How Much Extra Tile Should I Buy for Backsplash?

Installing a backsplash in your kitchen or bathroom can greatly enhance the look and feel of the space. But when purchasing tile for a backsplash project, it’s important to buy a little extra. Here’s a guide on how much extra tile you should get to complete your backsplash installation.


A backsplash serves both decorative and functional purposes. Made from tile, metal, glass, or other materials, a backsplash protects the walls from splashes and stains behind appliances and counters. It also adds visual interest and ties the whole room together.

When shopping for backsplash tile, most homeowners underestimate how much they need. It’s always better to overestimate rather than underestimate. Running out of tile partway through your project can lead to problems finding additional tiles that match exactly. Buying some extra allows for mistakes, uneven walls, and breakage.

How Much Extra Tile Should I Buy?

As a general rule, purchase 10-15% more tile than your measurements suggest that you’ll need. This provides a nice buffer to ensure you complete the project with a uniform look.

Here are some other factors to consider when determining how much extra tile to buy:

Account for Waste

During the tile cutting process, there is unavoidable waste. Unless you plan to do all full tiles with no cuts, you’ll end up with leftover scraps that cannot be used. For simple layouts, you may have 5% waste. More detailed cuts can lead to 10% or higher.

Consider Spacers

When laying tile, it’s best practice to use small plastic spacers between each tile. This ensures consistent spacing or “grout joints.” Make sure to account for the loss of space from these spacers across your surface area.

Inspect Tile for Defects

Take time to thoroughly inspect each tile for chips, cracks, or other defects before installation. It’s better to identify any damaged tiles beforehand so you can purchase replacements. Expect at least 5% of tiles to have minor flaws that make them unsuitable for your backsplash.

Factor in Room for Error

Even seasoned tile installers make occasional mistakes that require a tile to be pulled up and replaced. It’s also common for tiles to crack or chip during installation. Assume you’ll need at least 5% extra to account for breakage and mistakes.

Think About Accent Tiles

If installing a decorative mosaic tile accent strip or border, be sure to buy enough extra pieces in case you make cutting or placement errors on these more intricate design elements. Get at least 10-15% extra accent tiles.

Consider Uneven Walls

Older homes often have uneven walls that make it tricky to lay tiles flat. You may need to make minor adjustments to the tile layout to accommodate imperfections in the wall surface. Having spare tiles on hand allows flexibility for dealing with uneven substrates.

Plan for Later Replacement

Over time, a few backsplash tiles may become damaged and require replacement. Keep any leftover tiles in a safe place so you can easily swap in replacements down the road if needed.

Typical Recommendations by Area

Here are some standard recommendations for extra tile to purchase based on the area you’re tiling:

  • Full kitchen backsplash: Add 15% more tile
  • Part of a wall or small backsplash: Add 10% to allow for cutting waste and mistakes
  • Mosaic sheets: Add 10-15% to account for cutting intricacies
  • Subway tile: Add 10% since subway tiles have fewer cuts
  • Metal, glass, or stone: Add 15% to accommodate fragile materials

When to Keep More Spares

Some backsplash projects may warrant keeping more than just 10-15% extra tile:

  • Discontinued or hard to find tiles
  • Intricate patterns, inlays, or mosaics
  • Matching an existing backsplash when redoing part
  • Larger commercial spaces like restaurants

For these situations, it can give great peace of mind to keep 20% or more spare tile.

Storing Extra Tiles

Be sure to keep spare tiles in a safe place, ideally in their original packaging. Place them somewhere completely out of the way of potential damage. Bathrooms and kitchens have lots of moisture, so store the tiles in a closet or basement if possible.

Using Leftover Tiles for Other Projects

Any extra tiles don’t necessarily need to go to waste. You can often use small amounts of leftover tile for other decorative crafts and smaller projects:

  • Create a trivet, soap dish, or switch plate cover
  • Use them to tile a small frame, jewelry box, or votive holder
  • Make custom magnets or coasters out of leftover accent tiles

Consult an Expert if Unsure

If you’re feeling uncertain about how much extra tile to purchase, consult a tile installation pro. They can provide backsplash-specific recommendations after considering the details of your project. Keep the tile store’s return policy in mind as well when purchasing.


Hopefully this gives you a better understanding of why you need extra tiles for a backsplash project and how much to get. Always buy at least 10% more tile than your measurements indicate. A good rule of thumb is adding 15% extra for a kitchen backsplash. Carefully consider all the potential reasons you may need spare tiles before finalizing your tile order. With the right amount of extra tiles on hand, you can install your backsplash confidently knowing you have enough to complete the project beautifully.

Frequently Asked Questions About How Much Extra Tile to Buy for Backsplash

Q: How do I calculate how much tile I need for my backsplash?

A: Measure the length and height of the backsplash area in inches. Multiply length x height to get the total square inches needed. Divide by the size of your tile (in square inches) to determine the estimated number of tiles. Add 10-15% extra for waste, spacers, breakage, etc.

Q: Should I keep extra accent tiles?

A: Yes, keep at least 10-15% extra of any specialty accent tiles or mosaic sheets. The intricate cuts increase chances you’ll need replacements.

Q: What’s the downside to buying too much extra tile?

A: The main downside is wasting money if you buy way too much extra. But it’s usually better to have too much than not enough. Just try not to go overboard as unused tiles may get damaged over time.

Q: Can I return unused tiles to the store?

A: Possibly, if the tile store has a return policy. Make sure to keep any extra tiles unopened in their original packaging to increase chances of return acceptance if needed. Know the return policy ahead of time.

Q: How should I store leftover backsplash tiles?

A: Keep unused tiles somewhere completely protected from moisture and potential damage. A closet, basement, or attic space is ideal. Store tiles flat if possible and never pile heavy objects on top of them.

Q: What should I do with tiles left over after my project?

A: You have a few options for small amounts of leftover tiles – use them for other small DIY projects, create coasters or trivets, or even frame them as artwork. Or just keep them to facilitate easy future tile replacements if needed.