Who Does Kitchen Backsplash? A Complete Guide

Kitchen backsplashes not only serve a functional purpose but also provide an opportunity to add visual interest and personality to your kitchen design. However, installing a backsplash can be a daunting task for DIYers. So who exactly does kitchen backsplash installation?

Hiring Professional Contractors for Backsplash Installation

One of the most common and recommended options is to hire professional contractors to install your kitchen backsplash. Here are some of the key benefits of using backsplash installation pros:

Skills and Experience

Professional backsplash installers have the skills, tools, and experience to get the job done right. They know how to properly prepare the surface, cut tiles to fit, apply adhesive, grout, and seal the backsplash so it lasts. DIY backsplash projects often run into problems due to lack of knowledge or skill.

Efficient and Time-Saving

A professional backsplash installation company will get the project completed much faster than a DIY job. They have the right techniques and workflow to minimize mistakes and delays. The right tools and materials are also readily available.

High-Quality Results

Hiring pros results in a high-quality, long-lasting backsplash that looks amazing. The finished product will be straight, level, and uniform since they know how to properly space and align tiles. DIY backsplashes often have crooked or uneven tiles.

Warranties and Protection

Reputable backsplash installers offer warranties and guarantees on their work. This provides peace of mind and recourse if any problems arise with the installation. DIY projects don’t come with any such protection.

Backsplash Installation by General Contractors

Some general contractors who handle full kitchen remodels and renovations may also provide backsplash installation services. The benefits of using a general contractor include:

One-Stop Shop

A general contractor handles the entire kitchen project from start to finish, including the backsplash installation. This simplifies the process since you only need to communicate with one company.

Coordination of Trades

The contractor coordinates with other trades like electricians, plumbers, and appliances installers. This handles dependencies and makes sure the backsplash work doesn’t get stalled.

Familiarity with Entire Project

Since the same company handles the full kitchen remodel, they will be familiar with all the details and complexities involved. This can result in a more seamless backsplash installation.

However, the downside is that backsplash work may not be the contractor’s core specialty. The quality and expertise can vary greatly.

DIY Backsplash Installation

Some homeowners decide to tackle backsplash installation as a DIY project. Here are some key things to keep in mind:

Steep Learning Curve

There are many tricks of the trade that take time to learn about tile cutting, adhesive application, grouting, etc. Expect to make some mistakes on your first DIY backsplash.

Labor-Intensive Process

From meticulous surface prep to precise tile cutting and careful installation, DIY backsplashes require a lot of time and hard work. Make sure you have the patience for it.

Specialized Tools Needed

While you may get away with basic tools for very simple backsplash projects, most DIY installs require purchasing or renting specialized tools like a tile cutter, grinder, or leveling system. This adds to the expenses.

Risk of Problems Down the Road

DIY backsplash projects can look decent at first but then crack, peel away, or have grout issues later on due to incorrect installation techniques. Hiring pros minimizes these types of problems.

DIY Only for Simpler Projects

Basic rectangular subway tile backsplashes are easier for DIY. But glass, mosaic, marble, or special pattern backsplashes are best left to the pros. Know your limits.

So in summary, while DIY backsplash installation is certainly possible for some homeowners, hiring professionals is the best option for most people. It reduces the chances of disastrous results and provides peace of mind. But weigh the pros and cons carefully for your specific backsplash project.

Tips for Hiring Backsplash Installers

If you decide to hire professional kitchen backsplash installers, here are some tips to get the best results:

Review Examples of Past Work

Evaluate their previous backsplash jobs to ensure the quality meets your standards. Photos on their website or portfolios should give you a good idea.

Ask About Their Backsplash Specialization

Some companies focus specifically on backsplash installation services, while others do it as part of broader remodeling projects. Specialists are often a good bet.

Request References From Recent Clients

Speaking with past backsplash customers can provide insights into their timeliness, attention to detail, communication skills and more.

Verify Licenses and Insurance

You want to hire legitimate professionals with all the proper business licenses and liability insurance for your protection. Don’t risk the consequences of using unlicensed contractors.

Get Itemized Quotes From Multiple Bidders

Interview 2-3 installers and compare the specificity and comprehensiveness of their quotes. Itemized quotes make it easier to spot gaps or questions.

Ask About Their Process and Timeline

Understand the entire installation process and timeline from start to finish. Make sure the expected schedule aligns with your needs.

Review Any Warranties or Guarantees

Good backsplash installers will guarantee their workmanship. Compare warranty terms before finalizing your hiring decision.

Trust Your Gut Instinct

Choose contractors you feel comfortable with and who understand exactly what you want. Good communication is key.

By carefully vetting and hiring your backsplash installation pros, you can get fantastic results you’ll enjoy for years to come.

Common Types of Backsplashes

Before deciding who will install your backsplash, it helps to decide on the type of backsplash you want installed first. Some of the most popular kitchen backsplash tile options include:

Subway Tile

Classic rectangular white subway tiles are an iconic and timeless backsplash choice, often installed in a brick pattern.

Glass Tile

Shiny and modern, glass backsplash tiles create a sleek contemporary look. Their luminous quality reflects light beautifully.

