Adding a backsplash to your kitchen can completely transform the look and feel of the space. But once you’ve selected the perfect tile or materials, who should you trust to professionally install your backsplash? Here’s a comprehensive guide on who typically installs backsplashes in kitchens.
What is a Backsplash?
A backsplash is a protective surface installed on the wall behind a countertop, stove, or sink. Backsplashes are commonly made of tile or stone, but can also be created from metal, glass, or other water-resistant materials.
Backsplashes serve both practical and decorative purposes:
- Protect the walls from water damage, grease splatter, and other messes.
- Provide an accent area to tie together your cabinetry, countertops, and appliances.
- Allow you to add personality with color, texture, and pattern.
When selecting a backsplash, consider your kitchen’s style, budget, and how heavily the space is used. A tile backsplash can be a weekend DIY project or installed by a professional, depending on its complexity.
Who Typically Installs Kitchen Backsplashes?
There are several types of contractors and specialists who can install a kitchen backsplash:
Tile installers specialize in ceramic, porcelain, stone, and glass tile. They have extensive experience preparing surfaces, cutting tile, and proper installation techniques like grouting and sealing. Tile installers work with all kinds of tile applications, including floors, walls, countertops, and backsplashes.
Many tile installers are independent contractors who work directly with homeowners. Larger projects may involve a tile subcontractor coordinating multiple tile setters.
For major kitchen remodels involving cabinetry, countertops, flooring, and appliances, a general contractor will oversee the entire project, including the backsplash installation. The general contractor may have their own tile setting team or subcontract a tile installer for the backsplash portion.
General contractors handle all aspects of the remodel, from obtaining permits, scheduling tradespeople, and ensuring good workmanship. Their fee is generally a percentage of the total project cost.
Kitchen & Bath Remodelers
Kitchen and bath contractors specialize in remodeling these high-use living spaces. A full-service kitchen and bath company has designers to help you plan your new kitchen and employs their own installers.
These firms have extensive experience with kitchen workflow and storage solutions, cabinet and countertop options, appliances, lighting, and finishes. Many also have in-house tile setters to handle the backsplash installation.
For simple backsplash projects involving just a few subway tile sheets or backsplash panels, a handyman service may be the most convenient and affordable option. Handymen have general skills in areas like basic plumbing, electrical, carpentry, and tile work.
Be sure to vet handymen thoroughly and look at examples of previous tile jobs to ensure you hire someone experienced in tile setting. Larger or more intricate tile backsplashes are better left to a dedicated tile pro.
Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Backsplash Installer
To find the right person for your backsplash installation, ask prospective contractors the following:
- How many years of experience do you have installing backsplashes and tile? Look for 5+ years of experience.
- Are you licensed, bonded, and insured? This protects you if anything goes wrong.
- Can you provide references from recent backsplash installation jobs? Speaking to past clients provides insight into their quality of work.
- Do you provide a warranty on the installation? Many tile installers guarantee their workmanship for 1-5 years.
- What tile brands and materials do you recommend? An experienced installer can advise on the best products.
- Do you handle subfloor preparation and wall demolition if needed? Construction may be required to prep the surface.
- How long will the installation take and when can you start? Confirm timeline and schedule.
Factors That Affect Backsplash Installation Cost
Backsplash installation prices vary based on several factors:
- Tile size – Small mosaics take more time and skill than large tiles.
- Tile material – Natural stone costs more to install than ceramic or glass tile.
- Layout complexity – Intricate patterns and angled tiles increase labor time.
- Amount of tile needed – The more surface area covered, the higher the price.
- Accessibility – Ease of accessing the work area affects pricing.
- Preparation work – Additional demolition or wall repairs add cost.
- Location – Installers in expensive urban areas charge more.
Generally, you can expect to pay $40 to $70 per hour for labor, plus the cost of tile materials. Simple projects under 10 hours could cost $500 or less. Large kitchens with detailed tile designs could exceed $2,500.
Hiring a Pro Ensures Quality Workmanship
When tackling a kitchen backsplash installation, it’s advisable to hire a professional installer unless you have extensive tiling experience. Skilled tile pros have the expertise to:
- Determine if the wall surface needs repairs before tiling.
- Prepare the surface by cleaning and adding adhesive mortar.
- Cut and arrange the tile in the optimal layout.
- Achieve clean, straight grout lines for a polished look.
- Apply waterproof grout and sealants.
Trying to DIY an intricate backsplash could result in crooked tiles, damaged wallboard, or leaks caused by improper sealing. This will end up costing more in the long run to repair than if you had hired a pro from the start.
Investing in a quality backsplash installation ensures your kitchen is protected from splashes and spills for years to come. With proper materials and expert workmanship, your new backsplash should last at least 5-10 years.
Installing a backsplash is one of the best ways to update the look of a kitchen. While handy do-it-yourselfers can sometimes tackle simple backsplash projects, complex designs with tile patterns or natural stone are best left to professionals.
Be sure to research and hire an experienced kitchen tile installer, general contractor, kitchen remodeler, or backsplash specialist. They have the skills to properly install your backsplash so it lasts for years of use while enhancing your kitchen’s beauty. Paying for quality installation work will pay dividends down the road.