How to Figure Backsplash Square Footage

Figuring out the square footage for a backsplash installation is an important part of planning and budgeting for your kitchen remodeling project. With some simple calculations, you can determine how much tile or other backsplash material you will need to purchase. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to measure and calculate backsplash square footage.

Measure the Backsplash Area

The first step is to accurately measure the area where you plan to install the backsplash. Here are the key measurements you need to take:

Countertop Length

Use a tape measure to measure along the entire length of the countertop where the backsplash will be installed. Be sure to measure any corner sections or gaps separately. Record the length measurements.

Countertop Depth

Measure the depth of the countertop from the wall to the front edge. Standard depth is 25 inches, but measure yours to be sure.

Height of Backsplash

Decide how high you want your backsplash to extend up the wall. Typical heights are 4 inches, 6 inches, or all the way to the underside of the upper cabinets. Measure the height.

Outlets, Windows, and Obstacles

Note the locations and dimensions of any outlets, windows, or other obstacles on the wall that will affect your backsplash installation. You will need to make deductions in your square footage for these.

Calculate the Square Footage

Now use these measurements to calculate the total square footage:

Length x Height

For each section of countertop, multiply the length by the backsplash height. This gives you the area in square inches for that section.

For example:

  • Section 1: 36 inches long x 4 inch height = 144 sq in
  • Section 2: 42 inches long x 4 inch height = 168 sq in

Convert to Square Feet

Next, convert the square inch measurements to square feet by dividing by 144.

Section 1: 144 sq in ÷ 144 = 1 sq ft
Section 2: 168 sq in ÷ 144 = 1.16 sq ft

Deduct for Obstacles

If you have windows, outlets or other obstacles on the backsplash wall, measure and calculate those areas and deduct them from the total.

Add Sections Together

Finally, add together the square footage calculations for each section to get the total backsplash area.

For example:

  • Section 1: 1 sq ft
  • Section 2: 1.16 sq ft
  • Section 3: 0.5 sq ft (deduction for outlet)
  • Total = 2.66 sq ft

Round up or down accordingly when ordering materials.

Factors That Affect Square Footage

Several factors can increase or decrease your total backsplash square footage calculation:

Backsplash Height

The standard 4-6 inch height range can make a big difference in total area. Going all the way to the underside of cabinets doubles or triples the square footage over a 4 inch height.

Multiple Levels or Tiers

Some backsplash designs add a second tier of tile higher up on the wall. This increases the total coverage area.

Multiple Surfaces

Backsplashes can wrap around countertop corners or be installed on multiple surfaces like islands. This expands the space to cover.

Partial Walls

On peninsulas or island ends, you may only install backsplash on a section rather than a full wall. This decreases square footage.

Variable Wall Lengths

Angled walls or wall sections of different lengths (like around a cooktop or range) require measuring and calculating each section separately.

Pattern Effects

Diagonal tiles, mosaics, or complex patterns may require purchasing extra tiles beyond just the square footage for cutting and layout.

Grout and Spacing

Grout lines and spacing between tiles add to the total area covered. Use a tile spacer for consistent spacing.

Knowing all these factors will help you determine a more accurate materials estimate.

Backsplash Materials and Coverage

Now that you have calculated the total square footage, you can estimate the amount of backsplash materials needed. Coverage per square foot can vary greatly.


Standard 4×4 or 6×6 inch tiles cover about 10-11 tiles per square foot. Smaller mosaics can be 20 tiles or more per square foot.

  • 4×4 tile = 10 tiles per sq ft
  • 1 inch mosaic = 25 tiles per sq ft

Metal or Glass Sheets

These are sold in square foot panels, making it easy to calculate. Be sure to account for seams and cuts.

Stone Slabs

Smaller mosaic stones may be sold by the pound. Larger stone slabs are priced per square foot like metal or glass.


Use about 0.75 lb of grout per square foot. Grout coverage depends on tile size and width of grout lines.

  • 2.66 sq ft backsplash x 0.75 lb = 2 pounds of grout needed

How to Save on Backsplash Materials

There are a few tricks to get the most value from your backsplash materials purchase:

  • Only buy what you need. Avoid overbuying extra tiles or sheets. Precise measuring ensures you don’t waste materials.
  • Use smaller tiles/mosaics. Smaller sizes mean less material waste for intricate cuts or patterns.
  • Choose lower cost materials. Glass, metal or faux materials can cost much less than natural stone or ceramic.
  • Install yourself. DIY installation saves significant labor costs versus hiring a professional.
  • Watch for sales and clearance. Time your purchase when stores have promotions on backsplash materials.
  • Reuse or recycle old tiles. Maybe your old tiles or a recycle/reuse store can supply some free material.

With some careful planning and a bit of math, you can determine an accurate backsplash square footage amount and budget for your materials. Get ready to install an eye-catching focal point in your kitchen design!

Frequently Asked Questions about Figuring Backsplash Square Footage

How do I calculate square feet for an L-shaped backsplash?

For an L-shaped backsplash, measure and calculate the wall lengths separately, as if they are two separate sections. Then add them together for the total square footage. Be sure to take measurements for the corner section as well.

Should I include the surface area under the bottom row of uppers?

Typically you do not need to tile the area underneath the upper cabinets. This is not visible and saves on tile usage. However, some designs do extend the backsplash all the way down continuously.

How do I account for outlets and windows on the backsplash wall?

Measure the dimensions of any outlets, switches, windows or other elements on the backsplash wall. Calculate those areas separately. Then deduct them from the total backsplash square footage.

What size tile spacer should I use for backsplash installation?

A 1/16 inch tile spacer is recommended for backsplash tile. This will account for the grout lines and give you consistent spacing across the entire installation.

How much extra tile should I buy to allow for cuts and waste?

Order 10% extra tiles beyond your square footage calculation to allow for miscuts, intricate layouts and pattern work. For mosaics and tiny tiles, get 20% extra for greater complexity in cutting and arranging the small pieces.

Should I go floor to ceiling with my backsplash height?

Going all the way up to the ceiling can make a dramatic design statement. However, it at least doubles or triples your tile requirements and costs over a standard 4-6 inch height. Decide based on your budget and design goals.

Can I install a backsplash on drywall without cement board?

Cement backer board is recommended to provide a water-resistant, stable surface for tile installation. Some adhesive backsplashes like glass or metal can adhere directly to drywall. But any ceramic, porcelain or stone tile should be applied over cement board.

How difficult is it to install a backsplash yourself?

With some basic tiling skills and tools, an experienced DIYer can install their own backsplash over a weekend. Carefully prepare the surface, mark your tile layout, cut pieces precisely, apply thinset and grout methodically. Patience and care yields quality results.


Measuring and calculating the square footage for your backsplash area is a key first step in your kitchen remodeling project. Follow the techniques outlined here to get accurate linear dimensions, deduct for obstacles, convert to overall area, and estimate required materials. With some diligent measuring, surface preparation and methodical installation, you can put the perfect finishing touch on your dream kitchen.