the costs involved before starting a backsplash replacement project. Here is an in-depth look at the expenses, factors that influence price, and ways to save on your new backsplash installation.


A backsplash protects your wall from splashes and stains while adding visual interest to your space. Over time, an existing backsplash can become damaged, dingy or dated. Replacing it with new tile breathes new life into the room. But how much does it cost?

The price to replace a tile backsplash ranges from $500 to $3000, with most homeowners spending between $1500 to $2000 to redo their backsplash. Exact costs depend on the tile size, type and layout complexity as well as the contractor fees for your area. Preparing the surface and making plumbing alterations can also drive up costs.

Understanding what impacts the price enables you to plan and budget for your backsplash installation project. It also helps you balance desired upgrades with costs. This guide examines the key factors that determine how much it costs to replace a tile backsplash. We’ll also discuss ways to get the look you want while keeping expenses in check.

Determining Your Tile Backsplash Size

The size of your backsplash is the primary factor affecting total costs. Measure the area to get an accurate idea of how many square feet you’ll need to cover. This determines how much tile and labor will be required.

For a full backsplash, measure from the countertop to the underside of the upper cabinets. Be sure to calculate the surface area on any peninsulas or islands too.

To get the square footage:

  • Measure the length and height
  • Multiply the two numbers
  • Measure and calculate total sq footage for all areas getting new backsplash

Most standard kitchen backsplashes range from 25 to 60 square feet. Bathroom backsplashes are usually 5 to 15 square feet.

Remember that the tile size you choose also impacts how many pieces you need. Larger tiles cover more surface area. We’ll go over tile sizing next.

Tile Material Costs

Tile prices largely depend on the type of material you select. Natural stone, porcelain, ceramic and glass tiles range significantly in cost.

Here are typical price ranges by tile material:

  • Ceramic tile: $2 to $10 per sq ft
  • Porcelain tile: $10 to $25 per sq ft
  • Natural stone tile: $15 to $50 per sq ft
  • Glass tile: $20 to $50 per sq ft
  • Mosaic tile: $5 to $20 per sq ft
  • Metal tile: $15 to $50 per sq ft

Ceramic and porcelain tiles provide an affordable option starting at $2 per square foot. Handmade or mosaic ceramic tiles can run from $5 to $20 per square foot.

Higher-end porcelain tiles usually cost between $10 and $25 per square foot. Their density makes them very durable and water-resistant.

Natural stone tiles like marble, travertine, slate and granite are some of the most expensive ranging from $15 to $50+ per square foot. Their price reflects the beauty and uniqueness of each natural stone piece.

Glass tiles bring shiny glamour to a backsplash with costs starting at around $20 per square foot and going up to $50 for custom or mosaic sheets.

Metallic tiles like tin, copper and stainless steel make a contemporary, industrial style statement for $15 to $50 per square foot.

The total tile expenses combine the per square foot price with the number of sq feet required for your project.

Tile Size Considerations

The dimensions of your tile also affect how much you need and the installation cost. Smaller tiles mean more grout lines and individual pieces to install. Larger tiles speed up installation and use less grout.

Some typical tile sizes include:

  • Mosaic: 1⁄4” to 1” square tiles
  • Standard tiles: 4 1⁄4” x 4 1⁄4”
  • Subway tile: 3” x 6” or 4 1⁄2” x 4 1⁄2”
  • Large format tile: 12” x 24” or larger

Mosaics create busy, artistic patterns but take more time and skill to install properly. The 1/4” to 1” tile sizes are sold mounted on sheets for easier handling.

Standard 4 1⁄4” x 4 1⁄4” wall tiles are a budget-friendly choice that’s simple to install. The small size allows you to create multiple layout patterns.

Subway tiles (3″ x 6″ or 4 1⁄2” x 4 1⁄2”) have elongated proportions. They create a classic, clean look arranged in stacks.

Large format tiles (12” x 24”) speed up installation since fewer pieces are required to cover the same space. But size limits layout options.

Carefully weigh the tile size and pattern to achieve the look you want within your budget. A layout with varying sizes can increase material needs and labor time too.

Design Complexity

Simple tile layouts are the most affordable route, while intricate designs cost more in tile and installation fees.

Here are some common tile layout patterns from budget-friendly to high-end:

  • Stacked: Simple straight rows of uniform tile
  • Horizontal brick: Offset rows look like stacked bricks
  • Diagonal: Angled rows add interest
  • Herringbone: Interlocking zigzag rows
  • Geometric: Custom shape designs
  • Picture frame: Decorative border tiles around inset tiles
  • Mosaic: Tiny tiles creating artistic images

A stacked or basic grid design is the easiest for DIY beginners to install. Horizontal brick and angled layouts add style at a modest cost increase.

