Difficulty of different Square Patterns [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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08-03-2001, 12:39 PM
Iím in the process of having my home built. My plan was to lay my own tile in the kitchen. Iíve taken a small class and have practiced some with very good results. A few days ago I saw an Offset square pattern at a 45-degree angle. (Like the way bricks are normally placed but at 45 degrees and square) I liked it a lot, and I think I can do it.
From my understanding the hard part about laying tile is all the preparation work, and not that actual placing of the tile, so it seems that this pattern shouldnít be that much extra work. There are two things that I can see that will make it harder. 1) Iíd have to cut 2x as many tiles as a normal square pattern(because of the angle). 2) I canít put spacers to measure where the top of one tile hits the bottom of another tile. (because were two tile meet is half way across the top of another tile)

My questions are: How much harder is it to lay this pattern? Should I just stick with the square pattern?


For problem #1 (the extra cuts): I plan on buying or renting a good wet saw. Is there anything I should be looking for in a good wet saw to cut the tiles? (I know I need one that cuts 17 inches. (For the 12Ē tile at 45-degrees)

For problem #2: I plan on snapping lines down to keep things lined up, anyone else have any other advice?

FYI: The floor is about 400 Square feet. My tiles are 12". The floor right now is plywood, my plan is to put down thinset, durarock (screwed or nailed), let it dry. More thinset, then the tiles. Then grout a few days later.


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John Bridge
08-03-2001, 01:07 PM
Hi Ross, Welcome.

Staggering the rows of tile at a diagonal will entail several different trangular and trapozoidal cuts at the walls, but you're aware of that. You may also incur a little more waste than you would laying the tiles square to the walls.

Not being able to use spacers is probably a blessing in disguise. Seldom are tiles calibrated closely nowadays, and spacers can lead to problems. It's much better to figure out a series of grids made with a chalk line. For 12 in. tiles, for example, you will have lines approximately two feet apart going in two directions. Each and every tile, then, is placed either on, or a grout joint away from, a line. Get the lines down right, stick with them, and you won't go wrong.

I'll let someone else discuss the subfloor and backer board with you. You'll need to know the size and spacing of the joists under the plywood, the overall span (length of the joists between supports) and the thickness of the plywood itself.

Bud Cline
08-03-2001, 03:17 PM

Sounds like you have thought this thru and are on the right track. This will be a lot of work but no big deal, you can do it.

John has said the layout is very important and this is the foundation for a satisfactory job. Get your layout, understand it, and most importantly of all, be sure you are square. You are headed for major frustration if you are not verifiably square with your layout. You won't know it until it comes time to cut your trapezoids, then all the beer in the world won't make it any easier.

This pattern you describe is known as a "running bond" pattern and isn't much different from straight lay because most of it lays straight anyway, it's just that the joints are staggered. Tile spacers are for Saturday morning DIY TV Programs and wimps, don't waste your money.

Here's where I'll probably catch a little hell; as you snap down your layout with your chalk line verify your marks then paint them down with a little hair spray or clear spray paint so you don't walk them off. Not too much and not to wide just a little moisture from the spray will save your butt down the road.

BUT, BUT, BUT, before you proceed, what size are your floor joists, what is their spacing, and how thick is your present subfloor? Four hundred square feet of tile is nothing to sneeze at and mistakes in the basic structuring of the job can get very costly down the road.

Rob Z
08-03-2001, 06:16 PM
Hi Ross

Good advice from John and Bud. Let us know that info on the framing, and we'll get you squared away.

Layout your lines like you're building a skyscraper (ie great attention to detail), mark them, and then follow them religiously. Don't deviate once you've started.

Make sure the wet saw is in decent shape-good blade that spins without wobble. Make sure the pump works and the table slides easily and is square to the blade. I've seen some rental saws that looked like they had been through the war.

Keep us posted with your questions.


08-04-2001, 12:05 AM
The joists are 16" Center-To-Center (I think thatís On Center) covered by 3 / 4 " ply wood. If I put 1 / 2 " backer board I should be up to the 1 - 1 / 4". I put down a straight edge and had two people stand in-between the joists and there is no light shining through. I walked along all the joints and did a little bit of jumping. Doesnít make a sound. I understand I donít want any plywood joints or backer board joints (or even the backer board to backer board joints) to line up.

My only problem is I think a few of them run more then 16 feet. (22 feet) Is this going to be a problem? Should I add something now?

Any other tests I should do?
And any good suggestions on which backer board to use? Could I go with 1 / 4 backer board?
How important is it for me to screw the backer board down? Can I nail it down with a nail gun or a roofers staple gun? Thatís a lot of screws to drive in and if nails work just as well.

How bad are type 3 tiles? I've found one that I like a lot.
Should I get a type 4 even if I don't like its looks as much?

Thanks for all your help! I'm really trying to get it right the first time.


