How Many Square Feet of Backsplash Do I Need?

Deciding how much backsplash to install in your kitchen can be a tricky question. The amount of backsplash you need depends on several factors, including the size of your kitchen, your design style, and your budget. Here’s a comprehensive guide on determining how many square feet of backsplash you need for your kitchen remodel or new construction project.


Backsplash serves both form and function in a kitchen. Not only does it protect the walls from splashes and stains, but it also adds visual interest and ties the whole kitchen together aesthetically. Typically installed on the wall space between the countertops and kitchen cabinets, backsplash comes in an array of materials like ceramic tile, glass tile, natural stone, metal, and laminate.

When planning your backsplash design, the first step is determining how much square footage you need to cover. Measure the linear horizontal feet of countertops and vertical area between the counter and cabinets to calculate the total square footage. This will give you a starting point for purchasing tile and materials. Beyond just the functional space, also consider if you want backsplash as an accent wall or to make a design statement.

Factors That Determine How Much Backsplash You Need

Kitchen Size and Layout

The overall size of your kitchen is the biggest factor in how much backsplash is required. Large, open concept kitchens with lots of counter space will need more backsplash than a small, closed off cooking space. Standard kitchens typically need about 15-30 square feet of backsplash.

Kitchen layout also affects backsplash sizing. For example, an L-shaped kitchen has backsplash covering two adjoining walls versus a galley kitchen with backsplash on only one wall. Island placement also plays a role. Backsplash is often installed on the wall space behind an island or peninsula for a polished finished look.

Measure each section of wall space that will get backsplash to get an accurate estimate of square footage. Mark areas like doorways or windows to subtract from the total.

Backsplash Height

The height or vertical span of your backsplash installation is another important consideration. Standard backsplash height is 4 inches above the counter, but trends are moving towards full height backsplashes from countertop to cabinets. Full height backsplash makes more of a design statement and requires more tile.

Decide if you want a standard 4-inch backsplash tile border or for it to extend up 2 feet or all the way to the underside of wall cabinets. Measure the vertical space to get your height amount.

Backsplash Coverage Area

While backsplash is commonly installed behind sinks, stoves, and prep areas, you can also opt for full wall coverage for a seamless look. Full wall backsplash utilizes more tile, so measure the entire perimeter if you want complete coverage.

Also, determine if you want backsplash on any adjoining walls or accent areas like behind kitchen islands. Including backsplash on multiple walls or installation beyond just the standard prep zones increases the square footage needed.

Tile Size and Patterns

The size of the backsplash tiles also relates to how much you need to purchase. Larger tile sizes cover more surface area. For example, a 4 inch by 4 inch tile requires more pieces than a single 12 inch by 12 inch tile to cover the same space.

Additionally, certain tile patterns like subway brick or hexagon layouts have a higher tile ratio than simple straight brick patterns. Complex patterns require more tile cuts and overall pieces. Factor tile dimensions and patterns into your measurements.


Like most design elements, budget plays a key role in backsplash planning. Backsplash tile can range dramatically in price from $5 per square foot to over $50 per square foot based on material. While you may love the look of marble or handmade mosaic, the cost might dictate a more budget friendly per square foot ceramic or porcelain tile. Determine price per square foot multiplied by total backsplash area for an accurate budget estimate.

How to Measure for Backsplash Square Footage

Now that we’ve covered the key factors in determining backsplash size, let’s discuss the nitty gritty of actually measuring your space. Here are some step-by-step instructions:

  1. Clear counters and walls where backsplash will be installed. Remove décor, small appliances, etc. that may hinder measurements.
  2. Measure length of all countertops that will have backsplash above – typically around perimeter of room, behind sinks, etc. Record each section length.
  3. For each section, measure height from the counter to where you want tile to end. For full height, measure to the underside of wall cabinets.
  4. Multiply the length x height of each section to get the area in square feet. Add together areas for all sections to get total.
  5. Use a level to ensure your measurements are accurate if walls are not perfectly straight. Measure in multiple spots and average.
  6. For focal backsplash areas like behind a stove, also measure the width x height to capture total coverage area.
  7. Add up all sections and focal areas and multiply by 1.15 for a 15% cut tile factor. This gives you the total square feet of tile needed.
  8. Consider ordering 5-10% extra to account for any potential cuts, cracks, or future repairs needed.

How Much Backsplash Do I Need?

Based on the typical 15-30 square foot range for standard sized kitchens, here are some general backsplash square footage estimates:

  • Small galley kitchen with limited countertop – 15-20 sq ft
  • Medium kitchen with typical L-shaped counters – 25-35 sq ft
  • Large open concept kitchen and island space – 30-50 sq ft
  • Full wall/floor to ceiling backsplash installation – 50-75 sq ft

These ranges account for a standard 4 inch height. For full height backsplashes extending to cabinets, estimate double the square footage.

To dial in your specific amount, carefully measure each section as outlined above. Incorporate any accent walls or specialty installation areas as well. Knowing exactly how much backsplash is needed for your project ensures you purchase the right amount of tile and materials.

Planning Backsplash Design and Purchasing Tile

Once you have calculated the backsplash square footage:

  • Use your measurements to design the backsplash layout – decide on focal areas, patterns, borders etc.
  • Select tile size and materials based on budget and style. Remember to account for grout joint spacing in planning the design.
  • Purchase tile and accompanying materials like grout and sealant. Provide your square footage estimate and tile dimensions to the retailer.
  • Review tile purchasing with your contractor to ensure you get the right product amounts for installation day.

With a detailed understanding of how much backsplash your kitchen requires, you can confidently design an aesthetically appealing and functionally smart backsplash installation. Size it right the first time and avoid having to purchase extra last minute materials or tile. Use these helpful measurement tips as a guide for sizing any backsplash project.

Frequently Asked Questions About Measuring Backsplash Square Footage

How is backsplash tile typically priced and sold?

Backsplash tile is most often priced and sold by the square foot. Tile materials range from $5-50+ per square foot based on type. Tile retailers will have you measure your space and purchase enough tile to cover the total estimated area.

Should I include backsplash behind the stove?

Yes, it is recommended to install backsplash tile behind the stove to protect the wall from grease splatter and heat. Focal tile behind the stove finishes the look nicely as well.

What about outlets and switches on the backsplash wall?

Make note of any outlets, switches or fixtures on the backsplash wall and subtract them from your total square footage estimate. These areas won’t be covered with tile.

How do I account for inside corners and odd spaces?

Inside corners and irregular areas like niches require cutting smaller tile pieces to fit. Make sure to allocate the full square footage of these spaces and add additional material to account for the specialized cuts.

Should I install backsplash tile under open shelves or windows?

It depends on your design preference, but many homeowners opt to save money by only installing backsplash on the lower portion directly behind countertops. Accent areas can still be done in focal spots.


Determining the right amount of backsplash for your kitchen remodel or new build involves carefully measuring your existing counter space, calculating the height based on your design selection, and planning for focal areas or full wall coverage. Factoring in tile size, patterns, and budget helps refine your estimated square footage and ensure you purchase the perfect amount of materials for a professionally finished installation. With a few simple measurements and planning ahead for specialty spaces, you can feel confident ordering and installing backsplash that both protects your walls and makes your kitchen shine.