How to Measure a Kitchen Backsplash

Measuring for a new kitchen backsplash is an important step in the renovation process. A properly measured backsplash ensures a tailored fit, avoiding gaps or the need for multiple cuts. While it may seem daunting, measuring a backsplash is straightforward when you understand the basic steps. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the complete process of measuring for a kitchen backsplash installation.

Gather Your Measuring Tools

Getting accurate measurements starts with having the right tools on hand. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Tape measure – A standard retractable tape measure works best. Make sure it’s long enough to span the length and height of your backsplash area.
  • Pencil and paper – Have these ready to mark down all your measurements.
  • Laser distance measure (optional) – For extra accuracy, a laser distance measure can take very precise measurements.
  • Ladder or step stool – If needed to reach upper cabinets and high walls.
  • Calculator – To tally up the total square footage.

Before starting, check that your tape measure has fresh batteries and your pencil is sharp. Measure carefully and double check any unclear numbers.

Measure the Backsplash Area

The first step is measuring the overall size of the backsplash area. This will tell you how many square feet of tile you need to purchase.

To find the area, you need to measure the height and width of the backsplash space. Here’s how:

Measure Width

  • Stand facing the countertop and cabinets where the backsplash will be installed.
  • Extend your tape measure from one end of the backsplash area to the other. Measure across the entire length, including any spaces between upper cabinets.
  • Note this width measurement in inches. For example, if your backsplash spans a 96-inch wide kitchen wall, your width would be 96 inches.

Measure Height

  • Measure from the countertop up to the bottom of any upper cabinets.
  • For sections with no upper cabinets, measure from the countertop to the desired height of the backsplash, usually 4-6 inches below the ceiling.
  • Record the height in inches. For example, a standard 18-inch high backsplash would have a height of 18 inches.

Calculate the Area

With the height and width measurements, you can now find the total area:

  • Multiply the backsplash width by the backsplash height.
  • This gives you the area in square inches.
  • To convert to square feet, divide by 144.
  • Round up to the nearest tenth of a square foot.

So for a 96 inch wide by 18 inch high backsplash:

96 x 18 = 1,728 square inches
1,728 / 144 = 12 square feet

That’s the total backsplash area you’ll need to cover in tile. Ordering extra tiles is recommended in case of breakage or the need to cut irregular shapes.

Measure for Accurate Cuts

The overall area doesn’t account for outlets, corners, or anything that requires cutting tiles. Further measurements are needed to plan how tiles will fit:

Measure Around Outlets and Switches

  • Locate any electrical boxes in the backsplash area.
  • Use the tape measure to find the height and width of each electrical box.
  • This determines how much tile you’ll need to cut out around them.
  • Be sure to include a gap of 1/8 inch around the boxes.

For example, a standard duplex outlet is about 3 inches wide by 2.5 inches tall. With a 1/8 inch gap, you’d cut a hole 3 1/4 inches wide by 2 3/4 inches high around it.

Measure Inside Corners

  • Inside corners where cabinets meet require cutting corner tiles called bullnose pieces.
  • Using the tape measure, gauge the distance from the corner to the edge of the cabinets on each adjoining wall.
  • This gives the size needed for the bullnose tiles.

For instance, if one wall extends 16 inches from the corner and the other goes 22 inches, you’d cut bullnose tiles approximately 16 inches on one side and 22 inches on the other.

Measure Irregular Areas

  • Check for any irregular spaces in the backsplash area, like soffits, chimneys, or odd angles where walls meet.
  • Carefully measure their shape and dimensions.
  • This allows you to cut tiles to fit around them neatly.

Make sketches indicating the position and size of any irregular areas. It’s useful for layout planning.

Measure for Accent Tiles and Borders

Accent tiles, mosaics, inserts, and borders add beautiful details to backsplashes. But their placement requires extra measuring:

Measure for Accent Tile Strips

  • Decide on the height for accent tile strips, usually 4 to 12 inches above the countertop.
  • Measure this height across the entire backsplash area.
  • This gives the linear footage needed to cut border tiles.

