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How Much Does A Subway Tile Backsplash Cost?

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Subway tiles have been a backsplash favorite of homeowners for decades. Subway tiles are one of those rare kitchen and bathroom trends that just don’t go away. Luckily, subway tile costs not expensive! Subway tile backsplash prices do not vary too much, but fortunately, there are ways to lower your overall subway tile backsplash cost.

See all subway tile costs below. When ready, use ImproveNet to find a subway tile contractor nearby.

Table of Contents

  1. Subway Tile Backsplash Cost
  2. Subway Tile Material Costs
  3. Subway Tile Labor Cost
  4. Subway Tile Costs FAQs
  5. Subway Tile Costs Vs. Other Backsplashes
  6. Subway Tile Backsplash Materials & Designs
  7. Subway Tile Backsplash Types
  8. Subway Tile Backsplash Grades
  9. Subway Tile Backsplash Brands
  10. Subway Tile Advantages
  11. Subway Tile Disadvantages
  12. DIY Or Hire A Pro?
  13. Find A Contractor

Subway Tile Backsplash Cost

The average cost per finished square foot of subway tile backsplash ranges between $6.86 and $13.03. Your overall subway tile backsplash price will largely depend on the type of subway tile you purchase and whether or not you hire a tile contractor to install it. As you can see below, labor will make up a majority of your subway tile cost.

  • Minimum = $6.86/sf
  • Maximum = $13.03/sf

Subway Tile Backsplash Cost

Subway Tile Material Costs

The cost of subway tile materials range from as low as $0.15 per square foot to as high as $15 per square foot. Considering most kitchen or bathroom backsplashes are not bigger than 100sf, your overall subway tile material costs should not exceed $300 ($3/sf).

In addition to your subway tile prices, you have to consider other materials required for a successful subway tile installation. The costs of grout and sealant add an average of $1.51 per finished square foot of backsplash. Furthermore, if you DIY this project, you’ll need a grout float, tape measure, level, tile cutter, goggles and gloves. You can rent or purchase all at Lowe’s and The Home Depot for less than $100.

Subway Tile Labor Cost

Most homeowners hire a tile contractor to install backsplashes. Reason being, while installing a subway tile backsplash is not hard, it is time consuming. From measuring and cutting to laying and adding grout, a relatively small kitchen backsplash install can take hours, if not days.

Tile contractors charge anywhere from $40 to $150 per hour, largely depending on your location. To keep your backsplash labor cost down, you may want to go with standard, rectangular tiles. If you choose a complex tile shape or overall backsplash design, the installation will take longer and thus, increase your overall subway tile backsplash price.

Subway Tile Cost

Subway Tile Costs FAQs

How Much is Subway Tile?

The cost of subway tile materials range from as low as $0.15 per square foot to as high as $15 per square foot. The average cost per finished square foot of subway tile backsplash ranges between $6.86 and $13.03.

How Much Does it Cost to Install A Subway Tile Backsplash?

Tile contractors charge anywhere from $40 to $150 per hour, largely depending on your location.

What is the Average Size of Subway Tile?

The classic subway tile measures 3” by 6”. Other popular subway tile sizes are 4” by 8” and 2” by 4”.

How Much Tile Do I Need for Kitchen Backsplash?

To determine how much subway tile you need for your kitchen backsplash, measure the width and length of the desired backsplash wall(s). Multiply the lengths and widths together. Then, add 10% to that number to account for cutting errors as well as outlets, counters and end pieces.

What is Subway Tile?

The definition of subway tile has expanded to include any ceramic tile in the configuration where the length is equal to twice the height. Although some manufacturers label porcelain or glass tiles as subway tiles, the most popular and traditional material is glazed ceramic.

Subway Tile Costs Vs. Other Backsplashes

While subway tile is still the dominant backsplash trend, there are other materials being used in kitchens and bathrooms across the country. Considering that backsplash prices play a key role in the ultimate decision, it’s always a good idea to have a cost comparison on hand. As such, compare the total subway tile costs above to the following backsplash prices to see the full cost spectrum:

Backsplash Material

Minimum Cost Per Finished Square Foot

Maximum Cost Per Finished Square Foot

Travertine Backsplashes

$20.00/sf

$30.00/sf

Glass Tile Backsplashes

$29.13/sf

$37.89/sf

Copper Backsplashes

$30.25/sf

$48.75/sf

Mosaic Glass Tile Backsplashes

$31.25/sf

$48.75/sf

Steel Backsplashes

$32.60/sf

$40.70/sf

Granite Backsplashes

$34.75/sf

$58.75/sf

Tumbled Marble Backsplashes

$38.45/sf

$46.07/sf

Tile Backsplash Cost

Subway Tile Backsplash Materials & Designs

The definition of subway tile has expanded to include any ceramic tile in the configuration where the length is equal to twice the height. These practical wall coverings were originally made from ceramic tiles designed for the walls of the New York City subway system. The original style consisted of 3” by 6” rectangular ceramic tiles glazed in white with a reflective finish. Today's subway tiles still consist of the original style but have also expanded to include additional colors and patterns to satisfy the aesthetic senses of homeowners.

