How to Measure Backsplash for Kitchen

Installing a backsplash in your kitchen not only protects your walls from water damage and stains, but it can also add style, color, and personality to your space. When choosing, designing, and installing a kitchen backsplash, properly measuring the area is one of the most important first steps. Accurate measurements will ensure you purchase the right amount of backsplash materials and achieve the look you envisioned. This comprehensive guide will walk you through all the key steps for successfully measuring for kitchen backsplash.

Determine the Area to Cover

When embarking on a kitchen backsplash project, the first decision is identifying the space you want to cover. There are a few typical backsplash coverage areas:

Full Wall Backsplash

A full wall backsplash extends across the entire wall behind the countertop, stove, and sink. This creates a bold, cohesive look. Measure the entire wall length and height to determine the square footage.

Partial Backsplash

Some homeowners opt for a partial backsplash that covers only part of the wall. Common partial backsplash areas include just behind the stove or sink. Measure only the portion of the wall you plan to cover.

L-Shaped Backsplash

An L-shaped backsplash runs horizontally behind the countertop and stove then extends vertically near the edge of the counters. It’s a great way to add backsplash while minimizing cost and labor. Measure the length of the countertops and desired vertical portion.

Accent Backsplash

Accent backsplashes highlight specific areas like behind the stove or sink. Measure just the portion of the wall where you want the accent backsplash installed.

Once you decide on the coverage area, take careful measurements to calculate the total square footage. This will determine how much backsplash material to purchase.

Measure Length and Height

Now it’s time to measure the length and height of the backsplash area. Follow these steps:

Gather Measuring Tools

You’ll need a tape measure, pencil, and paper. A laser distance measure is also handy for extra accuracy.

Mark Start and End Points

Identify the start and end points of the backsplash area. Mark these spots lightly in pencil so you can erase later.

Measure Length

Hold the tape measure horizontally across the bottom of the backsplash area and measure from start to finish. Record the length.

Measure Height

Hold the tape measure vertically from the countertop up to the ceiling or desired height. Record the height measurement.

Calculate Total Square Footage

Multiply the length by the height to get the total square footage. Having these detailed dimensions is key for purchasing your tile, stone, glass or other backsplash materials.

Measure Multiple Sections

For an L-shaped or partial backsplash, repeat this process to measure all additional sections. Add together each length by height calculation.

Add 10-15% More

It’s smart to add at least 10% extra to your measurements. This provides a buffer for mismeasured spaces, cracked or damaged tiles, and for creating a visually appealing layout.

Accurate length and height measurements form the foundation for purchasing backsplash materials. But a few more measurements will come in handy during installation.

Measure for Backsplash Layout

Carefully planning the backsplash layout helps achieve the look you want with minimal tile cutting and wasted materials. Measure for optimal layout using these tips:

Mark Appliance Locations

Lightly mark the positions of any appliances, electrical outlets, or plumbing fixtures on the backsplash area. Include the height above the countertop.

Map the Tile Layout

Dry lay tiles on the countertop spaced according to the joint size you want. Map out the full tile sections and identify areas where cuts will be needed.

Measure Tile Sections

Take measurements of any full tile sections. Also measure partial sections that will require tile cuts.

Choose Grout Line Width

The space between tiles is called the grout line. The standard joint size is 1/16 inch to 1/8 inch. Wider grout lines can cause excessive waste from tile cuts.

Account for Non-Square Walls

Many walls are not perfectly straight or square. Taking detailed measurements avoids surprises and allows you to adjust tile spacing to account for imperfections.

Consider Design Accents

Note any decorative tile inserts, borders, or accents you want to incorporate and measure accordingly. This ensures you purchase enough decorative tiles.

With the backsplash fully measured, you can purchase your tiles knowing the precise quantities needed. Keep your detailed measurements handy for reference during installation.

Measure for Backsplash Materials

To complete your backsplash installation, a few key materials are needed beyond just the tiles or panels. Be sure to measure and purchase:

Tile Adhesive and Grout

Tile adhesive and grout keep the backsplash securely adhered. Buy enough to cover the total square footage with a little extra.

Backsplash Sealant

A waterproof backsplash sealant prevents moisture damage at all edges and seams. Measure total linear perimeter feet.

Backsplash Edge

Transition strips, bullnose edges, or other border materials help finish off the backsplash installation nicely. Measure linear feet needed.

Backer Board

If drywall requires extra water protection, measure to install backer board behind the backsplash area before tiling.

Taking measurements for all materials, tools, and accessories ensures you have everything needed to complete the backsplash installation successfully.

How to Measure for Common Backsplash Shapes

Backsplashes can be designed in many creative shapes. Here are some tips for measuring the most popular backsplash configurations:

Rectangle Backsplash

A rectangular backsplash is the most straightforward layout. Simply measure length times height as outlined above.

