How many tiles do I need calculator?

Figuring out how many tiles you need for a project can be tricky. There are a lot of factors to take into account – the dimensions of the area you want to tile, the size of the tiles you plan to use, whether you need to account for wasted tiles from cutting, and more. Having the right tile calculator makes the process much easier. Here’s what you need to know about calculating how many tiles you need.

What Goes Into Calculating Tiles Needed

When figuring out how many tiles you need, there are a few key pieces of information you’ll need to know:

  • The dimensions (length and width) of the area you want to tile – This gives you the total square footage you need to cover.
  • The size of the tiles you plan to use (length, width, and thickness) – Tile sizes can vary, so you need the specifics of your tiles.
  • Layout pattern – The pattern you lay the tiles in impacts calculations. Basic patterns include grid or staggered.
  • Number of tile cuts/waste – Cutting tiles to fit edges or for openings leads to waste you must account for.

Having accurate measurements of your tiling area and the tiles themselves is crucial. A few other factors can come into play as well such as grout lines and accent tiles, but the main aspects are the space dimensions and tile dimensions.

Tiling Area Dimensions

When calculating how many tiles you need, you must start by measuring the area you want to tile. This gives you the total square footage the tiles need to cover. Be sure to take measurements of:

  • Length – Measure the longest dimension of the area.
  • Width – Measure the shortest dimension that runs perpendicular to the length.

Multiply the length by the width to calculate the total square footage. For example, if tiling a bathroom that is 8 feet long and 5 feet wide, you would have 8 x 5 = 40 square feet to cover.

Remember to measure carefully and calculate separately if tiling multiple areas. For example, if tiling a kitchen floor and backsplash, take separate measurements for each space.

Tile Size Dimensions

Next, you need the dimensions of the actual tiles you plan to install. Tiles come in different sizes, so don’t assume a standard size. Check the actual tile packaging or spec sheet for the measurements. You’ll want to know:

  • Length – The longest dimension on one face of the tile.
  • Width – The shortest dimension on one face of the tile.
  • Thickness – The vertical height or depth of each tile.

Tile size dimensions are often listed in inches but sometimes in centimeters. Be sure you note the units. Common imperial tile sizes include:

  • 12 x 12 inches
  • 16 x 16 inches
  • 18 x 18 inches
  • 20 x 20 inches
  • 24 x 24 inches

Metric tile sizes include:

  • 30 x 30 cm
  • 40 x 40 cm
  • 60 x 60 cm

Make sure you measure thickness as well. Tile thickness could be 1/4 inch, 1/2 inch, 3/4 inch or more.

Tile Layout Pattern

Another factor in your tile calculation is the pattern you want to lay the tiles in. The most common options include:

  • Grid pattern – Tiles are lined up so the grout lines create a grid. Tiles are offset by 50% of the tile width each row.
  • Staggered brick pattern – Tiles are staggered in an offset brick-like pattern. Typically offset by 1/3 to 1/2 of the tile width per row.
  • Diagonal or herringbone pattern – Tiles are laid diagonally in rows or a herringbone pattern. Requires some tile cutting.

Brick and herringbone patterns involve more cutting for shaping row ends. The layout pattern impacts how many whole tiles vs cut tiles are needed. A simpler grid pattern requires less waste allowance.

Tile Cuts and Waste

When calculating how many tiles you need, you also need to account for waste that comes from cutting tiles to fit. Unless the tiling area has dimensions that perfectly match your tiles, you’ll need to cut tiles to fit around the borders or any openings.

Cutting a tile to size means you lose the leftover portion as waste. For example, if cutting a 12 inch tile down to 10 inches, you lose the 2 inch offcut. The more tiles that need cutting, the more waste you generate.

To account for waste, add a 5-10% overage to your tile quantity needs. If tiling a complex layout with diagonal patterning and border detail, add up to 15% waste. Having extra tiles on hand prevents coming up short.

Using a Tile Calculator

Figuring out all the tile calculations manually takes time and leaves room for error. Fortunately, there are several easy online tile calculators that do the math for you. Here are the key benefits of using a tile calculator:

  • Enter your area dimensions and tile dimensions and the calculator provides the quantity needed.
  • Options to select tile layout patterns and account for waste allowance.
  • Calculates both square footage coverage and the exact number of tiles needed.
  • Provides a tile shopping list so you know exactly how many to purchase.
  • Saves time doing the calculations yourself.

Tile calculators provide simple step-by-step guidance. You input information in a series of fields and get clear tile quantity results. Many also let you adjust the calculations as needed until you get the optimal number.

How to Use a Tile Calculator

Using most tile calculators follows a similar process:

  1. Enter the length and width dimensions of the area you want to tile. This provides the total square footage.
  2. Enter the length, width, and thickness dimensions of the tiles you plan to use.
  3. Select the tile layout pattern – grid, brick, herringbone, etc.
  4. Enter an allowance for waste from tile cuts. 10% is standard.
  5. The calculator runs the numbers and provides the quantity of tiles needed for purchase.
  6. You can tweak measurements or waste percentage to re-calculate as needed.

