Installing a backsplash in your kitchen or bathroom can really take the design to the next level. Not only does a backsplash provide an additional pop of color and visual interest, it also serves the very practical purpose of protecting your walls from moisture, splashes, and stains.
When it comes time to purchase materials for your backsplash project, one of the most important calculations you’ll need to make is determining how much tile you need. This involves figuring out the total square footage of the area you’ll be tiling. With some simple measurements and math, you can easily calculate your backsplash square footage.
What You’ll Need to Figure Out Backsplash Square Footage
Before starting any calculations, you’ll want to gather a few tools and materials:
- Measuring tape – You’ll need a standard retractable measuring tape to take all of the necessary measurements. Make sure it’s long enough to measure all of your backsplash areas.
- Pen and paper – Have something handy to write down all of your measurements. This will make it easier to reference later when doing the math.
- Calculator – A simple calculator app on your phone or a handheld calculator will be useful for multiplying measurements.
- Backsplash design plan – Having a rough backsplash design planned out will help you identify all of the areas that will need tiling. Mark these on a layout sketch.
- Level – A small level can help ensure you take accurate horizontal and vertical measurements.
Once you have these items ready, you’re ready to start measuring and calculating!
Step-by-Step Guide to Measuring and Calculating Square Footage
Follow this simple step-by-step process for figuring out the total square footage of your backsplash installation:
1. Measure the Length and Height
- Start by measuring just the length of your backsplash area. Use your measuring tape and level to determine the length in inches across the bottom.
- For height, measure from the lowest point of your backsplash up to the highest point in inches.
- Make sure your tape measure is level when taking height measurements to ensure accuracy.
- Record these length and height measurements.
For example, if your backsplash measures 36 inches long and 42 inches high, write this down.
2. Measure Depth
- Since backsplashes protrude off the wall, you’ll also need to factor in depth.
- Measure the depth of the area you’ll be tiling in inches, from the wall surface out.
- Standard backsplash depth is usually 4 inches.
- Note this depth measurement as well.
So with the example dimensions, you’d add a depth of 4 inches.
3. Multiply to Get Square Inches
Now take your three measurements and multiply them together:
Length x Height x Depth = Total Square Inches
So for our example:
36 inches x 42 inches x 4 inches = 6,048 square inches
This multiplication gives you the total coverage area of your backsplash installation in square inches.
4. Convert to Square Feet
To determine the total square footage, you need to convert the square inch measurements to square feet.
There are 144 square inches in 1 square foot.
So to convert, simply divide your total square inches by 144:
Total Square Inches ÷ 144 = Total Square Feet
For our sample:
6,048 square inches ÷ 144 = 42 square feet
So for a backsplash measuring 36 inches x 42 inches x 4 inches deep, the total square footage is 42 square feet.
5. Add Up Multiple Areas
If your kitchen or bathroom has multiple distinct backsplash areas, repeat steps 1-4 for each section and add up all the totals for the final square footage.
Be sure to take separate measurements and do individual calculations for:
- Behind stove
- Along countertops
- Around window areas
- Behind sink
- On multiple walls
Add up each area’s square footage for a grand total.
Having all of the individual and total measurements noted will come in very handy when purchasing materials!
What to Do with Total Square Footage
Once you’ve gone through the process of measuring and calculating your backsplash square footage, you can then determine:
- How much tile/materials to purchase – Know exactly how many tile squares or sheets of backsplash material to buy with no wastage.
- Cost estimates – Calculate total estimated costs more accurately when you know the precise square footage.
- Install time – The total coverage area gives a good sense of how long installation will take.
- Grout needs – Determine how much grout will be required based on total tiled area.
So accurately figuring out backsplash square footage is a key first step in planning your project. With these simple steps for measuring and calculating, you’ll know exactly how much material you need to finish your kitchen or bathroom backsplash beautifully.
Frequently Asked Questions About Calculating Backsplash Square Footage
How do I calculate square feet for an L-shaped backsplash?
For an L-shaped backsplash, simply break the area down into separate sections, measure each section individually, and calculate the square feet for each part using the steps above. Then add together the totals for each section to get your grand total.
What if part of my backsplash has multiple heights?
If sections of your backsplash vary in height, take separate height measurements for each part, while keeping the length and depth measurements the same. Calculate the square inches and square feet individually for each section’s height, then add the totals.
Do I need to account for outlets or stove knobs in measurements?
You can subtract any areas taken up by outlets and knobs from your total square footage. Either make a note of roughly how many square inches they take up and subtract that from the total, or try to take measurements just around them.
What about intricate backsplash designs or accents?
For more intricate backsplashes with special tile shapes or border designs, it’s a good idea to do a rough tile mock layout before finalizing square footage calculations. This will help account for any special sizing needs.
How do I calculate for a backsplash that wraps around corners?
