How to Measure Backsplash for Tile

Installing a tile backsplash in your kitchen or bathroom can greatly enhance the look and feel of the space. However, proper measurement and planning are crucial to achieving the best end results. By following some key steps, you can accurately measure and prepare your backsplash area prior to installing tile.

Gather Your Materials

Before starting any measurement or installation, gather the necessary materials:

  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Laser level or long spirit level
  • Chalk line
  • Tile spacers
  • calculating how much tile you need

Having the right tools on hand will make measuring and laying out your backsplash much easier. Make sure any measuring tapes are accurate and not stretched out from previous use.

Decide on Tile Layout

Take some time to decide on the look you want for your backsplash and how the tiles will be laid out. Some common options include:

  • Brick pattern: Tiles offset by half a tile width in alternating rows
  • Subway tile: Rectangular tiles in horizontal offset rows
  • Herringbone: Tiles placed in alternating V-shapes
  • Diagonal: Tiles placed on the diagonal, requiring cutting
  • Hexagons: Interlocking six-sided tiles

The tile dimensions, overall size of your backsplash area, and your desired pattern will determine how many full tiles are needed. Make sure to account for any cut or partial edge pieces as well. Having a layout planned will help get accurate measurements.

Measure Your Backsplash Area

First, measure the overall height and width of the backsplash area. Use a tape measure to get the vertical length from the counter to the bottom of the upper cabinets. For the width, measure across the entire backsplash area, from one end to the other.

Be sure to write down these overall measurement dimensions. This will give you the total square footage and help determine how many tiles are needed.

Find the Center

Next, find the exact center point of your backsplash area:

  • Measure across the width and make a light pencil mark at the halfway point.
  • Then measure down from the top and mark the halfway point for the height.
  • Where these two marks intersect is the center of your backsplash.

Mark this spot clearly as it will serve as a reference point for laying out tiles.

Mark Your Tile Layout

With the center point identified, you can now mark horizontal and vertical lines for your desired tile layout using a chalk line.

For example, to achieve a standard brick pattern:

  • Stretch a chalk line vertically from the center point to the top and bottom of the backsplash area.
  • Then snap horizontal lines at the halfway points between the counter and cabinets.
  • Where the vertical and horizontal line intersect should be the center of your first whole tile.

Use tile spacers to mark out from the center tile where the edges and grout lines will be. Having these reference lines will make it easy to visualize how the tiles should be placed.

Verify Level & Square

Before finalizing any measurements, check that your lines are perfectly level and the layout is square.

Use a laser level or long spirit level to verify the horizontal and vertical lines are even. Adjust and re-snap the chalk lines as needed until every tile row will be perfectly straight.

The backsplash area also needs to be square (90 degree angles in the corners). Measure across both diagonals to make sure they are equal. If not, the layout may need to be adjusted to compensate before tile installation.

Dry Fit the Tiles

As a final step before installing, do a test dry fit of the tile layout by placing the actual tiles on the backsplash area.

This will:

  • Confirm the measurements allow the right spacing.
  • Identify any edge pieces that may require cutting.
  • Show whether the pattern aligns correctly into the corners.

Make any notes on measurements that require adjustment. The tile edges should fit right up to any adjacent walls or boundaries. Leaving even a small gap under cabinets looks sloppy.

Once the dry fit looks good, you can confidently move onto setting the tiles permanently.

Careful measurement and layout of the backsplash area helps ensure proper tile coverage with minimal cutting. Don’t rush this preparatory work or the finished look may not be as professional. With the key measurements marked, you can tile your backsplash like a pro.

Measuring Backsplash for Subway Tile

Subway tile backsplashes offer a timeless and classic look for both kitchens and bathrooms. The simple, rectangular shape installs in a brickwork pattern and can fit many design aesthetics. However, to achieve the iconic offset layout, accurate measurements are required. Follow these steps to properly measure and prep your backsplash area for subway tile:

Calculate Total Square Footage

  • Measure width and height of entire backsplash area.
  • Multiply width and height together to get total square footage.
  • Use square footage to determine how much tile is needed.

