Two Trend-Setting Tile Patterns and Whether (or Not) You Can Use Them in Your Design

Aug 10, 2017

Rectangular tile is a staple in both residential and commercial design. Available in just about every size, from small (think subway tile) to large format, rectangular tile adds a modern spin to a floor and wall covering that’s been around for centuries. There are many ways to install your rectangular tiles to achieve different effects. The most common laying patterns for rectangular tiles are both the offset pattern and the soldier (straight lay) pattern. These options and tried and true and can work with virtually any style of home.


1/3 offset pattern (above). Most manufacturers recommend that floor tiles 12" x 24" and greater should be laid with a maximum 1/3 offset


Soldier (straight lay) pattern

If you want your floors or walls to be the focal point of the space, why not incorporate a herringbone or basket weave pattern into your design?

Herringbone is a v-shaped, zigzag pattern that can be installed either on a 45-degree angle or at 90 degrees (parallel to your walls). It dates back to the Roman Empire, during which it was a pattern of choice when constructing roadways. The pattern was (and still is) common in fabrics and jewelry, and has become a desirable look in the floor and wall covering industry. Look no further than Instagram and Houzz for all of your herringbone tile inspiration. Used on floors, backsplashes and in custom showers, the herringbone pattern provides enough interest without requiring the use of a bold tile for impact (unless, of course, that’s your goal!). A plain white subway tile, for example, can make a huge statement if the angular herringbone design is accentuated with a dark grout. 


Herringbone pattern

The basket weave pattern, alternately, involves alternating rows of rectangular tiles placed at a 90-degree angle from one another. Depending on the dimensions of your tile, the pattern might have two, three or more tiles running consecutively in one direction. This pattern provides an entirely different look in comparison to herringbone, but one that is equally as eye catching.

BarnwoodBeigeGallery2.jpg#asset:10089Basket weave pattern

But wait! Before you fall in love with a rectangular tile and want to install it using the herringbone or basket weave pattern, you’ll want to read ahead. There are some basic steps you can follow to determine whether or not these patterns will work with your tile selection. 

Step 1.  Measure your tile. The length of the tile should be a multiple of the width (plus several millimetres extra – more on that later). For example, if your tile is 12 inches wide, check if it measures 24, 36 or 48 inches in length. Good? If your tile is 10 inches long and, say, 4 inches wide, you will not be able to successfully install the tile in a herringbone or basket weave pattern.

Step 2.  Gather several samples of your tile. If the length of your tile measures twice the width, take three tiles. If the length measures three times times the width, take four tiles. 

Step 3.  Lay one (main) tile on the floor. Along length of this tile, arrange the other tile samples with the shortest lengths touching the long side of the main tile (see image below). As you can see, the four vertical tiles don’t fit within the 16-inch length of the main tile. This means that you cannot successfully install this tile in a herringbone or basket weave pattern.


Step 4.  If your results from Step 3 look more like this image (below), you’re on track to having the floor or wall of your dreams! If your vertical tiles fit nicely within the length of the main tile with room for grout joints, your tile can be used in either a herringbone or basket weave pattern. Having extra room for grout joints is imperative. If your tiles are flush to the edge of the main tile but there is no space for grout between the vertical tiles, these patterns will not work.


You can use this test on any rectangular tile that has a length that’s an (approximate) multiple of the width (refer back to Step 1). These outlines below illustrate tiles with a 1:3 and a 1:4 ratio. 


Choosing new floor or wall coverings for your space can be exciting. If you have a clear vision of what you want, the search for the perfect product might not take as long as you think. If you love the look of the herringbone or basket weave pattern and are aware of the steps we’ve outlined when you enter a flooring showroom, you will save yourself valuable time and will avoid potential disappointment in the long run. Trust us – the results will be worth the effort! 

SPECIAL NOTE:  Sometimes, tile manufacturers’ photos will show tiles installed in a herringbone pattern. This pattern may not actually work for these tiles, as many manufacturer photos are digitally enhanced for aesthetic (not functional) purposes. If you find a tile you like, have your tile supplier confirm that this pattern will work. If you are installing your tile in a basket weave pattern, you can tell very quickly whether or not the pattern works (refer to images in Steps 3 and 4). With the herringbone pattern, the issues may not be evident right away, but will show up further along in the installation.