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Basic Guide: Tile Designs

Right now, tile design seems to be exploding in bathroom remodels. Tile gives you the ability to really customize your bathroom. You can choose colors, materials, and design. Tile design is especially interesting. You can create visually appealing designs with tiles that are the same size or you can create a diverse pattern with different tile sizes. We are going to look at some common designs that are popular in homes and how they affect the look of your newly remodeled bathroom.

Straight Lay

This is about as basic as you can get. This is just a basic perpendicular grout grid. It is usually done with square tiles, but it can also be done with rectangular tiles as well. It can be used anywhere in a room, such as the floor or a wall. This adds a modern feel in any home. There are a few variations to this pattern. It can be done with all the same color, or with 2 varying colors to make a checkerboard pattern. Also, some homeowners decide that instead of placing their tiles straight up and down, they prefer doing a diagonal pattern instead.

The Running Bond

This is the pattern that you usually think about when you think of bricklaying. It is usually done with rectangular tiles. You lay one line of tiles down with the shorter sides next to each other. When you lay the next line of tiles, you place the one end of the tile halfway of the length of the tile before it. In this way, every other line of tiles will line up. Variations of this include your basic subway tile design where the end lies about on the one-third point of the tile below it. This way, the tile will line up with tiles that are 2 lines above and below it.


A herringbone tile design makes any space elegant. It needs to be done with rectangular tiles. The name of the pattern actually comes from the bone pattern of the Herring. With this pattern, a tile layer, takes 2 rectangular tiles and places them perpendicular to each other to create a 90-degree uneven “v”. These “v’s” can be laid parallel to each other to create an interesting diagonal, almost chevron design. This looks nice on floors, but smaller tiles make an interesting look for any shower wall.


This is a common tile design that requires both rectangular and square tiles. With this design, 4 rectangular tiles are used to create the outline of a square and then a square tile is placed in the center. When a grid is made with this pattern, the corners of each square create a windmill pattern, which had given the pattern its name.

Tile gives you the ability to be very creative with your bathroom remodel. You can do so many things with tile. While this blog just discussed square and rectangular patterns, many homeowners prefer hexagonal or a mosaic graphic pattern.