Be sure to account for partial edge pieces in your tile quantity. Having extras allows for cuts and breakage.

Find Studs for Securing Backerboard

  • Locate studs using a stud finder. Mark their positions.
  • Space securing screws into studs across backsplash area.
  • Use drywall anchors between studs if needed for added support.

Backerboard provides a stable subsurface for tile adhesion. Securing it properly prevents sagging or detachment.

Mark Horizontal and Vertical Center Lines

  • Measure and mark the halfway point across the width.
  • Measure and mark the halfway point from top to bottom.
  • Snap chalk lines through these center marks.

Central intersecting lines are needed to align the offset rows of subway tile.

Dry Fit Rows Starting at Center

  • Place first subway tile centered at intersection of chalk lines.
  • Dry fit tiles up and down and across rows.
  • Use spacers to get even grout line alignment and width.

Dry fitting allows you to identify any edge cuts prior to installing with adhesive.

With careful planning and layout, subway tile backsplashes can have a crisp, professional finish. Taking time to make accurate measurements will pay off in the final installed look.

How to Measure for a Diagonal Backsplash

Installing tile on a diagonal or bias creates visual interest and a sleek modern accent for your backsplash. The shifting angles make the space appear larger. However, diagonal patterns require some upfront math and planning to cut tiles accurately. Follow these steps to measure for a diagonal tile layout:

Determine Tile Dimensions

  • Measure the length and width of full tiles being used.
  • Note the exact dimensions. Many tiles are 12″, 16″, or 24″.

Having precise tile dimensions allows you to calculate measurements for diagonal installation.

Mark Overall Backsplash Area

  • Measure full width and height of the backsplash space.
  • Mark the upper and lower limits for tile coverage.

This gives the boundaries for your diagonal tile pattern.

Find the Center Point

  • Mark the halfway point of both the width and height.
  • Where the center vertical and horizontal lines intersect will be the middle.

The center point serves as the starting reference for arranging diagonal rows.

Draw Diagonal Lines with Chalk

  • Use a framing square to mark 45 degree angles from center point.
  • Snap diagonal chalk lines through these marks across the backsplash.

The intersecting 45 degree lines provide visual guides for laying the diagonal tile rows.

Dry Lay Rows Along Diagonal Lines

  • Starting at the center point, dry fit tile rows following chalk lines.
  • Use spacers to allow consistent spacing between tiles.

Dry laying tiles let’s you find where edges may require cutting prior to permanent installation.

Taking the time to carefully measure and mark diagonal lines ensures your tiles align properly and achieve the desired layout with minimal wasted material. The finished backsplash will have crisp symmetry and clean sightlines.

Measuring Herringbone Pattern Backsplash

The herringbone pattern instantly brings visual interest and dimension to any backsplash. However, laying the zigzag design requires careful plotting and measurements. Follow these tips to properly measure and mark reference lines for installing herringbone backsplash tile:

Determine Tile Dimensions

  • Measure the length and width of the actual tiles.
  • Note measurements as precise dimensions are needed.

Having the exact tile size allows you to calculate angled cuts required in the herringbone pattern.

Find and Mark Studs

  • Locate studs using a stud finder and mark locations.
  • Space securing screws for backerboard into studs.

Proper backerboard support prevents sagging and detachment of heavy tiles.

Mark Center Lines

  • Measure and mark vertical and horizontal midpoint of backsplash.
  • Snap chalk lines through center marks.

Central intersecting lines provide starting point and reference to build out pattern.

Calculate Angle Measurements

  • Mark 45 degree angles from either side of center point along chalk lines.
  • This gives intersecting 90 degree guides for herringbone layout.

Carefully plotted angles allow tiles to align in consistent zigzag pattern.

Dry Fit Tiles

  • Starting at center point, dry fit tiles using 45 degree chalk lines as guide.
  • Use spacers to maintain even spacing and grout lines.

Dry fitting identifies any edge tiles needing adjustment or cuts.

