How Much To Tile Backsplash

Adding a tile backsplash to your kitchen can completely transform the look and feel of the space. But before taking on a tiling project, it’s important to understand how much tile you’ll need to purchase. By calculating the square footage and factoring in extra tiles for cutting and pattern matching, you can get a good estimate of tile requirements. With some planning and preparation, you can create a stunning and seamless backsplash design.

Calculating How Much Tile is Needed

The first step in determining how much tile you need for a backsplash is to measure the area to be tiled. Here’s how to calculate the square footage:

Measure the Backsplash Area

  • Measure the length and height of the backsplash area. For a full wall backsplash, measure from the countertop to the underside of the upper cabinets. For a partial backsplash, measure just the portion to be tiled.
  • Multiply the length by the height to get the area in square feet. Measure in inches and divide by 144 to convert to square feet.
  • Measure any windows, appliances, or outlets in the backsplash area and subtract them from the total.


  • Backsplash length: 144 inches
  • Backsplash height: 48 inches
  • 144 x 48 = 6,912 square inches
  • 6,912 square inches / 144 = 48 square feet

So for a 144″ x 48″ backsplash, the area to be tiled is 48 square feet.

Account for Uneven Surfaces

If the backsplash area is not perfectly square, calculate each section separately. Measure any recessed or protruding areas and calculate them individually.

For example, if part of the backsplash has a 36″ height, calculate that section’s square footage separately from the main 48″ high section. Then add them together.

This will provide a more accurate total square footage amount.

Determine Tile Size

Knowing the dimensions of the tile you have chosen is key to calculating how much you need. Common tile sizes include:

  • 12″ x 12″
  • 4″ x 4″
  • 3″ x 6″ subway tile
  • 6″ x 6″ hexagons or octagons
  • Mosaic sheets (10″ x 10″ or 12″ x 12″)

Larger tiles will cover more square footage than small mosaics or subway tiles. Keep tile size in mind when estimating your quantities.

Factoring in Cuts, Waste, and Pattern Matching

When purchasing tile, you’ll need to buy extra to account for the following factors:


Cutting whole tiles to fit around outlets, switches, windows, corners, and edges will create waste. Expect to cut about 10% of your tiles.

Example: For 48 square feet of backsplash, plan to cut about 5 square feet of tiles.


Natural tile damage or cracks during installation will also create waste. Account for about 10% more in waste.

Example: For 48 square feet, purchase about 5 square feet extra for waste.

Pattern Matching

If installing a patterned tile like hexagons or subway bricks, buy 10-15% extra to ensure you have enough to match the pattern correctly when cutting.

With rectangular subway tiles, staggering the bricks half-on, half-off each row also requires buying extras.

Example: For a staggered brick pattern in 48 square feet, buy 5-7 square feet extra for pattern matching.

Ordering the Right Tile Quantity

Now that you know the backsplash area and have factored in the extras, here’s how to calculate the amount of tile needed:

Step 1: Total Square Footage

Add up the total backsplash area from your measurements.

Example: 48 square feet

Step 2: Add Extras

Add 10-15% more for cuts, 10% for waste, and 10-15% for pattern matching.


  • 48 square feet
  • 10% of 48 = about 5 square feet (cuts)
  • 10% of 48 = about 5 square feet (waste)
  • 15% of 48 = about 7 square feet (pattern matching)
  • Total extras = 17 square feet

Step 3: Total Tile Needed

Add the square footage + extras together to get the total tile to order.


  • Backsplash area: 48 square feet
  • Extras: 17 square feet
  • Total tiles needed: 65 square feet

Step 4: Convert to Actual Tile Quantity

Divide the total square footage by the dimensions of your tile to get the number of tiles needed.


  • Total tile needed: 65 square feet
  • Tile dimensions: 4″ x 4″ (0.11 square feet per tile)
  • 65 sq ft / 0.11 sq ft per tile = 590 tiles

Always round up to the nearest full box when ordering. Don’t forget the spacers and grout!

Key Takeaways

  • Carefully measure backsplash area and account for uneven surfaces
  • Factor in 10-15% extra for cuts, waste, and pattern matching
  • Convert total square footage to tiles needed based on tile size
  • Order full boxes and extra tiles as needed
  • Precise calculations ensure you buy enough tile the first time

With some simple math and measurements, you can determine the right amount of tile for your backsplash project. Calculating the square footage, adding extras, and converting to tiles makes it easy to buy the exact quantity needed. Order a little extra for mistakes or future repairs. Then you’ll be ready to create a stunning backsplash design.

Things to Consider When Calculating Tile Requirements

Installing a tile backsplash is a big project that requires careful planning and preparation. Here are some additional things to keep in mind when determining how much tile you need.

Pattern and Design

  • The pattern you choose will impact how much tile is required. Consider spacing, layout, and staggering.
  • Hexagons and mosaics require more cutting and waste than rectangular tiles.
  • Order extra tiles for a decorative border, trim, or accents.
  • Have a clear design plan before purchasing materials.

Tile Stock and Availability

  • Check tile availability – don’t assume the store will have enough in stock later.
  • Order all materials from the same dye lot to ensure consistent coloring.
  • Allow extra time for shipping if not buying locally.

