Backsplash price installation sounds high?

IliNOctober 10, 2013

My contractor just gave me a quote for backsplash installation, it will be about $1000 for 20sq feet of 2x8 subway tile. Does that sound high or is it just me? We are in the Boston Metrowest area. This exludes material. Thanks.

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Hi there,

I just had our kitchen backsplash done in the North Shore-Cape Ann area. It wasn't subway tile, but large format tiles, so the guys had to make cuts for the electrical outlets in the tiles. The estimate listed 30 square feet of tile.

The labor cost was $525. Two guys, the owner and his helper. They arrived at 8:45am, and left sometime between 1:45pm and 2:30pm. One guy returned the next morning to clean off the grout haze. So, let's say 5.5 hours, 2 guys = 11 person-hours -> $47 per hour. That rate was in line with other jobs that my neighbors had received in the area.

For $1000, assuming $50 per hour, that works out to 20 person-hours. Which would be 2 1/2 days at 8 hours a day.

Do you know how many workers will be working on your job? Can they give you a rough estimate of how many days they think the job will take?

That would give you an idea of whether the labor rate is in line with the $1000 estimate.

I didn't have subway tile -- I'd expect the time to layout the subway tiles would take longer than my large format tiles.

Hope this help!

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 10:10PM
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Just one person, I think maybe about 6-8 hours the first day, less on the second. Only 20 sq feet.
Thanks so much that does give me an idea of how much it should be!

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 7:54AM
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I just had my backsplash installed in the last couple weeks.

I had 22 sq ft of 12x12 mosaic sheets behind the range and about 36 sq ft of 3x6 subway tile with a 3-row accent strip of the same mosaic (for the rest of the backsplash).

Labor cost was $900. It took approx 4 full days.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 8:08AM
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I just called around for this same project- also in Metrowest. The only issue? We have 95 sq ft of backsplash (we are going from coutners to ceiling). One installer who came highly recommended on AL said he runs a standard $800 installation charge for 25sq ft of backsplash. For our project, he quoted $2400. It seemed to me that when calling around that standard 25 sq ft or so would cost around the same- $800. If you want, I can share the name.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 8:26AM
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That's not that high. It's minimum labor charges for a contractor who has a license and insurance to pay for. That's a day and a half of labor. And do you really want to trust your project to someone who doesn't have any insurance?

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 9:25AM
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I paid $1K for about 30 sq.ft. of 3x6, just field tile and bullnose trim. I paid for the tile separately. I'm in the SF Bay Area. This didn't include me having them take out the first grout immediately after it was completed because I hated the color I chose. I paid $125 extra to have it taken out and regrouted. I'd have gladly paid twice that. :) It took two guys the better part of one day to set the tile, then a brief regrout. I sealed the grout myself.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 11:20AM
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Yes it is very high. I would DIY. My mother was in her 70s when she did her own backsplash with decos and a liner tile. It is beautiful. I did a kitchen floor in my 20s. It's not rocket science. It doesn't take two men to do a back splash either.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 12:14PM
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No, it doesn't take two men to do a backsplash, but most setters work with a helper ... someone to help them set up, mark cuts, cut tiles, etc. A helper is especially handy if the area being tiled is far from where the tile saw is set up or if there are stairs. Running back and forth to make cuts is time consuming

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 12:21PM
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I don't think that's high either. Maybe on the high side for that amount...but not outrageous.

I charge my clients cost of tile plus labor. Labor from my tile guy is usually in the range of $700 to $1300 depending on amount and complexity of cuts and design.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 12:29PM
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If there hadn't been two guys, one guy would have taken almost twice as long. It's total man hours.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 12:37PM
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The helper doesn't need to be a man who earns $50+ an hour to stand there watching, handing things, and being a gopher. Distracting with chat. There are tile men who do work solo. If they are well organized, it shouldn't be a problem in doing a simple backsplash.

I would never pay $1000 to have a little back splash put in. It would be paint if I couldn't do it myself.

