The Basics

When it comes to tile patterns and shapes, there are many many options. It can be easy to get lost in the variety of styles and design terms that may not be familiar for people not in the home industry. But no fear, we are here to help!

There are some basic terms that will be helpful for you to know whether you are DIYing a home project, or working with a designer. It can be very powerful knowing correct terminology when needing to express your likes and dislikes and will reduce the chance of there being a misunderstanding.

Please note, all of the images used in this post are from Fireclay Tile. We love Fireclay (it is a custom tile from them we used in the kitchen above) and there is even more design inspiration to explore on their website, so make sure you check them out! You can also shop by the shape on their website.

Offset Pattern

This is probably the most common pattern and is often done with rectangular shaped tiles, but as you can see below is also a great fit for square tiles as well. Offset simply means that the tile above starts partially through the tile below so that they aren’t perfectly lined up.

You can do a 50/50 offset where the tile starts halfway through the tile below it, or a 1/3 offset where the tile starts 1/3 of the way through the tile below. Typically 50/50 gives a more traditional look while 1/3 creates a diagonal pattern which can add more interest. This pattern can also be called running bond and brick pattern and is multifaceted enough to work in some way in most styles.

Straight Set Patterns

Straight set is just as it sounds – tiles stacked directly above each other to create a straight line of tile. Similarly to offset, this style is also often used with rectangular and square tile shapes. However, it gives a completely different look, much more modern than offset and some of the other tile shapes and patterns. We often like to use this pattern with glass tiles and large-format tiles.

Herringbone Pattern 

The herringbone pattern is another classic use of rectangular tiles (of which there are so many pattern options it could be it’s own blog post going through all of them) where the tiles are arranged in a V-shaped weave pattern. Herringbone is different from the chevron pattern – you can learn about the differences here. It is named after the skeletal structure of the herring fish and dates back to ancient times making it truly a timeless option! If you are nerdy like us, you can learn more about the history of the tile here.

Fishscale Shape and Patterns

The fishscale shape is named so because, well, it looks like a fish scale. Simple as that! Clients have often expressed that they don’t want such a bold coastal statement made with their tile, but the fishscale tile can change it’s look depending on what pattern it is laid.

For example, the pattern in the middle is the Fireclay Moroccan Pattern which doesn’t feel inherently coastal at all! This shape can also feel very glam depending on it’s color and finish (think Art Deco patterns).

Picket Shape and Patterns

The picket shape is named after a picket fence – easy to remember! This is another example of how a simple shape can be laid into a different pattern and be given a completely different look! On the left you can see a straight set pattern and on the right is a braid pattern. The braid pattern has so much movement and playfulness, completely different than the straight set! The picket shape can range from short and stout to elongated, and everything in between giving it a wide range of styles.

Hexagon Shape

The haxagon shape is a popular option as it comes in an unlimited amount of sizes, finishes, and materials making it a good choice for a range of design styles! For example, you could go with a small-scale black and white porcelain mosaic style, a large-scale concrete-looking hexagon, or an intricate marble mosaic hexagon tile. Each one is the same basic shape but each one feels completely different!

Arabesque Shape

The arabesque shape comes from the intricate design pattern found in Arabian decoration and architecture. It often lends itself to the bohemian, Spanish, Moroccan, and traditional design styles and naturally feels quite feminine. It comes is a variety of colors, materials, and sizes and can look even more intricate with a contrasting grout color!

This is really only the beginning, but it is a great place to start! Please reach out and schedule a Discovery Call if you need help selecting finishes for your remodel project.