How to Measure Kitchen Wall for Backsplash


Installing a backsplash in your kitchen can completely transform the look and feel of the space. However, proper measurement and planning are crucial to ensure your new backsplash fits perfectly. There are a few key steps when learning how to measure kitchen wall for backsplash installation.

In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the entire process of measuring your kitchen wall and determining the tile you need to order for your backsplash project. With the right preparation and measurements, you can create the backsplash of your dreams!

How to Measure for Your Backsplash Height

The first step is deciding how high you want your backsplash to extend up the wall. Here are some typical backsplash height options:

Backsplash to Bottom of Wall Cabinets

This is the most common backsplash height. Measure from the countertop to the bottom of the wall cabinets. This will allow the backsplash to protect the wall from splashes while not interfering with the cabinet space. The standard height of wall cabinets is 18-24 inches above the countertop.

Backsplash to Bottom Edge of Wall Cabinets

For a full wall-covering effect, measure to the bottom edge of the wall cabinets hanging above. This will give you a backsplash that spans from countertop to cabinet for a seamless look.

Full Height Backsplash

A full height backsplash goes all the way from countertop to the ceiling. This option gives you the most protection on the walls and makes a bold visual statement. Measure from the countertop to the ceiling to determine the total height needed.

Standard Backsplash Height

If you don’t have wall cabinets, a standard backsplash height is 4-6 inches above the countertop. This protects the wall from daily splashes without overwhelming the space.

Backsplash with Accent Tiles

Consider using one or more rows of specialty accent tiles to create a decorative trim. These are typically placed at the top of the backsplash and require extra measuring.

Once you decide on the backsplash height that fits your kitchen design, you can move onto the next steps of the measuring and planning process.

Measure Width Along the Countertop

After deciding on height, the next step is to measure the total width of the backsplash area along the countertop.

Follow these steps:

  • Clear countertops entirely. Remove any appliances, accessories, or décor items.
  • Have a tape measure handy along with a pencil and paper to note measurements.
  • Start at one end of the backsplash area, typically where countertops meet a wall or appliance. Mark this as starting point A.
  • Unroll the tape measure across the entire length of the backsplash area, including any corners or breaks along the countertop.
  • Mark the ending point as B and record the total linear feet between points A and B.
  • Recordmeasurements for each separate section if countertop is broken up. For example, a U-shaped kitchen may have three separate backsplash sections to measure.
  • Measure any additional accents tiles sections separately if doing multiple rows.

Once you have the linear footage of the entire backsplash area measured out, you know the total width that will need to be covered in tile. This number will be very important when ordering materials. Mark starting and ending points clearly for reference.

Use Chalk Lines to Outline Shape on Wall

Now comes the fun part – mapping out the actual backsplash area on the wall. Here are the steps:

  • Take the measurements for height and width. Double check your math to have the precise backsplash size calculated.
  • Using a chalk line tool, snap vertical chalk lines marking the starting and ending points along the wall. This outlines the total width of the backsplash.
  • Determine your height and snap a horizontal chalk line on the wall to mark the upper limit of the backsplash area.
  • For a full height backsplash, simply use the ceiling as the upper border.
  • Snap additional horizontal lines for any decorative accent rows using their measurements.
  • Stand back and look at the chalk outline on the wall. This represents the exact area the backsplash will cover so the shape and size should match the plan.

The chalk outline creates a clear visual guide for the area to be tiled. Once the chalk lines are snapped, you have an accurate marking of the backsplash size and shape on the actual wall.

Calculate Total Tile Needed

Now comes the math portion – determining how many total tiles will be needed to fill the backsplash area. Here are the steps:

  • Measure the tiles: Take one tile that you plan to use and measure its width, height and thickness. Write down these measurements.
  • Measure grout line spacing: Determine the spacing you want for the grout lines between tiles. Standard joint spacing is 1/16 inch to 1/8 inch.
  • Calculate the square footage: Take the height and width measurements of the chalk outline. Multiply them together to get the total square footage of the backsplash area.
  • Divide by tile size: Take the square footage of the space and divide it by the square footage of one tile (height x width). This tells you how many whole tiles are needed to cover the area.
  • Add 10% more for cuts: Since most backsplashes require cut tiles along edges, order 10% extra to ensure you have plenty.

Once you know the total tile quantity needed, you can confidently order your materials and get started on installation. Always have extras because exact measurements are difficult and breakage can occur.

