How Much Backsplash Tile Do I Need?

Installing a backsplash in your kitchen can really transform the look and feel of the space. But when it comes time to purchase your tile, one question always comes up – how much do I need to buy? The amount of backsplash tile you need depends on a few key factors. In this article, we’ll walk you through how to measure and calculate the tile you’ll need for your project.

Measure Your Backsplash Area

The first step is to accurately measure the area you’ll be tiling. This includes all the wall space between your countertops and cabinets.

  • Measure the length of each section you’ll tile – including behind the stove, on either side of the sink, and any other vertical surfaces. Round up each measurement to the nearest whole number.
  • Then measure the height, from the countertop to where you want the tile to end. Typically backsplashes are 4-6 inches tall.
  • Multiply the length by the height for each section and write down the square footage. Add the sections together to get your total backsplash area.

Be sure to account for any outlets, windows, or other openings when taking your measurements. This will give you an accurate tile coverage area.

Factor In Your Tile Size

Now that you know the total square footage of your backsplash, it’s time to factor in the size of your tile.

  • The most common backsplash tiles are 4×4 inch, 3×6 inch, or 4×12 inch.
  • Take your total backsplash area and divide by the square inch size of your tile. This will tell you how many whole tiles are needed.
  • Here’s an example: For a 25 sq ft backsplash using 4×4 inch tile:
    • 25 sq ft backsplash / 16 sq in per tile = 15.625 tiles
    • Round up to purchase 16 tiles

If using rectangular tile, make sure to divide by the exact tile dimensions. For example, a 3×6 inch tile has an area of 18 square inches.

Account for Cuts and Waste

Your calculations so far determine the minimum number of whole tiles needed. But additional tiles are required to account for cuts around outlets and edges, as well as waste.

  • For straightforward layouts, add 10% onto your total tile count.
  • For more complex designs with diagonal pieces or intricate cuts, add 15% extra.
  • Use spacers between tiles, which require subtracting 1/16″ from measurements.
  • Have a few extra tiles on hand in case any break during installation.

So for our 25 sq ft backsplash example, with 4×4 inch tile, we would purchase 18 tiles with 10% extra as opposed to just 16.

Always round up to enough full boxes of tiles. Most backsplash projects require 1-3 boxes.

Purchase Additional Materials

Make sure to purchase any other supplies needed for your backsplash installation:

  • **Tile adhesive **- Thinset mortar or mastic to adhere the tile to the wall
  • Grout – Grout matches the color of your tiles and fills in seams
  • Tile cutter – Cuts through ceramic/porcelain/stone tiles
  • Spacers – Keeps an even gap between tiles for grouting
  • Sealer – Protects grout from stains (especially needed for porous tiles)

Having all your materials and tools will make the installation process go smoothly.

How Much Backsplash Tile Do I Need?

When calculating how much tile is needed for a backsplash, there are a few key steps:

  1. Accurately measure the total backsplash area and write down square footage.
  2. Divide area by the size of your tiles to get basic number of tiles.
  3. Add 10-15% more for waste and cuts.
  4. Round up to full boxes of tile.
  5. Purchase adhesive, grout, tools and other installation supplies.

Carefully measuring and planning ensures you will purchase the right amount of backsplash tile for your kitchen or bath. Then you’ll be ready to transform your space with this stylish focal point!

Key Considerations When Calculating Tile Needs

Installing a new backsplash can give your kitchen or bathroom a fresh new look. Making sure you have enough tile on hand for the project involves some planning and calculations. Here are some of the key considerations to factor in:

Backsplash Size and Layout

  • Measure the total square footage of the backsplash area. Account for any openings or irregular shapes.
  • Mark the exact position and measurements of any outlets, windows, or cabinets protruding into the space.
  • Take into account the shape and size of the tiles themselves when planning the layout. Some backsplash patterns require cutting tiles into specific dimensions.

Tile Types and Patterns

  • Smaller tiles like mosaics require calculating for a greater number of pieces. Larger tiles cover more surface area with fewer pieces.
  • The tile pattern design affects how many full tiles vs. cut tiles are needed. Diagonal layouts require more cutting.
  • Mixing different sized tiles or intricate patterns can increase waste from tile cuts. Stick to simpler designs if trying to conserve tile.

Cutting and Waste Factor

  • No matter the tile size, allow for 10-15% overage to account for unusable cut tiles and waste.
  • Tiles with decorative edges like handmade subway tile often require large cuts to maintain the pattern.
  • Curved, trapezoid, or irregular shaped backsplashes create lots of unusable fragments after cutting.

Grouting and Spacers

  • Grout lines and tile spacers reduce the amount of visible tile by 1/16”. Adjust your measurements accordingly.
  • Contrasting grout colors make the lines more obvious. Less grout shows with matching or neutral grout.

Ordering Tiles

  • Order enough full boxes of tiles for the project. Most backsplashes require 1-3 boxes.
  • Have a few extra tiles shipped in case any break during transit or installation.
  • If using discontinued, specialty, or handmade tile, be sure to order a cushion of extra pieces right from the start.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you calculate square feet for a backsplash?

To calculate square footage, measure the height and length of each backsplash section. Multiply the height times the length to get the area in square feet. Add all sections together for the total square footage. Be sure to account for outlets, windows, protrusions, and other openings in your measurements.

How much tile do I need for a backsplash?

Take the total backsplash square footage and divide by the size of your tile to calculate how many whole tiles you need. Then add 10-15% for waste and cuts. Finally, round up to full boxes of tile. Most standard backsplash projects require 1-3 boxes of tile.

What size tile is best for backsplash?

4×4 inch, 3×6 inch, and 4×12 inch tiles are common backsplash sizes. Larger tiles are faster to install while smaller mosaic tiles create more intricate patterns. Standard square or subway styles allow for simpler cutting and layout.

How much extra tile should I get?

Order at least 10% more tiles than your calculated quantity, 15% for more intricate layouts. The extras accommodate waste from tile cuts, spacing/grouting, and breakage. For specialty or discontinued tiles, order 20% extra or more right from the start.

Should backsplash go all the way to ceiling?

Backsplashes typically end 4-6 inches above the countertop. But extending to the ceiling can make more of a design statement. Consider the height of your cabinets and any potential obstructions before deciding on full height backsplash.

Can backsplash tile be different than countertop?

Absolutely! Contrasting your backsplash and countertop materials is a great way to make your design more interesting. Just be sure the two surfaces complement each other in terms of color, pattern, and overall style.


Installing a new backsplash tile transforms the look of your kitchen or bathroom. With some careful planning and measurements, purchasing the right amount of tile for your project doesn’t need to be complicated. Just be sure to accurately calculate the total area, account for 10-15% extra for waste, and order full boxes for a cushion. Our tile experts are happy to help you determine exactly how much backsplash tile is required for your unique space and design vision.