How to Calculate Tile

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Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure

  • Calculator


Keep your receipt to return any unused material if applicable.


Make sure the tiles all come from the same batch. Different batches will vary slightly in color. The batch number is located on the side of the packaging.

Image Credit: NA/ Images

It is very important to have the right amount of floor tile on hand to complete your project. Take your time and calculate accurately. Know the layout of the floor or wall. Special design patterns will require additional material. Do not leave out measurements for tile base, bull nose or flush cap, deco pieces or special designs and patterns, as these will increase the amount of material needed. Calculate wall and floor tile in square feet. Bull nose, flush cap and decorative pieces are calculated in linear feet.

Step 1

Use a tape measure to determine the square footage needed for the area. Measure the length and width of the area. Multiply these numbers together to determine the square footage. If you are measuring in inches, you will need to divide the total by 144 to get square feet.

Step 2

Determine the amount of waste for the project. Waste consists of tile breakage and cut pieces that cannot be used anywhere. The amount of waste you should include depends on a couple of factors. First, who is installing the tile? If you are doing it yourself, add between 10 and 15 percent. If installed professionally, add five percent for waste. If the wall or floor is installed diagonally, add an additional 15 percent for waste.

Step 3

Multiply the square footage by the waste allowance and add this to your initial square footage. For example, for a waste allowance of 10 percent, multiply 0.10 by the number of square feet and add this to your initial figure to determine the total square footage of material, including waste, needed for the area. If the area is 400 square feet and waste is 10 percent, you will compute 0.10 x 400 = 40, and add 40 to 400 for a total of 440 square feet.

Step 4

Calculate the specialty pieces in linear feet. Apply this to products that install without regard to other dimensions, such as width or thickness. Examples of these are bull nose or flush cap and decorative pieces. For example, a tub with three-foot end walls and a five-foot back wall would require 11 linear feet of decorative pieces.

Step 5

Determine the square footage of an individual tile by multiplying the length by the width. For example, a tile that measures18-inches square has area 18 x 18 = 324 square inches. Divide this by 144 to get the square footage of the tile. For this example, that would equal 2.25 square feet. In Step 3 in our example we needed 440 square feet of tile. If the tiles are 18-inches square, we will need 440/2.25 = 196 tiles. You can use online calculators to avoid this messy arithmetic.

references & resources

Robert Ferguson

Robert Ferguson has been a writer since 2000. His published work includes material for major companies in the home improvement, plumbing, HVAC and power tool industry. Ferguson is a self-employed, licensed building contractor in Florida with more than 30 years of hands on experience experience focusing primarily on residential remodeling, repair, renovation and construction.