How Much Extra Backsplash Tile to Buy


Installing a backsplash in your kitchen can completely transform the look and feel of the space. However, figuring out how much extra tile to buy beyond what you need can be tricky. Getting the right amount ensures you have tiles for repairs or replacements down the road, without overbuying.

When determining how much extra backsplash tile to purchase, there are a few important factors to consider:

The Size of Your Backsplash

Measure the space where you’ll be installing the backsplash and calculate the square footage. This gives you the total number of tiles needed.

Type of Tile

The size, shape, and pattern of the tile affects how much extra you should get. With mosaics and small tiles, you need more extra.

Wastage Rate

Account for breakage and irregular edges with a wastage rate of 10-15%. Porcelain and ceramic tiles have higher wastage rates than glass or stone.

Stock Availability

If your tile is being discontinued or is a special order item, get more extra in case replacements are needed.

Your Budget

Factor in the additional cost of buying extra tiles. Get enough to feel comfortable without overspending.

Overall, purchasing 10-15% extra tiles is recommended. However, the exact amount depends on your specific backsplash design. Read on for more detailed tips on calculating how many extra tiles to buy.

How to Measure Your Backsplash Area

The starting point for determining how much tile you need is by measuring the area you are tiling. Here are the steps:

1. Break the Area into Sections

Divide your backsplash into different sections if it covers multiple walls. This makes it easier to get accurate measurements.

2. Measure Length and Height

For each section, measure the length and height, recording the dimensions. Include the entire area that will be covered in tile.

3. Calculate Total Square Footage

Multiply the length by the height for each section to get the square footage. Add together the totals for all sections.

4. Convert to Tile Quantity

Now that you have the total square footage, divide by the square footage of one tile to get the estimated number of tiles needed.

5. Add Extras

Increase your total tile quantity by 10-15% to account for mismatches, cuts, waste, and future repairs.

Accurately measuring the backsplash area takes the guesswork out of buying enough tile. Don’t forget hard-to-reach spots behind appliances too!

Factors that Determine How Much Extra Tile to Buy

Once you’ve calculated the base quantity of tile for your project, there are several factors that will determine how much extra to get beyond that amount:

Tile Size and Shape

  • Smaller tiles like mosaics, subway tile, and pennies require purchasing more extra. The small size leads to greater waste from cutting and irregular edges. Get at least 15% extra.
  • Medium sized tiles such as 4×4 inches allow for less cutting waste. Get 10-12% extra.
  • With large format tiles, you can get away with less extra since tile cuts are minimized. Add 8-10% extra.
  • Tile shape also matters. Tiles with unusual shapes like hexagons can have more waste. Get 15% extra to be safe.

Tile Material and Finish

  • Natural stone and marble tiles tend to have more variances and irregular edges that require cutting. Get 15% extra.
  • Polished or glossy tiles can chip more easily. Add 12% extra tiles.
  • Matte and textured tiles hold up better, so you can get by with 10% extra.
  • Glass mosaic sheets produce less waste than ceramic mosaic tiles. Get 10% extra.

Tile Pattern and Design

  • Subway layouts with tiles laid in straight lines require less cutting. Get 10% extra.
  • Patterns like herringbone have angled seams that use more tiles. Get 15% extra.
  • Mosaics use many small tiles, so get at least 15% extra.
  • Accent strip or border tiles need about 15% extra for continuity.

Grouting Widths

  • Small grout lines of 1/16” to 1/8” need 12% more to account for slivers cut off tiles.
  • Medium grout lines of 1/8” to 3/16” need 10% extra tile.
  • For wide grout lines of 1/4″ or more, you can get away with 8% extra tile.

Installation Complexity

  • Detailed backsplashes with niche cutouts, borders, or mosaics require 15% extra tiles.
  • Simple flat backsplash installs can work with 10% extra tiles.
  • Factor in skill level too – DIY projects may need more extra tiles.

Availability and Lead Times

  • Stocked tiles available immediately require fewer extras – 10% is often enough.
  • Special order or discontinued tiles should have 15% extra in case replacements are ever needed.

How Many Extra Tiles to Get Based on Square Footage

While the exact extra amount depends on the factors above, here are some general recommendations on how much extra tile to get based on total square footage of the backsplash:

  • Under 25 square feet – Get 15-20% extra
  • 25 – 50 square feet – Get 15% extra
  • 50 – 100 square feet – Get 12% extra
  • 100 – 150 square feet – Get 10% extra
  • Over 150 square feet – Get 8-10% extra

For a small backsplash under 3 feet x 4 feet (12 square feet), getting 5-10 extra tiles is usually adequate.

For a larger backsplash that is 8 feet x 5 feet (40 square feet), getting 6-8 extra tiles would work.

The more area you need to cover, the lower the percentage of extras required since broader installs use higher quantities of full tiles.

Purchasing Extra Tiles for Repairs and Replacements

One of the biggest reasons to buy extra tiles upfront is to have materials available for any future repairs or replacements that may be needed. Here are some scenarios where having spares comes in handy:

Replacing Damaged Tiles

Over time, tiles can crack, chip, or pop off due to damage. Having the same extra tiles makes it easy to replace just the affected areas seamlessly.

Filling in Gaps or Holes

Gaps may appear if tiles shift out of alignment over time. Having leftover tiles prevents having to find new tiles that match.

