You can add decorative touches to your kitchen by adding a colorful backsplash, and they serve as a protective barrier to protect the wall behind your cooktop or faucet from food splatter. The backsplash has evolved into an optional touch to add to your kitchen remodel, and you wonder how much this backsplash installation cost will total out to be. It’s a great way to show your personal taste or style, or you can use it to brighten up darker color palettes. You can get a backsplash made out of virtually any material, and it’s usually 30-square feet from end to end.
This means your backsplash installation costs will have a huge range in prices. The national average starts at $900 and goes up to $2,500. Most people spend around $1,500 for a white subway tile with a herringbone cooktop area and a decorative border. You can also install around 12-square feet of four-inch, straight set tile just behind your stove for around $150. If you want something like a hand-painted mural behind the stove with a chiseled stone backsplash, your backsplash installation costs will run around $10,000.
Your local tile contractors will charge by hour, and you can expect to pay around $160 for the labor costs. This works out to about $10.00 a square foot for materials. They may quote you between $40.00 and $60.00 per hour for labor, and your location will play a huge role in this cost.
The amount of tile you need, finish types, level of difficulty, and the pattern complexity are the biggest factors that will determine your backsplash installation cost. If you want to have it in an area that has a window, door, or electrical socket, this can drive your costs up because you have to cut the backsplash to fit. This guide will outline the biggest factors that go into your backsplash installation cost, and you can use it to create a working budget for this project.
The backsplash installation cost will heavily depend on whether or not you do it yourself or hire someone to do it for you and the type of material you choose. More complex projects will increase your prices because they take longer to complete. Woad tile backsplash by Jesus Rodriguez / CC BY 2.0
Common Heights for Backsplashes
The most common backsplash height is 18-inches from the bottom of the cabinet’s underside to the top of the counter. This space will comfortably hold six rows of 3×6 tiles. It’ll also hold four rows of 4-inch tiles with a two-inch border, or one row of 18-inch tiles. You can mix your tiles to fill in the space, and this will help you create a very unique pattern. If you have an older kitchen that comes with shorter upper cabinets and countertops and an integral backsplash, this height shortens to 14 or 15 inches.
How Material Influences Your Backsplash Installation Costs
Backsplashes have no exposure to foot traffic to wear them down like your tile flooring does, but they may see occasional splatters of food substances or grease. It’s possible to install almost any material in your backsplash area, but some will require more stain protection. The types of food you cook and how often you cook will dictate how easy it is to maintain, and the most popular choices are:
This makes a contemporary backsplash, and there are many aluminum tiles you can pick from. These backsplashes can melt easily, but you can pick out a large range of mosaics in different sizes and shapes. You shouldn’t use it in a hot area, and the backsplash installation costs range from $20.00 to $50.00 a square foot to install.
You’ll find this type of backsplash installed in mudrooms, bathrooms, and ceilings, but it also ends up in kitchens. This backsplash uses thin strips of wood or beads that overlap over the edges of boards. You can find it in many types of plastics or vinyls. This makes them easier to clean, and you can get a wood tone to it. It usually gets painted white, and it’ll increase your backsplash installation cost by $7.00 to $20.00 a square foot.
If you like embossed patterns, this can make an interesting backsplash. They start in six-inch squares and go up to 18 or 24-inches square. They come in several colors, materials, and you can paint some. They create repeating and intricate backsplashes that are very dramatic. They’re hard to clean, but this backsplash installation cost will range from $30.00 to $50.00 a square foot.
Ceramic uses wet clay that gets glazed and fired. You can get them in a broad range of patterns, colors, and sizes, and each of them are easy to care for. You can get hand or machine-made ones that can give you kitchen several looks. They’ll need wider grout joints than other types, and this makes them harder to maintain. The backsplash installation cost for ceramic tile starts at $2.40 and goes up to $50.00.
If you like to draw or decorate on your backsplash, you can use chalkboard paint to create a chalkboard wall. This darker paint is easy to clean and it lets you write directly on your wall. However, painting your whole backsplash with this paint can make your kitchen look very dark. The paint will cost you between $20.00 and $25.00 a gallon.