Mosaic Tile

Artistic mosaic backsplash tiles comprised of small, irregular hand-cut shapes provide visual interest.

Metal Tile

Durable metal like stainless steel, copper, or tin backsplashes lend an industrial vibe along with easy wipe-clean functionality.

Travertine Tile

With natural stone hues and textures, travertine tile backsplashes bring organic warmth. The surface pits and holes add rustic charm.

Marble Tile

Elegant marble backsplashes establish upscale ambiance with unique veining in each piece. Polished or honed finishes offer different looks.

Peel-and-Stick Tile

Budget-friendly peel-and-stick backsplash tiles offer quick, easy installation for DIYers without the mess of mortar and grout.

Once you decide on the backsplash materials, you can better evaluate suitable installation options. Simple subway tile is easy for DIY, while intricate marble mosaic is better left to the experts.

Backsplash Installation Process Overview

The backsplash installation process involves careful planning and attention to detail. Here is a general overview of the typical workflow:

1. Surface Preparation

The surface area above the countertops must be thoroughly cleaned and primed to create a smooth, even base for backsplash tiles to adhere to.

2. Layout and Design

Precise measurements are taken and the backsplash design is mapped out. Tiles may need to be cut to fit around outlets, corners, or other obstructions.

3. Applying Backerboard

Cement backerboard is often installed to provide a durable, water-resistant foundation for the backsplash.

4. Installing Tiles

Tiles are carefully placed in the desired pattern and cut to fit as needed. Spacers keep tile spacing uniform. Adhesive mortar secures each tile.

5. Grouting Seams

Grout is pushed into the joints between tiles and tooled into proper shape to fill seams and create a finished look.

6. Sealing and Protecting

A sealant is brushed on to enhance water resistance and prevent staining. The backsplash is cleaned and polished to finish.

Proper preparation, precision cutting, meticulous installation, and thorough sealing are all vital for creating a high-quality backsplash that will last. Rushing through these steps often leads to unsatisfactory results.

Cost to Install a Kitchen Backsplash

How much does it cost to install a kitchen backsplash in your home? Here are some of the factors that influence overall backsplash installation costs:

  • Tile material: Costs range considerably based on material choices like ceramic, porcelain, glass, mosaic, stone, or metal tiles.
  • Tile size and shape: Smaller and more intricate tiles like mosaics cost more to install than larger, simpler tiles.
  • Labor rates: Contractor vs DIY labor, as well as regional variances, impact installation costs.
  • Surface area: The total square footage of the backsplash zone – more area means higher total cost.
  • Design complexity: Busy patterns, special cutouts, or border designs add labor time versus a basic grid layout.
  • Accessibility: Ease of access to the backsplash area also affects installation time and effort.

On average, you can expect to pay around $40 to $70 per square foot for professional backsplash installation, including materials and labor. For a medium 10 square foot backsplash, that equates to $400 to $700 total. Higher-end materials can exceed $100 per square foot installed.

Many homeowners choose to install their backsplash tiles on their own to save costs. This works best for simpler tiles like subway in an easy-to-reach location. Be aware that DIY projects can still add up with expenses for tile, backerboard, adhesive, grout and tools.

Backsplash Installation: DIY vs Professional

Deciding between installing a backsplash yourself or hiring a pro? Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons:

DIY Backsplash Installation


  • Lower cost than hiring a professional
  • Ability to customize and control the project
  • Opportunity to learn new skills
  • Sense of pride and achievement


  • Steep learning curve if you’re inexperienced
  • Additional expenses for tools, materials, mistakes
  • Very time consuming and labor intensive
  • Risk of improper techniques leading to problems
  • No professional guidance or accountability

Professional Backsplash Installation


  • Expertise for proper installation and high-quality results
  • Efficiency and speed from experience
  • Availability of special tools and materials
  • Licensed and insured for protection
  • Warranties and guarantees for peace of mind


  • Higher upfront installation costs
  • Less control over schedule and details
  • Communication gaps can lead to frustrations
  • Need to be home for access during work

As you can see, the choice between DIY vs hired backsplash installation is primarily dependent on your skill level, time availability and budget. For novice DIYers with busy schedules, hiring a pro often makes the most sense and avoids headaches.

Hiring and Working with Contractors

If you decide to hire a professional contractor for installing your kitchen backsplash, here are some tips for success:

Get Referrals

Word of mouth referrals from trusted sources like friends or neighbors are a great way to find contractors. Online reviews can also offer insights.

Check Credentials

Verify that the contractor has an active license, insurance, bonding, and a good standing with the Better Business Bureau before hiring.

Get Quotes

Interview at least 2-3 potential hires and get itemized quotes to compare experience levels and pricing.

Ask Questions

Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions upfront about timelines, materials, prep work, installation methods, cleanup, and payment terms.

Review Contracts Thoroughly

Read the contract carefully before signing and don’t feel pressured. Make sure it details every aspect of the project and expectations.

Communicate Clearly

Set a weekly in-person or phone update schedule to provide feedback, ask questions, and resolve any issues promptly.

Set a Payment Schedule

Agree to a deposit and staged payment schedule tied to completion of milestones rather than paying everything upfront.

