How to Measure for a Kitchen Backsplash

Measuring accurately for a new kitchen backsplash is an important step that ensures your backsplash fits properly and looks its best. With some simple tools and careful planning, you can measure like a pro. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to measure for a kitchen backsplash.

Determine the Area to Cover

The first step is to figure out the exact area you need to cover with the new backsplash.

  • Measure the length of the countertop where the backsplash will be installed. Be sure to measure any spaces behind appliances like the stove and refrigerator.
  • Measure the height of the backsplash, from the countertop to where it will end near the bottom of the upper cabinets. The standard height is 4 inches.
  • Multiply the length by the height to get the total square footage. This is the total area you need to cover.

Knowing the precise area will ensure you purchase enough tile or materials for the project.

Account for Outlets and Obstacles

Kitchens often have outlets, switches, and appliances in the backsplash area. Be sure to measure these as you will need to cut tiles to fit around them.

  • Mark the locations of any outlets, switches, or other obstacles on the wall.
  • Measure the height and width of each one.
  • Make note of these on your plan, as you may need to purchase specialty tiles like trims or mosaics to accommodate them.

Decide on Tile Layout

Once you know the total area and layout, decide on the tile pattern you want to use. This will determine the precise measurements needed.

  • Choose either a brick/running bond layout, subway tile layout, or stacked layout.
  • Measure the height and width of full tiles, making allowance for cut edge tiles.
  • For diagonal layouts, measure the diagonals to ensure even spacing.

Having the tile dimensions in mind will help you take measurements tailored to the pattern.

Measure and Mark Guidelines

Now it’s time to measure and mark guidelines directly on the backsplash area. This provides a map for installation.

  • Measure up from the countertop at the height of your lowest tile row. Use a level to mark a straight, horizontal line across the entire span.
  • Mark vertical lines at regular intervals for tile spacing. Use tile spacers as a guide.
  • Continue measuring and marking horizontal lines at the planned height of each tile row.
  • Mark any midpoint lines if using a brick layout. This helps keep tiles centered.
  • Use a pencil so guidelines can be easily wiped away later.

Thesemeasurement guidelines will make it much easier to achieve a professional look.

Measure for Accurate Cuts

To finish edges and fit around obstacles, some tiles need cutting. Measure precisely for a perfect fit.

  • Measure the width of any partial tiles needed on the edges.
  • Measure the notches needed around outlets or other openings.
  • Note measurements on each tile that requires trimming.
  • Planning tile cuts will result in a seamless finished look.

With meticulous measurement and planning, cuts can be minimized for less waste and work.

Leave Room for Grout and Movement

When taking all measurements, be sure to leave wiggle room for grout lines and tile movement.

  • Leave a 1/8 inch gap between tiles for grout lines.
  • Allow an extra 1/16 inch clearance overall to account for tile expansion.
  • Having this small buffer prevents tiles from scraping or chipping.

Careful measurement provides a flawless foundation for a stunning new backsplash. Follow these pro tips for measuring success!

Frequently Asked Questions About Measuring for a Kitchen Backsplash

How do I measure for a full wall backsplash?

For a full wall backsplash, start by measuring the length of the countertop width and the height from the countertop to the underside of the upper cabinets. Multiply length by height for the total coverage area. Also measure any windows, outlets, or appliances and mark them on the plan.

What tools do I need to measure for backsplash tile?

Handy tools for measuring include a tape measure, pencil, ruler, level, stud finder, and tile spacers. Have a mix of larger tape measures and a small ruler for detail work. Mark measurements in pencil.

What is the standard height for a kitchen backsplash?

The typical height of a kitchen backsplash is 4 inches. However, tastes vary and vertical backsplashes behind a stove may be taller, around 18-24 inches. Decide on the look you want and measure and mark accordingly.

Should I measure for backsplash before or after new countertops?

It’s best to measure before new countertops go in. This lets you get dimensions from the wall without reaching over the countertop. If countertops are already installed, lie on countertop or use a helper to take measurements.

How precise do measurements need to be for backsplashes?

Precision is key for a backsplash. Measure to 1/16″ or 1/8” accuracy for the best fit. Mark all measurements on the wall and have a detailed plan before installing. Taking time for careful prep prevents problems.


Measuring and planning are the keys to a backsplash that truly pops. With an understanding of total area, tile layout options, obstacle accommodation, guideline marking, and allowing extra room for grout, you can measure like a pro. Precise measurements ensure a perfectly fitted backsplash that looks elegant and finished. Use these steps and techniques for a smooth install and stunning results. With the right prep work, your new backsplash is sure to be a kitchen showpiece.