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Tile School: How Much Tile Do I Need?

By Lindsey

Tile School: How Much Tile Do I Need?

Haven't taken an Algebra or Geometry class in a while? We've got you covered! While your Fireclay Tile Design Consultant can't provide your final quantities for you (let's face it, they've never been in your space), we've created a helpful math "cheat sheet" so you can feel more confident when it comes to placing your Fireclay Tile order.

Pro Tip: We always recommend getting your final quantities (that include overage) from your contractor or tile installer—they're the experts!

Calculating Square Footage

For today's math lesson, we'll be calculating quantities for this sample kitchen backsplash using our 3x9 ceramic tiles in the color Pumice.

Did you know we offer photorealistic renderings? Learn more here, including how we can personalize these renderings to your own space.

1. Divide the Space

We recommend dividing your space into smaller sections to keep things simple. In this kitchen, it makes the most sense to divide the entire backsplash into three sections—Left of Range (A), Range (B), and Right of Range (C):

2. Measure

Next, you'll want to get dimensions for each section—the height and also the width so you can calculate the area of your space. This is a pretty standard kitchen, so the distance between the countertops and the upper cabinets is 18" high. The range is also standard at 36" wide. We used a tape measure to get the remaining dimensions of our space:

Notice how all of our measurements are done in the same unit—inches. Depending on your preference, you can measure in centimeters, meters, inches, or feet—just make sure you're consistent in your units throughout your math calculations.

3. Calculate the Area

To determine the area of each of your sections, A, B, and C, you'll want to multiply the height of each section by the width of each section.

A = 18" high x 48" wide = 864 square inches
B = 24" high x 36" wide = 864 square inches
C = 18" high x 54" wide = 972 square inches

Add all three sections together to get your total area needed:

A+B+C = 2,700 square inches of material needed.

4. Know How it's Sold

For the most part, our brick and ceramic tile will be sold by the Square Foot, our trim by the Linear Foot, and our handpainted tile and other specialty items by the Piece. Knowing how our products are sold is helpful when determining your quantities. In our kitchen backsplash example, we're working with ceramic 3x9s which means we'll need our final quantities in Square Feet.

To convert square inches to square feet, simply divide your total square inches by 144 (the number of square inches in one square foot).

2,700 square inches divided by 144 square inches in a square foot = 18.75 Square Feet!

5. Add Overage

Because you're working with a handmade material that has lead times to make, it's important to order more than enough material to finish your project (all while keeping some material for attic stock).

In the event that you need additional tile, you have 30 days from receipt to request an Add-On, and orders under 25 Square Feet incur a small batch fee. Standard lead times and color matching should also be considered. Keep in mind that we can't ever guarantee an exact color match between orders, even with a control sample.

With ceramic tile, we typically recommend adding at least 15-20% overage to your final quantities. Additional overage may be needed for our glazed thin brick. Learn more about Brick overage here.

In our kitchen example above we would take 18.75 total Square Feet + 15% = 21.56 Square Feet. We can't make .56 of a Square Foot, so instead, we would suggest you round up to the nearest Square Foot—22 Square Feet.

If you are installing your tile in a pattern like a herringbone where more cuts will need to be made, we suggest bumping up your overage amounts to at least 20%.

Calculating Trim

From our sample kitchen above, you can see that Section C has an open end to the right of the space where the short, 3" sides of the tile will be left exposed (area in purple):


Like your samples, the edges of our tiles will not be finished. If the edges of your tile will be exposed in your space we can finish them for you. Typically the trim options we offer are a glazed edge finish or a bullnose edge finish. Learn more about trim here.

For the most part, trim is sold by the Linear Foot. In our example above, we already know the distance from the cabinet to the countertop is 18". We now just need to convert this unit to feet since that's how it's sold. There are 12" in one Linear Foot so simply divide 18" by 12" in one Linear Foot to get 1.5 Linear Feet!

Don't forget to add some overage to your trim quantities as well. We think starting with at least 15% overage is always a good idea.

1.5 Linear Feet + 15% overage = 1.725 Linear Feet.

With trim quantities, we typically recommend rounding up to the nearest whole foot—so 2 Linear Feet in this example.

Math Conversion Cheat Sheet

Depending on how you did your calculations versus how things are actually sold, you may have to do some of the following conversions:

Pieces to Linear Feet

Whenever you're doing conversions, you'll first need to know what side of the tile you're focusing on. If you're working with a square tile, orientation won't matter because each side has the same measurement. However, if you're working with a rectangular tile, orientation will matter because there will be both short and long sides. For example, in our 3 x 9 kitchen above, we focused on the short, 3" side of the 3x9 because that was the side that was exposed in the space.

If you have the total number of pieces you need but are looking to convert to linear feet, simply multiply the number of pieces by the length of the tile in question. Next, divide that number by 12 because there are 12" in one linear foot.

Example: 200 pieces of 3x9 to Linear Feet (focusing on the short, 3" side):

200 Pieces x the 3" side divided by 12" per one Linear Foot = 50 Linear Feet!

Linear Feet to Pieces

Let's reverse our math example above (reversing your math also helps double-check your work!). If you have the total linear feet, but the product is sold by the piece simply multiply your Linear Feet quantity by 12" (because there are 12" in one Linear Foot). Next, divide that number by the total length of the piece in question (3" in our example).

Example: 50 Linear Feet of 3x9" to Pieces (focusing on the short, 3" side):

50 LF x 12" per Linear Foot divided by the 3" side = 200 pieces!

Pieces to Square Feet

If you have the total number of pieces you need, but the material is sold by the Square Foot, you'll first need to determine how many pieces of the material are in one square foot. This information can be found on our Size Page. Click into your desired size, and the number of pieces per square foot will be listed (you can also ask your Design Consultant):

3x9 tile screenshot

Once you have that information, take your total number of pieces and divide by the number of pieces there are per Square Foot (there are 5.33 pieces per Square Foot in our 3x9 example).

Example: 100 pieces of 3x9 divided by 5.33 pieces per Square Foot = 18.76 Square Feet.

We can't make .76 Square Feet, so you should always round up to the nearest square foot. In this example, we would round up to 19 Square Feet!

Square Feet to Pieces

Again, you will need to know the total number of pieces per square foot to do this conversion. Once you have that number, reverse your math and multiply your total number of square feet by the number of pieces there are per square foot.

Example: 18.76 Square Feet x 5.33 pieces per Square Foot = 99.9 pieces. Again, we can't make .9 of a piece, so you would round up to 100 pieces!

Being able to convert Square Feet to Pieces will be very helpful when it comes to buying handpainted tiles since those are always sold by the Piece.

Square Feet to Linear Feet

To get from Square Feet to Linear Feet, you'll first want to convert your Square Feet to pieces, and then from there, you can convert your pieces to Linear Feet using the steps above.

Linear Feet to Square Feet

To get from Linear Feet to Square Feet, you'll first want to convert your Linear Feet to pieces, and then from there, you can convert your pieces to Square Feet using the steps above.

We hope this quick math lesson has you feeling more confident about placing your order. Of course, if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out to your Design Consultant!

Interested in seeing your project come to life through photorealistic renderings? Simply call, chat, or fill out our Design Assistance Form and one of our talented Design Consultants will get back to you shortly.

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