Quartz and engineered stone are the same thing. This is a mixture of resins, pigments, and quartz. These resins make your engineered stones more consistent than natural stone. It also makes them more resistant to scratching, cracking, or staining. You can choose from several styles and colors, and you can get tiles or slabs. Your backsplash installation costs will range from $10.00 to $100 a square foot.
If you have a small or dark kitchen, a glass backsplash is a good option. Glass tiles will work to reflect a lot of light, and this can make your kitchen seem brighter and bigger. You can choose from several styles, colors, and sizes. Handmade glass gives you a traditional look, or you can pick from color-backed glass for a more modern look. It’s easy to clean, but the installation process will push your backsplash installation cost up to between $20.00 and $30.00 a square foot.
Granite is popular for a modern bathroom design, but you can find it in kitchens too. It’s less common because it’s hard to match granite slab with tile. Additionally, granite slab is a lot thicker than traditional tile, and you’ll need to install special extenders on all of your impacted outlet boxes. Depending on your choice of slab or tile, your backsplash installation costs will range from $10.00 to $100 a square foot.
If you want to have textures, colors, or patterns in your backsplash but you don’t want tile, wallpaper makes a solid pick. This wallpaper is a thicker material that you can easily wipe down to clean and care for, and it has dozens of patterns. Wallpaper will increase your backsplash installation cost by $30.00 to $50.00 a role.
Marble is stone made up of calcite, and it’s a compressed limestone that is more durable and harder. It comes in many sizes, colors, and patterns, and it is prone to staining. This means you have to make a point to routinely maintain it. You’ll pay between $5.00 and $75.00 a square foot for your marble backsplash installation costs.
Mirror-style backsplashes are a favorite in dark or small kitchens to give the illusion that the area is bigger and brighter than it actually is. You can use mirrored tiles or one big mirror, but they’ll need frequent cleaning since they tend to collect smudges. This type of backsplash costs between $8.00 and $15.00 a square foot.
Porcelain uses compressed clay dust in the makeup that gets fired at very high temperatures. It’s resistant to cracks, stains, and scratches to make it a durable option that will last for years, and it has a timeless look that goes with many kitchen cabinet styles. It doesn’t have a lot of colors, patterns, or sizes to it, but it can increase your backsplash installation cost by $3.00 to $30.00 a square foot.
For the more contemporary or modern kitchen, stainless steel is a great way to make a statement. They’re easy to care for and maintain, and they lend a dramatic look and feel to your space. You can get stainless steel tiles in different patterns, sizes, and shapes, or you can go with a single sheet. It works well as an accent material, and it’ll cost between $20.00 and $50.00 a square foot.
This is a unique limestone, and it gets formed inside hot springs. Escaping water vapors slowly form longer tunnels with holes in the stone, and you’ll see these holes on the surface of this material. You can get it filled or unfilled, and it comes in several finishes and colors. This material will add to your backsplash installation cost by $5.00 to $30.00 a square foot.
This is a man-made material that uses 10% resins and pigments to 90% quartz rock. It’s very easy to care for, and it’ll resist stains. You can get it in slabs or tile, and it works well in modern kitchens while being easy to match to other shades. You’ll pay between $10.00 and $100 a square foot for a quartz backsplash installation project.
Picking out a type of backsplash will influence your costs because some are much more complex than others. Some also require more attention to detail if you want to create patterns for a more eye-catching look and feel. 20080202-KitchenBacksplash02 by Brian Lawson / CC BY-SA 2.0
Price Points for Backsplash Patterns
It’s common to make a pattern on your backsplash with your chosen material, and any pattern will increase your backsplash installation cost by 10% to 20% due to the increased labor time and the fact that you’ll need to cut more material as you work. A few popular patterns include:
This pattern is any one that uses two tile sizes, and you cut out the corners of the bigger tiles to accommodate the smaller ones. The dot and octagon partnern are great examples, and you’ll clip out four corners on the larger tiles to make space for the dot. It’ll increase your backsplash installation cost by at least 20% due to how labor-intensive it is.
