Backsplash Installation Cost

The average cost of installing a backsplash is around $1,500.

In this guide

Pros and cons
Material
Tile shapes
Popular patterns
Typical backsplash height
Installation
Labor
Extending countertops up the wall
Maintenance
Enhancement and improvement costs
Additional considerations and costs
FAQ

How much does it cost to install a backsplash?

The backsplash 1 is the single most decorative part of a new kitchen design. Backsplashes were once installed as a practical way to protect the wall behind a cooktop from splatter. With new cleaning implements and tougher paint, the backsplash has evolved into an optional feature in the kitchen that can be used to show off the style or personal tastes of the homeowner.

The average backsplash in the kitchen measures roughly 30 square feet in size and costs around $1,500 installed for a classic, white subway tile 2 with a framed cooktop area.

Pros and cons

Backsplashes add to the personality, color, and style of the kitchen. They are fairly easy to change out and update, so they can be used to take a classic kitchen style and give it a fresh look every 10 years or so. They can pick up colors from the countertop, show off personal tastes or interests, or feature materials that maximize light in the room, such as glass.

Most backsplash materials are very easy-to-clean, easier than keeping a painted surface clean. Glass, ceramic, porcelain, and some metal backsplashes are easy to wipe clean of most substances.

However, some backsplash materials including natural stone, wallpaper, wood, and paint require maintenance to keep them looking their best. Stone must be sealed to prevent staining, while wallpaper or paint may be damaged by too much scrubbing.

Material

Backsplashes are one of the most unique areas in the home. They do not have foot traffic nor are exposed to large amounts of moisture. They do, however, occasionally see splatters from grease and food substances. You can install nearly any material you wish in the backsplash area, but some materials require steps to protect them from staining. The amount of cooking you do and the types of foods you cook with also impact how easy a particular material is to maintain. Materials you may wish to consider include:​

MaterialProsCons

Porcelain tile

($5-$20/sq.ft.)

Easy to clean

Larger tiles mean less grout 3

Patterns available to mimic the look

of stone, glass, and fabric

Fewer sizes, patterns, and shapes available

Not all colors have bullnose (finish edge) tiles

Ceramic tile

($5-$100/sq.ft.)

Easy to clean

Many patterns, and shapes to choose from

Handmade and machine-made available

Handmade tile will leave large

amounts of grout 3

Crazed (crackled finish) tile must be

sealed to prevent stains

Beadboard panels

($7-$20/sq.ft.)

Cottage appearance

Easy to install

Hard to maintain

May need frequent repainting to cover stains

Mirrors

($8-$15/sq.ft.)

Reflects light

Makes small kitchens look larger

Easy to clean

Not many sizes available

Natural stone

($10-$100/sq.ft.)

Many stones to choose from including

granite, marble, travertine, and onyx

Many shapes, and sizes available

High maintenance

Must be sealed regularly

Must be washed with PH-neutral cleaners

May stain

Chalkboard paint

($20/gallon)

Inexpensive

Easy to install

Hides stains well

May not wear well with frequent cleaning

Makes the kitchen look dark

Glass

($20-$30/sq.ft.)

Easy to clean

Reflects light to make spaces look larger

Many shapes, patterns, and sizes available

Hand-cut glass is hard to clean

Lots of grout joints with smaller tiles

Engineered stone

($20-$50/sq.ft.)

Less maintenance than natural stone

Several colors and shapes available

Expensive

Some materials may react badly

with water or grease

Wallpaper

($30-$50/roll)

Many colors and patterns available

Inexpensive

Some wallpapers cannot be washed

Difficult to remove

Ceiling tiles

($30-$50/sq.ft.)

Unique look and style

Often easy to care for

Can be expensive

May require specialized fitting

Metal

($30-$100/sq.ft.)

