Shower Layout on Diagonal [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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03-02-2007, 10:38 AM
I am starting the layout design to tile a shower (new construction, no tub) and have a few questions. I am using 4 1/4" ceramic field tiles and want to lay them out "on point"-- diagonal, with a decorative break of glass subway tiles at about 5 feet up (different size), then diagonal tiles again. Side walls are 36", backwall is almost 48". I'd like the partial tiles on the corners to mirror from back wall to side wall. Would someone be willing to read and critique my layout plans?

1) I will layout my tiles in 4-tile "squares" with diagonal snap lines (9 tiles seems too difficult). I calculated the distance between diagonals (2 tiles plus 2 grout lines= 8 3/4"). I calculated the distance from the top point of one 4-square "diamond" to the next "diamond (12 3/8").
2) I will snap (or pencil) a centerline across the back wall (23 11/16"), then measure that same distance up the vertical wall edge and connect the two points to create my first diagonal line. I will then make parallel diagonal lines at 8 3/4" apart (which should intersect along my vertical side edges at 12 3/8" apart.
3) I will create these diagonals ONLY up to the point where my glass subway tiles begin. Then I will need to start a different set of diagonals above the glass tiles (my glass tiles are a different size and throw off the diagonals!)

4) With this layout, I end up with partial tiles on the backwall sides that are about 1/6th and 5/6th of a full tile...not too close to a prefered 1/2 tile. Should I shift my centerline and forget symetry across the backwall?

5) I have tried a numbere of layouts to do the side walls, but am not satisfied with any...what is the best way to lay out the two side walls relative to the back wall? (note: I will have a shower curtain and surface bullnose along the front of the side walls). I have tried (a) laying out the side walls by starting from the backwall, mirroring the cut tiles, and coming forward to the side wall openings, and end up with partial tiles that are about 1/4 and 3/4s of a full tile. (b) I have also tried starting behind the bullnose in the front, and moving back towards the back wall...but then the grout lines won't line up with the back wall....isn't that apt to be ugly? (c) I haven't tried laying out the sidewall centered on the sidewall's centerline because, again, the tiles and groutlines won't line up with the back wall. HELP!!?!! The first sidewall layout (#a) seems easiest to snap lines for, because the grout lines should line up with the back wall, and the diagonals will simply be 90 degrees on diagonal from the back wall lines.

Sorry for this long long question!! Any help is really appreciated, I am a newbie!!

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03-02-2007, 11:57 AM
Hi Gretchen, and welcome!

well, I must say you've picked a very challenging project for a newbie. Diagonal pattern in a shower is difficult, to put it mildly. I hope you have lots of time and patience! (Sorry, we can't help you with that part.) I know because I just finished one, though I think yours will be a little easier than my 14x14 tiles. But the theme was similar.

Here are some thoughts for starters.

Is there some feature like a niche on the back wall that drives the desire for 'symmetry?' If not I might not worry about it. Most people try to do a "rolling" seam pattern when they get to the corners. That helps mitigate some of the issues with not having that symmetry.

The 1/2-tile rule is pretty hard to follow in a diagonal. Often the best you can do is avoid having those tiny corner pieces to set. There is one area where I think you should look at though and that's where the diagonal meets the edge bull. I think it looks best if you can do that transition with an alternating whole-tile/half-tile pattern. Same for the horizontal trim. :goodluck:

03-03-2007, 01:30 PM
Thanks. I have decided to layout my diagonals on all walls within a "frame" of straight cut tiles, i.e. start from the centerline, lay diagonally left and right until I end near the corners with an exact 1/2-tile triangle, and fill in at the corners with straight cut-rectangle pieces up the wall. My calculations for my walls end up with a reasonably-sized straight cut rectangle tile of a little over 2 inches wide (kinda like a bullnose!), so all of my triangles will be full 1/2 tiles, and the corners don't need to match anymore, aren't I clever??

For the sidewalls, I'll start at the front, as you advised, behind the bullnose, with a full 1/2 tile triangle, lay diagonally towards the back wall, until I am close to that backwall, and end with a full 1/2 tile triangle, and again fill in the corner vertical aras with a tall row of straight-cut rectangles (again I end up with something around 2 to 3 inches wide).

Now I have to stop chatting and go do it! eek!


Rd Tile
03-04-2007, 11:10 AM
Even cuts at both ends always looks nicer, find the middle and do the same as you would for straight setting, place a full tile on diaganol on the line and bring it to the outside and see what size cut you get, if too small start with the tile centered on your plumb line, and work out from there, whatever it is, it is, half a tile on one end and smaller cut at the end wouldn't look good, just my .02 worth.:)

03-05-2007, 01:10 PM
Gretchen - that's an interesting idea with the frame and all. I'm curious, however - are you familiar with the "rolling seam" approach to doing a diagonal? You don't need to observe the 'half-tile' rule for the corners - just avoid having little bits that are impossible to set. It can make for an interesting look. :shrug: