How to measure for tile when completing a bathroom remodel

Imagine this, you are thinking of remodeling a bathroom and already have an established budget. You are at a tile shop and see a tile sample you like. The price of the tile is $5.00 a square foot. How do you know if this $5.00 a square foot tile is within your budget? In addition to the tile, how much should I budget for the grout and sealer?

In a recent article I provided information on the different types of tiles that are available for your bathroom remodel. Now it is time to learn how to measure for your tiling project and calculate the cost for your tiles and related tiling supplies.

There are different types of tile you will need to tile your bathroom:

  • Field Tile
  • Trim Tile

Field tile is the main body of tile for your remodeling project. For example, if you are tiling your shower, the field tile is the tile on the walls of your shower. The field tile covers the largest area of your tiling project. A common size for field tile is 12 inches by 12 inches. Field tile is sold by square footage, so you need to take the area for the field tile and calculate the square footage.

Trim tile is divided into two categories:

  • Accent trim tile (to be set in with the field tile)
  • Border trim tile (to finish off the field tile)

How to Measure

Let’s go through an example to help you go through the tile measuring process. In this example, we are going to install tile for a bathtub with a shower surround.

For a bathtub with a shower surround, you will need tile for the three walls. The tile will be installed to a height of 6 feet (6′) above the tub deck.

The first wall is 5 feet wide. The two end walls are each 3 feet wide. To determine the tile square footage, you need to measure the width of each of the three walls and multiply it by the height of your shower surround.

Let’s start measuring the first wall:

  • 5′ wide (60 inches) by 6′ feet tall. 5 X 6 = 30 square feet.

Then you need to measure both end walls:

  • 3′ feet deep (36″) X 6′ tall. 3 X 6 = 18 Square feet.
  • 3′ feet deep (36″) X 6′ tall. 3 X 6 = 18 Square feet.

Then, you need to add the measurements of all three walls together:

  • 66 square feet of field tile is needed for the shower surround.

I recommend to my clients to account for a 20% waste factor when setting tile. Keep in mind the tile could be discontinued, the tile could be on back order for numerous weeks, or many other problems could arise if you run short of tile when remodeling your bathroom. An additional 20% of tile for 66 square feet equals an additional 13.2 square feet of tile. I suggest rounding up the tile to 14 additional square feet for the waste factor.

  • 66 square feet+ 14 square feet = 80 square feet of field tile.

Next you need to measure for the trim pieces to finish the edges of the tile. The trim pieces will finish off the edge of the tile running horizontally on each of the two end walls, and the top of the tile on all three walls running vertically. Trim pieces are sold in linear feet. Trim pieces usually range from 8 inches to 12 inches in length.

In our example, the one wall is 5 feet in length and the two end walls are each 3 feet in length. The tile is set 6 feet above the top of the tub deck; the tub is 14 inches tall. Again, I always round up the measurement to the next highest foot measurement. In this case, I would round 14 inches up to the next highest foot measurement, which is 24 inches (2 feet). Add these two measurements together:

  • 6′ + 2′ (14″ rounded up) = 8′

Remember, you have to finish off the edge of the tile on both end walls, so you need to double this measurement:

  • 8′ + 8′ = 16′

In this example, you need 16′ (linear feet) of trim tile to finish off the edge of the tile for each of the two end walls.

Next, you need to measure for the top of the tile in the shower surround. This is simple since we already know that the one wall is 5 feet in length and the two end walls are each 3 feet in length:

  • 5′ + 3′ + 3′ = 11′

Lastly, you add up both measurements to determine the linear feet of trim tile that is need for the shower surround.

  • 16′ + 11′ = 27′ of trim tile

In addition to the tile, you must budget for grout and sealer. I budget $1.00 for every square foot of field tile being ordered to cover the expense of the grout and sealer. This method is a quick and simple way to establish a budget for your tile and to stay within your overall bathroom remodel budget.

It is now time to measure the area you are going to install tile on. These measurements will allow you to know the cost of any tile you are thinking of installing in your bathroom.