How to Figure Square Footage for Backsplash

Installing a backsplash in your kitchen can completely transform the look and feel of the space. However, before you start shopping for tile, you’ll need to figure out exactly how much tile you need to purchase. Determining the square footage for a backsplash project ensures you buy enough materials without overspending. With some simple measurements and calculations, you can accurately estimate the square footage of your backsplash.

Measuring Wall Space

The first step is measuring the wall space where you plan to install the backsplash. This includes any surface behind the countertop, stove, and sink where you want tile. Follow these tips for getting accurate measurements:

  • Use a steel tape measure for precision. Laser measures can struggle with angled corners.
  • Measure to the nearest 1/8th of an inch or smaller for the most accuracy.
  • For outlets and other obstructions, measure around them. Don’t subtract for these spaces yet.
  • Note any complex angles, curves, or uneven surfaces that require specialty cuts.
  • Measure the height from the countertop to the bottom of the wall cabinets. Standard backsplash height is 4 inches.
  • For full-height backsplashes, measure from countertop to ceiling.
  • Measure the length of each wall section needing backsplash.

Record all the measurements in a notebook, sketch the layout, and double-check accuracy. These numbers provide the basic dimensions for backsplash square footage calculations.

Calculating Square Footage

With detailed measurements, simple math gives the approximate square footage. Here’s how to calculate:

  • For each wall section, multiply height x length to get square inches.
  • Convert square inches to square feet by dividing by 144.
  • Add together square footage for all walls needing backsplash.
  • Round up each calculation to account for cuts and waste.

For example:

Wall 1: 36 inches high x 48 inches long = 1,728 square inches.
1,728 square inches ÷ 144 = 12 square feet

Wall 2: 36 inches high x 96 inches long = 3,456 square inches
3,456 square inches ÷ 144 = 24 square feet

Total = 36 square feet

Rounding up the final square footage provides a buffer for any custom cuts needed around outlets, corners, or other unique spaces. Allow approximately 10% extra for a typical backsplash installation.

Adjusting for Complexities

For backsplashes with more complex designs, a few additional calculations help fine-tune square footage:

Angled Walls

  • Measure longest and shortest points along the angled wall.
  • Get square footage of each section separately.
  • Add the two numbers together.

Curved Walls

  • Measure straight length of the wall section needing backsplash.
  • Multiply by standard 4 inch backsplash height.
  • Add 10-15% for curvature cuts and waste.

Mixed Heights

  • Divide wall into sections based on height changes.
  • Calculate square footage of each section separately based on height x length.
  • Add all sections together for total.

Outlets and Obstructions

  • Note size and location of each obstruction on sketch.
  • Estimate amount of tile needed to surround each.
  • Add 1-2 square feet total for outlets and other voids.

Ordering 10% Extra Tile

After finalizing the square footage amount, add 10% to account for cuts and waste. It’s always better to purchase a few extra tiles than run short mid-project. Factors like tile thickness, pattern complexity, and specialty pieces like borders or accents also impact how much extra to get. Consider a tile thickness of:

  • Mosaic tiles: Add 15% extra
  • Thin tiles under 3/8 inch: Add 15% extra
  • Standard tiles 3/8 to 3/4 inch: Add 10% extra
  • Thick tiles over 3/4 inch: Add 5-10% extra

Finally, compare your total tile square footage to the amount noted on packaging. Most tile is sold in quantities for covering 10-15 square feet. Purchase enough full boxes to meet your square footage with the extra waste factor added. With the right measurements and calculations, you can determine backsplash tile needs accurately.

Backsplash Square Footage Calculator

An easier option is using an online square footage calculator to determine backsplash tile requirements. These tools do the math for you based on the measurements entered. Here’s how to use a backsplash square footage calculator:

  1. Select standard backsplash height, or enter custom.
  2. Fill in the length and height of each wall section.
  3. Note any complex angles, curves, or obstructions.
  4. Enter tile size and joint width.
  5. Click calculate for estimated square footage.
  6. The tool subtracts for voids like outlets and adds extra for waste.
  7. It estimates the number of tiles needed by dividing square footage by tile size.
  8. Review results and adjust measurements as needed to refine.

Online calculators provide quick estimates to take the guesswork out of purchasing backsplash tile. Be sure to measure carefully for the most accurate outcome.

Common Backsplash Sizes and Layouts

The square footage required depends partly on the desired backsplash design. Here are some common backsplash sizes and layouts to consider:

  • Standard backsplash – 4 inches high, along wall behind sink and counters
  • Full height backsplash – From countertop to ceiling, often behind stove
  • Perimeter backsplash – Around countertops on all walls, 8-12 inches high
  • Island backsplash – Tile behind a kitchen island, 4-6 inches high
  • Shaped backsplashes – Hexagons, diamonds, or other shapes fitted together
  • Subway tile – Brick pattern with rectangular subway tiles
  • Large format tile – 12×24 inch tiles or larger
  • Mosaic backsplash – Small mosaic tiles fitted together

The square footage calculator accounts for most standard backsplash designs. Make adjustments as needed for more unique tile shapes and patterns.