Reliable tile calculators do all the math automatically once you input your details. Here is an example input and output:

Sample Tile Calculator Inputs

  • Area to Tile: Bathroom Floor
  • Area Length: 8 ft
  • Area Width: 5 ft
  • Area Sq Ft: 40 sq ft
  • Tile Size: 12″ x 12″ Porcelain
  • Tile Length: 12 in
  • Tile Width: 12 in
  • Tile Thickness: 0.5 in
  • Tile Layout: Grid
  • Waste Allowance: 10%

Sample Tile Calculator Outputs

  • Number of Tiles: 45 tiles
  • Tile Sq Ft Coverage: 54 sq ft
  • Shopping List: 45 12″ x 12″ Porcelain Tiles

With just a few inputs, the calculator does the work to determine how many whole tiles you need to purchase including the waste factor. No complex math required.

Do You Need to Account for Grout Lines?

When determining how much tile you need, grout lines might come to mind. Grout fills the gaps between tiles. However, you do not need to account for grout lines in your calculations.

The reason is that the tile dimensions used in the calculations already include the grout lines built in. For example, a 12 x 12 inch tile actually measures roughly 11 3⁄4 x 11 3⁄4 inches. The 1⁄4 inch difference accounts for the grout lines on each side.

The same applies for metric tile sizes. A 30 x 30 cm tile actually measures about 29.5 x 29.5 cm. So when using the full 12 x 12 inch or 30 x 30 cm dimensions in your calculations, you are automatically accounting for grout.

Do You Need More Tile for Accent Tiles?

Accent tiles can be used within a tiling project to create borders, patterns, or accented areas. Common examples include:

  • Border tiles with a different color or finish
  • Decorative mosaic tiles for a backsplash
  • Inserting stone tiles randomly among ceramic tiles
  • Creating a rug look with different tiles

If using accent tiles, you will need to calculate the quantity needed separately from your field tiles. Figure out the number of accent tiles needed based on:

  • Border width needed and tiling area perimeter.
  • Total area being covered in accent tiles.
  • Pattern and spacing details.

Add the accent tile quantity to your main field tile order to make sure you purchase enough of both. Having extras of accent tiles is recommended in case any get damaged.

What About Tile Thickness Variation?

Tile thickness can vary within packs. Thickness can impact calculations in some cases. If installing tiles on a floor, thicker tiles may raise the floor height for transitions.

However, minor thickness variation is common within a tile product line. Don’t be overly concerned if one tile measures 1/4 inch and another 5/32 inch. Adjacent tiles with slight thickness differences will still install flat.

Just ensure the tiles you purchase are within the thickness range expected for that product. The majority should share an average thickness near what’s expected from the dimensions.

Ordering the Right Tile Quantity

Once you calculate the number of tiles needed, order that full quantity plus an extra box or two for attic stock. Reasons to order extra tiles include:

  • Breaking or damaging tiles during installation.
  • Needing replacement tiles for future repairs.
  • Color/dye lot variations if buying more tiles later.
  • Discontinued tile products.

Storing extra tiles prevents having to source additional tiles that likely won’t match. Buying tile overage gives you peace of mind that you can handle any tile replacements down the road.

Preparing Your Tiling Area

Once you know how many tiles you need, you can move on to preparing the space for tiling. Be sure to:

  • Clean and repair the area as needed – Fill any holes or cracks and deep clean the concrete or subfloor so it’s smooth.
  • Mark the layout with chalk lines – Map out borders, accent areas, or pattern lines.
  • Gather all materials – Tile, grout, adhesive, spacers, sealant, tools.
  • Follow any manufacturer instructions – For adhesive trowel size, cure times, etc.

Prepping properly helps the installation go smoothly. Having your tile quantities figured out ahead of time also lets you make sure you purchase all required tile installation products.

Tips for Purchasing Tile

When purchasing tiles, keep these tips in mind:

  • Order all tiles at once – Minimizes any color variations between batches.
  • Add extra for waste allowance – At least 10% more tiles than calculated to be safe.
  • Keep boxes and receipts – Helps with returns or exchanges if there are tile issues or damage.
  • Arrange delivery timing – Have tiles onsite a few days before installing to inspect.

Placing one comprehensive tile order makes the purchasing process more straightforward. You avoid the hassle of reordering more tiles or dealing with tile shade differences.

Using Tile Samples and Testing

Tile samples can be extremely helpful for finalizing a product selection. Tile dealers often provide free samples so you can see characteristics like:

  • Color accuracy
  • Finish texture
  • Size consistency
  • Appearance changes in different lighting.

Samples also allow testing grout colors with the tile itself. Applying tile sealer to a sample is another option to evaluate the impacts.

For large projects using expensive tile, ordering a full box of tiles upfront is wise. Test installing the tiles and inspect them fully before continuing with the complete order.

The Takeaway

Figuring out how much tile you need for a project without wasting money or coming up short comes down to the quality of your calculations. Having accurate area dimensions, tile dimensions, the layout pattern, and a waste allowance gets you accurate results.

Rather than doing all the mathematical work manually and risking errors, use a trusted tile calculator tool. The best tile calculators make it simple to input your details and get a reliable tile count instantly. Use the tile calculator output to order your materials with confidence.

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