Deciding on the right amount of tile for your backsplash can be tricky. The size of your kitchen and the look you want to achieve will determine how much tile you need. Here are some tips to help calculate the tile needs for your backsplash project.
Measure Your Backsplash Area
The first step is to accurately measure the area you plan to cover with tile. This will give you the total square footage that needs tiling.
- Measure the height of your backsplash area from the countertop to the bottom of the upper cabinets. Note this measurement.
- Measure the length of the backsplash area by taking the linear footage along the countertop edges that will get tiled.
- Multiply the height by the length to get the total square footage.
Be sure to account for any outlets, windows or other openings when taking measurements. You want the total square footage of the actual area getting tiled.
Having the precise backsplash dimensions will allow you to estimate how many tiles are needed.
Factor in Tile Size
The size of your tiles is a key variable in calculating how much tile you need. Smaller tiles mean more individual pieces need to be set. Larger format tiles cover more surface area quickly.
Common backsplash tile sizes:
- Mosaics – 1 inch square or hexagonal tiles
- Subway tile – 3 x 6 inch rectangular tiles
- Standard ceramic – 4 x 4 inch or 6 x 6 inch tiles
- Large format – 12 x 24 inch subway-style tiles or decorative patterns
To determine the number of tiles, divide the total square footage by the square footage of one tile.
For example, for a 20 square foot backsplash using 4 x 4 inch tiles:
- Each 4 x 4 inch tile = 16 square inches
- 20 sq ft backsplash * (144 sq in / 1 sq ft) = 2,880 sq in area
- 2,880 sq in area / 16 sq in per tile = 180 tiles needed
Knowing your tile size allows you to estimate how many you need to purchase.
Factor in Tile Layout
The backsplash layout will also impact your tile needs. The way the tiles are set, and whether they are offset or in straight rows, makes a difference.
Here are some common backsplash layouts:
- Running bond/brick pattern – tiles are offset by half a tile width in each row
- Stack bond – tiles are centered above one another in straight vertical columns
- Subway layout – offset by half a tile length rather than width
- Herringbone – tiles form a zigzag pattern
- Diagonal – tiles are set on the diagonal vs. perpendicular to the countertop
Layouts like running bond and herringbone often require 10-15% extra in tile, compared to stack bond, to account for the off-set pieces.
Make sure to factor the layout into your final tile quantity needs. purchasing a little extra is ideal in case you run short or tiles become damaged during installation.
Order Extra Tiles
It’s always smart to order 5-10% more tile than your square footage calculations indicate. Here are some reasons why:
- Cuts – you’ll need to cut tiles to fit around edges and openings. These small pieces add up in waste.
- Pattern matching – getting color/pattern consistency may require pulling from extra tiles.
- Damage – chipped or broken tiles happen. It’s good to have replacements.
- Future repairs – you’ll have leftover tiles for future repairs or additions.
If using specialty or unique tiles, ordering an extra box or two ensures you’ll have sufficient materials. Budgeting for extra tiles avoids the frustration of running short or finding out a tile was discontinued.
Consider Contrasting Border or Accent Tiles
Many backsplashes use two complementing tile designs. This often includes:
- A field or background tile that covers the majority of the wall.
- An accent or border tile used sparingly to frame or highlight specific areas.
For example, a subway tile backsplash with a mosaic tile border along the top and bottom edges. Or, accent tiles forming a decorative inset panel.
Calculate these specialty tiles separately from your field tiles. Determine the linear feet needed to complete the borders or accents. Order extra since these tiles will come from a separate inventory. Blending different tiles expands your design options.
Measure Carefully Around Obstacles
Pay close attention when measuring and calculating tile needs around openings, outlets, lighting, switches and appliances. These areas often have irregular dimensions and require careful tile cutting.
Some tips for measuring obstacles:
- For outlets and switches, measure the exact opening size along with surrounding tile space.
- Measure lighting fixtures and range hoods independently from wall space.
- For inside corners, take measurements from the precise corner point.
- For plumbing like faucets, measure the protruding pieces separately.
- Use a threshold gauge for outlet heights above countertops.
Having detailed obstacle measurements allows you to plan specialized tile cuts and account for those irregular pieces when estimating tile needs.
Planning Vertical Staggering
If planning a running bond or brick pattern backsplash, factor in your vertical staggering strategy when calculating how much tile you need.
- For a half staggered layout, each vertical column aligns with the joint halfway up adjacent tiles.
- A third staggered layout offsets each column by a third of a tile height.
This offsetting requires cutting some tiles into thinner pieces for spacing. Allowing for staggered tile layouts ensures your design aligns properly across multiple rows.
Allow for Design Motifs and Focal Points
Backsplash designs sometimes incorporate focal tiles or geometric motifs as part of the overall tile layout.
Common examples include:
- Framed medallions or inset panels
- Bands of accent tiles
- Framing borders in a contrasting tile
- Geometric designs like zig-zags or diamonds
Calculate these decorative elements based on the specific sizes and shapes needed. These types of backsplashes require mixing different sized tile pieces.