Low maintenance

Many patterns available

Several metal choices available including

steel, copper, and aluminum

Expensive

Some cannot be used near the cooktop

due to a risk of melting


Tile shapes

While you can use nearly any material in this area, most materials are sold in a tile form including ceramic, porcelain, natural and engineered stone, metal, glass, mirrors, and ceiling tiles. Many of these materials are also available in different shapes and sizes including:

  • Square: These tiles range in size from ⅜ to 18 inches.
  • Rectangle: These tiles range in size from ½x1 inches up 12x24 inches. The most common size is 3x6 inches and is often called a subway tile 2.
  • Diamond: These tiles may be achieved by turning a square tile on point or may be an elongated diamond shape.
  • Mosaic: Any small tile that measures 2 inches or less in size and may be a single color/materia, mixture, or pattern.
  • Circles: Sometimes called “dots” or “penny tiles 4,” these tiles range in size from ½ to 4 inches and are sometimes sold in mixed sizes.
  • Stix-long: These tiles are very thin rectangles pieced together as a mosaic ranging in size from ⅜x4 inches to ½x12 inches.

It is common to install tile or other materials on your backsplash in a pattern. Any pattern other than a straight set tile increases the costs of the project by between 10 and 20% due to the extra material needed and the additional time to cut and lay the tile. Popular patterns for the backsplash include:

  • Straight set: This design consists of any tile shape stacked on top of one another in straight lines.
  • Off-set: Also called a subway or running bond, the patterns are staggered every half tile.
  • Diagonal: These are square tiles turned on point.
  • Herringbone: This pattern uses subway or rectangular tiles laid in a way that creates visual movement.
  • Cut corner: This pattern includes mixed size tiles. Examples include octagon and dot and basketweave.
  • Step pattern: This design includes two tile sizes with the smaller tile “stepping off” the corner of the larger.

Other popular styles or patterns include running a decorative border one tile up from the bottom of the backsplash and framing out the area above the cooktop using a decorative molding or border tile. In either case, the field tile may change in the bordered area. For example, a running bond subway tile 2 along the countertops may change behind a framed cooktop to a herringbone pattern.

Typical backsplash height

The most common backsplash height is 18 inches from the top of the countertop to the bottom of the underside of the cabinets. This amount of space will hold 6 rows of 3x6 tiles, 4 full rows plus a 2-inch border of 4-inch tiles, 1 row of 18-inch tiles, 1½ rows of 12x12 or 12x24-inch tiles, or 6 rows of 3-inch tiles. It is very common to mix tile sizes to fill the space, creating a unique pattern.

Older kitchens with shorter upper cabinets and countertops that have an integral backsplash usually have a backsplash area of 14 to 15 inches to be tiled.

Installation

Backsplash installation proceeds much like any other tile installation. The space is measured, and a dry layout is done nearby. This is when the tiles are placed in an area of the same shape and size to determine the proper layout and to make cuts. Cuts are made to fit the tiles or other material to the backsplash and any outlets.

If the backsplash is tile, the most common method of completing the space is to spread a small amount of mortar 5 on the wall. Then, the tiles are set in the predetermined pattern. After tiling, the mortar 5 cures for 24 hours, then the backsplash is grouted and requires another 24 hours to cure. If the material is crackled ceramic or natural or engineered stone, it must be sealed prior to grouting.

For a 30-square-foot backsplash, the entire process takes just a few hours for installation and another one to two hours the next day for grouting.

Labor

The labor cost of installing a backsplash varies depending on the material, its shape and size, and the condition of the backsplash area. In most cases, the going rate is around $10 to $15 per square foot. For a 30-square-foot backsplash, this costs between $300 and $450. Keep in mind that if you are using a complicated pattern or material, it will raise costs by about 20%, making labor costs $360 to $540.

Extending countertops up the wall

Most countertops have the option of a small, integral backsplash of about 3 to 4 inches in height. However, it is also possible to have your countertop extend to cover the entire backsplash area. The cost for this is equal to the cost of the rest of the countertop. For example, if you use a granite countertop at $150 per square foot installed, then the cost of the backsplash will be $4,500 for 30 square feet.

Maintenance

The maintenance of your backsplash depends on several factors including the material, how often you cook, and what types of foods you cook. Ceramic, porcelain, and glass are the easiest to maintain, but depending on how much grout you have, you may wish to seal it to prevent staining. Otherwise, just wiping the backsplash with soap and water is sufficient to keep it clean.

