Kitchen backsplashes not only provide protection for your walls but can also serve as a stylish focal point in your kitchen design. However, installing a kitchen backsplash requires careful planning and execution. You have several options for who can do the installation work.
Should I Hire a Contractor to Install My Kitchen Backsplash?
Hiring a general contractor or a kitchen remodeling contractor is one route for installing a new backsplash in your kitchen. There are some advantages to using a professional contractor:
Experience and Expertise
An experienced kitchen contractor will have installed numerous backsplashes and will know all the intricacies involved. They can assess your space, make recommendations on materials and design, and take care of the entire installation process. Their expertise can ensure your backsplash is properly installed and integrated with your countertops, cabinets, and other elements of your kitchen.
A general contractor can provide a full-service option, from helping you pick out materials to doing the demolition of your old backsplash and the complete installation of the new one. Some contractors have relationships with suppliers and designers to assist with choosing backsplash tile, accessories, grout, etc.
Knowledge of Building Codes
Professional contractors are familiar with local building codes and standards. They can ensure your backsplash will meet any requirements for materials, fire safety, electrical, and plumbing. This gives you peace of mind that the job will pass any required inspections.
Warranties and Protection
Using a reputable, licensed contractor provides you with protection if anything goes wrong. Good contractors will guarantee their labor and honor manufacturer warranties on any materials they install.
However, hiring a contractor does come with some downsides:
- Higher cost – Professional installation will add to your total backsplash budget. Contractors charge for their time, expertise, tools, and travel expenses.
- Less customization – Unless you hire a high-end designer, you may have less say in backsplash materials and design than if you do it yourself.
- Scheduling issues – Contractors juggle multiple jobs and you’ll need to wait until they have availability. This may delay your project.
Should I Install the Backsplash Myself?
Installing a backsplash as a DIY project can save money and allow you to customize the design. Things to consider:
Doing it yourself means no labor fees, just the cost of materials and tools. Saving the expense of professional installation can make an upgraded backsplash more affordable.
You can hand pick the backsplash tiles and create any custom design you choose. DIY allows you to add your personal flair.
Sense of Accomplishment
Successfully tiling your own backsplash provides a real sense of DIY pride and achievement. You’ll gain valuable skills in the process as well.
Quick Project Timeline
You can start and finish on your own schedule, without waiting on a contractor’s availability. This allows you to get your new backsplash completed more quickly.
However, some factors to keep in mind if tackling a backsplash install as a DIY project:
- Learning curve – There are tricks to installing backsplash tile properly. As a beginner, there may be a learning curve and trial and error.
- Time and labor – Even experienced DIYers report that installing a backsplash is an arduous task. Make sure you have the time and energy for this hands-on project.
- No warranty or protection – Any mistakes are on you to remedy if you DIY. Be prepared to live with imperfections or redo your work.
- Building code compliance – You’ll need to research local regulations and ensure your materials and methods meet standards.
Questions to Ask Before Deciding on DIY vs Professional Backsplash Installation
Here are some key considerations as you decide whether to install a backsplash yourself or hire a pro:
What is Your Skill Level?
Be honest about your DIY abilities. Tiling requires a combination of knowledge, technique, precision, and physical stamina. Don’t underestimate the learning curve if you’ve never tiled before.
How Complex is the Design?
Simple backsplashes with basic tile shapes laid in straight lines are beginner-friendly. Intricate patterns, mosaic sheets, natural stone, decorative borders, and other complex designs are best left to the experts.
What Tools and Equipment are Needed?
DIY tiling requires having or renting tools like a wet saw, notched trowels, tile spacers, mixing buckets, a grout float, etc. Factor these costs into your budget if doing it yourself.
How is Your Wall Surface Prepped?
Is the wall covered in drywall, plywood, concrete, plaster? What condition is it in? Any special prep needed will add time and difficulty. Contractors are experienced in dealing with varied wall types.
What Finish Work is Involved?
DIYers often focus on tile setting but may underestimate the finish work of grouting, sealing, and caulking. Touch-ups require finesse. Leaving those final steps to a pro may be smart.
How Much Time Do You Have?
Rushing through a backsplash install increases the risk of mistakes. Be sure you can devote several days if needed. Contractors work quickly. For DIY, allow extra time in case of trial and error.
If still undecided, consider consulting both a kitchen designer and tile showroom. They can review your plans, explain what’s involved, and help you determine if it’s a DIY project or best left to the pros. Doing your homework can prevent regrets down the road.
DIY Backsplash Installation Guide
If evaluating your skills and plans leads you to attempt a DIY backsplash installation, here is an overview of the key steps involved:
Select Your Backsplash Materials
Browse tile showrooms and design studios to select your backsplash tile, accent pieces, grout, and any decorative items like shelves, metal inserts, or lighting. Order extra tiles to account for breakage and cuts.
Prepare the Work Area
Clear countertops and remove anything on walls where the backsplash will be installed. Have all your tools, materials, and drop cloths ready. Turn off electricity to outlets in the backsplash area.
