Installing a backsplash is a great way to add visual interest and protect your walls in a kitchen or bathroom. When planning a backsplash project, one of the most important steps is accurately measuring the space so you can purchase the right amount of tile. Taking careful measurements before you shop will ensure you don’t end up with too little or too much tile.

## Getting Started with Measurements

Before you break out the measuring tape, there are a few preparatory steps to take:

- Remove anything attached to the walls like artwork, shelves or towel bars that would obstruct measurements.
- Clear the countertops of small appliances, kitchen tools and other items.
- Have a friend help! Measuring can be tricky to do alone. An extra set of hands ensures accuracy.

### Tools You’ll Need

Having the right tools on hand will make measuring a breeze:

**Measuring tape.**A standard 25-foot retractable measuring tape is perfect. Make sure the numbers are large and legible.**Pencil and paper.**Note down all measurements as you go to keep them organized.**4-6′′ level.**A small level will help you determine if the walls are straight or sloped.**Ladder.**Use a sturdy ladder to take measurements up high on the walls.**Chalk line (optional).**A chalk line can ensure your tile installation is perfectly straight.

## Measuring Wall Length

The first step is measuring the length of each wall section you’ll be tiling. Here’s how:

- Start in one corner and stretch the tape measure horizontally across the wall to the opposite corner.
- Note the measurement on your paper. Repeat this process for each section of wall you plan to tile.
- Remember to deduct for spaces like windows and outlets that will not be tiled.
- Use the level periodically to check for straightness. Account for any slopes in your measurements.
- For inside corners or where walls meet, measure and record each wall section separately rather than trying to span the corner.

### Tips for Accurate Length Measurements:

- Avoid any distortion by pulling the tape tight across the wall without sagging.
- For long spans, have your helper hold the tape at the far corner while you read and record the measurement.
- Double check your numbers! It’s easy to accidentally write down the wrong measurement.

## Measuring Wall Height

In addition to horizontal length, you’ll need the vertical height of the backsplash area:

- Start by measuring from the countertop up to the bottom edge of any wall cabinets.
- Note that dimension and repeat on every section you plan to tile.
- Check for any variations in height around the room. Account for those in your measurements.
- Use a tall ladder and be safe when measuring high up on the walls.

### Tips for Accurate Height Measurements:

- Make sure to measure precisely up to the cabinet bottom’s edge, not above or below it.
- Check that upper cabinets are perfectly level before measuring. Use a level tool to confirm.
- For heights over 8 feet, consider using a telescoping measurement tool for easier and safer measuring.

## Calculate Total Tile Area

Now that you have the length and height of each wall section, you can calculate the total tile area:

**Length x Height = Area**

For example: If you have a wall section that is 9 feet long and 4 feet high your calculation would be:

- 9 feet long x 4 feet high = 36 square feet
- Repeat this for every wall section and add up all the totals for the complete backsplash area.
- To convert square feet into square inches, multiply the total square feet by 144.
- Why square inches? Tile dimensions are listed in inches, so this unit makes pricing and purchasing simpler.

### Tips for Calculating Area:

- Creating a simple grid on graph paper is an easy way to visualize the space and do the math.
- For intricate backsplash designs, break the area into smaller sections for separate area calculations.
- To allow for cutting scrap and pieces to fit around outlets and edges, add an extra 10% onto your total tile area.

## Measuring for Diagonal Installations

Diagonal tile patterns add striking visual appeal. However, they require some specialized measuring:

- First, measure wall length and height as before to get your total area in square feet.
- Next, determine the horizontal and vertical dimensions between two adjacent corners. These are your diagonals.
- Note the longer diagonal dimension. You will use this number instead of a standard horizontal length measurement when calculating tile area and requirements.

The math works like this:

- Longer Diagonal Measurement x Wall Height = Total Tile Area

Measuring diagonally rather than horizontally accounts for the additional tile needed in a diagonal installation.

## Measuring for Accent Tiles

Many backsplashes use decorative accent tiles in addition to field tile. Here’s now to measure for those:

- Decide on the size and location of your accent tiles. Common options are a row along the top or bottom, or medallion shapes.
- Measure the linear length or shape area you want accented.
- For example, if doing a 4 inch row along the bottom, measure the linear horizontal length of that area.
- Convert your linear dimension to square inches to determine how much accent tile is required.