Historically, the tiles were laid out with very thin margins of grout between them. Although some manufacturers label porcelain or glass tiles as subway tiles, the most popular and traditional material is glazed ceramic.

The tiles are most often laid out in a running bond pattern in which the long sides of the tiles are stacked in an alternating pattern of rows. The tiles used for backsplashes are typically 2” X 4” or 3” X 6”. They may be purchased as individual tiles or as tile sheets.

Subway Tile Backsplash Types

When referring to subway tile types, you’re really talking about the finishes or design of the tile. These finishes affect the characteristics we care about in design such as reflectivity of light and color. The primary finishes used for subway tiles include:

  • Glossy: This shiny finish reflects the greatest amount of light and is the most common type of finish used on subway tiles for backsplashes.
  • Matte: A matte finish offers a low level of reflectivity and is most often used on patterned or brightly-colored subway tiles.
  • Flat: The flat finish is the least commonly used finish for subway tile backsplashes. It reflects a minimal amount of light and therefore, is typically used on light or white subway tiles.

Subway Tile Price

Subway Tile Backsplash Grades

Subway tiles used for backsplashes are graded based upon their strength. Although strength is not a highly important factor for tiles laid out in vertical surfaces, the strength of the tile does help with forming tight bonds with the grout. The grades of subway tile used for backsplashes include:

  • Commercial: This is the least expensive grade of tile and also has the lowest level of strength. These tiles may have minor color variations or flaws on the surface. These tiles are primarily decorative in nature and correspond to Grade 0 for tiles used as flooring.
  • Standard: This is the most common grade of subway tile used to create backsplashes. It has a mid-level strength and is free of major flaws. These tiles may have an occasional color variation or light pitting on the surface. This is equivalent to Grade 1 for subway tile flooring.
  • Premium: This grade of tile has the highest strength. The color is consistent throughout the batch of tiles and there are minimal to no surface defects in the backsplash. This corresponds to Grade 2 for tiles used as flooring.

Subway Tile Backsplash Brands

There are many manufacturers and brands of subway tile backsplashes. Homeowners may purchase the subway tile backsplashes from stock products or have the tiles custom-made in a specific color or pattern. Some of the most popular manufacturers and brands of subway tile backsplashes include:

  1. American Olean
  2. American Restoration Tile
  3. Arizona Tile
  4. Armstrong Ceramic Tile
  5. Clayhaus Ceramics
  6. Dal-Tile Corporation
  7. Florida Tile
  8. Merola Tile

Cost of Subway Tile

Subway Tile Advantages

Subway tile backsplashes have remained on trend for years due to design, cost, maintenance and more. To no surprise, there are plenty of perks that come with any subway tile backsplash installation. Below are some of the primary benefits:

The primary advantage of a subway tile backsplash is its low maintenance. The tiles just require gentle wiping down with a damp cloth soaked in warm, soapy water. The subway tiles are non-porous once glazed and sealed by the manufacturer. This allows the backsplash to be resistant to stains from food, grease and water.

Subway tile backsplashes are highly resistant to heat exposure as well as moisture. Therefore, they are quite common in kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms and other utility areas of the home. A backsplash made from subway tiles is highly durable and can withstand decades of use while still maintaining its original appearance. The tiles resist mold, bacterial and viral growth, making them highly hygienic. The wide range of colors in today's subway tiles allows homeowners to create designs that complement the style and architecture of your home.

Finally, subway tiles are affordable and cost less than other popular backsplash materials, as you saw in the table above. In fact, rather than an expensive kitchen remodel, many homeowners start with a new subway tile backsplash.

Subway Tile Disadvantages

While there are many excellent reasons to use subway tiles as a backsplash, there are some drawbacks:

The grout that bonds the tiles together may become stained or discolored due to exposure to food or water splashes. Therefore, cleaning the tile and grout whenever you notice a stain is ideal.

If a tile becomes chipped or cracked, tile repair is difficult. Finding a replacement for a broken tile may be a challenge if the tile is colored or was custom-ordered.

Finally, some people feel that subway tiles give a cold appearance to a room. Additionally, subway tiles may increase the noise level or cause poor acoustics in a bathroom.

Is Subway Tile Expensive

DIY Or Hire A Pro?

As we said earlier, you can save hundreds, if not $1,000, by installing a bathroom or kitchen backsplash on your own. If you do, all you have to pay for is the tile, grout and materials. If you tackled a few DIY projects before and are ready to take on a simple, yet time-consuming project, we recommend giving it a go on your own.

Nonetheless, bear in mind, most homeowners hire tile contractors to install backsplashes. Beyond the length of the project, tile cutting and placement requires precision. Wrong cuts and placements do happen. If they do, you’ll have to use more materials or remove the new subway tile from your wall. In addition, removing an existing backsplash is not easy. If done incorrectly, you could damage your walls or counters and prevent a backsplash installation all together.

Find A Contractor

Subway tile is not expensive and has withstood the test of time. Why wait to enhance your kitchen or bathroom? Use ImproveNet to find the best kitchen and bathroom contractors that can install your subway tile backsplash today.

Get free estimates from local backsplash contractors

Last updated on Jun 27, 2018

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