How to Measure Kitchen for Backsplash

Installing a backsplash in your kitchen not only protects your walls from stains and water damage but also adds style and visual interest. An important first step is accurately measuring your kitchen to determine how much backsplash material you need to purchase. With some simple tools and a bit of math, you can precisely measure for backsplash in just a few steps.

Measure Length and Height

The first measurements to take are the overall length and height of the area you plan to install backsplash.

  • To measure length, run a tape measure across the entire back wall horizontally, starting and ending at the corners. Record the total length in inches.
  • For height, measure from the countertop up to the bottom edge of the upper cabinets. Many standard backsplashes are 4 inches tall, but you can customize the height as desired. Record the height measurement in inches.

Be sure to measure any sections that extend beyond the main back wall, like behind the stove or around windows. You want to capture the total backsplash area.

Calculate Square Footage

With the length and height measurements, you can now calculate the square footage of the backsplash area using this simple formula:

Length x Height = Square Footage

For example, if your back wall is 10 feet long and you want a 4 inch tall backsplash, the math would be:

10 ft x 0.33 ft (4 inches converted to feet) = 3.3 sq ft

Make sure to convert all measurements to the same units, either feet or inches, before multiplying. Getting an accurate total square footage is key for purchasing enough backsplash tiles or sheets.

Mark Outlets, Switches, and Obstacles

Now examine the backsplash area closely and mark the locations of any outlets, light switches, stove vents, or other obstacles that will affect your installation.

  • Measure the distance from each side of the kitchen to the obstacle’s center.
  • Also measure the height above the countertop.
  • Use painter’s tape to mark off these locations directly on the wall.

This will remind you later to cut tiles or sheets to fit around these areas.

Factor in Pattern and Design

If using ceramic or stone backsplash tiles, the pattern and design will influence how many tiles you need.

  • Measure the height and width of one tile piece.
  • Then divide the total backsplash square footage by the square footage per tile to estimate the number needed.

However, the layout may require rounding up for full tiles on outer edges or to complete the desired pattern.

If using full backsplash sheets, simply divide the total square footage by the square footage per sheet to determine how many to purchase. There is more flexibility with design and less waste.

Purchase 10-15% Extra Material

It’s always smart to buy 10-15% more backsplash material than your measurements indicate. This provides a buffer for:

  • Damaged or broken pieces that need replacement
  • Pattern matching when cutting around obstacles
  • Future repairs if tiles become cracked or damaged
  • Expansion of the backsplash to additional areas later on

Purchasing surplus tiles or sheets avoids frustration from running short or finding discontinued styles during installation. The extras can be returned or used for other projects if not needed.

Tools for Measuring Backsplash

Having the right tools makes measuring and mapping out backsplash quick and easy:

  • Tape measure – A metal retractable tape measure longer than the back wall provides accurate linear measurements.
  • Pencil and paper – Record all measurements and sketches to refer to when purchasing materials.
  • Carpenter’s level – Checks that the back wall is plumb and level for even installation.
  • Painter’s tape – Removable tape marks obstacle locations, design patterns, or tile layout on the wall.
  • Stud finder – Locates wall studs for securing backsplash sheets or cement board.
  • Camera – Take photos of the full backsplash area and obstacles to reference later.

Tips for Accurate Backsplash Measurements

Follow these tips when measuring to ensure your calculations are spot-on:

  • Measure twice to verify length and height numbers.
  • Include every separate section getting backsplash.
  • Use a laser level for extremely precise measurements.
  • Account for uneven walls and floors when calculating.
  • Convert all measurements to the same unit (inches or feet).
  • Round up square footage to the next full tile or sheet.
  • Use a tile spacer to figure inches between tiles for pattern.
  • Check measurements of existing appliances and fixtures.
  • Consider extra height needed for outlets and switches.
  • Add a few inches if installing behind a cooktop or range.

Backsplash Patterns and Design Layout

Part of preparing for backsplash installation is mapping out the tile or sheet pattern. Here are some popular design options:

Subway Tile Layout

The classic subway tile pattern has rectangular tiles installed in a bricklike staggered formation:

  • Each row is offset by half a tile to create the staggered pattern.
  • Grout lines between tiles can match or contrast. Wider grout lines add separation.
  • Subway tiles can run horizontally, vertically, or in a herringbone pattern.
  • Complementary accent tiles can be added for trim or medallions.