Measure and Make a Layout
Measure the space and create a layout indicating the tile placement. Mark reference lines on the wall to follow when setting your tiles. Cut border and accent tiles first using a wet saw.
Prep and Clean the Surface
Clean the wall surface thoroughly. Make any repairs needed to drywall or plaster. Apply any required backerboard, cementboard, or other substrate material if applicable. Prime and seal the surface.
Apply the Adhesive
Use a notched trowel to spread tile adhesive on the installation area. Only cover a small section at a time to prevent drying before tiles are set. Remove any excess adhesive.
Set the Tiles
Following your layout, carefully set tiles in place, using spacers to maintain even grout lines. Ensure tiles are aligned and pressed into the adhesive. Allow adhesive to cure per manufacturer instructions.
Grout the Tiles
Mix grout and apply it over the tiles using a rubber grout float. Push into joints and remove excess grout with a sponge. Allow grout to dry. Apply grout sealer.
Finish and Seal
Remove spacers and wipe away any remaining haze or film from tiles. Seal grout and tile surface with sealants. Install trim pieces, caulk edges, and do any final cleanup.
Stand Back and Enjoy!
Once completed, admire your work and enjoy your fresh new backsplash! Take photos to memorialize your DIY project success.
Performing and completing a quality tile backsplash installation on your own is very rewarding. Just be sure to educate yourself, gather the right materials, and allocate plenty of time. With careful planning and attention to detail, you can achieve beautiful results and save on installation costs by doing it yourself.
Hiring a Handyman for Backsplash Installation
If contracting a full professional kitchen remodeling company seems like overkill, but tackling a backsplash tile install solo feels daunting, there is a middle ground option – hiring a handyman. Here are some of the benefits:
Affordable Help at Hand
Quality handymen can provide experienced help with tile setting at a much lower labor rate than a general contractor. You provide the tile and materials while they contribute the skills.
Many handymen are able to schedule small backsplash jobs more promptly than busy contractors who book further out. A handyman can assist with your project in a timely manner.
Familiar with Homeowner Projects
Unlike contractors who mainly work on large-scale new builds and renovations, handymen are accustomed to knocking out DIY projects like backsplashes for residential clients.
Trusted Help for Tricky Parts
While you may be comfortable with some tasks like tile cutting and prep, having pro assistance with leveling, laying, grouting and finishing helps avoid mistakes.
eace of Mind with Permits
Your handyman can ensure any required building permits are obtained for the electrical or plumbing aspects of the job. This assures code compliance.
To find a qualified handyman up for your backsplash project:
- Ask neighbors, friends and relatives for referrals.
- Look on trusted online home services networks with screened pros.
- Search for backsplash installation reviews of local handymen.
- Confirm they are licensed, bonded, insured and have tile experience.
Teamwork between you and a handyman can make an involved DIY backsplash project more feasible, while also saving on the cost of full-service contractor installation.
Questions to Ask Backsplash Installation Handymen Before Hiring
Once you’ve identified one or more potential handymen to assist with your backsplash installation, ask these important questions before making your hiring decision:
- Are you licensed and insured? Look for valid general liability insurance and any required state/local licensing. This provides protection.
- What is your background and experience with tile projects? A minimum of 3-5 years regularly working with tile demonstrates solid skills.
- Can you provide references from recent backsplash jobs? Speaking with past clients provides reassurance of work quality and reliability.
- Do you have examples of backsplash projects I can view? Photos will showcase the precision and aesthetic of their tile work.
- What preparation work do you recommend for the wall surface? A true pro will explain proper prep based on inspecting your walls.
- Should I use cementboard, tile backer, or another underlayment? Their advice on best substrates shows expertise in achieving durable results.
- What are your recommendations for waterproofing and sealing? Experienced installers know the importance of waterproof membranes and sealants.
- Are you comfortable working with the tile material and design I have chosen? Make sure they have experience with your specific tile type and layout.
- Do you provide all the tools and materials needed? Clear terms on who supplies what prevents confusion later.
- What is your quote for labor costs? Get a written estimate accounting for projected man-hours and assistance type needed.
By interviewing potential handymen thoroughly and reviewing past work, you can hire the right pro to partner with on a seamless backsplash installation.
5 Tips for Saving Money on Professional Backsplash Installation
Hiring a kitchen contractor or handyman to install a fresh backsplash may fit your budget if you follow these money-saving tips:
1. Provide Your Own Materials
Buy the tile, adhesive, grout, trim pieces and all supplies yourself to avoid supplier markups. Just be sure your tile choice works for the installer.
2. Handle Demo of Old Backsplash
Offer to carefully remove the existing backsplash yourself so the installer doesn’t have to include demolition time/costs.
3. Ask About Discounts
Inquire about any reductions for senior citizens, military, teachers, or even repeat customers. Never hurts to request a break on the fee.
4. Schedule Off-Peak Times
Contractors may offer better rates for jobs booked during their slow periods like winter rather than peak spring/summer.
5. Get Quotes From Multiple Pros
Check pricing from 3-4 installers. Steer clear of quotes that seem suspiciously low-cost. Seek fair market value.
