How to Measure Square Feet for Backsplash Tile

Installing a backsplash tile can greatly enhance the look of your kitchen or bathroom. When planning your backsplash project, one of the most important calculations you’ll need to make is determining how many square feet of tile you’ll need. Measuring square footage accurately allows you to purchase the right amount of tile and avoid either running short or buying more than necessary.

Here is a step-by-step guide to measuring square feet for backsplash tile:

Determine the Area to be Tiled

First, clearly define the area that will be covered in tile. This is typically the wall space between the countertops and kitchen cabinets. Using a measuring tape, measure the length and height of the backsplash area. Make sure to account for any outlets, windows, or other openings that will need to be cut around.

Be sure to measure each section of wall separately if the backsplash covers multiple walls. It’s important to calculate each wall section independently.

Measure Length x Height

For each backsplash section, multiply the length by the height to calculate the area in square feet. For example:

Backsplash Wall 1:
Length: 9 feet
Height: 4 feet
9 x 4 = 36 square feet

Backsplash Wall 2:
Length: 5 feet
Height: 4 feet
5 x 4 = 20 square feet

Make sure to write down the square footage calculation for each section.

Account for Partial Tiles

Most backsplashes will require partial/cut tile pieces to complete the installation around corners, edges, and openings. A common estimate is to add 10% to your total square footage to account for these cuts.

For example:
Total square feet measured: 56
Add 10%: 5.6 square feet
Total square feet needed: 61.6

Round up to the nearest full square to determine the amount of tile needed. In this case, you would likely purchase 62 square feet of tile. The extra will cover the partial tiles.

Purchase Corresponding Tile

Once you have your total square footage amount, you can easily determine how many tile pieces to purchase. Check the tile dimensions – common sizes are 4×4, 6×6, 12×12. Divide your total square feet by the square feet of one tile to find out how many whole tiles are required.

For example, if you need 62 square feet of 4×4 tile:
One 4×4 tile = 0.25 square feet
62 square feet / 0.25 = 248 tiles

Be sure to purchase a few extra tiles to allow for breakage and defects. Some suppliers recommend adding 10%.

Double Check Calculation

Before finalizing the tile purchase, double check that your square footage calculations are accurate. Confirm your measurements and do the math twice to avoid an insufficient order.

Measuring the square feet needed for backsplash tile takes careful measurement, calculation, and planning. Follow these tips for a smooth installation with the right amount of tile. Let us know if you have any other backsplash questions!

Frequently Asked Questions About Measuring Square Feet for Backsplash Tile

How do I calculate square feet for a backsplash that wraps around a corner?

For an L-shaped backsplash or one that wraps around a corner, take separate measurements for each section as if they were individual walls. Calculate the square footage of each section individually based on the length and height. Then add together the totals for each part to get the overall square footage.

Should I include the backsplash area under my upper cabinets in my measurements?

In most cases, yes. Fully tile the area under upper cabinets for a seamless, finished look. The only exception is if you plan to use a decorative filler piece like beadboard or paint this section instead of tile.

What’s the best way to measure for outlets and stove cut-outs?

When measuring walls with outlets, stove cut-outs, etc, take the full height and length measurements as if the wall was uninterrupted. After calculating the total square footage, add an extra 10-15% to account for the tile that will need to be cut around these openings.

How do I calculate for a backsplash with multiple heights?

For a backsplash with sections of different heights, take separate measurements and make individual square footage calculations for each height variation. Then add together the totals for each section to determine the overall square feet needed.

Should I round up or down when calculating partial tiles?

It’s best to round up to account for those partial edge tiles. Rounding down could result in coming up just short. The small excess from rounding up provides wiggle room.

What measurements do I need from the tile supplier?

When purchasing tile, you’ll need to know the dimensions (length x width) of each tile to calculate how many whole tiles will cover your square footage. Also confirm the actual square feet of one tile with the supplier.


Measuring and calculating square footage is an essential first step to any tiling project. By following the proper steps to accurately measure the total backsplash area and account for partial tiles, you’ll be able to purchase the right tile amount with confidence. A little extra time planning and doing the math in the beginning can prevent headaches later on. With the right measurements and calculations in hand, you’ll be well on your way to a stunning new backsplash!