If you want a diagonal tile backsplash, it takes a square tile and puts them on a point. You’ll have to cut all of the tiles in the perimeter, and it’s popular when you tile a shower. The labor costs and the increased material needs will increase your backsplash installation costs by as much as 20%.
This makes a great addition to your backsplash behind your stove. You can use them on the perimeter, but the effect is less visible because it is only 18-inches high. You get this pattern by setting rectangular tiles at diagonal angles by one another. This is a complex pattern, so it can increase your backsplash installation cost by 20% to 30%.
You’ll use two tile sizes and have the smaller tile stepping off the bigger one. Your backsplash will give the illusion that it’s moving up and off to one side of your wall, and you can add depth by using different materials for each tile. You could also run a small decorative border around the edges of this design in another color to help draw attention to it, but it’ll increase your project costs by 25% to 30%.
This design uses any tile that you stak on top of another tile in straight lines. It’s the easiest and simplest pattern to install, so it can help keep your backsplash installation costs lower. You’ll need fewer materials for this pattern, and you’ll pay less in labor costs than you would with a different pattern.
The subway pattern is one of the most common patterns you’ll find on backsplashes. It uses a running bond pattern that uses rectangular tiles around three-inches by six-inches. Your backsplash installation costs will run around $2.50 to $20.00 a box, and you’ll want to add around 10% to your labor and material costs.
Tile Shapes and Prices
Your tile can come in a range of shapes, and each one will impact your tile installation costs. It’s possible to mix and match tiles to create eye-catching patterns, but the shape of the tile won’t directly impact how much the tile costs. The tile size and material play the biggest role in the price, and a few of the most popular tiles shapes are:
- Diamond – You can take a square tile and turn it on a point to create a diamond pattern. You can also purchase tiles that are in slightly elongated diamond patterns. They could have clipped ends with the tops and bottoms to make them fit together more cohesively.
- Mosaic – These tiles measure two inches or smaller, and they can come in any shape ranging from a rectangle or square to a circle. You can make them out of any material. They usually come in 12-inch square sheets that are mounted on a mesh backing or brown paper.
- Penny – These are a retro tile pattern that dates back to the 1940s. They are circular or rounded tiles, and the classic styles measure just over ½-inch. You can get them in sizes up to three inches in diameter, and you can get mixed and playful patterns.
- Rectangular – Rectangular tiles come in 3-inch by 6-inch, ½-inch by 1 inch, and 12 by 24 inches. You can arrange them in an offset or running board pattern, and you can easily stack them vertically or horizontally. To create interest, install them in a herringbone pattern.
- Square – This is some of the most basic tiles to install, and the sizes range from ⅜-inch up to 18-inches. They can have sharp corners with straight edges, or they can be slightly irregular. You can mix different materials and colors to add depth to the design, or you can go with one color.
There are many tiles shapes you can choose from to create unique looks for your kitchen or bathroom. Some are more challenging to work with, and this can increase your backsplash installation costs. Dark Color Scheme Glass Backsplash Piece by Ray Hughey / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Installation Process for a Backsplash
This process works just like any other type of type installation. Your contractor will measure the space and set up a dry layout nearby. During the dry layout, the contractor will play the tiles in the same size and shaped area to help determine the correct layout before they make their cuts. They’ll make cuts to fit the tiles or other material to the backsplash and around any outlets.
The most common installation process with tile is to spread a small amount of mortar on your wall. You’ll then set your tiles in the predetermined pattern. After the tiling process finishes, the mortar will have to cure for 24 hours, and you grout the backsplash. Once you grout it, it has to sit for an additional 24 hours. If you use engineered stone, natural stone, or cracked ceramic, you’ll have to seal it before you apply the grout.
If you have a 30-square-foot backsplash, the entire installation process takes a few hours for the installation part and another one or two hours the next day to grout.
