How Many Backsplash Tiles Do I Need? The Complete Guide

Installing a backsplash in your kitchen or bathroom can completely transform the look and feel of the space. But before you start shopping for tiles, you need to determine exactly how many you’ll need for your project. Calculating the right amount is important – order too few and you’ll end up having to pay more for a small supplemental order or be unable to complete your backsplash. Order too many and you’ll be stuck with extra tiles you don’t need.

So how do you figure out the magic number of tiles your backsplash requires? Read on for a complete step-by-step guide to calculating how many backsplash tiles you need.

What is a Backsplash?

Before we dive into the tile math, let’s quickly review what a backsplash is. A backsplash is a wall treatment that protects the walls above countertops from water damage, splashes, and stains. Backsplashes are commonly installed in kitchens behind stoves and sinks. They are also installed in bathrooms behind sinks and bathtubs.

Backsplashes are typically made from tile because it is water-resistant and easy to clean, but other materials like metal, glass, and stone can also be used. The area a backsplash covers is relatively small, so it offers the chance to add visual interest and personality even in a small space.

Factors That Determine How Many Tiles You Need

Calculating how many backsplash tiles you need depends on several factors:

Backsplash Dimensions

The size of the backsplash area is the starting point for your tile calculations. Measure the height and width of the space to be tiled in inches. This will give you the total number of square inches you need to cover.

Be sure to measure carefully in multiple spots – walls are often not perfectly straight or corners perfectly square. Make note of any indented, protruding, or irregular areas that will need tile.

Don’t forget to measure separately around windows, outlets, switches, and any other obstacles in your backsplash area. These areas often need specialty tile cuts.

Tile Size

Next, you need the dimensions of the tile you’ve chosen, also in square inches. Common backsplash tile sizes include:

  • 4.25 x 4.25 inch square tile
  • 3 x 6 inch subway tile
  • Mosaic tiles (individual tiles are about 1/2 x 1/2 inch but mounted in 12 x 12 inch sheets)
  • 4 x 12 inch rectangular tile
  • 6 x 6 inch square tile

But tile can come in any number of shapes and sizes – be sure to get measurements for the exact tile product you are using.

Grout Lines

When calculating how many tiles you need, don’t forget to account for the space that will be taken up by grout lines. Grout lines provide the spacing between tiles – typically about 1/8 inch but sometimes a bit wider.

If you are using rectangular tile, plan for 1/8 inch grout lines on all sides of each tile. With square tile, account for grout lines in only height OR width but not both (otherwise you will calculate too much grout).

Pattern and Design

The pattern you lay your tiles in will impact the number of tiles needed. The most effective designs for backsplashes use rectangular or square tiles in simple grid patterns. This minimizes awkward partial tiles and wasted space.

Common backsplash tile patterns include:

  • Stack or straight lay: Tiles lined up in orderly rows and columns. Very simple.
  • Brick: Tiles in staggered rows like bricks on a wall. Slightly more complex.
  • Pinwheel or diamond: Tiles placed in a geometric design. More planning needed.

Make a sketch of your desired pattern and use it to help with planning and calculations. Special patterns or combinations of differently shaped tiles (mosaics, accents) increase complexity and tile needs.

Cuts and Partial Tiles

Take into account any specialty tiles and cuts that will be needed:

  • Border tiles are often cut into halves or pieces to fit.
  • Trim or edge tiles also usually need cutting.
  • Outlet, fixture, or niche tiles need to be cut around obstacles.
  • Final row and column may need partial tiles to complete pattern.

Plan for 10-15% overage to allow for miscuts and breakage. Simple patterns minimize cut tiles.

How to Calculate How Many Tiles You Need

Now we are ready to walk through the full tile calculation step-by-step:

1. Measure Your Backsplash Area

Carefully measure the height and width of the backsplash space. Write down measurements in multiple spots to account for irregularities. Round measurements down to the nearest 1/8 inch.

Height: _ inches
Width: _

Tip: To get inches from feet/inches measurements, convert feet to inches and add to inches.

2. Total Square Inches

To get the total size of your backsplash in square inches, multiply your backsplash height x width measurements.

Height: _ inches
Width: _

Total square inches = Height x Width

3. Tile Size

Look up or measure the size of the tile you are installing. Write down the height and width of ONE tile in inches.

Tile height: _ inches
Tile width: _

To get the area per tile in square inches, multiply the tile height x width.