Square Backsplash

For a square-shaped backsplash, the length and height are the same. Just measure one side then multiply by two for the total square footage.

Triangle Backsplash

Measure the base of the triangle then the height. Calculate ??? x base x height to determine overall square footage.

Hexagon Backsplash

For hexagon tile, measure across parallel sides to get width and height. Multiply width x height then divide by 2 for total area.

Diamond Backsplash

Diamond tiles require a diagonal measurement from corner to corner. Then measure perpendicular to get height. Multiply diagonally x height then divide by 2.

Oval or Circle Backsplash

For oval or circular backsplashes behind a stove hood or sink, measure diameter across the center then top to bottom for height. Multiply diameter x height x 0.7854.

Backsplashes can utilize a combination of shapes for truly unique styles. Modify your measuring approach as needed to calculate irregular spaces.

Measure for Subway Tile Backsplash

Subway tile is a popular rectangular shape installed in a brick pattern. Follow these tips when measuring for subway tile backsplashes:

Map the Tile Layout

Dry lay tiles across the backsplash area, accounting for grout line spacing. Mark full versus partial sections.

Measure Sections

Measure each full section length and height in inches. For partials, measure inches needed.

Calculate Tile Needed

Determine how many full tiles will fit each section based on tile dimensions. Add tiles for partials.

Multiply for Quantity

Multiply tiles needed by the total number of horizontal rows required for full wall height.

Add Extras

Don’t forget to account for 10-15% extra for cuts or damages as well as design accents.

Proper measurement ensures you purchase the right subway tile amount while minimizing excess tiles. Check tile dimensions when calculating to account for variances.

Backsplash Measurement Mistakes to Avoid

To achieve an accurate professional backsplash installation, be aware of these common measuring mistakes:

Forgetting Countertop Overhang

Countertops often overhang 1-2 inches beyond cabinetry. Be sure to measure from the wall, not the cabinet edge.

Measuring Inaccurately

Trying to take quick shorthand measurements instead of carefully measuring each section leads to errors.

Not Accounting for Uneven Surfaces

Assuming the wall surface is perfectly straight could result in tiles not fitting properly during installation.

Ignoring Accents and Cutouts

Not measuring any spaces needed for specialty tiles, outlets, or fixtures leads to purchasing insufficient materials.

Neglecting Grout Width

The joint size between tiles heavily impacts calculations. Be sure to account for the grout line width you want.

Failing to Add Extras

Adding at least 10% onto final tile amount needed gives margin for error and for cracked or damaged tiles.

Taking the time to carefully measure avoids frustrations, unanticipated costs, and backtracking during the backsplash installation process.

Backsplash Measurement Tools

Having the right tools on hand makes measuring for backsplash quick and accurate:

  • Tape measure – Essential for measuring length, height, and distances. Metal measuring tapes are most durable.
  • Carpenter’s pencil – Allows you to make legible marks on multiple surfaces that can be easily erased later.
  • Laser distance measure – Extremely accurate measurements up to 30 feet with the click of a button.
  • Level tool – Helps determine if the backsplash area is perfectly vertical for calculating needs.
  • Squares – Perfect right angles make measuring areas where walls meet easier.
  • Chalk line – Helps snap straight horizontal and vertical guiding lines for tile layout.
  • Masking tape – Applied in tile patterns, masking tape allows you to visualize layout.

Having the right preparation tools helps ensure your backsplash measurements and calculations are spot on.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the standard height for a kitchen backsplash?

The typical backsplash height is 4 inches from the countertop. But heights range from 4 to 6 inches or even extending all the way to the underside of wall cabinets depending on preference.

What size tile is best for kitchen backsplash?

4-6 inch tile sizes are most common. But styles range from mosaics with 1-inch tiles to oversized 8+ inch options. Larger grout lines with bigger tiles can cause excessive waste from tile cuts.

How much does a kitchen backsplash cost?

The national average cost to install a kitchen backsplash is $1,700 – $3,000. Variables like tile choice, complexity of the design, and professional vs DIY labor impact price. Quality tile materials themselves range $5 to $50+ per sq ft.

What tools do I need to measure for backsplash?

Essential backsplash measuring tools include a tape measure, carpenter’s pencil, laser measure, level, chalk line, and squares. Masking tape is also handy for mapping tile layout. Quality tools ensure accuracy.

Should I include an outlet cutout in my backsplash?

Cutouts for outlets, switches, and fixtures need to be accounted for in backsplash measurements. Outlet spacing may need to be adjusted to coordinate with the backsplash tile layout.


Measuring a kitchen backsplash space thoroughly is a foundational first step to a successful installation. Carefully calculating the total square footage and purchasing extra tiles avoids frustrations and unexpected costs down the road. Utilizing the proper preparation tools makes all measurements seamless. With some planning and attention to detail during the measuring process, you can achieve the backsplash design you love. Just take it one step at a time, starting with precise measurements mapped out on paper.