With strategic planning, you can have a stunning new backsplash professionally installed for less. Just partner with the right contractor or handyman using smart budgeting strategies. Be sure to get a signed contract outlining the exact work and costs agreed upon to prevent misunderstandings.
Backsplash Installation: Key Questions to Ask Your Contractor
Before finalizing your backsplash installation contractor, ask these crucial questions:
- What permits or approvals are needed for this project? The contractor should pull all required permits.
- Will you provide a written quote detailing project costs, timeline, responsibilities, materials and cleanup? A detailed estimate and contract prevent surprises.
- Who supplies the tile, grout, adhesive and other installation materials? Clarify whether you or contractor will procure everything required.
- How do you ensure moisture proofing behind the backsplash? Proper moisture barriers are vital to prevent damage.
- How will you ensure a smooth interface between countertop and backsplash? Seamless transitions demonstrate attention to detail.
- What type of tile edging, trim and accent materials do you recommend? Listen to ideas for finishing touches.
- Should we use paper-faced or fiberglass mesh tile backerboard? They should advise the right substrate for your application.
- What spacing do you recommend for the grout lines? Take their guidance on optimal widths for the tile size.
- How long will installation take and when can you start? Get project duration and timeline expectations.
- Will you seal the grout and tile surface upon completing install? Sealing is crucial for durability and stain resistance.
- How can I prepare the work area for install? They should provide pre-work cleanup and prep tips.
By getting clear, thorough responses to questions like these upfront, you can be confident you are partnering with a true backsplash installation professional.
Backsplash Installation: Red Flags to Watch For
Some concerning issues to keep an eye out for when vetting and hiring contractors for backsplash installation:
– Lack of License/Insurance
Legitimate contractors have current insurance policies and state/local licensing. Don’t risk hiring unlicensed firms.
– Vague Written Quotes
Beware if project scope, costs, timeline and permits are not spelled out in the written estimate. Open-ended quotes can lead to disagreements later.
– Requests for Large Upfront Payment
While some deposit is typical, be wary of contractors asking for full or majority payment before work starts. Stagger payments.
– No References or Examples
Quality contractors will share contact info for prior satisfied backsplash clients and showcase photos of past work.
– Poor Communication
Unreturned calls/emails, showing up late, lack of project updates, and absence at milestone reviews all signal potential issues.
– Makes Many Design/Material Changes
Frequent suggestions to revise your backsplash materials, layout, or specifications can indicate underbidding just to get the job.
– Uses High Pressure Sales Tactics
Never let a contractor demand an immediate decision or rush you into signing. Take time to evaluate multiple bids.
Trust your instincts when something seems off with a prospective backsplash installer. Protect yourself by vetting carefully and watching for concerning red flags.
Backsplash Installation: How to Prepare Your Kitchen
Preparing your kitchen properly prior to the start of backsplash installation will facilitate the process:
- Declutter countertops – Remove everything from counters within the backsplash area so installers have unimpeded access and a clean surface.
- Protect surfaces – Use drop cloths or plastic sheeting to cover countertops, appliances, floors, etc. from potential splatters.
- Clean thoroughly – Scrub walls, counters, cabinets, and any existing backsplash to remove grease and grime that could interfere with adhesion.
- Schedule appliances off – Arrange for your oven/range, refrigerator, and dishwasher to be shut off on install day so that circuits can be powered down and appliances can be pulled out for tile work behind them.
- Empty sink and storage areas – Remove items from under any sinks or work zones within the backsplash area so installers can access those sections unimpeded.
- Remove accessories – Take down any framed art, drying racks, soap dispensers, etc. mounted to walls where the backsplash will be applied.
- Turn off water supply – Shut off water supply to sink faucets and other connections along the backsplash zone. Turn water back on slowly at the end to check for leaks.
- Check for outlets and pipes – Note any pipes, supply lines, wires etc. that may intersect with the backsplash so the installers can take care in those areas.
Taking time to declutter and prepare your kitchen thoroughly will result in an efficient, clean backsplash installation process with beautiful results!
Backsplash Install Alternatives: Temporary Vinyl, Removable Tile
If you want to switch up your backsplash aesthetically but aren’t ready to commit to permanent tile installation, consider these temporary alternatives:
Removable Peel-and-Stick Tile Backsplash
- Real ceramic or porcelain tile with sticky peel-and-stick backing
- Allows you to install a backsplash without messy adhesive
- Peels off when ready to change it out
- Budget-friendly material costs
- Lets you upgrade rental or starter homes
- Lower long-term maintenance
Temporary Vinyl Backsplash Film
- PVC vinyl films adhere to existing backsplash
- Hundreds of patterns and finishes to choose from
- Mimics the look of real tile, stone, or stainless
- Installs in just minutes with no mess
- Can upgrade rental units or sell homes
- Easy removal leaves no damage
- Very affordable material costs
- Wallpaper with patterns that resemble tile, metal, marble, etc.
- Self-adhesive styles for quick DIY application
- Some textures add 3D real