How Much Backsplash Tile to Buy


Backsplash tile can transform the look and feel of your kitchen or bathroom. But if you’ve never installed tile before, you may be wondering just how much to purchase for your project. Properly measuring your space and understanding a few tile installation factors will ensure you buy the right amount.

Calculate Your Backsplash Area

The first step is measuring the space to find the square footage. Only include areas that will actually be covered in tile, like directly behind the stove or sink. Use a measuring tape to get the height and width of each section, then multiply to find the square footage of each. Finally, add up the totals.

Be sure to account for any outlets, windows, or other openings and only measure the tileable space around them. Also include the Return – any sides that turn 90 degrees back to the wall. Having extra tiles for these intricate tile spaces is wise.

Factor in Tile Size

Standard backsplash tiles are either 3×6 inch subway tiles or 4×4 inch squares, but tile comes in a huge range of sizes. Smaller tiles means more grout lines and a greater number of tiles needed. Mosaics with tiny tiles require extensive planning and purchasing.

Larger tiles like 8×8 inch or even 12×24 inch can be dramatic but will have fewer grout lines and take fewer tiles. Measure a few tiles before purchasing to understand their true dimensions. This will allow you to calculate exactly how many whole tiles will fit your backsplash area.

Account for Grout Lines and Cuts

Joint lines of grout between tiles take up space and must be accounted for when buying tile. Standard grout lines are 1/8 inch but can vary in size. Do a test layout before installing to understand the real proportions of tile and joint in your design.

Cut tiles are also a reality, especially around edges and openings. Having 10-15% extra allows for imperfect tile cuts while installing. Any unopened boxes can be subsequently returned.

Purchase Extra Tiles

It’s always smart to buy 5-10% more tile than your exact measurements and layout indicate. This provides wiggle room if any tiles are damaged or if you miscalculate slightly. Leftover tiles are also useful for future repairs.

Purchase tile and grout at the same time and from the same production lot. This ensures consistent color and size. Buying more tiles upfront prevents frustration later on if your product has been discontinued.

Consider Hiring a Professional

Accurately calculating how much tile is needed requires precision. For first-timers, imperfect measurement or layout estimates can lead to coming up short. Hiring an experienced tile installation pro to determine how much tile is recommended can give peace of mind.

Pros have the knowledge to measure correctly, account for intricacies in the design, recommend extra for cut tiles and waste, and ensure you purchase the perfect amount. An investment in a professional assessment can prevent tile buying missteps.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you calculate square feet for backsplash tile?

Measure the height and width of each backsplash section in inches. Multiply the height by the width to get the square inches. Divide by 144 to convert to square feet. Add together each section to get the total square footage.

How much extra tile should I buy?

Purchase 10-15% more tiles than measurements indicate to account for broken tiles and improper cuts. Buying extra provides insurance in case your calculations are slightly off.

What size tile is best for backsplash?

4×4, 3×6, and subway tiles are most common. Larger tiles have fewer grout lines but small mosaics can make a statement. Consider your design, skill level, and visual goals when choosing tile size.

How many boxes of backsplash tile do I need?

Divide your total square footage by the square feet coverage of one box of your tiles. This will tell you how many boxes to purchase. Coverage per box depends on tile size – small mosaics cover less area than large format tiles.

Should I hire a professional to measure for backsplash tile?

Consider hiring a tile pro if you want to eliminate measuring errors as a beginner. Their expertise results in highly accurate calculations, ensuring you buy the perfect amount of tile the first time.


Calculating your precise backsplash tiling needs involves careful measurement of the total area and consideration of the tile size, grout lines, and cuts. Allowing for extras and hiring a pro can give peace of mind. Accurately determining how much tile is required takes the guesswork out of purchasing and leads to a successful installation.