Tile height: _ inches
Tile width: _

Tile area = Tile height x Tile width

4. Account for Grout Lines

Remember to account for the extra space taken up by 1/8 inch grout lines between tiles. There are a couple options for factoring in grout:

Option 1) Adjust Total Area

Reduce your total backsplash area by an amount equal to the grout size x number of grout lines:

Total backsplash area:
Grout line size: _ inches
Number of grout lines:
(For square tile, only height OR width. For rectangular tile, height + width.)
Adjusted backsplash area = Total area – Grout allowance

Option 2) Adjust Tile Size

Reduce your tile dimensions by grout thickness on applicable sides before calculating tile area:

Tile height: _ inches Minus side grout (1/8 in x 2 sides): inches
Adjusted tile height: __

Tile width: _ inches Minus side grout (1/8 in x 2 sides): inches
Adjusted tile width: __

Adjusted tile area = Adjusted height x Adjusted width

5. Calculate Tiles Needed

To find out the estimated number of full tiles needed, divide the total backsplash area by the tile area. Round up to nearest whole tile.

Total backsplash area:
Tile area:
Full tiles needed = Total area / Tile area

6. Add for Cuts and Partial Tiles

Add extras for any specialty cuts or borders you measured:

Full tiles needed:
Plus cuts:
Plus extra overage: 10-15%

And that’s it – you now have an accurate estimated tile count for your backsplash project!

Backsplash Tile Estimator Tools

Manually calculating how many backsplash tiles you need takes time and care to measure and compute accurately. Thankfully, there are handy tile calculators that can help streamline the process.

Tile estimator tools allow you to input your backsplash measurements and tile info to automatically get total tile requirements. Many also create handy cutting guides showing how tiles should be laid out.

Here are some recommended backsplash tile calculators:

These tools help take the guesswork out of determining how many backsplash tiles you need. Be sure to double check manually if using an intricate pattern.

Factors That Increase How Many Tiles You Need

Some backsplash designs or tile choices will automatically increase the quantity of tile required:

  • Smaller tile size – Large format tiles require fewer total pieces.
  • Intricate or diagonal patterns – Simple grids use fewer tiles and cuts.
  • Mix of sized tiles – Combining mosaic, standard, and oversized tiles is puzzle-like.
  • Listello border – Borders around perimeter require additional shaping.
  • Multiple niches – With each niche or inset more shaping and cuts.
  • Outlets and switches – Each fixture in area means more tile cuts.
  • Architectural details – Steps, bumpouts and irregular areas need shaping.
  • Glass tile – Needs more cuts plus extras to account for breakage.

With mosaics and tiny tiles, purchase a bit extra so you don’t run out. Order less extra with large format tiles.

Buying the Right Amount of Tile

Ordering exactly the right amount of tile for your project takes some careful planning:

  • Have some extras but not too many – Shoot for 10-15% overage.
  • Avoid skimping – Too few means a costly small order or incomplete job.
  • Don’t overbuy – Extra tiles you don’t need are wasted money sitting in boxes.
  • Stick with calculations – Unless using very strong pattern, extras are padding only.
  • Confirm before ordering – Review measurements and tile count carefully first.
  • Keep some tile – Save extras in case a repair or addition is needed later.

Take your time with the measuring and tile math to determine as close to the ideal tile quantity as possible. With the right tile count ordered, you can install your new backsplash with confidence.

Common Backsplash Size Charts

One shortcut for estimating your tile needs is to use a standard backsplash size chart as a starting point.

Many backsplashes are common widths like 4 feet behind a sink or stove. Average backsplash heights are often 18-24 inches. Referencing a typical size chart can provide a ballpark tile estimate to build upon.

Here are some standard backsplash dimensions with estimated tile counts:

4 Foot Wide 18 Inch High Backsplash

  • Area = 4 ft x 1.5 ft = 6 sq ft
  • With 4×4 inch tile = approx 90 tiles
  • With 3×6 inch subway tile = approx 60 tiles

5 Foot Wide 18 Inch High Backsplash

  • Area = 5 ft x 1.5 ft = 7.5 sq ft
  • With 4×4 inch tile = approx 110 tiles
  • With 3×6 inch subway tile = approx 75 tiles

4 Foot Wide 24 Inch High Backsplash

  • Area = 4 ft x 2 ft = 8 sq ft
  • With 4×4 inch tile = approx 120 tiles
  • With 3×6 inch subway tile = approx 80 tiles

These estimates provide a ballpark starting point but your specific backsplash size and tile choices will alter the totals, so measure and calculate precisely for an accurate number.

Tips for Purchasing Backsplash Tile

Once you’ve calculated the quantity of tile needed, here are some tips for purchasing:

  • Buy all tile at once – Different dye lots can vary in color.
  • Include some extras – Around 10% overage for shaping and in case of breakage.
  • Keep extra boxes – A few surplus tiles allow future repairs or additions.
  • Open boxes and inspect – Ensure all tile is in good condition before installing.
  • Get needed supplies – Make sure to also purchase required grout, adhesive, etc.
  • Ask about discounts – Some tile dealers offer deals on large orders or clearance items.

With the right amount of quality tile purchased, you’ll be set up for success transforming your space with a stunning new backsplash.

Frequently Asked Questions About Backsplash Tiles

How many square feet of tile do I need for a backsplash?

