There are hundreds of home improvement projects you can tackle in a day, but most don’t have the instant impact a tile backsplash brings to the table. Backsplash installation cost is minimal compared to tiling your floor or shower, and we think you’ll be blown away by the number of options available. Whether you enjoy bold solid colors or the rough look of stone, there is a backsplash out there that will suit your needs and style.
Where will you install the Backsplash?
The purpose of a backsplash is to protect your wall from water and other substances that can stain your walls around sinks and stoves. They can run the length of your countertop in a kitchen or just take up a few feet between your bathroom vanity and mirror – that’s all up to you.
Your options are unlimited from a design standpoint, but where the backsplash is installed can affect the overall cost when using a professional. A small bathroom can be difficult to work in, which can increase the cost of labor if your project is billed at an hourly rate. Unless you plan on using a peel and stick backsplash or go the DIY route, you have to consider the cost of labor – especially in tight spots.
Types of Backsplashes
A backsplash can consist of single tiles or be “mesh-mounted” depending on the style you choose. Tiles on a mesh mat can be smaller or in mosaic form but easier to deal with if you’re a beginner. Single tiles give you a wider degree of freedom with your design, but you can find an amazing array of styles from metal mosaics to wood look tile in either format.
When most consumers think “backsplash,” they usually think of something traditional, which means squares and rectangular tiles. Want small hexagons or Arabesque tiles? Those are options along with a half-dozen other shapes and sizes.
There’s no average size for a backsplash tile considering they can be sold on a mesh mat and vary anywhere from 1” x 6” tiles to panels over 18” wide. There are a few popular styles you can focus on; however, like Penny round tiles. They are an affordable fan favorite and a great option when you want a tight, compact pattern and aren’t partial to squares.
Large format tiles are also an option along with Herringbone and Subway tiles. Mosaic tiles can feature a number of materials, shapes or patterns but are usually matted unless you decide to cut and design your own backsplash. Large format tiles can be harder to work with depending on the number of cut-outs in your wall, but they are ideal for areas where you need to cover a lot of ground.
Cost of Materials
The first thing that factors into your backsplash installation cost is the materials used for the job. You will need a few tools, mortar, and grout mix, but the tile and labor or where you’ll spend most of your money. The cost of tile depends on the manufacturer along with a number of factors, including what it’s made from, the thickness, and finish.
Backsplash tile is priced by the square foot and sold by the box although you can buy single tiles, and large tiles or panels are often sold individually. While it’s impossible to give an accurate range, the cost of tile for a backsplash can range from $0.60 to $20.00 per square foot. Once you figure how much square footage you’ll need, our table will give you an idea of what to expect from different styles of backsplash tile.
Per sq. ft.
Hudson Penny Round
12” x 12.63”
Eden Mosaic Tile
11.8” x 11.8”
Silver Split Face
12” x 12”
Aluminum & Porcelain
Leaf Shaped Metal
11.5” x 13.8”
12” x 12”
12” x 12”
3” x 6”
DIY Backsplash Installation Cost
Backsplash installation cost is cheapest if you choose to install it yourself as a contractor can make up a large portion of your project’s price. The materials needed are the same you’d use when installing tile flooring or wall tiles, so you’ll need to pick up a tile saw unless you don’t have any outlets to deal with. If you don’t want a staggered pattern on the wall and won’t have to make any cuts, you won’t need a handheld cutter or wet saw for stone.
As mentioned, mesh-mounted tiles are the quickest to work with and the easiest for beginners to install. If you plan to make your backsplash a weekend project and don’t want to take a day off from work, use a mesh tile product. The styles are somewhat limited, but you won’t have to deal with spacing or sliding tiles. If you’re going to install single tiles and forgo the mesh mat, you will need tiles spacers and something to cut with.
Regardless of the style of tile, you’ll need to purchase thin-set mortar mix which runs around $15.00 for a 50-pound bag. That’s for “traditional” tile as you’ll want to use a different mortar mix for heavier stone or large format tile, and it can be up to $15 more per bag. Pay close attention to the type of mortar used as what’s best for glass will not work well with stone.
Grout mix is a bit more expensive but can be purchased pre-mixed, which can save you time and keep things tidy. Grout is sold in different colors and blends as well and costs around $10.00 - $30.00 per quart. In addition to the materials mentioned, you’ll also need a bucket, sponges, trowel, and a torpedo level to keep things nice and level.
Professional Backsplash Installation Cost
When you decide to call in a professional, you won’t have to deal with picking up any of the materials in our DIY section, and they can even help you select the right tile for the job if you’re unsure. A contractor’s price will include the full backsplash installation from start to finish, which includes grouting, sealing, and cleanup.
The cost of a contractor varies by area, and as you might suspect, by the type of tile you choose. Stone will cost a little more because it’s heavier, but the difference is generally minimal unless it’s large format stone tiles or a unique project. While there aren’t many things that can cause problems with installing a tile backsplash, a professional can fix a dip in your wall and handle tricky cuts around outlets with ease.
In our research, we found most average-sized backsplashes cost between $650 to $1,500 depending on the factors we mentioned. If you feel like your backsplash is better left to a pro, you can use our pricing tool to find top-tier contractors in your area.
Q: Does my backsplash need to be sealed?
A: If it’s glazed ceramic, porcelain or glass, probably not although grout lines can still stain and sealing those will help combat that. Stone tiles and some ceramic tiles that are porous will need to be sealed; however, if you want to keep them in great shape.
Q: Is tile difficult to cut?
A: It depends on the type of tile, but glass, ceramic, porcelain are easy to cut manually. Porcelain can be tricky, and you may need a wet saw for thicker stone.
Q: How thick will my backsplash be?
A: While the number varies, you can expect porcelain and ceramic tiles to come in between 7mm – 10mm in most cases. Glass and metal are around the same range while natural stone is thicker and usually measures 10mm – 12mm.
Whether you choose ceramic or porcelain tile, stone, glass, or a metal backsplash in your home, check the square footage for your project beforehand and set a budget. If you want to extend the style of your backsplash across the wall or floor of your bathroom, be sure to check out our tile guide!