Mosaic Tile Layout

Small mosaic tiles make up colorful abstract patterns:

  • Tiles are typically 1 inch or less in decorative shapes.
  • Mesh-backed tiles provide easier installation in multi-tile patterns.
  • Borders or medallions frame the mosaic area.
  • The mosaic design can mimic backsplash shape or create geometric patterns.

Stacked or Faux Brick Pattern

Long rectangular tiles laid in offset rows emulate stacked stone or brick:

  • Rows are offset by 1/3 to 1/2 a tile width instead of half.
  • Grout lines should match the tile color.
  • Consistent tile spacing maintains the pattern.
  • Best for rustic, farmhouse, or old world styles.

Hexagon Tile Layout

Hexagon tiles create consistent honeycomb-like patterns:

  • Tiles fit together with no spacers needed.
  • Offsetting rows add interest and prevent straight grout line gaps.
  • Combine with rectangular tiles or mosaic sheets.
  • Use various tile sizes for dimension.

Marble or Travertine Slab

For a natural stone look, use large marble, travertine, or granite slabs:

  • Slabs have an organic, raw edge finish.
  • Sections can be arranged in a bricklike or random pattern.
  • Limit grout lines to only necessary sections.
  • Accent with metal trim along the edges.

Measuring for Specialty Backsplashes

Unique backsplash materials like glass, metal, or laminate sheets also require precise measurements:

Glass Tiles or Mosaic Sheets

  • Order extra tiles to account for breakage during installation.
  • Use removable painter’s tape to mark cutting lines.
  • Measure and confirm access point sizes to get large sheets inside.

Metal Tiles or Sheets

  • Allow 1/8 inch gap for natural expansion and contraction.
  • Use heavy duty snips and shears for cutting.
  • File edges smooth after cutting to prevent injury.

Laminate or PVC Backsplash

  • Measure cutouts for outlets, switches, and fixtures carefully.
  • Account for 1/4 inch spacing at seams and edges.
  • Make sink and stove cutouts 1/8 inch larger to accommodate movement.

Backsplash Installation Preparation

Once materials are purchased, use these tips to prepare for installation day:

  • Clean the back wall thoroughly and make any repairs.
  • Remove existing backsplash if present.
  • Mark plumb line to ensure straight installation.
  • Gather all tools and materials needed for project.
  • Follow manufacturer instructions for prep and installation.
  • Have extra tile, grout, adhesive, and caulk on hand.
  • Take detailed photos of measurements to reference.

With the key installation information covered, you’re ready to transform your kitchen with a fresh new backsplash! Accurately measuring the space is the crucial first step to achieving success. Just follow the guidelines step-by-step to get a beautiful, professional looking result.

Frequently Asked Questions About Measuring for Backsplash

Here are answers to some common questions about measuring backsplash:

How do I calculate linear feet for backsplash?

Use a tape measure to find the length of each wall section getting backsplash in inches. Convert inches to linear feet by dividing the total number of inches by 12. Add together linear feet for all sections to find total.

What tools do I need to measure for backsplash?

Essential tools include a tape measure, pencil, paper, carpenter’s level, painter’s tape, stud finder, camera, and laser level (optional). Have a tile spacer too if installing tile.

Should I measure backsplash before or after counter install?

It’s best to measure after counters are installed since the backsplash ends at the top counter edge. If counters aren’t in yet, measure from the cabinet bottom to top instead.

How do I account for uneven walls when measuring?

Use a level and plumb line to determine the highest point of the wall. Then use this highest area to measure down from for the backsplash height to follow the contour.

What is the standard backsplash height?

The most common height is 4 inches. However, you can customize to your preference. Height depends on factors like wall space, cabinets, windows, and personal taste.

How much extra tile should I get when measuring backsplash?

Order 10-15% more tiles or sheets than your measurements calculate. This provides extras for repairs, pattern matching, broken pieces, and design changes down the road.

How do I calculate square feet for a backsplash?

Multiply the length times the height of each backsplash section to get square footage per section. Add all sections together to find the total square footage. Convert all measurements to the same units first.

Should I measure backsplash before purchasing materials?

Yes, accurate measurements are mandatory before purchasing backsplash tile, stone, or sheets. Know the exact square footage and linear feet needed to buy sufficient materials.


Installing a kitchen backsplash boosts style and makes a statement. But precisely measuring the space is a crucial first step for a successful project. Follow the tips outlined here to measure length, height, outlets, and obstacles. Use the square footage calculation to determine how much backsplash material you need. Account for 10-15% extra for cuts and repairs. Layout your pattern and design before purchasing. With attention to detail and accuracy during planning and prep, you can achieve a stunning, professional backsplash.