Order Tile and Supplies

Now comes the fun part – selecting and ordering your backsplash tile and installation supplies! Using the measurements and tile quantity calculated, follow this checklist:

  • Choose tile design: Pick a tile shape, color, finish that fits your kitchen décor. Get samples if needed.
  • Order tiles: Order 10-15% extra tiles than your square footage breakdown calls for. Extras allow for cuts and breakages.
  • Order grout: Choose sanded or unsanded grout based on tile spacing. Contrasting or matching colors are both great options.
  • Order adhesive: Choose appropriate mortar based on tile material – cement, mastic, thinset. Consult manufacturer.
  • Order supplies: Don’t forget grout sealer, grout float, spacers, tape, and any specialty tools.
  • Confirm quantities: Do a final check of measurements and tile quantity to confirm order is correct.

Once materials are ordered, the real work gets started. Always refer back to original measurements and tile plan if any questions arise during installation. With the right planning completed ahead of time, the backsplash installation process will go smoothly.

Tips for Measuring Tricky Kitchens

Many kitchens have unique layouts that require extra care when measuring for backsplashes. Here are some tips for tricky setups:

Angled Walls

  • For any wall areas that meet at an angle, measure and calculate each section separately.
  • Order trapezoid-shaped tiles to fit into the corner seamlessly.

Multiple Sink Areas

  • In kitchens with more than one sink, decide if you want one long continuous backsplash or if each sink will have its own separated backsplash area.
  • Measure each sink space individually following the steps above if doing separate sections.

Backsplashes Around Windows

  • Measure the sink area first as you normally would.
  • Then measure any windows separately that will be included in the backsplash area.
  • Order specialty border tiles to provide a finished edge around the windows.

Backsplashes On Islands

  • For backsplashes on kitchen islands, measure each side needing tile individually.
  • Island corners often require their own miter-cut border tiles for a clean finish.
  • Account for extra outside corners at island ends that meet cabinetry.

Curved or Uneven Walls

  • For uneven walls, make note on measurements anywhere the wall curves or dips in.
  • Use several height measurements along the span rather than assuming the wall is flat.
  • Be prepared to make more custom cuts for an uneven wall and order additional tile.

With extra care on the measuring process, even the most uniquely shaped kitchen can have a beautiful, functional backsplash design. Follow the tips above to tackle your kitchen layout confidently.

Backsplash Measurement Mistakes to Avoid

To ensure an accurate professional tile installation, be aware of these common measuring pitfalls:

  • Not accounting for uneven walls – Take measurements at several points rather than assuming walls are perfectly straight.
  • Forgetting about decorative accents – Any bands of specialty tiles at top or bottom will need separate measurements.
  • Measuring only along backsplash area – Remember to measure total height as well from countertop to ceiling or bottom of cabinets.
  • Not ordering enough tile – Be sure to calculate at least 10% extra for any custom cuts needed and breakage during installation and delivery.
  • Not considering grout lines – The small joints between tiles will reduce the total coverage area so factor grout into calculatons.
  • Ignoring backsplash terminations – Measure any transitions to drywall, windows, other surfaces that will border the tile.
  • Forgetting required tools – Accurate measurements require quality chalk lines, tape measure, straight edge, pencil, and paper.

With an understanding of how to measure kitchen wall for backsplash installations, you can avoid mistakes and set your project up for success. Big or small, rectangular or curved, every kitchen layout can have a stylish backsplash design through careful planning and measurement.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I measure for a kitchen backsplash?

Follow these main steps:

  • Decide on desired height – countertop to ceiling, bottom of cabinets, standard height, etc.
  • Measure width along countertop from one end to the other.
  • Use a chalk line to mark outline shape on the wall.
  • Calculate total tile needed including 10% extra.

Where should backsplash tile start and end?

Typical backsplash tile will start at the top of the countertop and extend to either the bottom of wall cabinets or the ceiling. Measure to find what height works best for your kitchen.

How much extra tile should I order?

Due to cuts and potential breakage, you should order 10-15% more tile than the measurements show is needed. Having extras ensures you won’t run out halfway through install!

Should I include backsplash when measuring for countertops?

When being measured for countertops, be sure to point out to the contractor that you plan to install a backsplash. They may need to account for that in the seam placement and edging.

What tools do I need to measure for backsplash?

Gather a quality tape measure, 4′ level, carpenter’s pencil, chalk line tool, and paper to record measurements. Large format tiles may require a straightedge tool as well.

Can I install a backsplash on textured or uneven walls?

It is best practice to only install backsplash tile on smooth, primed and painted drywall. Texture or uneven walls will create issues with keeping tiles flush and level.


Measuring and mapping your kitchen wall for backsplash tile takes careful planning but ensures a gorgeous finished result. With the right height, width, and pattern determined based on your exact wall size and shape, ordering materials is a breeze. Always account for 10% extra tile and use specialty pieces like borders and trims where needed.

A precisely measured backsplash transforms any kitchen from drab to dramatic. From protecting walls from splashes to providing eye-catching focal points, a backsplash remodel can completely change the feel of the space. With the help of this guide, you have all the information needed to measure like a pro and achieve backsplash success!