This post was edited by snookums2 on Fri, Oct 11, 13 at 13:12

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 1:10PM
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No, a helper does not generally make $50 per hour. But his employer does pay payroll taxes, insurance, workers comp, etc. And a helper does much more than "distracting with chat." If that's all they did, they likely wouldn't be employed long. They are often an apprentice, learning the trade as they assist the setter. Besides the overhead in running a business, there is also the idea of profit, which every business owner desires to make at least a little of. Not everyone is a do-it-yourselfer type ... I've seen some pretty awful Homeowner tile jobs.

The best way to see if the bid is fair for the area is to get two other bids and see where they come in at. The OP did say that this bid was from a GC, so he may be subbing out the backsplash, in which case he would tack his fee on top of the subs price. Everything costs more when a GC is involved because they have to make their profit, too.

This post was edited by jellytoast on Fri, Oct 11, 13 at 13:38

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 1:30PM
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I also think it is a bit high, but within a reasonable range. Usually smaller jobs come in at a higher price proportionately because the set-up time is the same as a large job. You may save a little, but I would be more concerned about knowing about the quality of work. Is the contractor doing the work himself or is he subletting the job. You are also paying for someone who can afford to redo the work if a problem were to arise. What is the tile made of? Some are easier installs than others.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 1:46PM
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Trust me, if I thought I could DIY my backsplash, I would have. Beyond the $$ saved, it gives me a lot of satisfaction to do things myself. As it turned out, I don't have the confidence or expertise to pull it off, and my budget covered the cost of paying someone else to do it.

In my team of two guys, one was definitely senior to the other. Both were busy the whole time. They may have been getting different wages. Another fellow who bid, and works alone, was about $100 less. At least with two guys, they tend to be in your kitchen less time.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 1:50PM
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I think it's high, especially since it's subway tile you're having installed. That is a very simple installation. If you're unsure, get a couple other quotes, no biggie.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 2:25PM
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Ooops, correction: My $1K bid was for a little over 40 sq. ft. of backsplash.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 2:42PM
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Hi -
I just got a rough estimate in Metrowest for 30 sq ft of mosaic tile (12 x 12 sheet) of about $1200. She said it takes about 3 trips -- Day 1 install tile, Day 2 grout, Day 3 sealer. I'm wondering if we could do the sealer ourselves and save a bit of money.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 2:52PM
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I don't DIY anything. If I did, it would look awful. I paid more than $1000 7 years ago for 40 sf of backsplash of tumbled marble in a versailles pattern, with replacement of about 40 2" tiles with glass tiles. Worth every penny - I loved that backsplash for as long as I lived in that house.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 3:08PM
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Hi there,
We just installed 30 sf of subway tile (3x6) in brick pattern as part of kitchen remodel and I got a few quotes before we decided to DYI it. The hourly rate was anywhere from 35-50$ an hour and it took 2 first timers about 8 hours just to put the tile up and a few hours more to do the grout. We're in Canada, but large metro area. IâÂÂd get some quotes from tile provider or specialised labor, might be better than GC. One tip to save time on sealing: we used an additive instead of water to mix the grout which acts as a sealing agent. More expensive but saves a step (works only for specific unsanded products).

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 3:36PM
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Wow lots of differing opinions! I wonder if we should just do it ourselves. I'm happy to pay up to 700 for 20sq ft. If it's more then we will just DIY!!!

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 5:10PM
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My contractor bills at $__ per person, per hour on the job. It's much higher than $50/hr. but less than some individual specialties would charge. It evens out because it is sometimes an assistant that they are probably paying $15 to "stand around"(?) --it's relative I guess-- but like I said, sometimes they are probably paying them more than ___.
A tilesetter I used some years ago was $50/hr, then.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 5:54PM
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I live in the Boston area (north shore).I had a whole kitchen renovation done 2 years ago. I went over budget on everything (appliances killed me, but boy they look good!) I got overwhelmed by the time the backsplash had to be ordered. I knew by then that I could not splurge.

I went to fancy tile places that are mentioned here to see designer tiles (walker something tiles). Finally, someone mentioned to me to go to a place in Everett, Ma called DiFlumeri Tile.