Factors That Impact Backsplash Square Footage

Several factors beyond basic wall dimensions affect the tile installation and final square footage estimate:

  • Tile size – Smaller tiles require more grout lines and waste compared to larger tiles.
  • Tile shape – Shaped tiles use more material than simple squares or rectangles.
  • Grout and joint width – Smaller grout lines require more tile pieces per square foot.
  • Outlets and obstructions – Each light switch, outlet, pipe, or other wall obstruction needs tile cut around it.
  • Niche and shelving – Specialty niches, shelves, or ledges require customized tile.
  • Backsplash height – Standard height is 4 inches, but full-wall needs significantly more tile.
  • Patters and designs – Diagonal layouts, accents, borders, and other patterns increase materials.
  • Backsplash terminations – Ending tiles on outside corners or windows uses extra small pieces.
  • Professional installation – Experienced tilers account for 10-15% waste versus DIY projects allowing 5%.

Consider all these elements when estimating square footage to prevent coming up short.

Potential Additional Costs

Beyond the wall tile itself, there are a few other potential supplies to account for in your backsplash project budget:

  • Mosaic sheets – Preassembled mosaic tiles cost more than individual tiles.
  • Decorative tiles – Handmade, metal, or glass accent tiles add cost.
  • Bullnose tiles – Rounded edge tiles for terminating backsplash ends.
  • Chair rail – Decorative trim tiles to finish top backsplash edge.
  • Specialty grout – Epoxy or other upgraded grout types cost more than standard.
  • Tile cutting tools – Tile saws, nippers, grinders, etc. for professional cuts.
  • Adhesives and mortar – Tile mastic, thinset mortar, and grout.
  • Sealer – Protective sealer for grout lines.

While necessary for installation, these extra materials also increase the total backsplash investment beyond wall tiles alone.

Estimating Material Needs

Ordering the proper quantity of tiles for your backsplash project takes careful planning and estimation. Follow this checklist:

  • Accurately measure all backsplash wall areas and sketch layout.
  • Use a calculator to determine projected square footage with 10% overage.
  • Adjust for specialty tiles, complex angles, patterns, or other unique factors.
  • Confirm tile thickness and joint size for spacing calculations.
  • Compare total square footage estimate to tile packaging quantities.
  • Order full boxes to have 5-10% excess after installation.
  • Budget for additional materials like accent tiles, grout, adhesive, tools, etc.

With precise measurements and a reliable square footage estimate, you can determine backsplash tile needs with minimal waste or shortage. Proper planning makes for smooth installation. Consider ordering 5-10% extra materials to be safe. Now transform your kitchen with the perfect backsplash calculated to fit your space and style.

Frequently Asked Questions About Figuring Square Footage for Backsplash

Installing a new backsplash is an exciting kitchen upgrade. Ensuring you purchase the right amount of tile involves careful measurement and planning. Here are some common questions about determining square footage for backsplash projects:

How do I accurately measure for backsplash square footage?

Use a steel tape measure for precision. Measure to the nearest 1/8 inch and note all dimensions including height, length, complex angles and obstructions. Sketch the layout and double check accuracy before ordering tile.

What’s the best way to calculate square footage?

Multiply the height by the length for each wall section to get square inches. Convert inches to square feet by dividing by 144. Add together for all sections and round up 10% for waste allowance.

How much extra tile should I order above the square footage?

Order 10-15% more tile than the estimated square footage to account for potential cuts, errors, or damage. Mosaics and small tiles require more overage than large format tiles.

Do I need to account for outlets and windows in the square footage?

Yes, note the size and location of all outlets, switches, windows and other voids. Estimate about 1 square foot of tile for each to surround them. The online calculator does this automatically.

What if part of my backsplash has a different height?

Divide sections by height change and calculate each part separately. Add the square footage of all sections to get a total. This method works for any complex designs.

Should I use a backsplash square footage calculator?

Yes, calculators simplify the process and do all the math for you. Just enter accurate measurements and tile details for an estimate. Be sure to measure carefully for best results.

How do I know how many tile boxes to purchase?

Compare your total square footage plus waste to the coverage noted on tile packaging. Purchase full boxes to meet or slightly exceed your adjusted area for extras. Avoid getting insufficient material.

Can I return extra unopened tiles?

Most tile distributors do not accept returns on surplus tile. Overordering slightly is recommended to avoid an unexpected shortage during installation. Store extra tiles safely for future repairs or additions.

Key Takeaways on Measuring and Calculating Square Footage for Backsplash

  • Carefully measure all backsplash wall areas including standard height, full height, and any specialty spaces.
  • For each section, multiply height x length to calculate square inches then convert to square feet.
  • Add together square footage for all sections and round up 10% for waste allowance.
  • Use an online calculator for convenience or make adjustments for any angled walls, patterns, or obstructions.
  • Order 10-15% extra tile and account for specialty pieces based on tile size and design complexity.
  • Compare total estimated square footage to tile packaging coverage to determine quantity of boxes needed.
  • Budget for additional supplies beyond wall tiles like grout, sealant, niche tiles, trim, mortar, and tools.
  • Avoid return hassles by slightly overordering tiles since exact amounts are hard to calculate.

With detailed measurements and square footage math, getting the perfect tile quantity for your backsplash is achievable. Use this knowledge to calculate materials for a beautiful, professional-looking installation.