How to Measure Backsplash Square Feet

Measuring your backsplash area is an important first step when planning a new backsplash installation or renovation. Knowing the square footage will allow you to determine how much tile, grout, and other materials you’ll need to complete the project. With some simple measurements and calculations, you can easily figure out the backsplash square footage in any kitchen or bathroom.

Why Measuring Square Footage Matters

When undertaking any tile project, an accurate measurement of the area is crucial for several reasons:

  • It allows you to buy the right quantity of tiles. Having too few tiles can lead to problems completing the installation. Buying too many tiles can be wasteful and expensive.
  • It enables proper planning and budgeting. Tiles, grout, backerboard, and other supplies are often priced per square foot. Without accurate area measurements, it’s impossible to estimate costs accurately.
  • It helps determine how much labor will be required. Professional installers typically price jobs based on square footage.
  • It informs the design. The tile layout, pattern, trim, and transition pieces are all dependent on the overall area dimensions.

Knowing the square footage is vital for purchasing, planning, pricing, and designing your backsplash installation correctly. Investing the time to measure carefully before tile shopping is a crucial first step.

How to Calculate Square Footage for Backsplashes

Follow these steps to measure your backsplash area and calculate the square footage:

1. Measure the Length and Height

  • Mark the length and height of each section of backsplash using a tape measure.
  • For height, measure from the countertop to the bottom of the wall cabinets.
  • For length, measure any continuous sections of backsplash.
  • Record the length and height measurements for each section.

2. Multiply to Find the Square Feet

  • Multiply the length by the height for each backsplash section to find the area in square feet.

Length x Height = Area (square feet)

  • Add the square footage of each section to find the total.

3. Account for Complex Areas

  • For angled sections, measure the length and height at the widest points.
  • For outlets, deduct the width & height of the cutout from the section area.
  • For a mosaic backsplash, multiply the total area by 1.05 to account for grout lines and tile cuts.

4. Convert Fractions to Decimals

  • Convert any fractional measurements to decimals for easier calculation.
  • To convert fractions to decimals, divide the numerator by the denominator.
  • For example, 5/8 converts to 0.625 (5 ÷ 8 = 0.625).

Following these steps carefully will produce an accurate calculation of the backsplash square footage.

Taking Precise Measurements

Taking careful measurements is essential for calculating the backsplash area accurately:

  • Use a quality metal measuring tape rather than a cloth one which can stretch.
  • Measure to the nearest 1/8th of an inch for the greatest accuracy.
  • Measure multiple times and average the results if needed.
  • Account for any uneven sections, angles, or indentations.
  • Consider using a laser distance measure for hard to reach areas.
  • For mosaic sheets, use the stated sheet size rather than measuring each tile.
  • Have a helper if it’s hard to hold the tape steady on longer lengths.

With attention to detail during measurement, you can achieve the precision needed for ordering materials and planning the installation.

Dealing with Tricky Backsplash Areas

Some backsplash installations present unique measurement challenges:

  • Islands: Measure each exposed side separately. Remember to include areas behind the stove or cooktop.
  • Corners: Calculate the area of each wall section separately.
  • Peninsulas: Measure the length including wrapped corners individually. Don’t overlap sections.
  • Half walls: Only include the exposed area, not what extends under cabinets.
  • Mixed heights: Divide into sections based on height, measure each separately.
  • Mosaic sheets: Use the stated sheet size, don’t measure individual tiles.
  • Alcoves: Calculate recessed sections separately from surrounding backsplash.

With extra care for unusual spaces, you can adapt the measurement method to determine the square footage correctly.

Tools for Measuring Backsplash Areas

Having the right tools available makes measuring and calculating easier:

  • Tape measure. A metal retractable tape measure is essential for measuring lengths along walls and cabinetry.
  • Laser distance meter. This tool can measure long distances with a laser for accuracy. Helpful for high or awkward areas.
  • Calculator. Use a basic calculator for multiplying measurements to find area in square feet.
  • Pen and paper. Record your dimensions as you go to keep measurements organized.
  • Smartphone apps. Consider free apps like MagicPlan that allow you to map rooms and calculate floor space.
  • Graph paper. Map out backsplash sections to create a visual diagram of the whole space.
  • Painter’s tape. Mask off sections to measure to make it easier to break the area into rectangles.

With the right preparation and tools, you can tackle even the most complex backsplash measurement confidently.

