Installing a tile backsplash in your kitchen or bathroom can completely transform the look and feel of the space. However, finding the right tile and tile retailer to purchase from can be a daunting task. This comprehensive guide will provide tips on how to choose the perfect tile, reputable places to shop, what to expect cost-wise, and how to ultimately get the job done right.
How to Choose the Right Tile
Choosing the right tile requires considering a few key factors:
Tile backsplashes come in a variety of materials like ceramic, porcelain, glass, stone, and metal. Ceramic and porcelain are the most popular options for kitchens as they are affordable, easy to clean, and come in tons of colors/patterns. Glass, stone, and metal can provide a more high-end, unique look but tend to be pricier.
Standard tile sizes range from 1×1 inches to 12×24 inches. Larger tiles can create a sleek, seamless look but require more precision to install. Smaller tiles allow for more creativity and geometric patterns but require more grout lines. A balance is 4×4 or 6×6 inch tiles.
This is where you can really customize the look and feel of your space. Choose a color and pattern that aligns with your overall design vision for the kitchen or bath. Solid colors are classic, but don’t be afraid to get creative with mosaics, arabesque prints, or hand-painted tiles.
Tile finishes determine how glossy or matte the surface appears. Glossy tiles have a reflective shine that can brighten a space, while matte is more subtle. Choose finish based on the overall aesthetic you want.
Once you settle on the right material, size, color, and finish it’s equally important to calculate how much you’ll need to purchase. Measure the total area of your backsplash and add roughly 10% more to account for broken tiles and pattern matching.
Where to Shop for Tile
When sourcing tile, you’ll come across three primary options:
Big Box Stores
Stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s offer plenty of backsplash tile options in ceramic, porcelain, glass, and stone. While selection is more limited than a tile showroom, the advantage is convenience. You can purchase everything you need for the project in one place.
Showrooms at stores like Tile Shop, Bedrosians, Arizona Tile, or a local specialty tile retailer have an extensive collection of high-quality tiles. You’re likely to find more unique, custom tile options. But, tile may be pricier than the big box stores and require separate purchases of installation products.
Ordering tile online opens up even more choices thanks to retailers like Wayfair, Overstock, Tilebar, and Amazon. Browse tiles by material, size, color, pattern, or price point. Just be aware exact colors may look a bit different in person, and shipping fragile tile can result in breakage.
No matter where you shop, always thoroughly inspect all tiles before purchasing. Look for chips, cracks, or inconsistencies in color/pattern. Buying extra tiles is wise in case any become damaged during installation.
How Much Does a Tile Backsplash Cost?
Tile backsplash installation costs range from $500 to $2,500 depending on a few factors:
- Tile material – ceramic, porcelain, or stone is cheapest at $2-$10 per sq. ft. While glass, metallic, or mosaic tiles run $10-$50 per sq. ft.
- Tile finish – A glossy finish typically adds $1-2 per sq. ft. versus matte tile.
- Tile size and pattern – Intricate patterns and small tile sizes require more labor and grout, increasing overall cost.
- Contractor vs DIY – Pro installation averages $6-$10 per sq. ft. Doing it yourself cuts labor costs, but increase material waste and chances of redos.
- Tile source – Specialty tiles from showrooms or online tend to be pricier than big box store finds
On average, a 5×8 ft. tile backsplash installed by a pro will be $1,000 – $1,500. A DIY install with economical tile from a home improvement store can be done for under $500.
How to Install a Tile Backsplash Yourself
Installing a tile backsplash is an achievable DIY project for most homeowners with some basic tiling experience. Follow these steps for a successful installation:
Step 1: Prepare the Surface
Ensure the wall area is smooth, clean, and dry. Paint or drywall should be in excellent condition. Use painter’s tape to mask off any adjacent surfaces and cover floors/countertops.
Step 2: Mark Your Layout
Map out the tile layout using a level and pencil to mark guidelines. This helps keep your tiles even and in line. Cut a template out of cardboard to test fit your pattern.
Step 3: Apply the Adhesive
Use a notched trowel to spread thinset adhesive on a small section of the wall at a time. Immediately apply tiles while the adhesive is still wet and tacky.
Step 4: Set & Grout the Tiles
Cut any custom tiles needed with a wet saw. Set tiles along guidelines pressing firmly. Allow adhesive to cure per manufacturer instructions before applying grout between tiles.
Step 5: Seal & Finish
Once grout fully dries, use a damp sponge to remove any haze on tile. Apply a penetrating sealer to protect the finished install. Caulk edges and install any trim pieces needed.
While tiling requires patience and manual labor, the end result is well worth the effort and cost. The right backsplash tile can elevate the entire look of a kitchen or bath. Use these tips to tackle your project with confidence.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where can I buy affordable tile backsplash near me?
For the most affordable tiles, check big box home improvement stores like Home Depot or Lowe’s. You can often find quality ceramic, porcelain, or stone tile options under $5 per square foot.
What tile stores have professionals to help design?
Specialty retailers like Bedrosians, Tile Shop, and Floor & Decor have designers on staff to assist customers with selecting tiles. They can help you narrow choices and visualize how tiles will look installed.
Should I install the tile backsplash myself or hire a pro?
A professional tiling contractor will produce higher quality results compared to a DIY job. But if tiling yourself, take time to learn proper techniques and allow for potential tile breaks or rework. Hiring a pro is recommended for complex patterns or large spaces.
What tools do I need to install a tile backsplash?
Basic tiling tools include a notched trowel, mixing bucket, tile cutter, spacers, grout float, sponges, painter’s tape, and sealer. You may also need a wet saw for intricate cuts. Have all materials and tools ready before starting.
How long does a tile backsplash installation take?
The timeline depends on tile size and complexity of the design. Simple installations could take 5-6 hours for an experienced DIYer. Intricate tile layouts with custom cuts can take up to 16 hours over a 2-3 day period for pros.
Installing a tile backsplash is one of the best returns-on-investment for home upgrades. With proper planning and preparation, even an amateur DIYer can achieve professional-looking results. Focus on choosing the right tile materials and aesthetic for your space. Compare options online and in stores to find quality tiles at the best prices. And don’t be afraid to tackle the project yourself to save on labor – just lay out tiles slowly and methodically. With the right guidance, shopping around for where to buy tile backsplash near me can result in a showstopping new focal point.