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Diagonal Tile Pattern: A Comprehensive Guide for DIY Lovers

People who like to lay ceramic tiles by themselves often avoid the diagonal tile pattern. They may think installing diagonal tiles is hard. Also, once put in place, diagonal tiles might look too full or not right for small areas.

Yet, diagonal tile patterns can be a great option. With some methods and tools, laying them is pretty easy. Plus, they can suit many areas, especially small ones like bathrooms.

Related: How to Lay Herringbone Tile & Paving Patterns

Table of Contents

What is Diagonal Tile Pattern?

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A diagonal tile pattern, also known as a bias pattern, sets tiles at a 45-degree angle to all walls.

This pattern is often chosen for bathrooms or other small rooms because it creates an illusion of more space.

Installing tiles diagonally can be more difficult than cutting them parallel to the edges. However, specific tools and techniques are available to assist with this process.

Pros of Diagonal Tile Pattern

  • Diagonal Tile Pattern Seems Less Overwhelming

Your brain automatically measures the size of spaces, even if you don’t realize it. For instance, in a bathroom, you might count the tiles to estimate the space. Everyone does this, often without knowing – it’s a subconscious act.

In square tile designs, the brain quickly figures out the space’s size. So, a small bathroom appears exactly as small as it is. However, diagonal tile designs make it harder for the brain to calculate the space, so the small size of the room is only sometimes obvious. Diagonal patterns are great for making small spaces appear larger.

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  • Diagonal Patterns Stand Out

Regular designs form grids with parallels and squares. Diagonal patterns, however, create a more open and dynamic appearance. These patterns give an impression of more space.

Take, for example, harlequin-style wall tiles. They demonstrate how energetic and playful diagonal patterns can be. It’s a good idea to use contrasting diagonal patterns on the floor, especially if the walls have straight grid patterns, like traditional subway tiles.

  • Diagonal Patterns Hide Imperfections

In square tile designs, it’s easy to spot if a room isn’t perfectly square because of how the tiles fit along the walls. But diagonal designs help hide these imperfections.

Cons of Diagonal Tile Pattern

While diagonal tiles work well with large tiles in spacious areas like kitchens or living rooms, they might seem too busy in a smaller bathroom.

Diagonal tiles add visual appeal, but they don’t make a room feel as large as wall-length mirrors, light-colored paint, or a white ceiling.

For those who prefer DIY, cutting tiles diagonally requires careful calculation. It may pose a challenge, especially for those not comfortable with math.

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  • Installation Challenges

A common issue with diagonal patterns is the need to cut tiles for all four walls, resulting in triangular segments along each wall.

However, square patterns often also require trimming on two or all four edges. When laying out tiles, starting with a central row and working outward is usually best, with the final rows being cut tiles.

Cutting tiles diagonally is trickier than making parallel cuts, as most manual tile cutters and wet saws are designed for the latter.

Despite perceptions, laying out a diagonal pattern is easier than a square pattern. It starts with snapping diagonal lines from opposite corners. Installation begins at the center, with full-size tiles, and moves outward, with trimmed tiles fitting against the walls. Other than cutting, it’s as straightforward as a square pattern.

Tools for Diagonal Tile Pattern Installations

Various tile templates are available to mark diagonal cutting lines. Once marked, cutting with a manual tool or wet saw is relatively easy.

While ceramic tiles can be cut on the diagonal with a manual cutter, a motorized wet saw is more efficient, especially for natural stone tiles, which are harder than ceramic. Wet saws are a good investment for occasional tile work and are also available for rent.

Learning the techniques for diagonal tile pattern and cutting opens up possibilities for other projects, like walls, showers, or kitchen backsplashes.

How to Install Diagonal Tiles

Installing diagonal tiles on floors or walls is more complex than standard patterns. Still, it’s achievable over a weekend with a few techniques. The key lies in careful measuring and marking before starting.

  1. Prepare the Surface: Install the right underlayment for your floor, following all instructions for screw spacing, expansion joints, and taping seams. Clean the floor to remove dust and debris.
  1. Mark the Center Points: Find and lightly mark the midpoint of each wall on the floor. Center a chalk line between midpoints of opposite walls and snap it. The lines’ intersection is the floor’s center.
  1. Create Reference Points: From the center, measure three feet west and mark as point “A”. Do the same east for point “B”. Repeat along the other chalk line for points “C” and “D”.
  1. Draw Arcs: Hammer nails temporarily at points A, B, C, and D. Attach a 4-foot string with a pencil to each nail. Stretch and draw arcs in both directions from each point. Where these arcs intersect creates four new points.
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  1. Snap Diagonal Lines: Draw new chalk lines connecting opposing arc points through the room’s center. These are your diagonal reference lines.
  1. Dry-Fit Tiles: Align tiles along each diagonal line. Ensure tile sides align with diagonal lines and corners align with straight lines. Use spacers for consistent gaps. Continue until no more full tiles fit.
  1. Measure and Cut Tiles: Measure gaps at the perimeter, subtract spacer width plus 1/8 inch, and mark tiles. Cut each tile with a wet saw and dry fit it.
  1. Start Tile Installation: Begin at the farthest corner from the door. Lift some tiles, spread thinset mortar, and reposition tiles with spacers. Check for levelness, adjusting with a rubber mallet if needed.
  1. Continue Installing Tiles: Progress across the room, lifting and installing tiles. After completing the floor, avoid walking on it for 24 hours to let the thinset cure.
  1. Remove Spacers: Once the thinset cures, remove the spacers. Use pliers if necessary.
  1. Grouting: Begin grouting at the same corner where the tile installation started. Press grout into joints with a float at a 45-degree angle. Clean tiles with a damp sponge as you go.
  1. Clean Grout Haze: After about 20 minutes of grouting, sponge off the tiles again to remove the grout haze. Continue as you did with tile installation until you reach the door.
  1. Cure the Grout: Let the grout cure for another 24 hours without contact.
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