How to lay out staggered ceramic tile

Written by jen anderson
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How to lay out staggered ceramic tile
Staggered tile patterns are attractive and forgiving of errors. (marble tiles image by javarman from Fotolia.com)

Staggered tile patterns are forgiving of slight errors and irregularities in installation. The eye doesn't expect precise grout lines and is therefore less likely to notice whether some titles are placed a few millimetres out of line. This makes a staggered pattern ideal for beginning tilers. You shouldn't get careless when placing your tiles, but you don't have to worry about exactitude when laying out a staggered pattern.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Snap cutter
  • Wax pencil
  • Chalk lines
  • Pen
  • Thinset mortar mix
  • Water
  • 1/2-inch shank drill with mixing paddle
  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Notched trowel
  • Tiles
  • Margin trowel
  • Tile spacers
  • Beater board
  • Rubber mallet
  • Grout
  • Float
  • Damp sponge

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Determine how many rows of tile you will have by measuring or laying some tiles on the bare floor. Half of those rows will have half tiles at the ends. So, if you have 10 rows, you will need to cut five tiles in half with a snap cutter. Mark the midpoint on each tile with a wax pencil, place the tile in a snap cutter and push the handle down on the tile to cut it.

  2. 2

    Snap chalk lines on the floor for each row of tiles. If your tiles are 1 foot square, then snap a chalk line every foot. Trace over the chalk lines with pen since the chalk will be brushed away as you work.

  3. 3

    Mix your thinset mortar and water with a 1/2-inch shank drill that has a mixing paddle attachment. The package of mix will indicate the appropriate proportion of mix to water.

  4. 4

    Spread the thinset on the floor with a trowel, filling the first chalk row. Comb the thinset with the notched edge of your trowel to create parallel grooves in the thinset.

  5. 5

    Place the first tile in the corner with tile spacers on every side, including between the tile and the wall. Continue placing tiles down the row until you reach the end of the row. Place a beater board on top of the tiles and tap it with a rubber mallet.

  6. 6

    Spread thinset on the second marked row. Place a half tile at the beginning of the row, surrounded by tile spacers. Place a whole tile next to it and work your way down the row, ending with another half tile. Tap the tiles down with the beater board. Repeat steps 4, 5 and 6 until the floor is covered in tiles. Allow the thinset to dry overnight.

  7. 7

    Remove the tile spacers and spread grout over the surface of the tiles. Using a grout float, press the grout into the spaces between the tiles. Scrape excess grout from the tile surface with the edge of your float. Clean the tile surfaces with a wet sponge before the grout dries. When the grout has begun to dry, run the corner of a damp sponge over all the grout lines to give them a consistent depth.

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