Taking time to carefully measure and mark reference lines ensures your herringbone backsplash tiles align into clean and symmetrical zigzag rows with tight seam lines.

Measuring for a Hexagon Tile Backsplash

The unique six-sided shape of hexagon tiles creates fun geometric appeal for kitchen or bathroom backsplashes. However, the interlocking pattern requires careful planning and measurement compared to basic grid layouts. Here are some tips for measuring a backsplash space for hexagon tiles:

Calculate Total Square Footage

  • Measure overall height and width of the backsplash area.
  • Multiply height times width to get total coverage in square feet.

Having the total square footage estimate helps determine how much tile is required.

Find and Mark Stud Locations

  • Use a stud finder to locate and mark studs within the backsplash area.
  • Plan to secure backerboard into the studs.

Properly supported backerboard prevents sagging of heavy hexagon tiles.

Mark Horizontal and Vertical Center

  • Measure and mark the halfway point across the width.
  • Measure and mark the halfway point from top to bottom.

Central intersecting lines provide alignment point for hexagons.

Dry Fit Tiles Starting at Center

  • Place first full hexagon at center point.
  • Build out rows following natural honeycomb pattern.
  • Use spacers to maintain consistent spacing.

Dry fitting enables you to find where edge tiles will need shaping or cutting.

With careful measurement and layout, hexagon backsplashes can have a polished and professional fit while adding unique style. Taking time to properly plan the surface area is the key to quality results.

Common Backsplash Measurement Mistakes to Avoid

While measuring for a backsplash is relatively straightforward, even seasoned tilers can make simple mistakes that ruin the final installed look. Avoid these common measuring errors:

Not Accounting for Outlets or Obstacles

Failing to note outlet placements or protrusions behind the backsplash area can lead to unwanted surprises and gaps later. Always account for these obstructions in measurements so tiles can be cut to fit around them.

Forgetting About Irregular Shaped Areas

Backsplash areas with rounded corners or unusually angled edges make laying out typical grid patterns difficult. Make sure to capture any irregular spaces in measurements so tile rows can be adapted.

Assuming Surface is Level and Plumb

Never assume walls meet at perfect right angles or are completely flat and plumb. Use levels and framing squares to verify, and adjust measurements as needed to compensate.

Not Planning Required Cuts

Simply measuring the perimeter area is not enough. Dry fitting with actual tiles helps identify edge pieces that will require shaping. Note these in measurements.

Poor Center Line Placement

Rushing to mark center lines without accurately finding midpoints can throw off the entire tile layout. Take time to double check central vertical and horizontal axis.

With careful and methodical measurement of both the overall area and tile elements, common mistakes can be avoided. Planning ahead helps prevent problems once tiles are set in place.

Measuring Tools Needed for Backsplashes

Having the right tools on hand makes accurately measuring and laying out backsplash tile quick and painless. Here are some must-have measuring tools:

  • Tape measure: Choose one at least 15 feet long so it can measure top to bottom. Make sure numbers are legible.
  • Carpenter’s pencil: The flat shape prevents rolling and allows writing on vertical surfaces.
  • Level: A 4-foot level verifies horizontal lines are straight. Laser levels provide ultimate accuracy.
  • Framing square: The 90° angles help mark layouts and check for square. Look for one with a built-in level.
  • Chalk line: Allows perfectly straight lines for tile rows on large expanses. Look for one with blue chalk for high visibility on most surfaces.
  • Tile spacers: Essential for maintaining even grout line width within rows during layout.
  • Stud finder: Finds hidden studs so backerboard can be securely fastened prior to tiling.

With these basic measuring tools on hand, you can tackle tiling backsplashes with confidence. Don’t forget safety essentials like gloves and eye protection as well. Proper preparation and measurement provides the foundation for achieving tile backsplash success.

How to Measure for Tile Around Obstacles

Backsplash areas often contain sinks, outlets, switches, and protrusions that must be accounted for when tiling. Careful measurement of these obstacles allows you to cut and place tile for a custom fit. Here are some tips:

Gather Measurements

  • Note height and position of any outlets, switches or fixtures.
  • Measure distance from surrounding tiles to edges of obstacles.

