Today Overwhelmed in Portland writes:

Dear Diva, I’m not that handy but I want to put up a tile backsplash. My main problem though is that I’m not sure how to measure for tile backsplash. I’ve read a bunch of how to’s but no one says how to measure. Please help!

Measuring for tile backsplash is easier than you might think. All you’ve got to do is break it down into little pieces and it won’t be so overwhelming. And no, you don’t literally break it down into little pieces. . .well you might be doing that with the tile, but we aren’t talking about that part!  Below I’ve outlined the three things you’ll need to do in order to measure for tile backsplash. I’ve also listed the tools you’ll need and some tips to help make the whole process easier.

How To Measure For Tile Backsplash

First of all, make sure you have all the right tools. You’ll need a pen or pencil, paper and a steel tape measure. Please don’t use a ruler or cloth measuring tape as this will only make the job more difficult and less accurate. Besides, if you don’t have already have a steel measuring tape, it might be a good idea to pick one up for future projects.  You never know what else you’re going to want to make over when you get done with the tile backsplash!

The above mentioned tools work best for rectangular areas. If your backsplash is an odd shape or has any funky cut outs like electrical outlets and switches, you may want to consider additional tools. I’m specifically talking about tools such as: graph paper and a small straight edge.  It also doesn’t hurt to have an additional person available just incase you need someone to hold the other end of the tape measure. This isn’t necessary but can come in “handy.”

Next, measure and record your results. If your backsplash is a rectangle then all you need to do is write down the width in inches and the length in inches. However if your measurements aren’t that straight forward, you’ll want to use the graph paper to sketch out a replica of your area. Let the size of your backsplash dictate what ratio you will use on the graph paper. Obviously if you’ve got a large space you’ll want to use a smaller ratio and the reverse if you’re space is small. Use pencil so you can erase any mistakes you make and make sure you record any electrical outlets and light switches.

Lastly, calculate  the square footage and/or Lineal Footage. If your space is a rectangle, multiply the length in inches times the width in inches. Then take this number and divide it by 144. This will give you the square footage of your space. For example if your space is 80″ wide by 20″ long, when you multiple them it equals 1600 square inches. Now divide that by 144 and you get 11.11 square feet. Then add 10% for cutting waste. In this case, 10% is going to be just over one square foot, but I would round the number up to 13 square feet just to be safe.

Calculating for lineal foot is a little easier. You simply divide the length in inches by 12 to get the lineal footage. In the case above, 80/12=6.67LF.  Remember to round-up to the nearest foot and give yourself at minimum 10% extra. Then do the same to get the lineal footage of the width. This number will come in handy if you are using any bullnose or trim tiles. In general the lineal footage is also nice to know if you are planning on adding any deco or liner tiles. And I would strongly recommend calculating these totals even if you don’t think you’ll need any of the previously mentioned speciality tiles. This way if you change you’re mind later on, you won’t have to remeasure.

Once you get started you’ll realize that it is not as overwhelming as you think! Just take it one step at a time and you’ll be ready to start your tile backsplash project in no time!

Do you have questions about the selecting or the installation of: tile, carpet or wall treatments (window blinds, etc)? Then email me your tale of woe (diva(at) and perhaps I will be able to answer your questions right here at the Home Makeover Diva Blog!

Written by Amanda Hartley