Backup Tiles

  • Order 5-10% extra tiles to have on hand for repairs or replacements later on.
  • Keep extra tiles and grout stored for many years after installing the backsplash.
  • Place tiles in a safe area to avoid cracks – they become brittle over time.

Professional Tiling

  • A tile installation pro may have a more precise method for calculating tile.
  • They can also purchase materials and handle any wastage during the project.
  • Get an expert tile measurement if unsure about DIY calculations.

Use a Tile Calculator

  • There are online tile calculators that can provide square footage estimates.
  • Input backsplash dimensions and tile sizes to get an estimate.
  • Use tile calculators as a general guide, but also do your own measurements.

Carefully considering these factors will help ensure you get the perfect tile quantity for your backsplash installation.

Estimating Material Costs

Once you know how much tile is required, it’s easy to estimate the material costs for your project. Here are the expenses to factor in:

  • Tile cost – Calculate total tiles needed x cost per tile. Include delivery fees.
  • Grout – About $10-15 per square foot, depending on grout type.
  • Thinset – Approximately $10 per 50 pound bag which covers 50-60 square feet.
  • Sealer – $20 per bottle (covers 200 sq ft). Especially needed for porous natural stone tile.
  • Spacers – Around $2 per 100 spacers. Get enough for 1 spacer per tile.
  • Tools – Tile cutter, blades, buckets, trowels, sponges, etc. Can be $50-100+ depending on what you need.


  • 590 tiles needed (from previous example)
  • Tile cost = $5 per tile
  • Grout = $15 per square foot x 48 square feet = $720
  • Thinset = $10 bag (need 2 bags for 65 square feet) = $20
  • Sealer = $20 (for 200 sq ft coverage)
  • Spacers = about $10 for 590 spacers
  • Tools = $75

Total estimated cost = $3,275

Having an idea of what you’ll spend makes it easier to set a backsplash budget. The material costs can add up quickly, so accurate tile calculations are key.

DIY Installation Tips

Once you have all the necessary tile and materials purchased, you’re ready to install your new backsplash. Follow these tips for a successful DIY tile project:

  • Prepare the surface – Clean and sand the backsplash area, remove old wallpaper or paint, and fix any holes or imperfections in the drywall.
  • Map it out – Look at the space and create a tiling pattern. Mark the center and work outward. Cut border and corner tiles first.
  • Measure precisely – Use a level and spacers to lay out straight lines. Cut tiles to fit outlets and fixtures exactly.
  • Mix thinset well – Make sure the thickness is ideal to spread easily and hold the tiles firmly. Let it sit 5-10 minutes after mixing.
  • Work in sections – Tile a small area at a time, like 2-3 square feet. Let it dry before moving on.
  • Clean as you go – Use a damp sponge to wipe up any thinset or grout residue before it dries.
  • Grout neatly – Push grout evenly into joints, wiping diagonally across tiles. Clean excess grout with a damp sponge.
  • Seal tiles – After grouting, apply a penetrating sealer on porous natural stone tiles.

Follow all manufacturer’s instructions for materials and tools. Take your time, and your DIY backsplash install will turn out beautifully.

Hiring a Professional Tiler

Installing a backsplash yourself can save money, but professional tile installation ensures it’s done right. Here are some benefits of hiring a pro:

  • Expert measurement – They can precisely calculate tile needs and order materials for you.
  • Proper prep – Contractors properly clean and prime the backsplash area first.
  • Save time – Experienced tilers work faster with less mess to clean up after.
  • Avoid mistakes – Costly rework is prevented with a pro handling the project.
  • Better tools – Pros have the necessary equipment to make tile cutting and installation easier.
  • Experience – They know all the tricks of the trade to handle any tiling challenge.
  • Warranty – Reputable contractors provide a warranty on their tile work.

Paying a professional tiling company is an investment that often pays off in the quality and durability of the finished backsplash. Get quotes to compare pricing.

FAQs About Calculating Backsplash Tile

How much extra tile should I buy?

Plan on purchasing 10-15% more tiles than your measurements show for cuts, waste, and pattern matching. It’s better to end up with leftovers than run short!

What measurements do I need?

Carefully measure the length, height, and total area of the backsplash. Also measure any windows, outlets, or fixtures to subtract. Know your exact tile dimensions too.

Should I use a tile calculator tool?

Online tile calculators can provide a helpful estimate, but it’s best to take your own careful measurements as well. Each space is a little different.

Can I return extra tiles?

You may be able to return unopened boxes, but check the supplier’s policies. Most do not accept returns on tile once it’s purchased. Keep extra tiles for future repairs.

Should I hire a professional?

Pros have the skills to measure, order tiles, and handle the install efficiently. The cost is usually worth it for an expertly done backsplash that lasts.


By following the steps to precisely calculate your tile needs, you can ensure you purchase the right amount for your backsplash project. Carefully measure the area, factor in extras for cutting and patterns, convert to actual tiles required, and add 5-10% buffer tiles. Understanding how to find the accurate tile quantity helps make your backsplash installation go smoothly, whether DIY or done professionally. With the right planning and preparation, you’ll end up with a stunning, seamless backsplash design.