How to plan wall tile layout

Written by michael straessle
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How to plan wall tile layout
Measure twice; cut once. (

Laying out tile on a wall is similar to laying out tile on a floor, with the exception of pictures, shelves and other things that are hung on a wall. This means that there must be a plan before you begin. During a layout of wall tile, the first row is always a crucial one. This is true whether your first row of tiles starts in the middle of the wall or if you're starting from the floor.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Drawing table
  • Drafting paper
  • Drafting tape
  • 12-inch ruler
  • Triangle ruler

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  1. 1

    Measure both the width and the height of the wall to be covered with tile, and record your findings. If you have a drafting table, you will want to tape a piece of drafting paper to the table, being certain that it is square with the tabletop.

  2. 2

    Calculate a usable scale to draw your plans on the paper. For example, if your wall is 12 feet long and your paper is 18 inches wide, you can scale your drawing so that 1 inch equals 1 foot. This will mean every ¼ inch equals 4 inches. Because most tiles laid on a wall are 4 inches square, it will be easier to draw your plan.

  3. 3

    Draw a horizontal line close to the bottom of the paper. Remember, every inch drawn is equal to 1 foot, so draw the horizontal line accordingly.

  4. 4

    Place the triangle ruler at the left-hand end of horizontal line. Draw a line perpendicular to the horizontal line, keeping in mind the scale of the drawing. Flip the triangle ruler around, place it on the other end of the line and draw a vertical line there as well.

  5. 5

    Next, make a mark at ¼-inch intervals on the horizontal and the vertical lines. This will give you the correct measurements for each tile that will be laid on the wall.

  6. 6

    Measure the wall for all obstacles that cannot be removed. To do this, measure out from a corner of the wall and from the floor up to that obstacle. This will allow you to draw the interruption and the flow of the tile on the drafting paper.

Tips and warnings

  • One way to simplify a scale as the one in this plan is to use graphing paper, because the grids are ¼ inch square.
  • While still in the planning stages, check the different products that are available to set tile. This will allow time for you to choose the best products for your project.
  • Drawing lightly on the paper will allow for mistakes that will be hard to detect after erasing them.
  • Do not allow the drafting paper to move from its spot on the table, or your scale will not be accurate.
  • Do not use drawing implements that were not created for drafting a plan, or there will be discrepancies in your calculations.

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