Having precise measurements of the elements allows you to cut tiles to fit.

Cut Tile Pieces

  • Transfer measurements to tile and mark shape needed.
  • Cut tiles with curved edges using wet saw. Use hand nippers on straight edges.

Cut tiles with a custom shape to tightly fit around the obstacles.

Dry Fit Cut Tiles

  • Test fit the custom cut tiles around the fixtures or openings.
  • Ensure tiles align with surrounding rows and allow even grout lines.

Dry fitting enables adjusting cuts or sanding edges until tile pieces fit correctly.

Install Cut Tiles

  • Once cut tiles fit well in dry layout, install permanently using adhesive.
  • Slide carefully around obstacles without leaving gaps.

Take care when fixing custom tiles permanently to avoid damaging protrusions.

With careful measurement and custom cutting, you can achieve a seamless backsplash tile pattern even when working around switches, outlets, pipes and sinks. Patience and precision ensure the obstacles disappear into the layout.

Estimating How Much Tile is Needed

Determining how much tile you need for a backsplash project takes a few simple calculations. Follow these steps:

Measure Backsplash Area

  • Record height and width measurements of the backsplash space.
  • Multiply height x width to get the total square footage.

Exact area dimensions are key for estimating required tile quantity.

Add 10% Extra

  • Take the total square footage and add 10% more to allow a buffer.
  • This accounts for tile cuts, waste or breakage during installation.

Having surplus tiles avoids coming up short halfway through the job.

Factor in Pattern and Tile Size

  • Account for any edge pieces needed to complete tile pattern.
  • Divide square footage by tile dimensions to estimate full pieces needed.

Tile layout and size impacts how many full tiles will cover the area.

Research Recommended Percentage

  • Check manufacturer instructions for how much extra to buy above calculated square footage.
  • Some tiles may recommend buying 15% or more extra.

Following manufacturer guidance helps ensure sufficient material is purchased.

With some simple area calculations and planning ahead for waste, you can determine the right tile quantity needed for your project. Having a tile surplus is better than running short.

Preparing and Measuring Uneven Backsplash Surfaces

Many backsplash installation areas have less than ideal surfaces. Out-of-square corners, uneven planes, and un-plumb walls can make measuring and tile prep work challenging. Here are some tips for dealing with problem backsplash surfaces:

Verify Surface Flatness

  • Use a long straight edge and feel for gaps larger than 1/8 inch.
  • Fill dips or depressions using thinset and allow to fully cure before tiling.

Surfaces must be flat within 1/4 inch over 10 feet for proper tile adhesion.

Check for Plumb and Level

  • Use a 4+ foot level vertically to confirm walls are plumb within 1/4 inch over 10 feet maximum.
  • Level horizontal lines to check for bowed surfaces. Shim if needed.

Tiles follow the plane of the surface, so rectifying plumb and level issues is crucial.

Look for Square Corners

  • Measure wall-to-wall and corner-to-corner diagonally to identify out-of-square areas.
  • Note variations from 90 degrees and account for in tile layout.

Unsquare corners throw off tile grid measurements.

Dry Fit Tiles on Surface

  • Do a test layout of tiles to see overall fit. Look for raised edges or gaps.
  • Adjust measurements as needed to compensate for imperfections.

Dry fitting tiles on the actual surface highlights any hidden issues early.

Dealing with problem backsplash surfaces takes patience but prevents major headaches once tile installation is underway. Making adjustments to measurements can help tiles align properly.

Measuring for Fixtures Set Over Backsplash Tiles

Many backsplashes have fixtures like towel bars, curtain rods, or shelves that install over top of the finished tile. Careful measurement prior to tiling allows cutting backerboard to accommodate:

Locate and Mark Fixture Position

  • Hold fixture in desired location and mark outline or screw holes.
  • Also mark center point for drilling.

Having fixture fastener locations enables tracing cutlines on backerboard.

Cut Out Fixture Area From Backerboard

  • Use marked outline to