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How to Measure a Wall for Tiling

Updated February 21, 2017

To ensure that enough tiles are purchased to complete any tile installation, proper measuring is a key first step. Wall tile measurements frequently require additional considerations that are lacking in floors, such as finish tiles and borders or the need to subtract for a window. When measurements are done properly, the correct amount of tile can be purchased. This allows the installation to proceed with no wasted time in the event of a shortage and no overspending from overpurchasing.

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  1. Measure the height of each wall to be tiled in inches, to either the ceiling or the place where the tile will be stopping. Measure the width of the same wall in inches.

  2. Multiply the two measurements together and divide by 144 to get the exact number of square feet needed for each wall. Add an additional 5 per cent for waste for straight tile patterns, 10 per cent waste for stone tiles and 15 per cent waste for diagonal patterns.

  3. Measure in inches any exposed areas of the wall that require bullnose or finish tiles. This includes the edges of a shower installation or the top of a wainscot installation. Add together all finish areas and divide by 12 to get the total number of linear feet needed for finish pieces. Add 1 to 2 additional feet for waste.

  4. Measure in inches any area where a border will be installed. Add together the separate areas and divide by 12 to get the total number of linear feet for borders. Add 1 to 2 additional feet for waste.

  5. Remove a window from a wall tile measurement by measuring the height and width of the window in inches. Multiply these numbers together and divide by 144 to get the amount of square footage that must be removed from this wall to tile around a window.

  6. Take the measurements of a tiled accent area within a wall by marking the area off using blue painter's tape. Cut the tape to the width of the border surrounding the accent if using a border. For example, if using a 2-inch-wide chair rail as a border, cut the tape to 2 inches in width to see the ultimate size on the wall and determine how big or small the area should be.

  7. Measure the height and width of the area inside the tape in inches and multiply together. Divide by 144 to get the amount of interior accent tile required. Delete this same amount of square footage from the total wall tile needed. Measure the blue tape on the wall in inches and divide by 12 to get the number of linear feet of border, if applicable.

  8. Tip

    Tiles are frequently sold in full boxes. Round up to the nearest full box when ordering and save leftover tiles in the garage or basement for future repairs.

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Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Calculator
  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Blue painter's tape

About the Author

Sarabeth Asaff has worked in and has written about the home improvement industry since 1995. She has written numerous articles on art, interior design and home improvements, specializing in kitchen and bathroom design. A member in good standing with the National Kitchen and Bath Association, Asaff has working knowledge of all areas of home design.

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