Inspect Work Before Final Payment

Do a thorough walkthrough after completion and before making the final payment to identify any needed fixes or tweaks.

Establishing mutual understanding and good project management goes a long way towards making the backsplash installation process smooth for everyone involved.

Typical Backsplash Installation Sequence

What’s the actual installation process like when undertaken by a professional contractor? Here is a typical backsplash tile installation sequence:

  1. Surface Prep – Existing wall surface is thoroughly cleaned and sanded. Damaged areas are repaired and primed.
  2. Planning – Measurements are taken, tile layout is mapped, and cuts are planned. Materials and tools are readied.
  3. Mounting Backerboard – Cement backerboard is measured, cut, and mounted to provide a secure base.
  4. Applying Adhesive – Tile mortar or mastic adhesive is applied in sections where tiles will be set according to directions.
  5. Setting Tiles – Tiles are placed in layout pattern, pressed into adhesive, spaced evenly, and aligned. Excess adhesive is cleaned.
  6. Grouting – Grout is pushed into tile joints, excess cleaned off, and final tooling done to shape and smooth joints.
  7. Sealing – Sealant is rolled or brushed on grout and tile surfaces and buffed for water protection and enhanced durability.
  8. Cleanup – Adhesive spills or messes are cleaned up and work area cleared out. New backsplash is polished to finish.
  9. Inspection – Homeowner and contractor do a final walkthrough inspection to check work and identify any needed adjustments.
  10. Payment – Once work is approved, final payment is released according to contract terms after job completion.

Knowing the full installation workflow in advance ensures all expectations are aligned between the homeowner and contractor.

Backsplash Patterns and Designs

Choosing the right tile pattern or design for your backsplash transforms it from a mere functional splash zone to an eye-catching focal point. Here are some popular backsplash layout options:

Brick Pattern

The classic off-set brick pattern creates visual movement and interest. Suitable for rectangular subway tiles.

Stacked Pattern

Tiles are installed in orderly vertical rows, amplifying height. Works with any tile shape.

Herringbone Pattern

Angled tile orientation in a v-shape pattern provides depth. Traditionally done in subways.

Pinwheel Pattern

Tiles are set in a circular orientation around a central point, creating rhythm.

Diamond Pattern

Small, square mosaic tiles are arranged in a timeless diamond lattice layout.

Subway Pencils

Simple vertical columns of subway tiles establish clean lines. Use alternating colors for contrast.

Penny Round Mosaic

Tiny round mosaics emulate the look of overlapping coins. Provides texture.

Framed Picture

Use trim pieces to frame a decorative section of accent tiles on the backsplash.

Get creative with layouts and combine designs like framed pictures over a brick backsplash. The options are limitless!

Backsplash Design Mistakes to Avoid

While backsplashes present lots of design possibilities, there are also some common mistakes to avoid:

  • Choosing trendy styles that will look dated quickly rather than timeless classics
  • Picking high-maintenance materials like polished marble that show all flaws
  • Not planning adequate lighting or electrical outlets in the backsplash area
  • Failing to properly seal natural stone backsplashes making them prone to staining
  • Mixing too many styles or tile sizes creating a disjointed look
  • Installing dark backsplashes that close off smaller kitchens visually
  • Going overboard with overly busy patterns which appear chaotic
  • Neglecting proper backerboard installation leading to lack of adhesion
  • Poor grout sealant application causing discoloration or excessive cracking
  • Laying out backsplash tile in a way that draws the eye to an unsightly vent or pipe
  • Using poor quality grout that stains easily over time

By understanding common backsplash pitfalls in advance, you can thoughtfully design and install one that enhances your kitchen for the long haul.

Tips for a Successful DIY Backsplash Project

Installing a backsplash DIY? Keep these tips in mind:

  • Pick beginner-friendly materials like subway tile or peel-and-stick. Leave natural stone, glass, or mosaic to the pros.
  • Invest in proper tools like a tile cutter and grinder for a cleaner finished look.
  • Thoroughly clean and sand the surface. Prime with adhesive promoter.
  • Refer to tutorials. Practice tile cutting on cheap extra tiles first.
  • Work in small sections. Don’t spread too much adhesive mortar at once before it dries.
  • Use plastic tile spacers for even grout lines and joints.
  • Seal tiles and grout multiple times for maximum water protection.
  • Clean up excess grout and spills immediately before they dry. Polish with soft cloth.
  • Inspect final results for spots needing re-grouting. Allow proper cure times.
  • Have a pro provide guidance on the tricky parts like around electrical boxes or plumbing.

With careful planning, patience, and persistence, DIY backsplash projects can yield gorgeous, personalized results and valuable learning experiences for intrepid homeowners.

Backsplash Maintenance Tips

Once your new backsplash is professionally installed or your DIY project is complete, proper maintenance is key to keeping it looking fresh. Here are some helpful backsplash cleaning and care tips:

  • Use mild soap and water for routine cleaning. Avoid harsh chemical cleaners.
  • Re-seal grout lines annually with grout sealer to prevent staining and damage.
  • Periodically re-seal porous natural