How to Determine Square Footage for Backsplash

Choosing the right amount of backsplash for your kitchen or bathroom remodel involves carefully calculating the square footage. An accurate measurement will ensure you buy enough tile and materials without overspending. Follow this comprehensive guide to determine the square footage for your backsplash installation.

Measure the Perimeter

The first step is to measure the perimeter of the area you plan to cover with backsplash. This will give you the linear footage, allowing you to calculate total square footage.

For a Full Wall

If doing a full wall from counter to ceiling, measure the width of the wall side to side in inches. Then measure from counter to ceiling in inches. Multiply the width by the height to get square inches. Divide by 144 to convert to square feet.

For example, if the wall is 120 inches wide by 60 inches tall:

120 x 60 = 7200 square inches

7200/144 = 50 square feet

For a Partial Wall

If only doing a section of the wall, follow the same method but only measure the portion getting backsplash.

For example, if the section is 60 inches wide but only 30 inches tall:

60 x 30 = 1800 square inches

1800/144 = 12.5 square feet

Inside Corners

For inside corners where two walls meet, measure the width of each wall section getting backsplash. Add those together then multiply by the height to get total square inches.

For example, if one wall is 84 inches wide and the adjoining wall is 36 inches wide, and the height is 48 inches:

(84 + 36) x 48 = 4800 square inches

4800/144 = 33.3 square feet

Outside Corners

For exterior corners, measure the width of each side and multiply by the height. Add the two totals together for the complete area.

For example, if one wall is 60 inches wide and the other is 84 inches wide, with a height of 54 inches:

(60 x 54 = 3240 square inches) + (84 x 54 = 4536 square inches) = 7776 total square inches

7776/144 = 54 square feet


Remember to deduct for any areas that won’t get tile, such as windows, outlets, and appliances. Measure these spaces and subtract from your total.

Calculate Tile Needed

Once you know the total square footage, determining how much tile you need is straightforward.

Tile Size

Factor in the dimensions of your tile. Standard sizes include:

  • 12 x 12 inch (1 square foot per tile)
  • 16 x 16 inch (4 square feet per tile)
  • 4 x 12 inch subway tile (0.33 square feet per tile)
  • Mosaic tiles (size varies)

Match this to your total square footage. For example, for 50 square feet with 12 x 12 inch tile:

50 square feet needed / 1 square foot per tile = 50 tiles

For 16 x 16 inch tile:

50 square feet / 4 square feet per tile = 12.5 or 13 tiles

Always round up to ensure full coverage. Consider purchasing 10-15% extra to account for unusable damaged tiles and cut tile pieces.

Tile Layout

The tile layout pattern you select can also impact quantities needed. Simple layouts like brick pattern may require fewer tiles than diagonal patterns. Make sure to factor the layout into your calculations.

Border Tiles

If adding a border or decorative tile design, measure this area separately to determine additional tiles needed. Border tiles are often set on their own grid and require more precise calculations.

Other Material Needs

In addition to the tile itself, don’t forget to calculate required materials for installation:

Tile Adhesive

Follow adhesive manufacturer specifications for coverage rate per square foot. Multiply this rate by your total square footage.

For example, if the adhesive covers 30 square feet per gallon, and you need to cover 60 square feet:

60 square feet / 30 square feet per gallon = 2 gallons adhesive needed

Purchase accordingly, adding at least an extra 10% as a buffer.


Grout quantity is also based on square footage. Check manufacturer guidelines for estimated usage.

As a general rule, grout coverage is about 0.25 pounds per square foot. So for a 60 square foot backsplash:

60 square feet x 0.25 pounds per square foot = 15 pounds of grout

Add extra in case of spillage, mess-ups, etc. Grout can also be mixed to thinner consistency if needed to extend quantity.

Backsplash Panels

For alternative backsplash materials like metal panels, glass mosaics, or other unique products, contact the manufacturer for recommended calculations and coverage rates. Quantities can vary widely depending on specific materials.

Other Supplies

Don’t forget small supplies like grout sealer, caulk, tile spacers, curring tools, etc. Check that you have all necessary installation accessories before starting.

Tips for Accuracy

  • Use a laser measuring device for precision. Take multiple measurements to verify.
  • Carefully measure deducted areas like windows and outlets.
  • Order 10-15% extra tile and materials to allow for mistakes, cuts, future repairs.
  • Have tile store confirm measurements and quantities.
  • Layout tile pattern on floor first to visualize spacing and fit.

By following these steps to precisely calculate required square footage and tile amounts, you can determine how much backsplash you need for a successful DIY or pro installation. Accurate estimates ensure you get the right materials without overspending. With some simple math and careful measurements, you’ll be ready to tile!

Frequently Asked Questions About Determining Square Footage for Backsplash

What are some tips for measuring walls and areas to tile?

  • Use a laser measuring tool for precision. Take multiple height and width measurements.
  • Verify inside and outside corner dimensions carefully.
  • Have a helper if measuring large or high walls.
  • Deduct measurements of windows, outlets, appliances, etc.
  • Mark measurements clearly on drawings or plans.
  • Double check math calculations.

How do I calculate square feet for a backsplash that covers multiple walls?

For multiple walls, measure each wall section individually following the steps above. Calculate total square inches for each section, then add all the totals together. Convert the grand total square inches to square feet by dividing by 144. This gives you the complete area.

What is the best way to calculate irregular shaped backsplash areas?

For odd-shaped areas, break the space down into smaller rectangles and squares that you can individually measure. Calculate each of those sections separately, then add all the measurements together to get the total square footage.

Should I calculate square footage or linear footage?

You want square footage, not linear. Square footage accounts for the total coverage area needed. Linear footage only gives length which doesn’t factor height or width. Make sure to multiple height x width measurements to get square inches/feet.

How do I allow for tile cuts, waste and extras in my calculations?

Order at least 10-15% more tile than your measurements show that you need. This allows for unusable damaged tiles, cut tiles, spacing gaps, mistakes, and future repairs. It’s much better to have leftovers than to run short during installation.

What information do I need to determine required supplies like adhesive and grout?

Adhesive and grout have coverage rates per square foot provided by the manufacturers. Multiply this rate by your total square footage to determine how much you need. Add extra as a buffer. Having this info makes purchasing materials easy.

Should I measure and calculate before purchasing tile and materials?

Absolutely! Accurate measurements of the total area are essential before buying tiles and supplies. Knowing the square footage will prevent errors in purchasing. Trying to estimate without measuring often leads to buying the wrong quantities. Always measure first.


Determining the square footage for a backsplash is an important first step for a successful project. Carefully measuring the total area and calculating tile needs ensures you buy the proper materials without overspending. Use a consistent, methodical process when measuring perimeter walls, inside and outside corners, and deducted spaces. Convert measurements to total square footage for easy material estimation. Allow for at least 10% extra tiles. Follow manufacturer guidelines for recommended adhesive, grout, and other supply quantities. With some diligent measuring and math, you’ll be set up for backsplash installation success.