How to Measure for Backsplash Area - Easy Method to Try

Written by Milan Jara on 27th Jun 2022

Backsplash Area

Forgotten how to calculate square footage? We teach you how to measure for backsplash and account for overages in various situations.

Amusingly, most adults find themselves somewhat befuddled when calculating square footage for a kitchen backsplash. Most of us are unsure how many tiles we should buy to cover the area or even how to measure for it. To avoid using painter’s tape to map it out on your wall, we teach you how to measure for kitchen backsplashes.

As mentioned, you could map it out on the wall above the kitchen countertop using painter’s tape; however, this is a tedious job, and you may get frustrated. While most of us probably learned how to calculate square footage in high school math class, as adults, we tend to forget how to apply what we learned back then.

Calculating Square Footage for Your Backsplash

Coffered Ceiling with Faux Wood Beams

When purchasing your kitchen backsplash tile, you will often be confronted with the question, “What is the square footage?”

Slightly embarrassed, you may find yourself returning home to figure out how many tiles you need for the job. Many projects will require you to measure an area in square feet, so this is a useful thing to learn. You can either use a calculator to find the measurements or use the measurement calculator found on Google if you have your smartphone handy.

Keep in mind when measuring for your tile backsplash to always order a bit extra to cover any mistakes that may happen. If everything goes smoothly, you can always use the extras for repairs, if necessary. When ordering, it’s best to plan on adding 15% extra.

For example, if you measure the area of your backsplash to be 8 square feet, when you multiply 8 x 1.15 (plus 15%), the total area will be 9.2 feet. In this case, it is best to round up and order ten square feet as your total.

This also becomes necessary if you are using a handmade tile as there are natural color variations between batches.

What Calculations to Use for Square Footage?

Calculating the area is quite simple, providing you know how to do the math.

Measure the length, then multiply it by the width in inches. Take the total and divide by 144.

This will provide you with square footage, because 144 is the total amount of inches in one square foot.

What You Will Need to Know

Coffered Ceiling with Faux Wood Beams

While it is nice and simple if all you need is a perfect square or rectangle, in the real world, this seldom exists. You will want to think about the space in terms of width and height areas. You may need to take your measurements in sections.

Many areas contain elements like cabinets or windows that will break an area into smaller sections. You must consider this when tiling.

1. Measure the Width and Height of Each Area

Once this is done in sections, label each area using a capital letter. Make notations of the measurements on a notepad or sticky note.

2. Use the Formula Above

Measure each section by multiplying the height by the width to find the total area (in inches). Divide by 144 to determine the total square footage.

Ensure that each area that requires tiling is measured. Then, add each section together for your total. Also, always round up to the nearest whole number.

3. Keep Your Measurements

Once you calculate how much tile you need, keep your measurements. You will need them when cutting the tiling for each area. If you throw them out, you will have to re-measure to get the area you need. Once you have your order, then you can proceed with the installation.

Can I Measure in Linear Feet?

If your tiles require channels like a large metal piece running along the bottom or side, be sure it is measured separately. This is not done using square footage but by using linear feet, measuring the height and length of what is needed. Then, add them together to provide linear feet.

(Height x Length) x2 = Linear Feet

Things to Consider

Once you have determined your total square footage and are looking to purchase tile, sometimes you will find the price is per piece, or it can be per box. The box will have square footage labeled. In this case, you may have to do more math.

Furthermore, watch the prices. Sometimes, the price is listed per piece. If you don’t read prices properly, you may find yourself going over budget. Plus, you will have to add the cost multiplied by the number of tiles you need. So, pay close attention to how things are marked.

If you have hired a contractor for the tile installation, you will only need an overage of 10%. They are familiar with what they are doing, so there will be few mistakes and minimal waste. However, if you are doing it yourself, it is best to calculate an additional 15-20%.

If you haven’t previously done the job or something similar, go with 20%. If you are handy and have experience, go with 15%. Should you have extra, you can store it if you ever need it for future repairs, or you can return it to the store. You can always repurpose it as well.

General Rules About Calculating Waste According to Material

The measurements for “extra” provided are general amounts. Each tile project will contain waste since tiles require cutting, and some can accidentally break. These are the general rules according to material:

  • Irregularly Shaped Room: 15-20% extra tile because there are more corners requiring cutting
  • Intricate Designs or Patterns: 15-20%
  • Natural Stone: 10-15% as it can easily break when installed
  • Ceramics and Porcelain: 10% waste
  • While many of us may have forgotten how to calculate square footage, the measurements are quite easy once you know the formula. All you need to do, in general, is measure the length times height and divide by 144. However, there are some nuances to consider.

    Few things in life are straightforward. In determining how to measure your kitchen for a tile backsplash area, you may need to divide the area into sections. If this is the case, you will need to add up the areas to calculate the total square footage. Then, add in overages and round-up for your total.

Shop for Backsplashes