Elaborate herringbone and geometric designs require cutting many pieces to follow the pattern. This boosts material waste and labor time. Picture frames or decorative insets also increase tile cuts.

For the highest visual impact, mosaics offer tiny tiles that form stunning murals or scenes. However, their intricate installation is best left to pros.

Selecting a simple layout with fewer tile shapes or sizes is the most budget-friendly route for your backsplash replacement.

Contractor vs DIY Installation

Professional installation adds $600 to $1000+ to your total costs but saves you time and frustration. DIY projects can cost half as much but require tile cutting skills.

Hiring a Contractor

Tiling contractors charge between $50 to $100 per hour to install a new backsplash. Most jobs take 10 to 30 hours.

So you can expect to pay $500 to $3000 for labor and materials costs for contractor installation. Often a minimum fee in the $500 range applies for small projects.

Experienced contractors move efficiently and ensure the job is done right. They have the tools to make precision cuts and get clean results even on intricate designs. This makes them well worth the hourly rate.

Be sure to get multiple bids and verify they are licensed and insured. Ask about any charges for material disposal too.

DIY Installation

With some time and practice, an ambitious DIYer can install their own backsplash for under $500 in materials only. You provide the elbow grease.

Basic materials like tile, thinset, grout and sealant average $5 to $15 per square foot. Adjust based on your tile price.

Renting tools to cut the tile for one week costs around $100 total. Make sure to account for extra tile to allow for broken pieces and mistakes.

For DIY success, be sure to research proper techniques and safety. Removing the old backsplash takes time and care. Cutting the tile edges is tricky. Setting the tile level and applying grout evenly also requires skill.

While DIY saves on labor fees, perfectionists may spend more hiring a pro to fix any subpar final results. Consider your skill level before committing.

Additional Cost Factors

Beyond the tile and installation, several other expenses factor into a backsplash replacement project budget.

Surface Prep

Thoroughly clean and sand the wall surface for proper tile bonding. Seal porous drywall to prevent moisture issues that damage the tiles.

Priming and sealing costs $2 to $8 per square foot in materials. It takes 2 to 3 hours at $50 to $100 per hour if hiring a contractor.

Expect to spend $100 to $500 to get the surface fully prepped for quality results.

Plumbing Alterations

For areas around sinks, stoves, and appliances, some plumbing may need to be adjusted to accommodate the new backsplash design.

This includes relocating or raising appliances, gas lines, electrical outlets or fixtures. A plumber or contractor charges $50 to $100 per hour for this work. Any new parts or piping also adds expense.

Even small projects often take 5 to 10 hours. Budget $300 to $1000 if plumbing changes are necessary.

Tile Removal

Eliminating the previous backsplash before installing the new one proper adds project time and disposal fees.

Contractors charge $50 to $100 per hour to demolish and haul away the old tile. DIY removal can take 5 to 15 hours of hard chiseling work before you even begin the new installation.

Disposal fees at your local dump for old tiles run $20 to $50.

Allow $300 to $1000 in the budget to handle the backsplash tear out process.

Sealing and Finishing

Sealing the grout and tiles after installation provides crucial moisture protection and enhances appearance.

This adds 1 to 3 hours at $50 to $100 per hour. Materials may cost $50 to $150.

Plan on $100 to $350 for sealing and final finishing steps.

Ways to Save on New Backsplash Installation

Here are great ways to cut costs on your tile backsplash replacement:

  • Purchase tiles on sale or at big box home improvement stores
  • Select smaller standard-sized tiles rather than large or specialty tiles
  • Choose ceramic, porcelain or glass rather than premium natural stone
  • Install a smaller backsplash area rather than full wall coverage
  • Do the tear out of old materials yourself then hire a pro for the rest
  • Watch online tutorials and install as DIY project if confident
  • Shop around for competitive bids from qualified local contractors
  • Schedule project in contractor’s slower season for better rates
  • Upgrade existing kitchen later for economies of scale rather than full remodel

Even on a tight budget, refreshing your backsplash is possible. Focus on the most visible and used areas around the stove or sink. Materials that mimic the look of premium tiles at a lower cost are widely available. With smart planning and design choices, you can achieve the revived style you want.

