Installing a backsplash in your kitchen can add visual interest, protect your walls from splashes and spills, and even increase the value of your home. But before you start shopping for tile or other backsplash materials, it’s important to accurately measure the square footage of the wall area you plan to cover. Knowing the precise measurements will ensure you purchase enough material to complete the job.
Measuring for a backsplash is relatively simple, but does require some careful calculations based on the size and shape of your wall space. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the complete process of determining square footage for a backsplash installation, step-by-step. Whether you have a straightforward rectangular wall or a more unique shape, we’ve got you covered.
By the end of this guide, you’ll be able to confidently measure your backsplash wall area and know exactly how much tile, stone, or other material to buy. Let’s get started!
Gather Your Measuring Tools
Before measuring, you’ll need to gather a few supplies:
- Measuring tape. A basic retractable measuring tape is essential for measuring linear feet. Make sure yours is at least 25 feet long.
- Laser distance measurer. For hard-to-reach spots, a laser distance measurer can instantly measure distances up to 130 feet with accuracy within 1/16 of an inch.
- Calculator. You’ll need a calculator (or smartphone app) to multiply measurements.
- Pen and paper. As you take measurements, write them down for reference.
- Ladder. If you can’t comfortably reach the top of your wall, use a steady ladder to take vertical measurements.
- Marking tools. Painter’s tape, a pencil, or chalk can mark lines for easier measuring.
With your supplies in hand, you’re ready to start measuring. Make sure to take your time and double-check numbers as you go—accurate measurements are crucial.
Measure Straight Wall Sections
For simple, rectangular backsplash areas, like behind a stove or sink, start by measuring any straight, unbroken sections of wall:
- Mark the length of the wall section at its top and bottom. Use a level to ensure your marks are perfectly vertical.
- Measure between these marks in inches. Record the length.
- Repeat for the height, measuring from the top of the backsplash area to the bottom.
- Multiply the length by the height. This gives you the square footage of the wall section.
- Repeat for any other straight sections, recording each calculation separately.
For example, if you have a backsplash wall that is 36 inches high and 48 inches long, multiply 36 by 48 to get 1,728 square inches.
To find the square footage, divide by 144 (the number of square inches in a square foot). So 1,728 square inches equals 12 square feet.
Calculate Partial Wall Sections
If part of your backsplash area extends around a corner or along a section of wall that’s less than the full height, you’ll need to take a few extra measurements:
- Mark the section to be measured. Make sure to measure only the area getting backsplash, not the whole wall.
- Measure and record the length across the bottom.
- Measure and record the height at one side.
- Multiply the length by the height.
- Repeat for any remaining partial sections.
The calculations are the same—simply multiply length times height of each section and divide by 144 for square footage.
Measuring these irregular areas precisely is very important for an accurate final square footage. Take your time and double-check.
Measure Backsplash Areas with Corners
For backsplash areas that turn corners, such as a full backsplash along multiple walls, calculate the square footage of each wall section separately:
- Measure and calculate the square footage of any full straight sections first using the steps above.
- Next, measure and calculate any partial height sections.
- For areas that turn corners, divide them into smaller rectangles that don’t turn, and measure each one individually.
- Add together the square footage of each smaller section to get the total.
Breaking the space into smaller rectangles makes it easier to get accurate linear measurements for each. Just be sure to measure and calculate each portion separately, then add all the numbers together at the end.
Measure Backsplashes with Angles or Curves
Irregular, angled, or curved backsplashes require a more detailed measuring process:
- Mark points along the length of the curved or angled area at regular intervals, about every 6-12 inches.
- Measure the height from the countertop up to the bottom edge of the backsplash at each point. Record all measurements.
- Use a protractor to measure the angle between each lengthwise point. Record these measurements in degrees.
- Sketch the backsplash area on graph paper, using your measurements to plot each point.
- Divide your sketch into a series of small, straight-sided shapes that approximate the curved or angled area.
- Calculate the area of each shape individually, then add them together to find the total square footage.
This process requires more measurements, but taking your time to divide the space into small, straight segments will provide the most accurate result.
Double-Check Your Measurements
Once you’ve calculated the square footage of all sections, add up the numbers to find the total for the entire backsplash area.
Be sure to double-check:
- Review your measurements and make sure none were missed.
- Check your math to confirm the right formulas were used.
- Look for any transposed numbers when reading tape measures.
- Consider measuring a second time if any areas are unclear or hard to reach.
Taking an extra few minutes can help spot any measuring mistakes before purchasing materials. For a flawless backsplash, accuracy counts.
Purchase Materials Based on Total Square Footage
Once you’ve carefully measured and double-checked the square footage, simply use that number to purchase your backsplash tile.
Most backsplash materials are sold by the square foot. Add up the total you calculated, and buy that amount of tile, stone, glass, or other backsplash product.
It’s smart to add an extra 10% to account for irregular edges, corner gaps, or other common issues that require more material.
With the right quantity purchased upfront, you can install your backsplash confidently knowing you have just enough to finish without any shortages or surprises. Enjoy bringing your new backsplash design to life!
Frequently Asked Questions About Measuring for Backsplash
Many homeowners have additional questions when measuring backsplash areas. Here are answers to some of the most common concerns:
How do I calculate the square footage if walls meet at an odd angle?
For walls meeting at skewed or uneven angles, break the space into smaller rectangles and triangles to measure individually, then add together for total square footage.
Should I account for outlets or other obstructions in my measurements?
No, only measure the area getting backsplash. You’ll cut tiles to fit around outlets and other obstructions during installation.
My backsplash has 4-inch granite edging at the bottom. Should I include this?
No, only measure from the top of the granite to where you want the backsplash tile to end. Don’t count the edging.
What’s the best way to measure a very tall backsplash area?
Use a laser distance measurer or ladder to safely measure vertical areas over 8 feet tall without climbing. Take assistant to help record numbers too.
How do I calculate the backsplash space in my corner kitchen cabinet?
Measure the sides and back separately as if they were individual rectangles, then add the square footage together.
How can I measure a scalloped or octagon-shaped backsplash area?
Break it into smaller rectangles and triangles to measure individually, then add together for the total area.
Should I measure the backsplash under open shelves or windows?
Only measure continuous backsplash areas. Open shelves or windows create non-continuous sections that don’t need to be included in overall square footage.
How exact do my measurements need to be?
Aim for accuracy within 1/4 inch. Small measurement variations won’t make a big difference in overall square footage for most backsplash projects.
Key Takeaways on Measuring Backsplash Square Footage
- Gather essential measuring tools like tape, laser measurer, ladder, and calculator.
- Break wall into rectangular sections to measure length and height of each.
- Multiply length x height to find square inches; divide by 144 for square feet.
- Measure partial sections and around corners separately.
- For curved areas, take multiple height measurements along the length and plot on graph paper.
- Double-check all measurements and math to ensure accuracy before purchasing materials.
- Add 10% to final square footage when purchasing backsplash tile to account for irregular edges and gaps.
- Taking careful measurements ensures you buy the perfect amount of backsplash materials for a flawless finished project!