## Purchase 10-15% Extra Tile

Once you’ve measured and calculated the tile area, add 10-15% to the total when purchasing materials. This provides extras to allow for:

- Cutting scrap that can’t be avoided around outlets, edges, etc.
- Minor measurement errors or miscalculations.
- Breakage during transport or installation. Tile cuts easily and chips happen.
- Future repairs If a tile or two gets damaged down the road, you’ll have replacements handy.

Getting a little extra upfront can save you from coming up short or needing to purchase more later.

## Carefully Review Measurements

Before making your final tile purchase, recheck all measurements and calculations to catch any potential errors:

- Review the horizontal length and vertical height of every wall section.
- Re-do all the area math using those dimensions.
- Ensure your accent tile measurements are correct.
- Did you account for 10-15% extra?

Taking a little time to carefully review and confirm your numbers can save big headaches and extra costs later on.

## Transfer Measurements to Work Area

Once measurements are complete and double checked, transfer them to the actual installation area:

- Mark horizontal and vertical dimensions lightly in pencil directly on the walls.
- Transfer any accent tile measurements.
- Use a chalk line to create perfectly straight guideline markings on the tile backsplash area.

Marking up the workspace helps visualize the tile layout and acts as a handy reference as you set and cut the tile.

## Carefully Follow Measurement Best Practices

Accurately measuring for backsplash tile ensures you get the beautifully finished project you envisioned. Follow these best practices every time:

- Clear the space of obstructions before starting.
- Record all measurements prominently on paper as you go.
- Use levels frequently to account for uneven areas.
- Calculate separate area totals for each wall section.
- Convert area to square inches for purchasing tile.
- Measure and calculate accent tile separately.
- Add 10-15% extra tile to your order.
- Double check all measurements for accuracy before purchasing.
- Transfer key dimensions to the work area before installing.

With the right preparation and care taken during measuring, you can install a backsplash you’ll love that uses just the right amount of tile.

## Frequently Asked Questions About Measuring for Backsplash Tile

Many homeowners have additional questions when starting a backsplash project. Here are answers to some of the most common:

### How do I measure for backsplash tile around outlets or switches?

- Carefully measure the height and width of the outlet/switch box itself. Note those dimensions.
- Then measure as normal from the outer edges of the box to the corners and edges of the backsplash area.
- This will account for the irregular space around the outlets that will need to be cut.

### Should I measure from the floor or countertop?

Always measure from the countertop edge rather than the floor. Backsplashes are designed to fit the space between countertops and cabinets. Floor measurements won’t give accurate backsplash dimensions.

### My walls are crooked. How do I measure uneven areas?

Use a level frequently when measuring to determine out-of-level or uneven areas. Take multiple height measurements at different points rather than relying on one. Note any inconsistencies and account for them in your tile area math.

### Do I need to remove cabinets to measure behind them?

No, you do not need to remove and reinstall cabinets just to measure behind. Instead, carefully measure the exposed walls sections on either side of the cabinets. Assume the length behind them is consistent.

### How do I calculate for a niche or soap dish cutout?

Measure the area of any niches or soap dish cutouts in square inches just like you would for an outlet. Subtract this area from your overall tile area calculations.

### Should I include the window sill in my measurements?

Typically backsplashes stop 1/4 inch below the bottom window sill. So do not include the sill itself in the vertical height measurement, measure just to where tile will end below it.

## Conclusion

While it involves some careful measurements and calculations, determining how much tile is needed for a backsplash is very manageable for any DIYer. Following the techniques described above will set you up for backsplash success and prevent unexpected shortages mid-project. Being armed with accurate measurements will let you comfortably purchase materials and then create the perfect backsplash design for your space.

# How to Measure for Backsplash Tile {MD summary}

Measuring for backsplash tile involves carefully recording the length and height of each wall section, calculating overall tile area, purchasing 10-15% extra, double checking numbers, and transferring dimensions to the work area. Critical steps include using levels, deducting for spaces that won’t be tiled, converting area to square inches, and calculating accent tiles separately. Following proper measurement best practices helps ensure you buy the right tile quantity.