Factors That Increase Tile Backsplash Replacement Costs

On the other end of the spectrum, some design choices or special circumstances can quickly inflate the project budget. Be aware of these potential premium expenses:

  • Premium natural stone tiles like marble or granite
  • Intricate tile patterns requiring extensive shaping and placement
  • Larger tile sizes requiring extra cutting precision
  • Mosaic tiles and stacked patterns with higher grout needs
  • Heavily textured tile requiring added mortar thickness
  • Removal of existing backsplash attached with mortar rather than adhesive
  • Contractor travel fees for rural or remote locations
  • Adding accent materials like glass, metal or stone
  • Niche or shelving installation for storage nooks
  • Backsplashes extending full height up to ceiling rather than standard height
  • Upgraded waterproofing systems, vapor barriers and sealants
  • Unique designs requiring one-of-a-kind custom tiles
  • High-cost rush orders and expedited delivery fees

While splurging on some upgrades may be worthwhile, know these choices ramp up the work, waste and supplies needed. Set realistic expectations by outlining must-haves versus optional additions before setting your backsplash replacement budget.

Backsplash Size Example Costs

To give you a better idea of potential costs, here are three examples of estimated prices for typical backsplash installation projects:

Small Backsplash

5 square foot backsplash

Porcelain tile at $10 per sq ft = $50
Thinset, grout and sealant = $50
Contractor install fee (5 hrs @ $75 per hr) = $375

Total small backsplash cost: $475

This provides a ballpark for a DIY powder room or sink upgrade. Professionals complete it faster for a few hundred dollars more.

Medium Backsplash

30 square foot backsplash

Ceramic tile at $5 per sq ft = $150
Thinset, grout and sealant = $150
Contractor install fee (15 hrs @ $100 per hr) = $1500

Total medium backsplash cost: $1800

Kitchen projects with standard backsplash height and span often fall within this range.

Large Backsplash

60 square foot backsplash

Natural stone tile at $25 per sq ft = $1500
Thinset, grout and sealant = $300
Contractor install fee (25 hrs @ $100 per hr) = $2500

Total large backsplash cost: $4300

Full height, full wall backsplashes with premium materials hit the high end of price ranges.

These examples illustrate how your specific backsplash size, materials and installation approach affect the total replacement costs. Gather accurate measurements and get contractor quotes to budget appropriately for your project.

Hiring Qualified Tile Installation Contractors

Finding experienced professional tile installers ensures your project stays on time, on budget and looks amazing. Here are tips for hiring the best contractor:

  • Verify licenses and insurance – Legitimate contractors have up-to-date credentials
  • Check reviews and references – Reputable tilers have 5-star reviews and happy referrals
  • Compare portfolio images – Evaluate previous backsplash projects for quality
  • Get a detailed written estimate – Specify materials, costs and timeline expectations
  • Trust certified installers – Look for National Tile Contractors Association members or Ceramic Tile Education Foundation certification
  • Ask about warranties – At least a 1-year workmanship warranty should cover defects
  • Check availability – Book early for best scheduling

Avoid headaches by carefully qualifying tile professionals before signing any contracts. A leading contractor helps you select the perfect style within your budget and completes the work to satisfy.

FAQs About Replacing Tile Backsplashes

If you’re still curious about the costs and process for backsplash installation, check out answers to these frequent questions:

Does it cost more to replace just the backsplash or the whole kitchen?

Replacing only the backsplash costs less than a full kitchen remodel. Prices start under $1000 compared to $15,000 to $30,000+ for a complete tear out and renovation of cabinetry, counters and floors.

Should I replace backsplash tile when I remodel my kitchen?

Backsplashes show wear over 10 to 15 years. Since they protect the wall, it’s smart to update backsplashes when remodeling a dated kitchen. Fresh tile modernizes the whole space.

Can I install a new backsplash over the old one?

It’s best to remove the previous backsplash completely before installing new tile. Trying to go over the old tile often fails because the surfaces don’t adhere correctly.

Is it cheaper to replace backsplash yourself?

DIY installation saves on labor fees, but has more room for error. Carefully weigh your DIY skills. Pros ensure it’s done right the first time.

Should backsplashes go all the way to ceiling?

Standard height is 4 inches above the countertop. Full height backsplashes extending to the ceiling make more of a design statement. Prices go up the taller you tile.

How do you update a backsplash on a budget?

Stick with ceramic or porcelain tile rather than natural stone. Select smaller tile sizes requiring less cutting. Choose a simple stacked or brick layout. Install just behind the cooktop area rather than full wall.

Get Quotes From Local Tile Pros

The most accurate way to estimate your project cost is to get quotes from tile installation pros in your area. They can review your space, material selections and layout to provide a detailed breakdown of estimated expenses. This allows you to budget appropriately and even look for ways to save through the process.

With an understanding of the important factors like tile choice, contractor fees and design complexity, you can set realistic expectations for how much it costs to replace a tile backsplash in your home. Careful planning helps balance an eye-catching new backsplash with your budget and style goals. In no time, your refreshed space will provide the wow factor you want.