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Question DetailsAsked on 2/16/2014

Cost for kitchen backsplash installed, 9.5ft x 3ft?

I want to have some nice but not crazy expensive tile installed in the kitchen of our condo. The length is about 9.5 feet (under 10 feet) and at the highest, less than 3 feet.

Is it really around $1,500?

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2 Answers


It is hard to say without knowing the tile being used. A tile backsplash is a very labor intensive tile job because it is such a small area and on top of that it is an difficult area to work in. In most kitchens you are talking about working under a space that is 18 inches high for the greater part of the kitchen and there are no large areas to make good time on. The number of cuts for outlets, switches, cabinet corners and such slows the installer down. I would say that $600 to $800 would be the normal labor charge but could be higher. I have spent the better part of the day just cutting the tile for a simple focal point or mural behind the cooktop. You also have to figure in there will be a second day involved grouting the tile. If it is something like tumbled marble you have to figure time in sealing the tiles before installation so the grout does not penetrate into the tiles and then a return trip to seal after job is done.

If I had an idea as to the type of tile, cost of tile and any trim I might be able to give a better idea of the costs.

Answered 6 years ago by ContractorDon


Here is another answer to a similar question sometime back - figure 4x4 and larger tile about same price as mat mosaic tile (mosaic mounted on nylon backing sheet so installing sheets of tile rather than individual mosaic pieces).

I am going to assume any wallpaper has been stripped and the surface cleaned of glue residue - otherwise, painted or bare drywall assumed. Assuming being treated as a dry tile job (only rare water contact, no soaking in - so does not need waterproof backer board) I would figure this job at 2 hours prep through scratch coat, 2 hours laying tile, 2 hours grout and cleanup/polishing/sealing - for a total of 6 hours (though actually has to be on 3 different work days) - that would be about $250 in labor on very low end, to $400 range more likely, to maybe $500 high end. This assumes he is not driving very far, because 3 visits are needed to allow setting time at each step.

The tile itself can run from about $2 or a bit less for cheap box store tile, to $10/SF for higher end fancier ceramic or porcelain tile, to of course up to $100/SF or even more for individually painted and glazed or metallic-gilted tiles. So, for your case, maybe $5-10/SF tile = $125-250 tile, plus about $100 miscellaneous materials/costs, yielding a total estimate of about $500-850 by my estimate - probably $100-150 more if water resistant backer board is installed. (Plug in your own tile cost to get a better match to your condition, if you know what tile you want already). About 7-14 day total job duration, as scratch coat needs curing overnight, then grout needs to cure a weekk or so before being sealed.

An estimating guide says a lot less - only allows 3.5 hours labor for a labor cost of around $200 - WAY too low in my mind, due to the need for 3 visits to allow setting times. In reality, other than tile cost, you might get twice the area for almost the same cost, because of the small size of the job.

One way to REALLY cut your cost, though is makes it a LOT less water resistant if grout joint is damaged and not immediately repaired, and especially if water is splashed to the top of the backsplash - is to use mastic to apply the tile directly to the drywall, grout immediately, then seal a week or so later. Would cut labor cost by about half and eliminate one trip, tile and materials cost little different either way. As long as you immediately repair any cracked or popped out grout joints mastic should work fine on a backsplash (resoftens when wetted), though I do have one recommendation which some tile layers do not like. I require non-paintable silicone caulk as the "grout" at the interface between the countertop and the backsplash, and done in two passes - one narrow bead of non-paintable long-life silicone caulk at the back face of the tile that the bottom row of tile is set into when placing the tile, then a second bead of tub and tile caulk like Dap placed with a caulk gun as normal along the interface as "grout". Makes that seam a lot more watertight and capable of taking the slight up and down movement of the countertop when weight it put on it or due to moisture changes in the cabinets, reduces tile cracking and popoouts due to cabinet or floor expansion from high moisture, and makes that seam far more waterproof so countertop puddling can't get to the wall and mastic behind. With thinset, I still require caulk at this seam (just like the bottom and corner seams on tub/shower walls), but single pass after grouting is fine as the thinset is not affected by small amounts of water contact.

I would say get a couple of more quotes - just be sure to get quotes from reputable, well rated tile layers, not drop down to handyman level just to get a cheaper price - and be sure they are bidding same scope - yes or no on concrete backer board, thin set or mastic.

Also, if you are willing to consider mastic, this might drop into the do it yourself category IF the coutertop is level, so you don't have to custom cut the bottom row of tile to get level joints - though it is not hard to rent a small tile cutter or saw and do that too. The only real tough part, assuming you lay it out so there are no tile cuts (only whole tiles) is getting the layout straight and aligning the individual tiles for uniform spacing, which you can buy spacing guides for, or buy tile with self-alignment spacer nubs. If you have to do starter cuts to fit a specific space (cuts at the starting reentrant corner) or cuts to compensate for an unlevel countertop, then for a first-timer it is certainly doable, but might be a bit daunting - especially if you are using expensive tile.

Good Luck

Answered 6 years ago by LCD

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