For example, an 18-inch high backsplash with a 4-inch tall accent strip would measure 14 linear feet across a 96-inch wide wall.

Measure Spaces for Accent Inserts

  • If installing rectangular accent tile inserts, measure their planned positions.
  • Mark these measurements on your sketch.
  • This ensures you know the exact tile cuts needed for inserts.
  • Allow a 1/8 inch gap around inserts for grout lines and room to maneuver them into place.

Measure the area of each insert to calculate the quantity of accent tiles required.

Map Out Accent Layouts

  • For decorative mosaics, measure and map where tiles should be placed.
  • Mark mosaic areas on your sketch, along with any tile cuts needed.
  • Planning the layout avoids mismatches as you install.

Measure carefully for intricately patterned mosaics to calculate how many sheets you’ll require.

Double Check All Measurements

With all the needed measurements taken, be sure to:

  • Review numbers for accuracy and double check unclear measurements.
  • Note total area, heights, widths, and any specialty measurements.
  • Verify measurements with kitchen photos and during a final in-person check.
  • Have 10-15% extra tiles on hand for mistakes or post-install repairs.

With an existing backsplash, some measurements can be taken more easily by removing a tile. Just be sure to replace it securely.

Careful measuring for a kitchen backsplash takes time upfront but prevents headaches later. Follow these steps and you’ll be ready to conquer the installation with perfectly tailored tiles. Don’t hesitate to call in a professional installer if unsure about measuring a tricky layout or unusual space. Their expertise can ensure measurements are precise.

Frequently Asked Questions About Measuring Kitchen Backsplashes

Measuring for new backsplash installation prompts many common questions. Here are helpful answers to some often asked FAQs:

How high should the backsplash be?

The most common backsplash height is 4 inches to 18 inches. Building codes require a minimum 4-inch splash. 18 inches is popular for more protection and design appeal. Full height backsplashes extending to cabinets are also an option. Standard heights are 18 inches for countertops 36-inches or lower, and 4-6 inches if countertops are higher than 36 inches.

How do I calculate square feet for tile?

To find square feet, measure the backsplash area width and height in inches. Multiply the width by the height to get square inches. Finally, divide the square inches by 144 to convert to square feet. Be sure to round up to the nearest tenth of a square foot.

How much extra tile should I buy?

Order 10-15% more tiles than the measurements indicate. This provides extras in case some tiles become damaged or need cuts during installation. For mosaics and intricate patterns, order 20% extra in case tile sheets vary slightly.

Should backsplash tile go all the way to the ceiling?

Full height backsplashes can look spectacular, but also consider ease of cleaning. Tile extending high up is harder to wipe down and keep clean. For most homes, a height between 14 to 18 inches offers a nice balance.

What tools do I need to measure for backsplash tile?

Have on hand a 25-foot tape measure, pencil, paper, ladder, calculator, laser measure (optional), and toolbox with any needed screwdrivers. Use a long level to ensure outlets and other marks are mapped accurately.

How do I measure for outlet cuts in the backsplash?

Locate each outlet or switch in the backsplash area. Measure the width and height. Add 1/8 inch clearance to the dimensions for the tile cuts. Make Hole cuts approximately 1⁄4 inch larger than the box dimensions.

Can I install a backsplash over existing tile?

It is possible but not ideal. Extra thickness from old tile can cause the new backsplash to sit too far off the wall. Proper adhesion may also be difficult. Removing old tile for a fresh surface is best, if possible.

Should I seek professional help with measurements?

If your backsplash area is complex or you want maximum precision, consider hiring a professional installer to measure. They have expertise for tricky layouts and can ensure all needed cuts are measured perfectly.

