Backsplash: It Costs HOW Much?

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.

Bondera Tile Mat Set

Installing a tile backsplash using Bondera.


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.

Short Answer

$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.


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  1. As a contractor, this was probably one of the nicest articles I have read, regarding contracting work. Kudos. FYI: The average backsplash area amounts to around 32 square feet (after doing this project for 35+ years). You hit the nail on the head when you mentioned our costs involved (i.e. insurance, tools, etc.). We are not the 8-12 dollar and hour kind of trade. It will take at least 1-1/2 days to complete a backsplash. Some things people forget about are the electrical outlets…moving them out the thickness of the tile (about 1/4″ to 1/2″)…securely, the color of the outlets…now that tile is in place, and the cover plates…tile matching or eye catching. All things to consider prior to designing the backsplash project.

  2. I fully appreciate your site post. Your post offered me some amazing information and creativity that I was looking for to enhance my content.

  3. Alright Jayden. Please let us know how it turns out!

  4. Hey Mark,

    I had to “Speak my Mind” after reading your article on tile back splashes…me as a decorative tile back splash fabricator I take my passion very seriously as well im sure most contractors of various trades do…nothing bothers us more when a customer/friend says “oh come on i can do that”…LETS SEE YA ! …lol….your view is 100% on point…ive fabricated easily over 1,500 tile back splashes..of course you get your 3×6 subway customers…4×4 diagonal install with a 4” accent band which is considered custom but as custom goes thats generally a basic install for back splashes….now that being said the devil is ALL in the details when it comes to back splashes which most dont understand…making sure you notch out around the GFI outlets so when you put your wall plates back on the screws go all the way in so its not loose…if you dont notch a little 1/4 inch U your literally screwed (HA)…it was really a breath of fresh air to read someone who gets it…just wanted to thank you for understanding why a 35-40 sq ft job costs 750-1000 usually just in labor….its the old saying you get what you pay for..i tell my customers im on more on the expensive side for my trade but at the end of the job you will totally understand why…usually i go to showrooms with my customers and help guide them in the design process which is my favorite part of the project…thats how you build relationships…as a general contractor yourself im sure you know if the customer doesnt feel comftorable or trust you your not getting that job….selling yourself is just as important in the beginning no doubt…after that your work will speak for itself…sorry for rambling lol…but im very very pathetically passionate about decorative back splashes….im located in Southern NJ if anyone needs a back splash…. also if anyone wants to check out some of my recent installs i have over 300 pictures on my FB page… …..not sure if sharing that is frowned upon if so my bad…hope you all have a good night ! !…

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