Tile Patterns & Layout

So you've picked the perfect tile... but how are you going to lay it out? By using an interesting pattern or layout technique, you can elevate your design, polish your space, and add to the resale value of your home.

Before you set your tile...

How to install a tile backsplash: plan it out first!

We always recommend dry-fitting your pattern to think about your cuts in advance and to make sure you like the pattern. With an installation this permanent, why wouldn't you want to lay things out first?


Take some time to look at finished rooms and get ideas for what can be done in your space. Take into consideration the number of cuts needed for a pattern, how many grout lines you'll have (and how wide you want them), and if anything will be obscuring the pattern (area rugs or furniture on a floor, appliances in front of a backsplash, etc.).


Is your room long and narrow? Is it full of lots of obstacles and angles? 


By setting aside some time to plan in advance, your installation will proceed smoothly and you'll feel more confident when making decisions.

Pattern Ideas and Inspiration

Square-Set or Grid Pattern

Avoid thin, ugly cuts and awkward layouts: plan ahead!
Avoid thin, ugly cuts and awkward layouts: plan ahead!

The most common and easiest tile layout, laying tiles in a grid is very simple. Setting your tiles square with a corner will minimize the number of cuts needed. Unfortunately, this pattern can look boring or sterile when used with a plain, neutral tile.


The key to this pattern is to make sure you have no "slivers" (thinly cut tiles) in visible areas, as this looks shoddy and unprofessional. Dry-setting your tiles is very important when your lines are parallel to your walls, as any bad cuts or odd angles will be highlighted by this pattern. If your layout results in a full tile on one end of the room and a thin cut tile on the other, try offsetting the design by half a tile so you have slightly over half a tile on both ends of the room. 


A Tile Lines Tip:  Most houses aren't square. Using a level on wall layouts will help prevent a dizzy "everything's slightly slanted" look. For floors, look at where your cuts will be. Instead of a small cut piece slowly getting wider, offset your pattern by half a tile. A half tile that gets slightly wider at one end is less noticeable than a thin sliver tile that gets slightly wider.

Diagonal or On-Point

Two different pictures of the same floor; one with a straight layout and one with a diagonal layout
Simply rotating the tiles 45° in this space adds interest and depth.

This isn’t a specific pattern; it’s a layout technique. Any pattern can be turned at an angle to instantly create a more dynamic, interesting look.


The diagonal pattern can make a small room look bigger. If your walls aren't perfectly square, a diagonal layout will hide imperfections. 

However, because the tiles no longer line up with your walls, setting tiles on the diagonal increases the number of cuts you have to make at the perimeter of your installation.

Offset, Running Bond, or Brick Pattern

A glass and stone kitchen backsplash
Even when set with materials like metal and glass, the brick pattern is timeless.

Take any size square or rectangle tile, lay them in rows and shift each row to create an offset pattern.

The offset/brick pattern has several potential effects.


A 50/50 offset (the most common brick/running bond pattern) creates a strong, traditional look.


A varied offset (40/60, 30/70, etc.) creates a softer, more natural look.


An irregular offset laid vertically on a wall can create an organic waterfall or bamboo effect. If you plan this layout correctly, you'll have very few cuts to make, as your cut piece from one row can start the next row instead of being tossed in the garbage.


If you use your cut pieces and scraps to start your rows, you'll have very little waste.

Pinwheel or Hopscotch

Natural stone and glass backsplash
Travertine 4x4s with glass 1x1s, in a pinwheel pattern set diagonally.

The pinwheel pattern is more simple than it looks! Take any two rectangles or squares of different sizes, align them on one side, and repeat.


This pattern is a great way to incorporate two different materials into the same space and create a dynamic, varied appearance.


Use two sizes of the same product for subtle movement, or use a contrasting color or material for more of a decorative effect. 


Herringbone or Zig Zag

Granite Pavers set in a Herringbone Pattern
Recycled granite pavers set in an angled herringbone pattern.

For the herringbone pattern, simply take any rectangular tile, turn one so that the two are perpendicular to each other, align them along one side, and repeat.


You are essentially creating an L shape with your two tiles, and these L's will nestle next to each other for a simple repeating pattern. 


Any size rectangle will work for the herringbone pattern, forming a dynamic zig-zag that works in both contemporary and traditional settings.



Read this great Houzz Ideabook about the difference between Herringbone, Chevron, and Flame Stitch Patterns!


Grey striped porcelain tiles
Modern-style porcelain tiles with a linear pattern are "woven" together.

It's becoming increasingly popular to take tiles with a linear look or long shape and create a woven appearance.


The weave can be modern, traditional, or transitional; the colors and tiles you choose greatly affect how successful this pattern will be. A tile with a strong pattern or strong linear look will create a bold weave, whereas a more subdued pattern will lead to a soft, subtle look.

French or Versailles Pattern

Travertine floor tiles
Chiseled and unfilled travertine Versailles pattern.

Traditional, elegant, interesting, and timeless; this pattern utilizes several different shapes and sizes to create a random, varied appearance. As such, you'll need a tile product that was specifically designed with the Versailles pattern in mind, or else this pattern won't work!


If you have your heart set on this pattern, let us know and we can show you several lines of porcelain, travertine, limestone, or marble that have the correct size options for the Versailles. Some lines are even sold in pattern bundles to make constructing this pattern is as easy as possible.

Unusual Shapes & Sizes

Brown glass and stone mosaic
A glass and stone mosaic in a wavy pattern.

One easy way to create a unique space is with a unique shape! Uncommon shapes such as hexagons and diamonds are inherently interesting, and can be used to create a look that can't be replicated with right angles and rectangular tiles.

Borders & Listellos

Travertine bathroom wall with decorative borders
Travertine borders separate the light and dark parts of this wall.

Your installation is a work of art; why not frame it? By using a decorative border, you can separate spaces, form focal points, create a faux-carpet look, or direct the eyes of your guests to points of interest.


Visit our Borders & Listellos page for more pictures and examples.

Drops & Inserts

Tan floor with painted accent tiles.
These painted decos are added randomly to this floor for a Mexican flavor.

Add a few, add a lot... a deco or drop creates a focal point that adds a rich detail to your installation. Cut the corners off of some field tiles, and use pieces of the same granite on your countertop, pick a metal accent that matches your fixtures and appliances, or add a pop of color and shine with glass.


A Tile Lines Tip: If you like the look of drops but don't want to make all of those tiny cuts, consider using the hopscotch pattern above for a similar look without the multiple cut corners.

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