To calculate the square footage of tile needed, measure the height and width of the backsplash area in inches. Convert height and width to feet (divide inches by 12) and multiply the two measurements to get total square footage of tile required.

How much does a 4×4 tile backsplash cost?

For a typical 4 foot by 2 foot backsplash area using standard 4×4 inch ceramic wall tiles, material costs would be roughly:

  • Tile: About 120 4×4” tiles at $5 per sq ft = $120
  • Thinset and grout: About $50
  • Total: Approximately $170

Labor costs for installation will add about $200-$500 or more, bringing the total for a small 4×4 tile backsplash to $350-$700 range. Higher grade tile, glass or mosaic tiles, or large format tiles can increase costs.

What size tile is best for backsplash?

The most common and versatile size for backsplash tiles is a standard 4×4 inch or 3×6 inch subway tile. These provide just the right scale for the small space above a countertop without requiring many cuts. Oversized tiles can also create a dramatic feel. Tiny mosaic tiles make a captivating pattern but require more grout and planning.

How many linear feet of tile do I need?

To find linear feet (length) of tile needed, simply add up the measurements of all sides that will be tiled. For a backsplash that is 4 ft wide x 2 ft high, the linear feet would be 4 + 4 + 2 + 2 = 12 linear ft of tile needed.

How much tile do I need for kitchen backsplash?

An average 30-36 inch high kitchen backsplash covering a 25-30 sq ft area will need approximately:

  • 75-100 4×4 inch tiles
  • 50-70 3×6 inch subway tiles
  • 10-15 sq ft of mosaic tile sheets

These tile counts are a general estimate only. Carefully measure your specific backsplash space and tile to calculate exact requirements.


Installing a stylish backsplash is a worthwhile upgrade for your kitchen or bath. With some careful planning and measurement, determining the ideal number of tiles is straightforward. Follow the steps to accurately calculate how many backsplash tiles you need for your project. Use tile estimating tools to simplify the math. Order a few extras. Then enjoy the process of creating a stunning new focal point in your home with the perfect amount of tile on hand.

How to Know Exactly How Many Backsplash Tiles You Need for Any Project

Figuring out how many backsplash tiles to buy for your kitchen or bathroom remodel can be tricky. Order too few and you’ll be short when it comes time to install. Order too many and you’ll end up wasting money on unused tiles. Follow this comprehensive guide to calculate the exact number of tiles required for your backsplash.

Gather Key Measurements

Start by carefully measuring the area to be tiled. Note the height and width in inches, rounding down to the nearest 1/8 inch. Take measurements in multiple spots to account for uneven walls.

Be sure to measure the specific area that will be covered by tile. This is typically the wall area between countertops and cabinets. Make separate measurements around windows, outlets, and other obstructions that will interrupt the main tiled area.

Having accurate measurements is crucial for determining an accurate tile count.

Determine Tile Size

Next, you need to know the dimensions of the actual tile you plan to use. Measure the height and width of one full tile in inches.

Common backsplash tile sizes include:

  • 4×4 inch square ceramic tile
  • 3×6 inch subway tile
  • Mosaic sheets (individual tiles about 1/2 inch but mounted on 12×12 inch sheets)
  • 4×12 inch rectangular ceramic tile
  • Glass tiles and mixed sizes like 1×4 inch trims

Tile can come in all shapes and configurations. Be sure to get measurements from the specific tiles you have picked out for the project.

Account for Grout Lines

In your calculations, remember to account for the space that will be taken up by grout lines between the tiles. Standard grout lines are about 1/8 inch wide.

For square tiles, just factor grout into either the height OR the width, not both. With rectangular tiles, grout should be factored on all sides.

Reducing tile dimensions by 1/8 inch on applicable sides is the easiest way to account for grout before multiplying for total tile area.

Multiply for Total Tile Area

To get the total tile area in square inches, simply multiply the height x width measurements you gathered:

Tile height: __ inches

Tile width: __ inches

Total Tile Area: Height x Width = __ square inches

This gives you the total coverage area provided by each individual tile.

Divide Space by Tile Area

Now divide your total backsplash area in square inches by the area per tile:

Total backsplash area: __ sq in

Individual tile area: __ sq in

Full Tiles Needed = Total Area ÷ Tile Area

Round up to the nearest full tile to give you the estimated number of tiles you need for the project.

Factor in Cuts and Waste

The full tile estimate only accounts for completely full tiles. You’ll need to also calculate in the partial tiles needed to complete the installation.

Make sure your total tile count includes extras for:

  • Border and perimeter tiles that often need cutting
  • Outlet, window, and edge trim cuts
  • Miscellaneous shaping around fixtures or niches
  • Irregular layouts and decorative designs
  • 10-15% extra for waste factor and miscuts

Add all of these together with your full tile estimate to get the total tiles to order.

Use a Tile Calculator for Easier Math

Measuring and computing the tile math manually provides the most accurate totals but can be time consuming. For a faster and simpler option, use a handy online tile calculator tool.

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