How Much Tile Do You Need?

Once you’ve calculated the square footage of the backsplash, use that to determine how much tile you’ll need to purchase:

  • Material allowance: Add 10% to account for tile cuts and pattern matching.
  • Grouted area: Subtract the actual tile size from the gross area for grouted space.
  • Tile size: Smaller tiles require more material per square foot than larger tiles.
  • Layout: The tile pattern impacts waste and quantity needed. Grid layouts are most efficient.
  • Mosaics: Sheet size rather than individual tile size should inform quantity.

Don’t forget related supplies like grout, backerboard, trim pieces, and adhesive when estimating your material requirements.

Tips for Measuring Specific Backsplash Shapes

### L-Shaped Backsplashes

For an L-shaped backsplash:

  • Measure the length and height of each leg section separately.
  • Calculate the square footage of each leg.
  • Add together for the total.

This method works well for U-shaped backsplashes too.

Backsplashes with Angles

For angled backsplash sections:

  • Find the longest height and length measurements.
  • Use those maximum dimensions for calculating the area.
  • This compensates for the angle when figuring square footage.

Backsplashes with Cutouts

For sections with outlets, soap dispensers, or other cutouts:

  • Measure the backsplash length and height as usual.
  • Measure the cutout width and height.
  • Subtract the cutout square inches from the section total square inches.

This accounts for the void in your measurements.

Oversized Backsplashes

For extra large backsplash projects:

  • Break the area into smaller sections using tape.
  • Measure and calculate each section individually.
  • Add all the section totals for the overall square footage.

Sectioning makes oversized backsplashes easier to measure accurately.

Step-by-Step Example

Let’s look at a step-by-step example of calculating backsplash square footage:

1. Sketch a Basic Floorplan

Draw a simple floorplan of the backsplash area to use for reference. Include all sections and take notes on relevant measurements:

backsplash floorplan sketch

2. Break into Sections

Divide the backsplash into individual sections to make it easier to measure:

  • Section 1 – Main backsplash area
  • Section 2 – Side of peninsula
  • Section 3 – Behind stove

3. Measure and Record Dimensions

Use a tape measure to measure the length and height of each section. Record the dimensions:

  • Section 1 – Length: 6 feet, Height: 1.5 feet
  • Section 2 – Length: 5 feet, Height: 1.5 feet
  • Section 3 – Length: 3 feet , Height: 1 foot

4. Calculate Square Footage

Multiply length by height of each section to find the area in square feet:

  • Section 1: 6 x 1.5 = 9 sq ft
  • Section 2: 5 x 1.5 = 7.5 sq ft
  • Section 3: 3 x 1 = 3 sq ft

5. Total Square Footage

Add the section totals together for the overall backsplash area:

  • Section 1: 9 sq ft
  • Section 2: 7.5 sq ft
  • Section 3: 3 sq ft
  • Total = 9 + 7.5 + 3 = 19.5 square feet

Using this method provides the precise backsplash square footage calculation needed to plan the tile purchasing and installation.

FAQs about Measuring Backsplash Square Footage

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about determining backsplash area:

Should I include areas behind appliances in the square footage?

Yes, be sure to include any exposed backsplash areas behind appliances like ranges, ovens, and refrigerator sides in your measurements. The tile will need to run continuously behind and around appliances.

What if part of the backsplash is a different height?

If sections of the backsplash vary in height, divide into smaller areas based on the different height dimensions. Calculate them as separate sections then add together for the total.

Do I need to account for grout lines when measuring?

No, grout lines do not need to be included in your measurements. Calculate based on the gross area without deductions for grout or cuts.

How do I calculate for outlets and other obstructions?

Measure around the outlet or other obstruction to determine its width and height. Subtract the square inches of the obstruction from the overall section square inches.

Should I measure and calculate before purchasing tile?

Yes, accurately measuring the backsplash and determining square footage should always be the first step, before purchasing any tiles or materials.

Key Takeaways

  • Accurately measuring backsplash square footage is crucial for tile purchasing and installation.
  • Carefully measure length and height, multiply to find area, and account for complex geometry.
  • Breaking areas into smaller sections can simplify the calculation.
  • Precise tools, diligent measurement methods, and attention to detail give the best results.
  • Use the square footage to estimate tile quantities and budget for the project.

Determining the backsplash area in square feet sets you up for success on your tile installation project. With the techniques above, you can measure your backsplash like a pro.