I am proud to say that I have a beautiful tile backsplash. Believe it or not, I have the same backsplash as the owner, who showed me pictures of her tile in her kitchen, which I loved. The owner must have picked the best. The price was great, and finally, something that I did not go over-budget on...super reasonable....

You will not be disappointed....

    Bookmark   October 12, 2013 at 6:31AM
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I would NEVER work for a customer who wanted to figure out how much I'm making per hour. How much you make per hour is none of my business. How much I make per hour is none of yours.

If you don't like my lump sum price, don't sign the contract.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2013 at 9:08AM
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When you say the contractor gave you the price, did he also redo your whole kitchen? If he did even though you might think it sounds high if you can afford it I would have him do it. You most likely like the work your contractor does, you trust him and know his work. We made the BIG mistake of not having our contractor do our tile work. We hired someone on our own. I could go on and on about the problems this caused. From the tile installer holding up the contractor because he was taking so long to each of them showing us mistakes the other one made. Ours was for a whole house floors, bathroom walls, shower, etc. So if yours is just a backsplash you might not have the problems we had. The last thing to be tiled was the backsplash we had been waiting for the counters. We had the contractor do the backsplash and it was great. Just from my experience I would either make sure your contractor approves of your tile installer, or have your contractor take care of the backsplash or DIY. I hope you have a better tile install experience then we had. But then again ours was a whole house.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2013 at 9:33AM
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Thanks everyone, I am happy with their work so far, I just got a bit shocked with the price of the tile install especially as the contractor went 8,000$ over budget (materials) and we didn't find out until the very end. So we have NO budget or savings left.

The other problem we have at the moment is that the contractor miscalculated the sq footage for tile for our kitchen, bathroom and laundry and we ordered 8 boxes too many at a cost of 880$!!!!! The tile shop will not accept the return as it has been over a month (the tiles were installed about 6 weeks after they were ordered)
Who should pay for this?

I think it would almost be fair to do the backsplash for free don't you think?

    Bookmark   October 12, 2013 at 3:09PM
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"I think it would almost be fair to do the backsplash for free don't you think?"

That's certainly what I would do. Not unreasonable, imo. Doesn't sound like it has occurred to him though, given the quote you were given! Does he know about the tile not being able to be returned yet? (Personally, I think that's stinky too. They could charge a re-stock fee. Now what are you even supposed to do with all that? Give the surplus to the contractor?).

Are you the $8000 overrun thread gal?

    Bookmark   October 12, 2013 at 3:19PM
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No that was not me, when I read that thread I thought oh no that sucks and then the same thing happened to us! We did have to take the entire ceiling down as the electrical work was very very badly done before and all over the place. I thought we would maybe be 3,000 over but not 8,000. I'm just annoyed that we didn't find out until the very end.
Regarding the tiles they will not accept them back even with restocking. We still him the last chunk of money so my husband says he will just deduct it from that and give the tile to the contractor to do what he wants with it.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2013 at 4:36PM
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Did your GC order the tile for you so that he could get a contractor's discount? If so, he may have better luck getting them to return the tile.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2013 at 5:07PM
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I get about $14/sq. ft. plus $10 per outlet to do basic backsplash work. I've gotten $350 and I've gotten $1100 for this. You want inserts, decos or other specialty items? Lets talk............

    Bookmark   October 12, 2013 at 5:27PM
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We installed our own backsplash tile, and it's one of the few kitchen regrets I have (we'd tiled before, but not with this type of tile (heavy porcelain) and it slid down the wall before it set up (not a lovely sight). We even had even a great tile guy that we'd used on other projects. Wish, wish, wish we'd used him on that one, it would have been worth it, even at $1000.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2013 at 8:35AM
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Do some tiling research, then start a project thread over on john bridge. The pros there will help you through.

Or hire StoneTech ;) If not, maybe he can provide a reference in your area.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2013 at 11:27AM
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I think it is high. I had glass hexagons and glass 1in and a glass pencil installed for about $1600. About 35 sqft. I am in the NY Metro area and costs are high here too. I did have one quote that was over $3200. Just get references from the people you use. Setting basic subway tile isn't as complicated as working with glass or mosaics. If it is glass, they will charge more.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2013 at 7:34AM
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