Price to Replace a Backsplash
Fortunately, it’s easy to replace your kitchen backsplash as long as the original installation process was correct. You can slide a flat hand tool under the edge of the backsplash and gently pry it off the wall. If you have to remove the old backsplash before you continue on with your backsplash installation project, add around $100 for a 30-square foot area. If you have to remove a more complicated design to remove and replace, the backsplash installation costs go up to $1,600.
If you don’t have a care and work slowly to remove your backsplash, you can find yourself having to add drywall before you continue. If this is your situation, you’ll add up to $3.00 a square foot to put up new drywall. This increases your backsplash installation costs to around $1,700.
You want to keep your backsplash looking as neat and nice for as long as possible, and this means that you’ll have to perform routine maintenance. The maintenance you have to perform will depend on what types of food you cook, the material, and how often you cook. Glass, porcelain, and ceramic are the easiest materials to maintain. However, you may want to seal them to prevent staining. This will depend on how much grout you have. You can usually get away with wiping down your backsplash with warm water and soap.
If you have a natural stone or engineered stone, you’ll need to seal it to stop it from staining. You should also wipe this backsplash down if an acidic material like tomato sauce lands on it to prevent etching. This can keep your backsplash looking nice for longer.
Optional Improvements or Enhancements
If you want to boost the overall look of your backsplash, there are a few optional things you can choose to do. They can enhance how your backsplash looks, and they can also brighten up this area of your kitchen. The biggest things you can do include:
Add LED Lighting
You can create a backsplash with LED lighting in it to brighten up your kitchen. Your contractor will usually have matts that come embedded with hundreds of tiny LED lights. The backsplashes start at $100 a square foot to install, and you’ll have to pay an hourly rate for an electrician to come out. They’ll wire these lights to a GFCI outlet, and this brings your backsplash installation costs up to $4,500.
Replacing the Countertops
When you replace your countertops, most people also swap out their backsplashes so all of the new areas of your kitchen match and look cohesive. You’ll pay around $3,000 for new countertops, and you can include this in your total backsplash installation cost estimate.
On average, labor costs run between $40.00 and $60.00 an hour. If you want peel-and-stick installations, they are much simpler. This would put your labor costs around $40.00 an hour. Your backsplash installation costs will go up if you want a more detailed design.
If you want an elaborate herringbone or mosaic pattern, you’ll have to factor in additional effort, tile cutting, and time. Some contractors can charge you up to $100 an hour for more complex tile work. Depending on the work scope and the size of the area, you could spend up to $400 and $500 a day. Even a smaller project can take up to two days to complete. During the first day, your contractor will do all of the prep work and installation. The second day usually involves the grouting, sealing, and cleaning. This stage will take at least a half of a day to complete.
Where to Find Backsplash Installation Professionals Near You
Finding backsplash installation companies in your area can be overwhelming, but this simple resource can give you a starting point to start your research. You should pick two or three companies and compare your estimates before you settle on one to ensure you get the best cost.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are several questions that you should ask your contractors when you call them to ask for estimates. Asking the same set of questions will help you get a good feel for your installation prices, and it’ll help make your job easier. Backsplash by henbogle / CC BY 2.0
1. What is the average installation time for your backsplash?
On average, it only takes a few hours to install your new backsplash for non-complicated projects. More complicated projects can take up to a day or two.
2. Can you stack a new backsplash over an old one?
Yes, it’s possible to put a new backsplash over an existing one. If you choose this route, you’ll need to use liquid nails. The old grout and tile lines should be invisible. If these things show, remove the old tiles or make your spaces smaller.
3. Is it possible to put a backsplash behind a stove?
You can, but you don’t have to. If you have a stove with a range hood, you’ll have a bigger space to fit your new backsplash in. This can increase your backsplash installation costs. You can install something decorative and create a nice focal point for your kitchen.
4. How thick should your backsplash tile be?
Most tile has a standard thickness of ⅜-inch. However, you can have a tile thickness up to a full inch without compromising your counter space.
Your backsplash installation cost will vary depending on a host of factors, and you have to narrow down which ones are relevant to your situation. This way, you’ll be able to budget for this project and get the look you want without breaking your budget.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.