How to Measure How Much Backsplash You Need

Knowing how much backsplash to install in your kitchen or bathroom is an important part of the design process. With some simple planning and measurement, you can determine the right amount of backsplash and avoid ordering too little or too much. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to measure and calculate the backsplash you need.

Measure the Area to be Covered

The first step is to measure the length and height of the wall area you want to cover with backsplash.

  • For a full wall backsplash, measure the length of the wall from end to end and the height from the countertop to the bottom of the upper cabinets.
  • For a partial backsplash, measure just the portion of the wall you want to cover, like just behind the stove or sink.
  • Use a tape measure to get accurate linear measurements. Record the length and height.
  • Remember to measure separately if you have multiple discontinuous sections, like behind both the kitchen sink and stove.

Determine the Amount of Backsplash

Once you have the wall measurements, you can calculate the square footage of backsplash required.

  • Multiply the length x height to get the area in square feet for each wall section.
  • Add together areas if doing multiple sections.
  • As a rule of thumb, order 10-15% extra to account for unusable tiles and installation waste.

For example, if your backsplash wall area is 10 ft x 4 ft = 40 sq ft, order 44-46 sq ft of tile to have extras.

Consider the Tile Size

The size of the backsplash tiles you choose also impacts how much you need. Smaller tiles require more pieces to cover the same area.

  • For standard 4 x 4 inch tiles, you need about 4 tiles per sq ft.
  • For larger tiles like 4 x 12 inch, factor approximately 1.5 tiles per sq ft.
  • For mosaics and penny tiles, estimate around 6-8 tiles per sq ft.
  • For subway tiles, use around 5 tiles per sq ft.

Adjust your total tile quantity needed up or down based on the type of tile and actual size.

Order the Right Amount

When purchasing backsplash tile, take your measurements and tile size into account:

  • Calculate the wall area in sq ft.
  • Add 10-15% for waste allowance.
  • Adjust for tiles per sq ft based on tile dimensions.
  • Order that total number of tiles.

Having some extras is useful in case you need to replace any damaged tiles later on. But avoid purchasing significantly more than needed as you may not be able to return unused tiles. Measure carefully and use a tile calculator for the most accurate quantities.

Plan for Pattern and Design

If installing a decorative backsplash, the tile layout pattern will also impact how much tile is required:

  • For subway tile patterns, calculate 10-15% extra for staggered layouts.
  • Diagonal designs require about 20% more tile than a straight grid.
  • Mosaic and penny tile patterns may require up to 25% extra.
  • Borders or accents around edges need separate measurements.

Plan your backsplash design first so you can buy the right amount of decorative and border tiles.

Have Some Extras on Hand

After installing the backsplash, keep any leftover tiles in the original packaging in a safe place. Having extras of each type of tile is useful for:

  • Replacing any tiles that get damaged or stained later.
  • Doing minor repairs or additions to the backsplash area.
  • Ensuring color and pattern continuity if repairs are needed.

5-10% extra tiles are typically recommended for repairs down the road.

Tips for Measuring Backsplash

  • Use a laser measure for very accurate long distance measurements.
  • For multiple disconnected areas, measure and calculate each section separately.
  • Snap photos of the area before measuring for reference later.
  • Round up square footage to the next half or full square for a slight extra buffer.
  • Ask the tile supplier for advice on recommended extras for the tile type.
  • Consider having the tile installer measure prior to purchasing tiles.

Carefully measuring and planning your kitchen or bathroom backsplash area ensures you get the right amount of tile needed to complete the job. This prevents frustrations from incorrect quantities and saves you time and money.

Frequently Asked Questions About Measuring Backsplash

How much extra backsplash tile should I order?

It’s recommended to order 10-15% extra tiles over your calculated quantity to account for broken tiles and installation waste. For mosaics and intricate patterns, up to 20-25% extra may be needed.

Should I measure in inches or feet for backsplash?

Take measurements in inches or fractional inches first for accuracy. Then convert to feet by dividing by 12 when calculating the overall area. Order tiles by the square foot.

What tools do I need to measure backsplash?

A metal tape measure and laser measure are essential for getting linear dimensions. Have a notepad, calculator, camera, and smartphone tile calculator app to make measuring and estimating easier.

Should I account for outlets and switches when measuring?

Yes, make note of any outlets, switches, or fixtures. Either exclude them from the measurements or plan tiles around them. Order extra tiles in case cuts are needed.

How do I calculate backsplash for a corner area?

Measure each wall section separately. Calculate the area of each wall portion that will have backsplash. Add the two areas together to determine total square footage needed.

Can I install backsplash just behind the stove?

Yes, you can do a mini or partial backsplash just behind the stove, sink, or on another section of wall. Just measure only that area rather than the entire wall.


Measuring, estimating, and calculating the right amount of backsplash tile involves carefully measuring linear dimensions, multiplying length times height for area, factoring in tile sizes, adding extras for waste, and planning for tile patterns. With some simple math and planning using the guidelines above, you can determine exactly how much backsplash you need to buy and properly install for your space. Accurate measurements ensure you get the right quantity of tiles the first time.