If your backsplash goes around a corner, take separate measurements for the length and height of each wall section. Calculate total square inches/feet for each section, then add them together for the overall square footage.
Should I include my backsplash returns in square footage?
Returns are the side pieces that “return” back to the wall. Make sure to include these in your measurements and total square footage as they will need to be tiled.
What measurements do I need for a ledger board?
For backsplashes installed on a ledger board, you will need to include the additional depth of the ledger board itself when calculating total square inches and feet.
Key Takeaways on Determining Backsplash Square Footage
- Carefully measure length, height, and depth of all backsplash sections
- Multiply measurements to get total square inches
- Convert square inches to square feet by dividing by 144
- Add together square footage totals for multiple areas
- Use totals to plan purchase of tile, grout, adhesive, and backerboard
- Accurate measurements ensure you get the right amount of materials
- Consider special sizes, heights, returns, and corners
- A simple process provides the key data you need to figure out square footage
With a measuring tape, pen and paper, level, and calculator, you can determine the precise square footage needed for your backsplash project. Just remember to account for all unique angles, focal points, returns and changes in height to capture an accurate total. Use this square footage to buy your tile, slabs, or sheets with confidence knowing exactly how much you need!
How to Figure Out How Much Tile is Needed for a Backsplash
Once you’ve calculated the total square footage of your backsplash, it’s time to figure out how much tile material you’ll need to purchase. Determining the right amount of tile for your backsplash ensures you end up with just the right quantity – no money wasted on unused extras, but also no last-minute shortages.
Follow this guide to easily calculate how many tiles or sheets of backsplash material you’ll need based on the square footage.
Step 1: Decide on Tile Size
First, you’ll need to pick out your backsplash tile or material style. Common options include:
- Ceramic or porcelain tile
- Glass mosaic tiles
- Metal or stone tile
- Subway tile
- Backsplash panels or sheets
When selecting your material, take note of the dimensions of each piece. This may be:
- Individual tile size – e.g. 4-inch by 4-inch square ceramic tiles
- Mosaic sheet size – e.g. 12-inch by 12-inch mesh-backed mosaics
- Backsplash panel dimensions – e.g. 30-inch by 30-inch cement backsplash boards
Having these piece sizes handy will make your material calculations much easier.
Step 2: Divide Square Footage by Tile Size
Now you’re ready to do a simple calculation to find how many tiles or sheets you’ll need:
Total Square Footage ÷ Individual Tile/Sheet Size = Number Needed
Let’s use our sample backsplash that is 42 square feet, and 4-inch by 4-inch ceramic tiles as an example:
42 square feet ÷ 16 square inches (4 x 4 tiles) = 168 tiles
For a backsplash panel that is 30 inches by 30 inches:
42 square feet ÷ 900 square inches (30 x 30 panels) = 5 panels
So calculate similarly based on your own square footage and material sizes.
Step 3: Factor in Subway Tile Layouts
One extra consideration for subway tiles – arranging them in an offset “brickwork” layout rather than all aligned adds roughly 10% more in materials. So increase your total tile count by 10% if planning this offset look.
Step 4: Add a Buffer
It’s always smart to add a little extra buffer of 5-10% in your tile/material order over the base calculation. This accounts for any uneven edges, tricky angled cuts, or minor measurement inaccuracies.
You can always return unused tiles, but running short could derail your project. The small buffer ensures you have a sufficient quantity to complete the install.
Step 5: Consider Accents and Borders
If adding decorative accents such as a border, geometric shapes, or medallion, be sure to calculate the quantities needed separately based on those dimensions and add to your main tile order.
Step 6: Calculate Adhesive Needs
Check the manufacturer recommendations for how much thinset mortar adhesive is needed per square foot and calculate based on your total backsplash area.
Order similarly for any specialty grouts or sealants needed as well.
Configuring Your Tile Layout
Once you know exactly how many tiles you need, sketch out a layout before installing. This will help you:
- Visualize the pattern and placement
- Determine the optimal starting point
- Identify any cuts needed
- Avoid narrow slivers of tile at edges
This saves time and headaches once installation begins. Remember to include trim, border, and accent tiles in your layout.
When determining how much tile you need for a backsplash using square footage, remember:
- Select your tile size or material first
- Divide total square feet by the dimensions of your material
- Add extra for subway tile brick layouts
- Include a 5-10% overage in your order
- Calculate added decorative accents separately
- Plan out your tile arrangement in advance
- Use your precise tile measurements to get just the right amount!
Figuring out backsplash materials doesn’t have to be difficult. With a few simple calculations based on square footage and tile size, you can determine how many tiles or sheets to purchase for a perfectly coordinated backsplash design.
Factors That Increase Backsplash Installation Costs
Installing a fresh backsplash is one of the most dramatic ways to upgrade a kitchen or bath. Not only does it provide eye-catching style, but it also protects your walls and adds value to your home.
