10 tile patterns you need to know about

Before you measure and buy.
Photographer: Ess Creative / Stylist: Samantha Torrisi

Choosing tiles for your kitchen and bathroom is hard enough, but deciding which pattern should you lay them in – grid, herringbone, chevron – only adds to the overwhelm!

Depending on the shape, size and pattern of your chosen tile, there are myriad patterns you can use when you lay them to achieve a finished surface with maximum impact, or have them completely disappear from view.

If you’re looking to use a tile pattern other than a conventional “stretcher bond” or brick wall lay, consider it at length before you buy your tiles as this may impact the size and style you buy. A combination of more than one shape or size will yield some interesting pattern options and introducing more than one colour tile can multiply the options even further.

moroccan style laundry tiles
These decorative tiles do all the work, laid in a simple grid pattern. (Photography: Martina Gemmola)

More complicated patterns might benefit from being laid by a professional, otherwise, there are plenty of tutorials online to show you how it’s done. Further, there are now Apps available for you to download that will take your measurements to calculate your pattern and estimate the number of tiles (and grout!) you’ll need to use.

Think outside the square with the use of traditional designs with modern colours or patterned tiles, starting with these classic tile patterns.

pink square shower tiles
Grid game: dusty pink shower tiles bring warmth and texture in this renovated Federation home. (Photography Dave Wheeler / Stylist: Corina Koch)

Types of tile patterns

1. Straight lay (grid) – a classic use of square tiles and simple to install yourself.

2. Pinwheel (or Hopscotch) – similar to the French pattern, this uses 3 tile sizes: large square, small square and rectangle.

3. Stretcher or Running Bond/Brick wall – rows of tiles offset by exactly half the width of the next row. Easy to install, economical and flexible with little wastage. Can be done with square or rectangular tiles.
Stretcher or Running Bond pattern. (Photography: Derek Swalwell)

4. Herringbone – rectangular tiles are laid at 45 degrees to the wall to produce a v-shaped pattern resembling wood parquet flooring.

5. Chevron – similar to Herringbone pattern but uses parallelogram shaped tiles.

6. Cobblestone – uses 2 tile sizes laid in a grid of 9 to resemble heritage cobblestone paving.

7. Basketweave – pairs of rectangular tiles laid at 90 degrees to one another. Simple to achieve and a step on from a basic pattern. Looks completely different when two or three colours are used.

herringbone floor and wall tiles
Herringbone ‘Bianco Carrara’ marble mosaic tiles from Bespoke Tile & Stone by Earp Bros pack a tactile punch in this powder room. (Photography: Armelle Habib / Styling: Julia Green)

8. Harlequin – usually uses square tiles in a straight grid pattern but tiles are laid at a 45-degree angle to the wall.

9. Windmill – classic pattern using a combination of rectangular brick tiles around a central square tile. Looks great with contrasting colours. Often supplied ready-made onto mesh.

10. Tessellation – uses more than one shape to create a three-dimensional pattern.

chevron marble floor tiles
This elegant ensuite uses long Bianco Carrara subway tiles in a chevron pattern on the floor and shorter, wider subways on the wall. (Photography: Ess Creative / Stylist: Samantha Torrisi)

All of these patterns will look different when used with coloured tiles – any number of combinations are possible and it’s fun to have a play around on an app or design software if you’re looking to step away from a basic pattern to get an idea how it will look. 

A plain pattern will be straightforward when working out how many tiles you will need to cover your wall or floor space, but take your room measurements into the shop and enlist the help of your supplier to double-check your measurements and calculations before you finalise your order.

chequerboard floor tiles
The floor tiles in the ensuite of this 1920s Queensland cottage are ‘Casablanca’ from ASA Tiles, but in three shades – Ultra White, Ocean and Sky Blue and laid individually to make a plaid pattern. (Photography: Hannah Puechmarin / Styling: Cheryl Carr)

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