Key Takeaways When Measuring for a Kitchen Backsplash

  • Use a tape measure, laser measure, pencil, paper, ladder, and calculator.
  • Measure width, height, and calculate the overall area. Add 10-15% extra for cuts and breakage.
  • Note specialty measurement needs – corners, outlets, accent tiles, irregular areas.
  • Sketch the backsplash layout and mark all measurements.
  • Double check numbers, verify with photos, and measure twice for accuracy.
  • For complex designs, hire a professional installer to measure.

Carefully following these essential backsplash measuring tips will set your installation up for success. Take time to measure correctly and you’ll achieve a stunning, high-quality backsplash design fitted to your space.

How to Choose Kitchen Backsplash Tiles

Selecting new kitchen backsplash tiles brings enormous possibilities. From gleaming subway tile to intricate stone mosaics, backsplash materials and styles range widely. With so many choices, narrowing them down can seem a daunting task. Follow this guide on how to choose backsplash tiles and you’ll create a stylish, designer backsplash perfectly suited to your kitchen.

Consider the Look You Want

First, decide on the aesthetic you want to achieve. Backsplash tiles impact the overall style and feel of the kitchen. Consider these primary options:

Timeless and Classic

For enduring style, subway tile, marble, and ceramic tile in neutral hues exude timeless sophistication. Crisp white backsplashes pair beautifully with any cabinetry and materials.

Bold and Vibrant

Make a dramatic style statement with eye-catching glass, porcelain, or handmade tiles in rich colors. Warm copper, deep emerald, and sapphire blue hues create an exotic yet cozy ambiance.

Rustic Charm

Natural stone, terracotta, or wood-look tiles bring organic warmth. Earthy materials like travertine and pebbled slate tile lend relaxed rustic charm perfect for a cottage kitchen.

Sleek and Modern

Glossy ceramic, polished stone, mirrored glass, and metallic tile communicate contemporary chic. Monochrome shades of black, gray, and white make spaces feel crisp and clean.

Consider your cabinetry, countertops, flooring and overall design style as you choose. Complementary backsplash tile completes the look cohesively.

Evaluate Practical Factors

Along with aesthetics, think about these practical elements:

Ease of Maintenance

Pick durable, low-maintenance materials if convenience is key. Wipe-clean ceramic, porcelain, and glass stand up to messes, while grout is easily sealed. Natural stone requires more regular sealing.

Moisture Resistance

Kitchen backsplashes endure splashes, spills, and steam. Select appropriately water-resistant materials like ceramic, glass, porcelain, or well-sealed stone. Avoid wood or poorly sealed natural stone if very wet conditions are frequent.

Usage and Wear

Higher traffic kitchens benefit from tougher materials, like textured porcelain or quartzite, that better mask everyday scuffs and scratches. For light usage, delicate surfaces like polished marble or glass mosaic work well.

Budget Friendly

If cost-conscious, affordable subway tile, faux stone porcelain, and ceramic start under $5 per square foot installed. Higher-end materials like natural stone, intricate mosaics, and handmade tile range from $50 to over $100 per square foot.

Assess how each tile type fits your lifestyle, usage, and budget. The right backsplash improves function and adds everyday value.

Combine Materials Creatively

Don’t limit yourself to just one tile type. Combining materials opens exciting design possibilities.

  • Mix subway tile with an accent mosaic border or decorative medallion.
  • Pair classic white ceramic tile with a strip of exotic travertine.
  • Contrast matte porcelain with glossy ceramic or marble inserts.
  • Incorporate metal or glass tile for shimmer.

Blending materials lets you enjoy the best features of different tiles affordably. It also prevents overwhelming spaces with just one look.

Sample Tiles Before Deciding

Never decide on backsplash tile without seeing it firsthand. Order free samples directly from manufacturers or from tile retailers. Examine tiles closely:

  • Are color variations and patterns as expected?
  • Is the surface appropriately glossy or matte?
  • Are special finishes like crackled glazes appealing?
  • Is the material see-through if adapting a lightbox design?
  • Are natural stones and ceramics as durable as needed?

