How to Figure Out Square Footage for Backsplash

Installing a backsplash in your kitchen or bathroom can add style, protect your walls, and make cleaning easier. When shopping for backsplash tile, it’s important to calculate the square footage of the area you plan to cover so you can purchase the right amount of tile. Here’s a guide on how to figure out square footage for backsplash.

Measure the Area

The first step is to measure the area you want to cover with backsplash tile.

For a full wall backsplash:

  • Measure the length and height of the wall area in inches. Don’t include any windows, outlets, or other areas that won’t be tiled.
  • Multiply the length by the height to get the square inches.

For a partial backsplash:

  • Measure only the portion of the wall you want to cover in inches. For example, if you want a 4 ft high backsplash, measure the length and just the 4 ft height you want to cover.
  • Multiply the length by the partial height.

For backsplashes around windows, outlets, etc:

  • Measure each section separately. Measure the full height for vertical sections around windows. Measure only the horizontal length above/below outlets.
  • Calculate each section then add together for the total square inches.

Tip: Use a level and measuring tape for accuracy. Round up to the nearest 1/8 inch.

Convert to Square Feet

Once you have the total square inches, divide by 144 to convert to square feet.

For example:

  • Your backsplash wall is 10 ft long x 4 ft high = 40 sq ft
  • Or a partial 4 ft high backsplash that is 10 ft long = 10 x 4 = 40 sq inches. Divide by 144 = 0.28 sq ft

Round square feet up to the nearest whole number.

Factor in Tile Size

Read the packaging or measure your tile to know its dimensions. Tile is commonly sold in standard sizes like:

  • 4.25″ x 4.25″
  • 3″ x 6″
  • 4″ x 12″
  • 6″ x 6″

Look at the tile size and joint width to calculate how many tiles you’ll need per square foot.

For example:

  • 4.25″ x 4.25″ tile with a 1/8″ joint = 16 tiles per sq ft
  • 12″ x 24″ tile with a 1/8″ joint = 4 tiles per sq ft

Multiply the tiles per sq ft by the total square footage of your space.

Buy 10-15% Extra Tile

It’s always smart to buy 10-15% more tile than the measurements show. This provides extras in case any tile breaks or for future repairs.

Buying tile from the same lot also ensures you have uniform color and sizing.

Double Check Your Math

Measuring and calculating correctly is crucial. Double check your measurements and math before making a purchase.

Having to buy more tile later if you’ve underestimated can lead to problems matching lot colors or discontinued patterns.

Tips for Success

  • Gather your tools – level, tape measure, calculator, pencil, and paper.
  • Measure carefully, especially if walls are uneven.
  • Convert units and calculate precisely.
  • Review tile packaging for dimensions.
  • Plan for 10-15% extras.
  • Confirm all measurements and calculations.
  • Take your time – accurate tile estimates save money!

Figuring out the right amount of tile for your backsplash doesn’t need to be complicated, but it does require careful measuring, math, and planning. Follow these steps and you’ll be ready to purchase and install the perfect backsplash!

Frequently Asked Questions About Calculating Backsplash Tile

How do I calculate square feet for a backsplash that has an outlet?

When calculating, measure the backsplash areas above and below the outlet separately. Add together the two measurements to get the total square inches, then convert to square feet.

What size tile is best for a backsplash?

Smaller tiles like 3×6 inch subway tile or penny tiles are commonly used. But any tile size can work – just make sure to get the right amount! Larger tiles will have fewer grout lines for a smoother look.

Should I include the backsplash area behind the stove?

Yes, be sure to measure backsplash areas behind the stove, fridge, and other appliances unless you plan to exclude those areas from tiling.

Can I install a backsplash myself?

Definitely! With the right tiles, grout, and tools, installing a backsplash is totally DIY friendly. Just watch tutorials and read instructions thoroughly before starting.

How much extra tile should I buy?

Plan to buy 10-15% more tiles than your measurements show is needed. Extras are useful in case of breakage during install or if repairs are needed later on.

What tools do I need to install backsplash tile?

Basic tiling tools include a tile cutter, grout float, mixing bucket, sponge, tiles spacers, adhesive, and grout sealer. Have safety gear like gloves and eye protection too.


Figuring out the precise square footage for your backsplash area is an essential first step to a successful project. With careful measurement, accurate math, and factoring in tile sizes and extras, you can determine the right tile quantity to purchase and avoid problems down the road. Use a systematic approach, double check your work, and don’t be afraid to ask for help at your local tile store. Installing a backsplash is very doable as a DIY home project if you start by correctly calculating your tile needs.