Steps for a herringbone tile layout

Written by shawn mcclain
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Steps for a herringbone tile layout
A herringbone pattern can look much bettern than simple rows. (Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

A herringbone pattern is an interlocking arrangement of floor tiles where you orientate each diagonal row in an opposite direction. Herringbone patterns are generally of tiles that are twice or three times as long as they are wide but you can create the pattern with any rectangular tile. When the edges of the tiles line up with the sides of the area that you are filling in, the herringbone arrangement is considered to be at 90 degrees. A 90 degree arrangement is the easiest to install but you can angle the herringbone pattern as much as you want.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Frame your space by placing a ring of tiles around the entire perimeter of the area you want to tile. This group of tiles is called an edging course. You can use the same type of tiles that you will use in your herringbone layout but you don't have to.

  2. 2

    Pick one side of the area to be the front side. You will start installing tiles on the back of the layout and then work your way to the front. Selecting a side to be the front will help you understand where to place each tile.

  3. 3

    Place your first tile vertically against the top left corner of the area. Align the tile flush with the left side and top side of the space.

  4. 4

    Put a second tile to the right of the first. Align this tile horizontally and place the bottom edge flush with the bottom edge of the first tile. These two pieces will create an "L" shape with a short vertical section and long horizontal section.

  5. 5

    Place the third tile vertically underneath the horizontal piece. Align the right side of the tile with the right end of the horizontal piece. Continue to place horizontal and vertical tiles in the same manner, creating a step pattern all the way to the bottom of the work area.

  6. 6

    Move back to the original vertical tile and place a horizontal tile directly beneath it. Align the left end of the horizontal tile with the left edge of the first tile, which will place the left end of the horizontal piece against your edging course.

  7. 7

    Put an vertical tile underneath the horizontal tile, with the right edge aligned with the right end of the horizontal tile. Continue to place horizontal and vertical tiles beneath each other until you reach the bottom of the area.

  8. 8

    Repeat this process of alternating horizontal and vertical tiles until you fill the entire area. Along the edges you will have pieces that don't fit into the area. Cut the excess tile away so that the piece will fit.

Tips and warnings

  • If you want to install your herringbone tile at a 45 degree angle, run a string between two stakes at a 45 degree angle from the top of the area. Use this string as the left side of the area in the steps above, so you will align the left side of the first vertical tile against the string. Once you have a few pieces in place, you can add the rest without the string.

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