John Bridge
08-04-2001, 02:12 PM
Hi Ross,

Grade III tiles are suitable for any residential use. Go for it.

The length of the joist is only of concern if there aren't any intermediate supports. Are you saying you're running 22 feet between supports? Nothing in between?

I think the guys who do it all the time -- Bud, Rob, and the rest, will insist on 1/2 in. backer in order to bring the thickness of your floor up to an inch and a quarter. The thinner backer would only give you an inch, which is substandard.

I know Bud uses a stapler to shoot backer down with. I'll let him tell you about it.

God help us if Dave Gobis catches us, though. You lurking, Dave?

Bud Cline
08-04-2001, 02:51 PM
For several years now I have used a Senco stapler that Senco insists is manufactured for CBU's. I know of plenty of installers around here that own or rent roofing nailers and in my opinion they create more problems than they solve.

This is primarily because the nail heads don't set (recess) into the CBU. To make matters worse the less expensive imported nail coils contain nails that have a slight ridge on the bottom of the head from the manufacturing process. This tiny ridge also prevents the nails from setting. In a soft roof shingle this is the least of anyone's worries but with cement board it is disastorous.

The staples in fact "set" every time. This allows the smooth dragging of thiset during the taping process, which means the taping process doesn't have to be later stoned.

This also eliminates the possibilty of tiles teetoring on nail heads during placement. Some contend that teetors don't happen because of the thickness of the thinset bed but this is nonsense. As the trowel hops over the nailhead an extra amount of thinset can be deposited and further add to lippage.

Most of this can be adjusted during tile placement I'll admit, but it requires additional time, and time is money.

For me it is either screws (the correct CBU screws) or staples. Depending on who is doing the mechanical fastening it is a fact that a hired helper is a lot more likely to install the proper amount of fasteners if they are staples as opposed to swinging a hammer all day at a nail, or even worse screwin' all day. (I know I know, leave it alone Art)

Wow that's a lot, I think I forgot the question, and I know my internet connection has dropped "again".

08-04-2001, 03:47 PM
Just to make sure Iíve said the correct thing. I took a tape measure and measured from center to center of the joists (16 inches) and I measured the thickness of the plywood (3 / 4 inch). Am I saying the correct thing when I say the plywood is 3 / 4 inch? I know this sounds like a crazy questions, but if someone asked if I had 2 x 4 in the walls.. I would say No, I have 1.5" by 3.5".. if I didnít know any better.

I'll get the info on the span. I think there might be a post in the basement, or some steel holding it up. I'll have to go out and look at it.


Bud Cline
08-04-2001, 04:14 PM
Your right so far. It can get confusing. 2 X 4's are in fact what you say, the nomenclature is a nominal statement. 2 X 12's aren't 2 X 12 either. Your 16" is in fact 16" though. This is a standard also, but so is 19.2" (actual) and 24" (actual). There was a time when 18" (actual) was used as a standard. In reality 3/4" isn't really 3/4" either it's actually 23/32" or something like that.

But your doin' good, keep it up.

08-05-2001, 10:41 PM
I looked at the 22 foot run. And looking at the plans it turns out to be a 28 foot run. It runs 16 feet. Then hits a Steel beam. Then off the steel beam it runs another 12 feet. The Joists on the 12 foot run seem to be 8" on center for the first 3. (It looks like there is an extra one there.)

So it looks like it doesn't run more then 16 feet.

So I looks like the floor is strong enough to hold up the tiles, so I'm going to start in a few weeks. If it goes well I'm going to be doing an upstairs bathroom. (Same floor construction.) There is a large tub in the bathroom. Do I want it full with water when I tile or empty. (I've heard stories of cracking tile when the tub gets full the first time.)

Any advice on how to stop for the night? (I'm planning on taking 3 weeks to do this.) Besides making sure I don't have any thinset on the floor, and keeping things clean. Anything that I should make sure to watch out for like don't leave thinset on any tiles, you'll never get it off.

Thanks for all your help, I'm post pictures when I'm done.

John Bridge
08-06-2001, 06:08 AM
Post pictures as you go. That way we can nit pic you.

08-06-2001, 06:42 PM
Ross, don't worry about the tub with/without water. Leave a minimum 1/8" gap between the tub and the tile and then fill this gap (expansion joint) with a color-matched sanded caulk.

As for quitting for the night, just make sure all your tools etc. are cleaned of any thinset and call it a night. Doesn't hurt to check the position of the tiles before you leave just to make sure everything looks good before the thinset cures overnight. Good Luck!

08-10-2001, 02:59 PM
By looking at the plans.. My floor is 384 square feet. My question is, how many tiles do I need to buy? I'm doing the "running bond" pattern.

Should I take the area 384 square feet and add the perimeter (80 feet)? 470. Or is that number to low or high?


Bud Cline
08-10-2001, 03:25 PM
Too much I think, cut that in half then throw in an extra tile for each door if any, you should be real close.