Since backsplashes require specialized materials and labor, it’s important to understand what impacts your total installation costs. Factors like the size of the area, tile choices, prep work, and installation complexity can all affect your bottom line.
Being aware of these cost factors helps avoid budget pitfalls. Here are some of the key considerations that can increase your backsplash installation costs.
The type of tile or material you select makes a significant impact on overall cost. Pricier tile options include:
- Natural stone such as marble, granite, or travertine
- Premium glass, ceramic, or porcelain
- Metal or copper tiles
- Tile with intricate designs or mural shapes
These all add cost over basic ceramic or porcelain tiles. Fancy designer tiles can be especially expensive.
Tip: Balance higher-end materials in key focal areas with more budget-friendly tile for the surrounding space.
Tile Size and Shape
Smaller tile sizes, or tiles with unique dimensions or shapes other than basic squares, equate to more labor. The smaller the tile, the more precise the installation work involved. Same goes for mosaic sheets versus standard tiles.
Irregular tiles that require strategic placement and cutting are also more time-consuming and skill intensive to install.
Tip: Choose larger format tiles or solid backsplash panels for easier installation. Square standard sizes also help keep costs down.
Number of Accent Pieces
Adding architectural elements like borders, medallions, niches, geometric designs, or listello accents look fantastic, but also drive up the installation price. The more intricate and detailed the design, the more work involved.
Tip: Keep accent areas simple and limited to a central focal point. Opt for painted rather than tiled accents.
Straightforward backsplash layouts are most budget-friendly. Once you add a lot of corners, angles, and three-dimensional elements the install gets trickier.
Curved designs, cut-outs for outlets, and wrapping the tile around corners or appliances takes extra time and expertise.
Tip: Stick to simple layouts and minimal corners if aiming to control costs.
Prep Work Needed
Existing backsplash or wall materials in the space that need removal will increase labor costs. Same for walls that are uneven, damaged, or require resurfacing with drywall or backerboard before tiling.
Tip: Handle any demolition, wall repairs, painting, or removal of existing materials yourself before the tile installer arrives.
Surface Area Size
The total square footage of your backsplash directly corresponds to overall cost. Larger areas require more materials, adhesive, grout, labor hours, and overall work to install.
Full wall “infinite” backsplashes spanning wider areas are pricier than a single contained area like behind a stove or sink.
Tip: For a budget option, keep backsplashes limited to a compact featured zone rather than tiling full walls, which maximizes visual impact for minimal cost.
Installer Experience Level
Hiring a tile pro with extensive backsplash experience costs more than a standard handyman or general contractor. But their specialization brings expertise that saves time, prevents redos, and ensures a quality result.
Tip: Invest in a true tile installation specialist for a complex or highly visible backsplash. Consider DIY for basic projects.
Specialty Grouts and Sealants
Colored grout or epoxy grout ups the price over standard unsanded grout. Specialty sealants to achieve a glossy or enhanced finish also add cost. Match your grout and sealant to the tiles rather than defaulting to white.
Tip: White sanded grout is the most affordable option if you don’t want to splurge on colored or epoxy grout.
With proper planning and design choices, you can control the factors that drive up the final cost and keep your backsplash project within budget. Focus first on tile selections, layout, necessary prep work, and contractor. By understanding what adds cost, you can limit expenses while still getting that standout backsplash look you want.
Backsplash Installation: DIY vs Hiring a Pro
Once you’ve selected the perfect backsplash tile and estimated costs, an important decision is whether to tackle installation as a DIY project or hire a professional.
Determining the difficulty of the specific backsplash design is key in deciding whether it’s within your skill level or best left to the experts.
Here’s how to assess if your project has the right criteria for a DIY backsplash install versus when you should call in the pros.
When DIY Backsplash Installation Works
For beginner or intermediate DIY-ers, the following types of backsplash projects are manageable as a self-install:
Simple layout – Stick to a straightforward linear or perimeter layout without too many cut-outs or corners. Avoid complicated patterns or angles.
Basic tile material – Standard ceramic, porcelain, or glass tile in square sizes of 4 inches or larger are beginner-friendly. Mosaics can be tricky.
Minimal demo – If existing materials don’t require much removal or wall prep, that saves extra steps.
Containable area – DIY is more feasible for a section contained to 1 wall versus spanning multiple walls with corners.
Standard height – Don’t take tile higher than you can comfortably reach and fully visualize.
Weekend timeline – Tackle over 2-3 days max so you don’t lose steam. Handle prep and planning during weeknights.
Online guidance – Utilize online tutorials for tips on proper thinset application, grouting technique, cutting tools, etc.
As long as the project scope fits the above DIY-friendly criteria, you can likely handle the work yourself and save on labor costs.
When to Call the Backsplash Pros
Here are backsplash scenarios where you’re better off hiring a professional tile installer:
Intricate design – Any intricate pattern, unconventional shape, or artistic layout is better left to the experts.
Natural stone – Del