Have Plenty of Grout on Hand
When budgeting your backsplash materials, be sure to include enough grout. The amount needed depends on the tile size and width of your grout lines.
As a general guide:
- 25 lbs. of grout covers 35-40 sq. ft. with 4 x 4 inch tiles.
- 25 lbs. covers 60-70 sq. ft. for 12 x 12 inch tiles.
- 40-50 lbs. needed for 20 sq. ft. of mosaics.
It’s smart to have extra grout available for touch-ups or re-applications if needed. Any unfinished bags can be used for future tile projects.
Calculate Material Needs for Entire Project
In addition to the tile itself, don’t overlook the other supplies required:
Adhesives and Mortars: Recommended amount is about 1/4 lb per square foot.
Grout: Estimate 1 lb per square foot, adjusted for tile size.
Spacers: At least 1 spacer per tile is ideal.
Sealants and Finishes: Depends on product specifics.
Tools and supplies: trowels, buckets, grout float, sponges, mixing paddles.
Factor all materials into your tile purchasing budget to avoid shortages during installation.
Order Extra Tile for the Inevitable Repairs
No matter how carefully you measure and calculate, tiling a backsplash is filled with opportunities for breakage and installation mishaps. From tiles cracking or chipping, to cutting mistakes or adhesion failures, having extra tiles makes repairs a breeze.
Rather than scrambling to locate the same tiles in the future, order 5-10% extra upfront. This provides peace of mind knowing you have ample materials for modifications or replacements down the road.
Work Closely with Tile Supplier
For specialty or high-end tile, be sure to communicate closely with your tile supplier during the planning process.
- Provide them the exact quantities needed based on your measurements and calculations.
- Find out about current inventory availability and projected lead times.
- Ask about return policies on unopened surplus materials.
This allows you to coordinate delivery timing and avoid potential delays. Be proactive with tile purchasing logistics.
Carefully Double-Check Measurements
Before finalizing the tile order, meticulously check all measurements again. Backsplash areas often have multiple transitions, corners and cut-outs.
It’s easy to miscalculate or overlook something the first time around. rewrite down all the dimensions and use them to re-estimate your tile needs.
Having accurate measurements is critical for purchasing the right tile quantities. Avoid both shortages and over-purchasing. Measure twice for success!
Plan for Some Imperfections and Waste
No tiling project goes 100% perfectly. There will always be some amount of tile defects, damage, and cuts that go to waste.
It’s wise to account for up to 10% waste when you order. For mosaic sheets or specialty tiles, this could be higher.
Don’t expect full efficiency from your materials. Having surplus tiles alleviates the stress of running perfectly short.
Purchasing Too Much Tile is Better Than Too Little
If you end up with leftover unopened boxes of tile after finishing the backsplash, see that as success not failure. Having excess tiles is always better than the frustration of miscalculating and running short.
Those extra materials purchased upfront become your insurance. Keep them stored safely for addressing any future repairs, changes or additions.
Tiling a Full Wall Needs More Tile
If your design calls for tiling the entire wall space from countertop to ceiling, substantially more tile will be required.
Factor in the additional wall height when calculating total square footage. This extends your backsplash into a full wall application.
Budgeting for the increased materials ensures your project vision gets fulfilled. Scope out tile needs for the entire wall area.
Things to Avoid When Calculating Tile
Watch out for these common estimating mistakes:
- Forgetting to account for accent tiles and borders
- Not ordering extra tiles for cutting and waste
- Measuring inaccurately around obstacles
- Not factoring in backsplash layout and staggering
- Focusing only on field tile needs
- Not communicating with tile supplier on quantities
- Making quick guesstimates without precise calculations
Avoid headaches by carefully measuring, planning your entire design, and ordering 5-10% extra.
Calculating how much tile is needed for a backsplash involves:
- Measuring backsplash height x length to get square footage
- Factor in tile sizes being used
- Account for layout patterns and alignments
- Budget extra for waste, repairs, and overage
- Calculate accent tiles, borders and designs separately
- Verify all measurements repeatedly
- Communicate with tile supplier on quantities and availability
- Have plenty of thinset, grout and other installation products
- Don’t stress if you end up with surplus unused tiles
Do your homework, make detailed measurements, and allow for plenty of extras. Advancing planning and ordering ensures your backsplash vision gets achieved the first time.
How to Estimate Tile Needs for a Backsplash
Figuring out how much tile you need for a kitchen backsplash or bathroom remodeling project? Here is an in-depth look at how to calculate tile square footage and determine quantities.
Gather Key Measurements
The starting point is taking detailed measurements of the backsplash installation area:
- Height – Measure from countertop up to bottom of upper cabinets. Include any gap between cabinet bottom and countertop.
- Length – Mark the linear span along the countertop edges being tiled. Make sure to capture all transitions and corners.
- Depths – Measure any backslash areas with differing depths or layers, such as around a window or protruding stove rear.
- Obstacles – Account for outlets, switches, lighting, plumbing fixtures etc. that occupy backsplash space. Measure the gaps around them.
Having complete measurements is crucial for estimating needs.
Multiply Height x Length for Square Footage
Use your height and length measurements to calculate the total square footage area needing tile coverage.