Re-doing Sections

If part of the backsplash gets stained, or the layout needs changing, you can redo sections without searching for more tile.

Covering Repairs to Wall

If drywall or other repairs are needed behind the backsplash, having extra tiles makes it simpler to re-tile the area.

Adding Accent Tiles

You can create a new accent strip or border using leftover mosaic or patterned tiles.

Coordinating Future Projects

Keep larger leftover quantities to use for future backsplashes or projects in other rooms.

Having an extra box or two of your backsplash tiles makes any repairs down the road quick and seamless.

Tips for Calculating How Many Tile Boxes to Buy

Tile is typically sold in boxes that cover set amounts of square footage. Here are some tips on estimating how many full boxes of tile to purchase:

  • Check the tile box label for coverage area – for example 12 square feet.
  • Divide your total backsplash square footage by the coverage per box.
  • Round up to the nearest full box.
  • Add 1-2 extra boxes depending on your extra tile percentage.

For example, if your backsplash is 32 square feet, and the tile covers 12 square feet per box, you would need:

  • 32 sq ft backsplash / 12 sq ft per box = 2.66 boxes
  • Round up to 3 full boxes
  • Add 1 extra box as your 15% overage

This brings the total number of tile boxes to purchase to 4.

Having the right quantities to cover the install area with spares for repairs makes the tile buying process smooth.

Buying Tile from Different Lots or Dye Lots

One tip when purchasing tiles is to buy all boxes from the same production lot or dye lot number printed on the label. This ensures consistent coloring and finish between tiles. Differences between batches are more noticeable when tiles are placed together.

When buying extra tiles:

  • Purchase all the base quantity boxes needed from matching lot numbers.
  • Get the extra tiles from the same lot if available.
  • If buying extras later, request tiles from the same original lot/dye lot number.
  • Mix tiles from different lots in less visible areas like lower cabinets.

Taking lot numbers into account when purchasing extras minimizes noticeable variation in the tiles.

Returning Leftover Tiles

After completing your backsplash install, you’ll be left with unused leftover tiles. Most tile retailers allow unopened boxes in good condition to be returned for a refund. Here are some tips for returns:

  • Keep all packaging and receipts.
  • Check return policies – many stores allow 30-90 days.
  • Return extras promptly to maximize refund amount.
  • Opened boxes may get a partial refund based on unused quantity.
  • Inspect boxes for damage prior to installing to allow returns.
  • Keep 1-2 boxes of extras in case repairs are ever needed.

Returning extra unused tiles recoups costs, so don’t toss them!

Budgeting for Extra Tile

When calculating your tile buying budget, factor in extra expenditures for the additional wasted tiles, extras for repairs, and any tiles you won’t be able to return.

  • Calculate base tile quantity needed first.
  • Add 15% of total to account for unusable tiles.
  • Add cost of 1-2 boxes of extras for repairs.
  • Check return policy – budget 100% if unopened tiles can’t be returned.

Having an accurate budget prevents surprise overages at checkout. You want to get the right extras without overspending.

FAQ About How Much Extra Backsplash Tile to Buy

How much extra tile should I get for a kitchen backsplash?

For a kitchen backsplash, get 10-15% extra tiles over the measured quantity needed. Get extras on the higher end if using natural stone, marble, small mosaics, or specialty tiles.

What percentage of extra tile should I buy?

The recommended overage percentages are:

  • Natural stone or marble tiles: 15% extra
  • Small mosaics or hexagons: 15% extra
  • Medium ceramic or porcelain: 10-12% extra
  • Subway tiles: 10% extra
  • Large format tiles: 8-10% extra

How do I calculate 10% extra tiles?

Measure backsplash squares footage, divide by tiles per square foot to get base quantity. Increase total base quantity by 10% to find 10% extra tiles.

For example, for 40 sf backsplash using tiles that cover 1 sf:

  • 40 sf / 1 sf per tile = 40 tile base quantity
  • Add 10% of 40 => 4 more tiles
  • Total tiles to buy = 40 + 4 extra = 44 tiles

Can you return unused backsplash tile?

Most tile retailers allow unopened boxes of unused backsplash tiles to be returned within 30-90 days of purchase. Check individual return policies for details and restocking fees.

Should I keep leftover backsplash tile?

Keep 1-2 boxes of any leftover backsplash tiles for future repairs. Matching tiles may be unavailable later if the style is discontinued. Storing extras in a safe place avoids cracks or damage.

How much does extra backsplash tile cost?

The cost of extra backsplash tiles equals: Total tiles needed x cost per tile x overage percentage.

For 40 sf backsplash with 10% extras using $5 tiles, the extra cost is:
40 tiles x $5 x 10% = $20

So for 10% extra tiles, budget an extra 10% of the base tile cost.


Calculating how many extra backsplash tiles to buy involves measuring your space, factoring in the tile style and complexity, and budgeting for waste and repairs. As a general rule of thumb, purchase 10-15% extras over the base quantity needed. Consider tile size and shape, material, pattern, grout width, and availability too. This ensures you get the right amount of extra tiles to have on hand without overbuying. Just be sure to get any extras from the same manufacturing lot. Now go pick out those gorgeous tiles knowing exactly how much extra to purchase!