How to Calculate the Per Square Foot Cost of Ceramic Tile

Make a bold statement with gorgeous ceramic tile.

Make a bold statement with gorgeous ceramic tile.

When your heart is set on ceramic tile and you’re ready to take the plunge, it helps to get all the facts before you begin. Whether you’re installing ceramic tile on the floor, walls or counters, you’ll want an estimate of your materials and costs to plan your project. Calculate the per-square-foot cost of ceramic tile to determine roughly how much you’ll be spending in materials to install ceramic tile.

Measure the dimensions of the installation area with the tape measure. If the space has an irregular shape, divide the area into separate squares or rectangles and measure the dimensions of each separate space.

Multiply the dimensions to calculate the area of the space. For example, if the length is 16 feet and the width is 12.5 feet, multiply 16 by 12.5 to equal 200 square feet. An example of an irregular shape might be space number 1 dimensions: 4 feet by 6 feet; space number 2 dimensions: 10 feet by 12 feet; and space number 3 dimensions: 3 feet by 5 feet. Multiply 4 by 6 to equal 24 square feet, 10 by 12 to equal 120 feet and 3 by 5 to equal 15 feet. Add 24, 120 and 15 to equal 159 square feet.

Add 10 percent to the square footage for extra to cover cutting and mistakes. Add another 15 percent to the square footage if you have a pattern on the tile that necessitates special placement. Add another 15 percent to the square footage if you plan to place the tiles on the diagonal. For example, if the total area equals 200 square feet, add an additional 20 feet to cover basic cutting. Add another 30 feet for tile patterns and another 30 feet if you plan to place the tile on the diagonal. Add the additional square footage to the measured area to arrive at the total square footage for calculating the number of tiles you will need.

Determine how many tiles will cover one square foot of your area. If the tiles are 12-inch squares, one tile will cover one square foot. If the tiles are 4-inch squares, you’ll need nine tiles to cover one square foot. Perform this calculation by multiplying 12 by 12 to equal 144 square inches (the surface area to cover). Multiply the length times the width of the tile in inches. Divide 144 by the area of the tile in inches to find the number of tiles that you’ll need to cover one square foot.

Multiply the number of tiles for a square foot by the number of square feet in your area. For example, if the adjusted area of your installation space is 250 square feet and you know you need nine tiles per square foot, multiply 250 by 9 to equal 2,250. You will need 2,250 tiles to cover your area – you'll probably have some left over.

Items you will need

  • Tape measure
  • Calculator


  • You’ll need additional supplies to install ceramic tile: substrate materials, mortar, grout, sealer and tools such as trowels, spacers, tile cutters and sponges. The type of substrate corresponds directly to the area of the installation space – this material comes in boards. The amount of mortar, grout and sealer you need corresponds directly with the area of the installation space and the number of tiles.

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