Height x Length = Total Square Footage
For example, if backsplash height is 32 inches, and length is 25 linear feet:
32 in x 25 ft = 800 square inches
800 sq in / 144 (sq in per sq ft) = 5.56 square feet
Use either inches, feet or meters for measurements. Just be sure to use consistent units when making square footage calculations.
Factor in Tile Dimensions
Tile sizes add another variable to your estimates. Smaller tiles need greater quantity to cover the same area.
Know your tile dimensions (length x height) and use them to calculate square inches or cm for each piece.
Popular backsplash tile sizes:
- Mosaics – 1/2 x 1/2 inch
- Subway – 3 x 6 inch
- Standard Ceramic – 4 x 4 inch
- Large Format – 12 x 24 inch
Then determine how many full tiles will comprise your backsplash based on square footage.
Total Sq Ft ÷ Tile Sq Ft = Number of Tiles
If 5.5 sq ft backsplash using 4 x 4 inch (16 sq in) tiles:
5.5 sq ft x (144 sq in / 1 sq ft ) = 792 sq in
792 sq in ÷ 16 sq in per tile = 49.5 tiles (round up to 50 whole tiles)
Know your tile size in order to estimate quantities required.
Calculate Accent Tiles Separately
Accent tiles used for borders, insets or other details should be measured and estimated independently from the field tile.
To determine accent tile needs:
- Measure length of the border or detail in linear feet/meters.
- Use the tile width to calculate how many accent tiles fit along that span.
Having these measurements done ahead of time ensures you order enough of both field and accent tiles.
Factor in Tile Layout and Pattern
Staggered layouts, diagonal designs, and different setting patterns all impact tile quantities needed.
- Staggered Brick – Requires 10-15% more tile due to off-setting.
- Herringbone – More wasteful cuts diagonally. Budget 15% extra tile.
- Mosaics – Built-in spacers and mesh backing reduce waste.
Carefully plan out the intended tile pattern and orientation so you can account for these layout factors.
Budget for Extra Tiles
There are several reasons to order 5-10% extra tiles beyond your square footage estimate:
- Tile cuts for spacing and fitting
- Variations in tile color and pattern
- Breakage or damage during install
- Future repairs if tiles become cracked or damaged
- Any unexpected delays requiring more materials
Having surplus unused tiles leftover is better than the alternative. Leftover tiles can be used for future maintenance issues or additions.
Double Check Measurements
Before finalizing tile order quantities, carefully re-measure all the backsplash areas again. Verify your calculations match the actual space.
It’s easy to miss something the first time around. Look for inconsistencies, transitions and irregular shapes that require tile cutting.
Invest the effort to ensure measurements are completely accurate before ordering materials.
Communicate with Tile Retailer
For specialty tile orders, communicate closely with your tile supplier on:
- Tile availability – ensure quick delivery of needed quantities
- Coordinating order timing with your project schedule
- Return policies if you end up with surplus tiles
Discussing tile logistics with the retailer helps minimize problems down the road. Make sure to ask questions!
Carefully Review Order for Accuracy
Don’t assume your measurements and estimates are fail proof! Before submitting the tile order, meticulously review all calculations again.
- Compare your estimates to the tile retailer’s recommended calculations.
- Verify you included extra tile padding in the order.
- Re-check that accent borders and specialty pieces are accounted for.
- Confirm quantities with tile installer if needed.
Being 99% certain is not enough. Strive for perfection in your tile math!
The main steps in determining backsplash tile requirements:
- Measure height, length, depth and obstacles
- Calculate total square footage
- Factor in tile dimensions and layout patterns
- Estimate accent tiles and borders separately
- Add 5-10% extra for waste and overage
- Re-check all measurements for accuracy
- Communicate with tile retailer on order details
- Carefully validate final order quantities
Advance planning, meticulous measurements, and ordering extras minimizes problems. Strive for perfection with your tile estimating and ordering!
Tiling Backsplash – How Much Tile to Order?
Installing a kitchen or bathroom backsplash is a satisfying DIY upgrade. Nothing transforms the space like a beautiful new tile design! But nothing is more frustrating than realizing you don’t have enough materials halfway through the installation. Avoid this headache by understanding how much tile you need to order for your project.
Carefully Measure the Space
The starting point is thoroughly measuring the backsplash area:
- Measure height from countertop to bottom of upper cabinets
- Measure length along all countertops receiving tile
- Include inside and outside corners
- Note any protruding windows or appliances
- Account for outlets, switches and fixtures
Having extremely precise measurements is crucial for calculating tile needs. The more details the better.
Multiply Area for Total Square Footage
Use your height x length figures to get the total square footage of backsplash space:
Height x Length = Square Footage
A common 18 inch tall backsplash along a 10 foot countertop is:
18 in x 10 ft = 180 square inches
180 sq in / 144 (sq in per sq ft) = 1.25 sq ft
Make sure your units are consistent, and account for all backsplash sections in the kitchen or bath.
Factor in Tile Dimensions
The size of your tiles impacts how many are needed to cover the square footage. Smaller tiles require greater quantity.
Common tile sizes: