Often the difference between a tile job that looks great and a job that looks sloppy is the layout. Too often tile setters just start in a corner with a full tile and work out from there. While this approach is easy it rarely produces a satisfactory layout. Following are some things to consider when deciding on a tile layout.
For simplicity I’m just going to talk about floor tile in this blog. But the same principles would apply to tile in a shower or any other tiled surface.
Ideally the chosen tile would go from wall to wall using only full tiles and the tile layout would line up evenly with any doorways or any other features of the space like the following image:
(In each of these images there is an offset strip of tile in the doorway which terminates midway under the door. There are of course many options for how to handle thresholds but since I’m writing a blog and not a book I’ll leave those out for now.)
If the size of the room isn’t perfect for the tile and you just start the layout in one corner with a full tile and work out from there, you get a result like this:
Given the improbability of the tile matching the room perfectly one has to prioritize and compromise. There are a lot of options for how to lay out tile. You can simply spit the difference so that the opposing ends of the room have the same size cut tiles at the edge like so:
Or you could install an even border around the edge of the room so that full (or close to full) tiles can be installed for the field tile:
Sometimes when a straight tile layout doesn’t work well, a diagonal layout will work or visa versa:
An offset pattern works well when there’s approximately a half tile left at the end of a row:
These are just a few of the options. There are many different tile layouts that utilize a mixture of tile sizes to create a more complex pattern. Of coarse any of the above patterns can be combined with a boarder. There are also a wide range of tile sizes and shapes available. It’s worth while to consider the size and shape of the room when picking out tile.
Usually the space being tilled is more complex than the examples that I’ve given here. Particularly when the tile runs through multiple rooms or hallways. The more complex the space is the less likely you’ll be able to find an ideal layout so it’s important to plan ahead so that any less than ideal aspects of the layout occur in the least visible areas.
As I’ve experienced many times not all rooms or walls in an old house are square. It’s important to consider this when planning the tile layout. It’s most important that a thin row of tile doesn’t run along a wall that’s not square to the tile, because it will stand out that something is off.
A lot of people don’t pay much attention to the tile that they come across in their day to day lives, but if you start to analyze the tile that you see, you will notice that a lot of tile out there was installed without much consideration for the layout. I hope this has given you a few things to consider on your tile project.