How to Figure Out Square Footage for Tile Backsplash

Installing a tile backsplash can transform the look of your kitchen or bathroom. When planning your tiling project, one of the most important calculations is determining how much tile you need. This guide will walk you through how to figure out the square footage for your tile backsplash installation.

Measuring Your Space

The first step is accurately measuring the area you plan to tile. Here’s how to calculate the square footage:

For a Full Wall

If tiling a full wall from counter to ceiling, measure the width and height of the wall surface. Multiply the width by the height to get the square footage.

For example, if the width of the backsplash area is 10 feet and the height is 8 feet, multiple 10 x 8 to get 80 square feet.

For a Partial Wall

If only doing a partial backsplash, measure the width and height of just the portion you’ll be tiling. Multiply to get the square footage.

For example, if your backsplash will be 4 feet high and 10 feet wide, multiple 4 x 10 to calculate 40 square feet.

Measure Carefully

Be sure to take measurements precisely and account for any windows, outlets, or other areas that won’t be tiled. It’s better to overestimate slightly than to underestimate.

Calculate Total Square Footage

If tiling multiple walls, calculate the square footage of each section and add together for the total. Round up to the nearest whole number.

Determining Tile Quantity

Once you know the total square footage needed, determining the amount of tile requires a simple calculation:

  • Total square footage ÷ tile size (in square feet) = number of tiles needed

Here’s an example:

  • You are tiling a backsplash that is 40 square feet
  • The tiles you’ve chosen are 2″ x 2″ (0.0625 square feet each)
  • Divide 40 sq ft / 0.0625 sq ft = 640 tiles

So for a 40 sq ft backsplash using 2″ tile, you’d need 640 tiles!

Don’t Forget These Tips:

  • Remember to account for pattern matching and cuts by adding 5-10% extra
  • Consider purchasing tile from multiple boxes to ensure color consistency
  • Have a few extra tiles left over in case of future repairs needed

Figuring Out Thin Set and Grout

In addition to your tile, you’ll need thinset mortar to adhere them and grout to fill the joints. Here’s how to determine how much of each material to get:

Thinset Mortar

  • Check manufacturer’s coverage recommendations (usually 50-80 sq ft per 50 lb bag)
  • Divide your total square footage by the coverage rate
  • Round up to the next full bag

For example, if you have 30 sq ft to cover and your thinset covers 60 sq ft per bag, you’d need one 50 lb bag (30 sq ft / 60 sq ft per bag = 0.5 bags, round up to 1 full bag).


  • Typical coverage is 25-35 sq ft per lb
  • Divide square footage by the coverage rate
  • Round up to the next whole pound

So for 30 sq ft and 30 sq ft per lb coverage, you’d need 1 lb of grout (30 sq ft / 30 sq ft per lb = 1 lb).

Always have extra grout on hand for touch ups!

Tiling Your Backsplash

Once you’ve purchased the necessary tile, thinset, and grout based on square footage, you’ll be ready to start your installation. Be sure to:

  • Properly prepare the surface
  • Apply thinset using proper technique
  • Achieve straight, even tile spacing
  • Let thinset cure completely before grouting
  • Wait the recommended time before sealing grout

With the right calculations and preparations, you can achieve a stunning, professional-looking tiled backsplash! Let us know if you have any other questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I calculate square feet for an irregular shaped backsplash?

For oddly shaped areas, break the space down into smaller rectangles and squares and calculate each individually. Then add all the measurements together to get the total square footage.

What size tile should I use for a backsplash?

Smaller tiles like 2”x2” or 4”x4” are commonly used. Larger tiles may be prone to cracking or slipping. Mosaics can also create an interesting backsplash look.

How much tile should I buy as extras?

It’s smart to add about 10% more tile than calculated to account for broken tiles and pattern matching needs. For a larger project, having 25-30 extra tiles is ideal.

Can I install a backsplash directly over existing tile?

This is not recommended. It’s best to remove old tile completely before installing new. Installing over existing tile often leads to poor adhesion and future tiles popping off.

What color grout should I choose?

For subtle contrast, use a slightly darker grout color. White or off-white grout is common for white tiles. To emphasize tile borders, choose a much darker grout color.


Figuring out the precise square footage and tile needs for your backsplash takes the guesswork and stress out of purchasing materials. With the right calculations up front, you can buy the exact amount of tile, thinset, and grout for your project. Follow the steps above to accurately determine everything you need for a successful, beautiful backsplash installation.