Evaluating real tile samples avoids disappointment later. Don’t finalize your choice until you love how tiles actually look and feel.

Choosing new backsplash tile is an exciting process when you balance style, function, and hands-on sampling. Focus on your goals for the space, evaluate practical needs, and then bring home samples. Combining materials creatively also opens many design possibilities. With an insightful decision process, you’ll select beautiful, high-quality backsplash tiles tailored perfectly for your kitchen.

Frequently Asked Questions About Choosing Kitchen Backsplash Tiles

Selecting the ideal backsplash tiles prompts many common questions. Here are helpful answers to some frequently asked tile choice FAQs:

What tile materials are best for kitchen backsplashes?

Ceramic, porcelain, glass, and natural stone like marble or slate are excellent backsplash choices. Each material has pros and cons regarding durability, ease of care, and style.

How do I choose the right tile color?

Consider cabinetry, countertops, flooring, and wall colors. Warm beige, brown, and green tiles suit traditional kitchens, while cool grays, whites, and blues keep modern spaces serene. Always view real tile samples before finalizing color choices.

Should backsplash tile match the floor tile?

Matching tile can look dated. Current design trends favor contrasting tile between floors and backsplashes. While they don’t need to be identical, some cohesion in material, color, or style creates a unified look.

What tile shapes work best?

Subway tile (3×6 inch rectangles) suits traditional to modern spaces. Squares, hexagons, arabesque patterns, and mosaics make artistic statements. Larger tiles like 8×16 inch rectangles expand small kitchens. Mixing tile shapes adds interest.

Should I get a full tile backsplash or 4-inch partial?

Full backsplashes (counter to cabinets) protect walls fully and make spaces feel larger. Partial backsplashes let wall paint continue upward, giving a light, airy impression. Either approach works with proper planning.

How can I cut costs on tile backsplashes?

Use affordable ceramic or porcelain tile instead of pricier natural stone. Include a tile accent strip rather than tiling an entire wall. Install yourself rather than hiring out. Prices range widely, so shop multiple tile suppliers to find deals.

Should I order extra tiles?

Yes, always order 10-15% extra tiles. This ensures you have replacements if tiles become damaged or cuts are needed during installation. For intricate patterns, order up to 20% extra.

Key Tips for Choosing Kitchen Backsplash Tiles

  • Focus first on the style you want to achieve.
  • Consider practical factors like maintenance, moisture resistance, usage, and budget.
  • Blend materials like ceramic, glass, and stone to create designer backsplashes.
  • Thoroughly evaluate tile samples before making final selections.
  • Order 10-15% extra tiles to accommodate damages or custom cuts.

With these tips in mind, you can confidently choose the perfect backsplash tiles to match your kitchen, lifestyle and budget. Enjoy the process of designing a beautiful, functional backsplash.

How to Prepare the Backsplash Area for Tile Installation

Before installing new backsplash tiles, proper preparation of the work area is essential. Taking time to ready the backsplash surface ensures tiles adhere and align correctly for a flawless finished look. Follow these key steps to prep your backsplash space like a pro.

Clean Thoroughly

First, start by thoroughly cleaning the backsplash area. Remove any existing backsplash tile if present. Then:

  • Clean all surfaces with a degreasing cleaner or TSP substitute. This removes oils, soap film, food splatter, dirt and dust.
  • Scrub the wall area well, targeting grease around cooking areas. Degrease a minimum of 24 inches beyond the backsplash area perimeter.
  • Rinse surfaces of all cleaning residue. Let dry fully.

Proper degreasing provides a pristine surface for tiles to bond tightly.

Evaluate and Repair the Wall

Next, inspect wall conditions and make any needed repairs:

  • Check for dampness or water stains indicating plumbing leaks. Repair sources of moisture before tiling.
  • Look for cracks, holes, uneven areas, or damage. Fill small voids with spackling. For large patches, cut out drywall and replace.
  • If sections are uneven, use drywall joint compound to smooth and level the surface