How Much Tile for Kitchen Backsplash: The Complete Guide

Installing a tile backsplash in your kitchen can transform the space, adding visual interest, color, and texture while also protecting the walls from splashes and spills. But before starting your project, an important question to consider is how much tile you will need. Measure the space carefully, account for pattern and design, and leave room for cuts and waste. With some simple calculations, you’ll be ready to shop for the perfect amount of tile.

Measuring Your Kitchen Backsplash Area

The first step in determining how much tile you need is accurately measuring the backsplash area. Here are some tips for getting precise measurements:

  • Measure from the countertop to the underside of the upper cabinets. This is the height of the backsplash area.
  • Measure the linear width of the backsplash area by taking measurements from one end to the other, including any corners or angles.
  • For best results, sketch out the shape of the backsplash on graph paper and take multiple width and height measurements.
  • Note any specialty areas like niches, windows, or appliances that need tile. Be sure to measure these spaces separately.
  • Measure in inches if using imperial tile or centimeters for metric tile. Round up to the nearest whole number.

Having multiple accurate measurements is key for determining the square footage of your backsplash installation area. This will give you the baseline amount of tile needed.

Factoring in Tile Pattern and Design

Beyond just total square footage, the pattern and design you choose for the backsplash can impact how much tile is required:

Tile Layout

  • A basic straight brick pattern is the most efficient layout requiring the least amount of tile.
  • Diagonal patterns require 15-20% more tile than straight layouts.
  • Herringbone patterns need about 25% more tile than straight set bricks.
  • Intricate mosaics can require up to 40% more tile due to all the cuts.

Tile Shape

  • Square or rectangular tiles are the most efficient shape for backsplashes.
  • Long narrow subway, planks or listeles increase the number of tiles needed.
  • Mosaic tiles, penny rounds, octagons or other shapes require more tiles per square foot.

Accent Tiles

  • Contrasting border or accent tiles add more material needed. Calculate this tile separately.
  • Allow for extra if doing a more elaborate accent design like framing the window.

Backsplash Height

  • Standard backsplash height is 4 inches from the counter.
  • Extending to the bottom of upper cabinets or higher requires purchasing more tile.
  • Backsplashes taller than 18 inches need careful planning to avoid waste. Consider ordering extra.

Ordering Extra Tile for Cuts and Waste

When calculating how much tile is needed for a kitchen backsplash, it’s important to order extra to account for cuts and unavoidable waste. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Order an extra 10% for simple straight layouts with full tiles.
  • Add 15% extra for diagonal patterns or subway layouts.
  • Get 20% more tile for intricate patterns like herringbone or mosaics.
  • Request 25% additional for stone tiles like marble or travertine that cut poorly.
  • For backsplashes using very expensive designer tile, order 30% extra.

Other tips for limiting waste are:

  • Use the manufacturer’s recommended joint size for the tile material and type.
  • Carefully pattern the layout and stagger cuts where less visible.
  • Review tile samples first to understand sizing and thickness.
  • Use slivers and fragments for accent mosaics or behind appliances.

Ordering some extra tiles can save you from the frustration of coming up just short halfway through your project. Any unused full tiles can be saved for future repairs or kept on hand as spares.

Using a Tile Calculator

If all the measuring and math seems daunting, have no fear. There are several easy online tile calculators that can help determine how much tile is needed for a kitchen backsplash based on your custom dimensions and layout pattern.

Here’s how to use them:

  1. Enter the measurements for the height and length of the backsplash area.
  2. Select your desired tile pattern – brick, subway, herringbone, etc.
  3. Choose the tile size you plan to use. This may need to be converted to inches or centimeters.
  4. Enter the recommended grout joint spacing for the tile material.
  5. Input any accent or border tiles if using.
  6. Add the desired extra percentage for waste factor.
  7. The calculator will provide the total number of field tiles, borders, and grand total needed.

Online tile calculators provide a fast shortcut to getting measurements right and taking the guesswork out of purchasing tile. They can also estimate the amount of grout needed.

Purchasing Amount Guidelines

To summarize tile amount guidelines for a kitchen backsplash based on all the above factors:

  • For simple full tile layouts, multiply the square footage by 1.15 to allow 10-15% extra.
  • With mosaics or intricate patterns, multiply the square footage by 1.25 to 1.3.
  • Have 30% extra tile on hand for expensive stone tiles that cut poorly.
  • Use an online tile calculator for best results with diagonal, subway, herringbone or other intricate layouts.
  • Remember to account for any accent, border or trim tiles separately.
  • Purchase all tile needed for the job at once if possible to avoid variations in dye lots.

Knowing how to estimate the right amount of tile for a backsplash prevents last minute shortages. Be sure to save any leftover tiles for future repairs or additions. With the right amount of material purchased upfront, you can focus on the fun part – installing your gorgeous new backsplash!

Frequently Asked Questions

How much tile do I need for a standard 4 inch height kitchen backsplash?

For a typical 4 inch high backsplash, multiply the linear width and height measurements to get square footage. Add 15% extra for cuts and waste. For example, 25 linear feet of backsplash at 4 inch height is 100 square feet. With 15% extra is 115 square feet of tile needed.

How much extra tile should I get for a herringbone pattern backsplash?

Due to the high number of cuts, herringbone and chevron patterns require purchasing about 25% extra tile than the estimated square footage.

My backsplash is two different heights. How does that affect amount needed?

Measure each height section separately following the square footage calculations. Combine the amounts needed for each section to get the total tile required.

How can I calculate accent and border tiles needed?

Measure the linear feet your accent tiles need to run. For every linear foot, you will need 5-6 tiles for a standard 4 inch backsplash. Order extra in case tiles crack or break during installation.

Should I go with 10% or 15% extra for a brick pattern backsplash?

If your final layout requires many small cuts, addition of border or trim tiles, or mixing sizes go with 15% extra. For simple layouts using primarily full tiles, 10% extra should suffice.

What tile cuts can I avoid to limit waste?

Carefully laying out your pattern and staggering vertical cuts between rows so tiles overlap sides can eliminate unnecessary cuts. Avoid L-shaped cuts around borders and perimeter edges.

In Conclusion

Determining how much tile is required for tiling a kitchen backsplash involves careful measurement, pattern planning, calculations for waste, and consideration of design factors like accent tiles. With the square footage of the backsplash area as a starting point, use a tile calculator for complex patterns or estimate 15-25% extra for most layouts. Ordering the right amount of tile ensures you don’t come up short and can complete your kitchen backsplash efficiently, avoiding unnecessary cuts and excess purchases. Use these tips and guidelines to find the perfect tile and quantities needed to create a stunning and hassle-free backsplash installation.