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


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Pat Galvin
06-05-2001, 11:39 AM
Just to make life a little tougher, my wife has requested that I install new ceramic tile on a diagonal instead of parallel and perpendicular to walls. I need to carry this layout from a fairly large kitchen/breakfast nook through a long, fairly narrow hallway, to a more expansive entryway. I have had good success laying out tile parallel/perpendicular to walls - Any tips on how to ensure that the 45 degree angle stays true, from area to area, through a fairly narrow hallway? John, is the procedure for this layout covered in the book?
Thanks in advance.


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06-05-2001, 03:41 PM
Does the hallway continue in the same direction as the kitchen or does it turn and run perpendicular?

Pat Galvin
06-05-2001, 03:56 PM
The kitchen is rectangular, about 15 feet by 20 feet. The hallway runs about another 20 feet, perpendicular to the kitchen.

John Bridge
06-05-2001, 04:41 PM
Hi Pat, Welcome aboard. I share your name (middle name).

I know what you are talking about. It's really tough to get through a long, narrow space trying to "step off" diagonal lines. (And no, the narrow space is not mentioned in the book. Diagonals are, though.)

The next thing I need to install on these boards is a tool that affords the ability to sketch. It would make things easier, but . . .

Before you can lay down diagonal lines on a floor, you have to establish parallel and perpendicular lines -- two reference lines that intersect at right angles. Then by tracing intersecting arcs (bisecting the 90 degree angles) you establish the diagonal reference lines. All this is done in an open area of the floor.

Now to get the diagonals down through the hallway and expect them to be on the diagonal (45 degrees) at the other end. If you lay out a grid pattern in the open area, you can measuure the distance of the diagonal of one grid (one square). You can run one of the "parallel" reference lines down the length of the hallway. Along this line you can "step off" the distance you measured the "diagonal" of one grid to be. You can use these "tick" marks as a check to ensure your short diagonal lines remain true.

You can also establish another right angle reference line halfway down the hallway, using the 3-4-5 method. If you don't know about the 3-4-5 method, I'm going to have to make another reply, or you're going to have to buy a book. Either my book or Michael Byrne's book. The 3-4-5 method of establishing perpendicular lines is one of the things Michael and I have managed to agree upon :-)

Rob Z
06-06-2001, 05:34 AM
Hi Pat

John just about got it all. Once you've got the big room layed out, extend a line down the hallway that intersects the tips of one course of diamonds in the kitchen. This is a good reference as you work down the hall. The opposing tips of the tile must always be on this straight line. If it is a small hallway, you will be able to set the neighboring tile with a square as a reference.

I use a large 3'-4'-5' square to keep my field square as I set in large rooms (whether on the diagonal or the straight). Another thing you can do is every couple of courses or so, check the distance covered at both ends and the middle of the field. For example, one my last installation, 4 courses of tile = 52 5/8" . By checking with the tape, I could verify parallel courses of tile without snapping a zillion chalk lines. this works whether you're on a diagonal or on the straight.

One other note: the tick marks that John mentioned using to step the layout down the hall. The increment that each set of ticks covers is the diagonal measurement of the tile plus the width of a grout joint turned diagonally as well. This is a small point, but it add up to inches over the distances that you will be covering.

Let us know how your project turns out.


Bud Cline
06-06-2001, 01:34 PM

Generally when setting 12" tile for example and when a job has a gauntlet such as this, I layout in nominal 4 square foot grids. (two tiles plus two grout lines in both directions) But, but, but, I don't get too far ahead of myself. I won't layout the entire job at the same time.

I set a grid before measuring the next grid, set that grid before measuring the next, over and over, while periodically varifying my measurements by throwing my tape out onto the newly installed tile 6, 8, 10 feet away. This way any errors woun't be magnified by just measuring 2 feet at a time and overlooking the mistake.

Keep yourself in check constantly. In reality a diagonal lay is exactly the same as a square lay except a diagonal lay will produce optical illusions sometimes.

06-06-2001, 03:02 PM
and lots and lots of cuts!

Pat Galvin
06-06-2001, 03:07 PM
My sincere thanks to all of you who provided replies to my question about diagonal tile layout. This forum is a great source of information. John - you're providing a valuable service to us DIY'ers.


John Bridge
06-06-2001, 03:16 PM
'Tis our pleasure. I'm very glad we could help. Feel free to return as you get into the project. We'll be interested to know how you do (I know you'll do great).

cliff harris
05-08-2009, 05:26 AM
With reference to the excerp below, please explain the most suitable method of "bisecting the 90 degree angles". - Thanks

"Before you can lay down diagonal lines on a floor, you have to establish parallel and perpendicular lines -- two reference lines that intersect at right angles. Then by tracing intersecting arcs (bisecting the 90 degree angles) you establish the diagonal reference lines. All this is done in an open area of the floor"

05-08-2009, 06:32 AM
Wow, that a lot of words and some complicated instructions for laying out your lines.

Might all be mute if your walls from room to room are not parallel. Meaning you might layout one room perfect and discover as you move into the next that 45 turns into 47 or 50. Unless you plan to break the pattern between rooms, I'm sure you don't plan to do that.

Might I suggest you decide which room you want to be perfect. I did this very thing and choose to start in the entry way, as I thought that was the focal point of my house, and the room with the least amount of stuff to hide any imperfections in the layout.

I'd didn't do it, wished I had, but read a thread here that suggested drawing to scale your rooms on paper. Then using tracing paper drawing your tiles. Laying the tracing paper over the room layout would allow you to determine the best location for that first tile. This would allow you to see how your pattern will run into different walls etc. and see if moving the layout just a few inches might avoid many small tiles. Had I moved my layout 3 inches, I would have eliminated about 12 small triangles, live and learn. I'm sure there is a computer program that could do this as well.

05-08-2009, 06:39 AM
What rob and John said is right on... But not all of your rooms are going to be square, so I would probably lay out off of the hallway or the major visual point....so that all your cuts are perfect there and not growing.

05-08-2009, 06:42 AM
Crude sketch, but....

Draw 2 lines which intersect, one parrallel and one perpendicular to your walls (black lines in sketch).

Then measure equal distance from the intersection (distance represented by red line in sketch). Those two points are where your ruler or other device will rotate. As you rotate the device you will draw and arc. Once you draw the two arcs a line can be drawn between the two points where the arcs intersect, this line will be 45 degrees (from your 1st two parallel and perp lines).