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Tiles being placed onto a wall in a herringbone pattern

Overview

Laying wall tiles in a herringbone pattern isn't that much harder than other patterns. This easy step-by-step guide shows you how to dry lay the tiles, measure, mark and cut them to size, mix the mastic and how to cut the tiles so that they fit around power points and pipes. 

Steps

1Measure and mark the centre point

The first step in laying a herringbone pattern is to find the centre point of the wall. Measure the length of the wall and mark the halfway point.

A tape measure being used to measure a corner for tiling

2Dry lay the tiles

To make it easier to work out the herringbone pattern, lay your tiles on the ground before gluing them to the wall. Lay a piece of heavy duty cardboard onto the benchtop and use the spirit level to mark the halfway point from the wall onto the cardboard.
A tape measure and ruler being used to mark a bathroom benchtop for tiling

3Work out the 45° angle for the first tile

Set the square to a 45o angle. Lie it flush to the wall near the halfway mark. Place the first tile along the square, so that its corner is lined-up with the halfway mark.
A 45 degree tool being used to align the first tile in a herringbone pattern

4Lay the next tiles

Lay the next tile at a 90o angle to the first tile. Place spacers in between the tiles. Continue laying the tiles in this pattern, until you need to cut your first tiles.

Tiles being laid out on a benchtop in a herringbone pattern

5Mark the tiles that need cutting

Mark on the edge of the tiles where they need to be cut. Put the next tile and spacers in place. Mark on this tile where it needs to be cut. Use the square or a ruler to draw lines on the tiles where they need cutting. Scribble on the tile to indicate what is waste.

A Sharpie being used to mark tiles for cutting

6Cut the tiles

Use the tile cutter to cut the tiles to the correct length. Then sandpaper the edges where they've been cut. 

Tiles being cut using a guillotine

7Number the tiles

Put the cut tiles in place on the cardboard. Number them in the order that you're going to lay them. This will make it easier to remember the order when you stick them on the wall.

Tiles being laid out for grouting on a bathroom benchtop

8Mix the mastic

Mix up the tile mastic in a bucket with water, until it is the consistency of toothpaste. Don't make too much mastic to start with.

Grout being mixed in a bucket for a bathroom wall

9Apply the mastic to the wall

Use the tiler's trowel to scoop up some mastic. Hold the trowel at a 45o angle and apply it to the wall. By holding the trowel at an angle, it spreads the mastic more evenly. Clean up any excess mastic from the benchtop
A notched trowel used to spread grout over a wall for tiling

10Glue the first tiles to the wall

Line up the corner of the first tile with the halfway mark and stick the tile to the wall. Then put the second tile in place, putting spacers in-between them. Place the third tile in place, with spacers between the other tiles. To make sure the tiles are bedded in, give them a push and slight wiggle to help the mastic stick. Continue laying full tiles until you need to cut some more tiles. 

Tiles being laid in place on a vertical wall in a herringbone pattern

11Cutting tiles with an angle grinder

If you only need to make a small cut to a tile, use an angle grinder. Put on your safety equipment and place the tile on a saw horse. Hold it firmly and trim the tile. Sandpaper it to make the edge smooth.

A power tool being used to cut a tile

12Cutting a tile to fit along the benchtop

Measure from the corner of the tile to the benchtop and deduct 1.5mm off that for the grout line and spacers. Mark the distance on the tile. Set the set square to 45o and mark the line on the tile.

Tiles being cut using a guillotine

13Cut and glue the tile

Use the tile cutter to cut the tile. Sandpaper the cut edge to make it smooth. Put glue on the back of the tile and place it on the wall with spacers between it and the other tiles.

A power point sized hole being cut out of a tile

14Tiling around a power point

Measure from the wall to one edge of the power point. And from the wall to the other edge of the power point. Write those measurements down. Measure from the benchtop to the bottom edge of the power point and then the top edge of the power point.

A tape measure being used to measure a tiling pattern

15Mark the tile

Place a full tile over the power point, with no glue on it. Mark the four measurements onto the tile. Take the tile off the wall. Use the set square to mark where the tile needs cutting.

A tape measure being used to measure a wall for fittings

16Cut the tile

Use the tile cutter to cut the two edges of the tile. Save these offcuts. Use the angle grinder to cut out the rest of the tile. When using the angle grinder to cut out a hole in a tile, cut it smaller than necessary, just to be safe.

The hole for a power point being cut out of a tile using a guillotine

17Fit the cut tile

Sandpaper the tile's cut edges. Check that it fits around the power point. Put glue on the back of the tile and stick it to the wall. Glue into place the two offcuts from the tile. Place spacers between the tiles.

A hole cut into a tiled wall for the installation of a power point

18Tape the tiles in place

As you start to lay the tiles up the wall, they may start to sag. Use masking tape to hold them in position until they set.

Tape being used to hold tiles in a herringbone patters on a wall

19Measure for around pipes

Measure from the edge of the tile to one edge of the pipe. Then measure from the edge of the tile to the other side of the pipe. Mark those measurements on the tile. Draw a semi-circle linking the two marks. Repeat this process for the other tiles that will go around the pipes.

Tiles in a herringbone pattern with holes cut into them for plumbing fittings

20Cut the holes in the tiles

Put on your safety equipment and use the angle grinder to cut out the holes in the tiles. Sandpaper the rough edges. If you don't want to use the angle grinder you can use a pair of tile nippers to cut out the holes.

A power tool used to cut space for a plumbing fitting out of a tile

21Fit the tiles around the pipes

Place the tiles around the pipes to check that they fit well. Apply glue to the back of the tiles and put them in place, with spacers between them. Continue tiling to finish the wall.

Tiles in a herringbone pattern with holes cut into them for plumbing fittings

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Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.