Laying out floor tile, whether ceramic, stone or wood, is one job that can be carried out without the help of a professional without losing the professional finish. Choosing a pattern to lay floor tiles of the same shape and size appears to be fairly straight forward, but there are various ways to combine different tile shapes to create an interesting or unique finish.
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The most basic and traditional way of laying out floor tile is a square pattern, also called the grid pattern or jack-on-jack. Here tiling begins from the centre of the floor so that any tiles which need to be cut are on the outer edges nearest walls and door openings. Each tile is aligned with the edge of the tile facing the edge of a wall or run of cabinets depending on the layout of the room. This pattern can be achieved with square or rectangular tiles of all sizes.
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Diagonal is similar to the square pattern, except tiles are rotated at a 45 degree angle to produce a diamond arrangement when the floor is viewed in relation to cabinets and walls. Thus tiles are laid with the corners pointing towards floor edges, rather than the sides as in square tiling. Again this pattern can be used for square or rectangular tile. Tiles with more than four sides can also be laid using this method, but the pattern will be less well defined due to the increased number of corners.
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The step method involves laying tiles in rows and is also known as the brickwork or offset pattern. After the first tile row is placed, each subsequent row is laid a step behind. This means that the centre of the tiles on the first row will be even with the joint of tiles on the second and so on. The same pattern is used in housing for building walls. Step placement can be achieved with any shape which is conducive to laying in rows.
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Mosaic tiling has been used on floors for centuries and involves the laying of tiny square or shaped tiles. These tend to be of differing colours or different shades of the same colour to create the appearance of texture. They can be laid in a square pattern or used to create images or coloured shapes within the design. Mosaic tiles will either come in boxes to be applied separately or in sheets with a removable backing for easy installation.
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Herringbone is one of the more complex methods, but produces a very pleasing visual effect when complete. Rectangular tiles are needed for this, because each tile is placed with the shortest end fitted against the longest end of the tile at its base. Using one colour using the herringbone pattern offers a modern twist on traditional design, while using two or more colours gives a more traditional farmhouse-type finish. The easiest way to begin laying this kind of flooring is to start with one tile at a 45 degree angle to cabinets and walls, thus ensuring that tiles in the finished pattern all run at angles to the floor edges.