Question: What’s the average labor cost of installing 17 sq ft of kitchen tile backsplash? Each tile is on 1 square foot mesh backing.
Answer: This is a great question, because it means I get to give TWO answers. Who’s excited? First, the short one which is just a number, then longer one where (can you see me ascending my home improvement soapbox?) we check down the components of that numero and what a good value looks like—for both homeowner and contractor.
$800-$1,000. Could be more, depending on the complexity of the tile style.
WHAT?! It’s just a small backsplash!
If that number is a sticker shocker, it should be understood that a backsplash is a 2-day project—even a small one. Day 1 is for prepping the job, moving in tools, installing the tile and, if you use Bondera (awesome) or fast-setting thinset (uber hassle)—and everything goes right—you can grout.
Day 2 is for grouting/cleaning up/sealing…about 1/2 day’s work.
A qualified contractor (the kind with good customer service, insurance, drop cloths, the one who knows how to detail an inside corner so it looks awesome; the kind who won’t demo your counters, scratch your stove, etc.) has labor rates starting around $50-60/hour or more is many markets: $400-500/day.
So, for a job like this, expect to get quotes for around $800 plus materials. Also, please note that it is almost always a headache for the contractor if the homeowner buys anything but the tile itself (and even then, let your contractor tell you how much to buy.) Part of what a professional contractor does is know and understand what is needed for your particular project.
You don’t buy tools for your doctor to save money on surgery, right? Same thing here. In fact, a contractor who knows what he’s doing may tell you that and suggest that you may be charged time and materials if there are materials missing. If he misses it, that trip to the home center is on him. If you miss something, it’s on you.
Remodeling projects large and small are a kind of dance. If each partner understands and respects the steps of the other, then it’ll go as smoothly as possible. If one tries too hard to take the lead when it’s not their turn, well, toes get stepped on and it’s no fun for anybody.