What is the Cost to Install Backsplash Tile?

Installing a backsplash is an easy and affordable way to add visual interest and protect your walls in a kitchen, bathroom, or any other space prone to moisture and stains. While backsplash tile can be DIYed, many homeowners choose to hire professionals to ensure it’s done right. Here’s an overview of what goes into a backsplash installation project and how much it typically costs.

Typical Cost to Install a Backsplash

The cost to install a backsplash tile runs $800 – $1,200 on average, with most homeowners spending around $1,000 to have it professionally installed. Here are the key factors that influence backsplash installation costs:

  • Tile type: Materials like ceramic, porcelain or glass tiles can range from $5 – $50+ per square foot. More expensive tile, intricate patterns, and handmade tiles can increase costs.
  • Tile size: Smaller tiles require more grout lines and take longer to install, driving up labor costs. Larger tiles are faster to install.
  • Labor: Backsplash installation labor typically runs $50 – $70 per hour. Faster installers can finish in a day while more intricate patterns may take 2 days.
  • Layout complexity: A full wall of subway tiles is one of the simplest and least expensive styles. Mosaic patterns or designs requiring tile cuts cost more in labor.
  • Prep work: Additional costs may be needed to repair walls, remove old backsplash, and prepare the surface for new tile.
  • Grout and materials: Grout, mortar, sealant and backerboard average $150 – $300.
  • Backsplash size: 8-10 sq.ft. is common for a focal point behind a stove. Full kitchen backsplashes can be 50+ sq.ft.

So while materials play a role, labor drives a majority of the total cost. Choosing smaller tiles or intricate patterns results in a longer installation.

Factors That Impact Backsplash Tile Installation Cost

From design choices to surface prep issues, several things can increase or decrease your total backsplash installation cost.

Tile Type

Tile material and quality have the biggest impact on material costs. Consider the following backsplash tile types and average per square foot costs:

  • Ceramic tile: $5 – $15 per sq.ft.
  • Porcelain tile: $15 – $30 per sq.ft.
  • Glass tile: $15 – $50 per sq.ft.
  • Stone tile: $40 – $100+ per sq.ft.
  • Mosaic tile: $5 – $30 per sq.ft.
  • Metal tile: $25 – $50 per sq.ft.

Handmade or high-end tiles can range even higher. For example, handmade Talavera tiles can be $50+ per square foot. Choosing affordable ceramic or porcelain tiles in the $5 – $20 range can save substantially on material costs without sacrificing style.

Tile Size

Installing a backsplash with smaller mosaic tiles or large format tiles will have different labor costs:

  • Small tile sizes (1 inch or smaller): Require more prep and grout lines, taking longer to install. This increases labor costs.
  • Medium tile sizes (4 x 4 inch): Offer a balance of reasonable install time and grout lines.
  • Large format tile sizes (4 x 12 inch or larger): Go up much faster without as many grout lines. Easier installation lowers labor costs.

If going for intricate patterns or designs, small tile sizes are likely needed. But a full backsplash in 4 x 12 inch subway tile can be an affordable option installed quickly.

Layout Complexity

The tile layout pattern makes a big difference in installation time and difficulty:

  • Full wall subway tile layout: Simplest and fastest option requiring only straight cuts.
  • Diagonal or herringbone patterns: Adds complexity with angled tile cuts.
  • Intricate patterns or banding: Requires cutting for seamless borders and details.
  • Heavy tile cuts: Any layout needing custom cuts around outlets or fixtures will take longer.

Choosing larger format tiles and keeping the layout simple as possible allows for faster installation.

Surface Prep Work

The installer may need to do prep work if walls need repairs, the old backsplash must be removed, or the surface isn’t smooth:

  • Drywall repair: Fixing holes or flaws in the wall to create a smooth surface adds costs.
  • Old backsplash tear out: Labor to demolish and remove the previous backsplash if there is one.
  • Extra priming/painting: Preparing the surface for the tile adhesive if needed.

Good surface prep is key for proper adhesion, preventing extra costs later from tiles popping off. Any required prep work should be accounted for in your tile installation quote.

Backsplash Size and Layout

Backsplash sizes range from a single focal point to full wall installations. Typical backsplash sizes include:

  • Stove backsplash – 8-15 sq.ft. centered behind the stove.
  • Kitchen backsplash – Typically 15-30 sq.ft. along countertops and around appliances.
  • Full wall backsplash – For example, a 20 sq.ft. backsplash spanning an entire 8 ft. x 5 ft. kitchen wall.
  • Bathroom backsplash – Around a bathroom mirror/vanity, 10-25 sq.ft.

Size directly impacts the material amounts and labor time required. Even in a small kitchen, a full wall backsplash requires tiles for multiple surfaces:

  • Counter section
  • Wall section
  • Gap behind stove/fridge cutouts

Islands and odd layouts also increase tile cuts and labor time versus a simple back wall. Consider your total square footage and layout to determine costs.

Additional Backsplash Installation Costs

Beyond tile and labor, other backsplash installation costs can include:

  • Backerboard: Cement/fiber backerboard costs $8 – $12 per sq.ft. installed. It provides a water-resistant surface for wall tiles.
  • Thinset mortar: Tile adhesive costs $15 – $30 typically. More may be needed for large format tiles.
  • Grout: Grout runs $0.50 – $1.50 per sq.ft. Sanded grout is best for wider grout lines.
  • Sealer: Adding sealer protects the grout lines for $10 – $15.

There can also be costs to rent tile cutters, purchase spacers, and other incidentals. Provide your installer a materials budget beforehand so there are no surprises.