For natural stone and some engineered stone backsplashes, you need to seal the material to prevent staining. Even then, you should wipe off splashes of acidic material like tomato sauce quickly to prevent etching of the surface. Always wash your backsplash with a cleaner made for the specific material, such as a stone or metal cleaner.

Enhancement and improvement costs

Replacing the countertops

It is common to switch out your backsplash when you replace your countertops. If this is the case, expect to pay $3,000 for a new countertop.

Additional considerations and costs

  • Removing an old backsplash 4 to install a new one is a simple job that costs around $2 to $5 per square foot.
  • Using a contrasting color or pattern in your backsplash 1 can create a focal point in the kitchen that improves the aesthetics of the space.
  • When you decide to replace the backsplash, the old one must be removed carefully to avoid damage to the wall before the new one can be installed.
  • Most tile backsplashes can be easily installed DIY. Ceramic tile can be cut with a score-and-snap tool, so no major equipment is required.

FAQ

  • What is the best material for a kitchen backsplash?

In most areas, having some exhaust system is required by code. However, you can choose to use a microwave with an exhaust system instead of a hood.

Ceramic subway tile 2 costs around $5 per square foot 1, while installation runs between $10 and $15 per square foot, plus mortar 5 and grout costs.

  • How much does a new backsplash and countertop cost?

Altogether, the cost of a new backsplash 1 and countertop will run about $4,500.

  • How long does it take to install a kitchen backsplash?

Most backsplashes can be installed within a few hours.

  • How high should a kitchen backsplash be?

The average height of a kitchen backsplash is around 18 inches.

  • How thick should a backsplash tile be?

The standard thickness for most tile is ⅜ of an inch, but a backsplash may be up to 1-inch thick without compromising counter space.

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Remodeling Terms Cheat Sheet

Definitions in laymen's terms, cost considerations, pictures and things you need to know.
See full cheat sheet.
1 Backsplash: The upright surface, often made of tile, behind a kitchen counter, sink, or stove, that protects the wall from damage from splatter due to kitchen activities
2 Subway tile: A flat rectangular piece of glazed ceramic, traditionally 3-by-6 inches, used to decorate indoor walls and serve as a backsplash
3 Grout: A fluid form of cement used to seal the joints between tiles. It also makes the surface stronger because it bonds the tiles together
4 Penny tiles: A small type of tile, usually between 0.75 inches and 1 inch wide, used to decorate kitchens, bathrooms, and pools
5 Mortar: A mixture of Portland cement or lime or a combination of both, sand, and water used to bind bricks, stones, and concrete masonry units together

Cost to install a backsplash varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

Labor cost by city and zip code

Compared to national average
Albany, NY
+17%
Alexandria, VA
+2%
Antioch, CA
+30%
Athens, GA
-9%
Austin, TX
+13%
Birmingham, AL
+6%
Boca Raton, FL
0%
Bradenton, FL
-8%
Bronx, NY
+32%
Buffalo, NY
-1%
Canton, GA
-5%
Charlotte, NC
+6%
Clarksville, TN
-13%
Clinton, MS
0%
Clovis, CA
-6%
Cupertino, CA
+33%
Denver, CO
+1%
Erie, PA
-17%
Exton, PA
+18%
Fairfield, CT
+19%
Fishers, IN
+9%
Fort Wayne, IN
-7%
Franklin, TN
+26%
Frisco, TX
+23%
Goodyear, AZ
-2%
Greenfield, MA
-8%
Hampshire, IL
+28%
Hyannis, MA
+5%
Indianapolis, IN
+6%
Jacksonville, FL
-1%
Joliet, IL
+25%
Lakeland, FL
-13%
Las Vegas, NV
+7%
Lompoc, CA
0%
Lowell, MA
+36%
Madison, MS
+11%
Minneapolis, MN
+25%
Monroe, LA
-13%
Moreno Valley, CA
-6%
New York, NY
+77%
Norfolk, NE
-31%
Oklahoma City, OK
-12%
Omaha, NE
-10%
Peabody, MA
+19%
Phoenix, AZ
0%
Plainfield, NJ
+38%
Plano, TX
+24%
Potosi, MO
-61%
Reserve, LA
+30%
Rexburg, ID
-47%

Labor cost in your zip code

Last modified:   
Methodology and sources