How Much Tile Do I Need For My Backsplash?

A tile backsplash can make a kitchen. It is the icing on the cake. Without a backsplash, a kitchen just doesn’t look finished. Once you select your tile, you may be asking, “How much tile do I need for my backsplash?”If you need help finding the perfect tile for your kitchen, my last post, HOW TO PICK THE RIGHT TILE FOR YOUR KITCHEN BACKSPLASH will help. There is also a lot of great information and pictures on Old Country Tile’s website.

It is a good idea to bring home a few samples from the store and look at them in your kitchen. Your lighting is going to be different than the store lighting and you want to be sure that your selection is going to look great in your space. Once you have decided on a tile or a combination of a few tiles, you can decide how much you need.

Keep in mind that you will need to order extra tiles because there is always some waste. A good rule of thumb is to order 10% more. However, if the tiles are installed on the diagonal, order 15% more.

First, let’s get acquainted with some tile terms. 


Border – a decorative strip, texture or contrasting color that creates a design concept. Also called a listello.

Bullnose – Used to create a finished end. It is a trim tile with a convex radius or finished edge on one side.

Deco tile – short for decorative tile.  Any tile face with a decoration on the surface usually placed strategically to make a design.

Field tile – the primary tile used to cover a wall or floor.

Listello – a decorative border, primarily for walls.

Tile backsplash showing deco tile, field tile and border tile.  Tile terms needed to learn how to measure for a tile backsplash

How Much Tile? Let’s Measure

When you measure field tile, it is in square feet.  If your backsplash is 10 feet long and there is 18 inches between the cabinets and the counter, you would simply multiply 10 x 1.5 (18 inches is 1 ½ feet).  This will give you the area in square feet.

10 x 1.5 = 15 square feet.  Now add in waste.  10% for regular straight designs.  15% for tile being installed on the diagonal.  In this example, we would order 16.5 square feet.  (If adding a border tile, make sure that this measurement is subtracted from the total to avoid over-ordering)

Measuring for border tiles is different than measuring for regular tile.  Border tiles are measured in Linear Feet. To determine how many border tiles you will need, measure the linear distance that needs to be covered. This is simply the straight distance or length of the backsplash. Measure the total linear distance in inches and then divide by the length of the tile to get the number of border pieces needed.

To figure out how much tile I need for my kitchen backsplash I first measure the linear length of the counter-tops

If 10 feet is the linear length, 10 x 12= 120 inches.  If the border tile is 8 inches long divide 120 by 8 to get the amount of border pieces needed.

120 /8 = 15 pieces of border tile


Typically the tile installer or store may assist in figuring out the amount of tile the project needs. But it is always a good idea to figure it out on your own as well. You definitely don’t want to over order and pay for lots of tile that is never used. And on the other hand, it would not be good to run short on installation day. For these reasons, it is always a good idea to double-check the tile amounts before you order.

Now it is time to order that tile!

How to Pick A Backsplash for your Kitchen and Avoid Costly Mistakes

Where do I start?

First, decide on whether your backsplash should make a statement or take a backseat to everything else in the kitchen. Look around and analyze what is in the room already. One mistake often made is thinking that every element in a room must be a star. 
If your cabinets are elaborate, and or if there is a lot going on in the room, you don’t need another star, select a plain tile.  Because choosing something simpler will balance the room. As a result, you will be able to enjoy the other more elaborate elements rather than having them competing with your backsplash for your attention.  

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