Backsplash Tile Installation: DIY vs Professional

A handy homeowner with some tiling experience can DIY a simple backsplash install for the cost of materials. There are significant advantages to hiring a pro installer though:

Benefits of DIY Backsplash Installation

  • Lower cost with no labor fees
  • Creative control and personal tile design

Benefits of Professional Backsplash Installation

  • Experienced execution for long-lasting results
  • Correct process and techniques used
  • Clean finish with minimal uneven tiles or grout lines
  • Efficient install without your personal time investment
  • Warranty coverage on workmanship defects

For first-timers or intricate patterns, professional installation is worth the investment. An experienced tile pro delivers quality results quickly.

Hiring a Tile Installation Contractor

When hiring a backsplash tile installer, here are key considerations:

  • Check reviews and look for 5+ years of experience installing tile backsplashes specifically.
  • Verify licensing and insurance.
  • Get 3+ quotes to compare costs. Itemize materials vs labor.
  • Ask about process – from surface prep, materials, tools, clean up, and finishing.
  • See past project photos and ask if they can match your tile design.
  • Get timeline estimates and determine if they work around your schedule.
  • Check warranty coverage – a 1-year workmanship warranty is standard.

Take time to vet contractors’ experience, processes, and costs. Avoid choosing based on price alone.

DIY Backsplash Installation Costs

If tiling your own backsplash, you can save substantially on labor costs. However, remember that professional techniques take skill and practice. Be realistic about your DIY skills before taking this on.

Here are typical DIY material costs for a 10 sq.ft. backsplash install:

  • Tile: $100 – $200
  • Backerboard: $100
  • Thinset mortar: $30
  • Grout: $20
  • Sealer: $10
  • Tools/supplies: $50
  • Total: $300 to $400

The main savings are in the 5+ hours of labor – easily $250 – $400 worth for a pro install. While not overly complex, tiling requires careful technique and precision for an end result that looks polished vs DIY.

How Long Does it Take to Install a Backsplash?

Another significant cost factor is the installation time. How many days your backsplash installation takes depends on:

  • Tile size – Smaller tiles require more precision and grouting
  • Layout complexity – Simple patterns are fastest
  • Size of the area – Full walls take longer than a stove backsplash
  • Prep work needed – Like removing old tile or repairing surfaces
  • Skill level of installer – Pro vs DIY first timer

Most professional installers estimate 1 to 2 days for a typical kitchen backsplash. A skilled installer can complete a full wall over 2 days. This factors 8-10 work hours for an average 10-15 sq.ft. backsplash area.

DIY installs often take 2 to 3 times longer requiring multiple weekends. Planning 10-20 hours for your first backsplash tile project is recommended. Rushing the job can result in frustrating mistakes impacting the finish.

Backsplash Tile Installation: Step-by-Step Process

When hired, a professional tile installer will follow these general steps:

  1. Measure and layout tile pattern
  2. Prep the surface – clean, repair, remove old tile
  3. Cut tiles needed for outlets, edges, etc.
  4. Apply backerboard if needed to strengthen walls
  5. Apply thinset mortar evenly
  6. Apply tiles in layout pattern
  7. Apply grout between tile joints
  8. Clean tiles and grout
  9. Seal grout and finish edges

This process ensures tiles adhere properly and prevents future issues like cracking grout. DIYers should follow the same methodology vs trying shortcuts that can ruin the finished look.

Modern Backsplash Ideas and Costs

Today’s backsplash tile trends provide lots of options beyond basic ceramic subway tile. Consider these contemporary styles and typical costs per square foot:

  • Glass mosaic tile – Intricate shine and color for $15-50/sq.ft.
  • 3D Tile – Dimensional tile for $15-30/sq.ft.
  • Geometric patterns – Trending styles for $10-25/sq.ft.
  • Marble tile – Elegant look for $40-150/sq.ft.
  • Metallic tile – Adds contemporary glam for $25-50/sq.ft.

Don’t limit yourself to just ceramic or porcelain tiles! Discuss unique material and design ideas with installers to create a backsplash that matches your style.

Backsplash Cost: Is it Worth It?

For only $1,000 on average, a professionally installed backsplash offers big benefits:

Protects your walls – Backsplash tile prevents water damage, stains, mold and needs less repainting.

Easy to clean – Just wipe down your tile vs scrubbing drywall or paint.

Affordable update – Small investment for a kitchen makeover.

Increased home value – Buyers want updated kitchens with nice backsplashes.

When done right, a backsplash tile upgrade provides lasting visual impact and real functionality. Compare costs to wall repainting every few years to maximize your investment.

Backsplash Installation Cost FAQs

How much does a backsplash cost per square foot?

$10 – $25 per square foot is typical including tile materials and professional installation. High-end tile or intricate designs can range up to $50 – $100 per sq.ft.

Can you install backsplash tile over existing tile?

It’s possible but not recommended. The layers of tile build up the surface thicker. Existing grout lines may also show through. It’s best to remove old backsplash tile for the proper flat surface.

What is the flat rate for backsplash installation?

Most installers charge by the hour with no flat rates. Labor typically ranges $50 – $70 per hour based on project size and complexity. they may give a rough estimate of total hours/cost.

Can I install backsplash tile directly to drywall?

Cement backerboard is recommended especially for moisture-prone kitchens. But tile can adhere directly to drywall if it’s in good condition and properly primed/sealed.

The Bottom Line

Installing a stylish, protective backsplash in your home costs $800 – $1,200 on average. With proper planning and hiring an experienced tile contractor, you can gain a stunning focal point that saves your walls from wear and tear. Focus on choosing the right tile pattern, size, and layout that fits your budget and design vision.