Tile Pattern Mix and Match Do's and Don'ts

Tile looks great on walls and floors, whether you just use plain tiles or are looking to create a tile pattern. In fact, a tile pattern can be far more interesting and breaks up the solid color of a wall or area. This kind of mix and match of colors, designs and styles offers great variety although you can’t just put different styles and colors together randomly. There are unwritten rules that will make tile patterns look effective.

Types of Tiles

Traditionally, tiles are 4 by 4 inches square and usually come in solid colors. You’ll still see more of these than other style of tile. There is an alternative style known as 'subway' which will generally be 2 by 4 inches in size although 1 by 2 inches and 3 by 6 inches are also fairly common. You can also buy mosaic tiles, which are usually 1 by 1 inches and many have a mesh backing so they’re easier to apply to a surface.

Finally, there are custom tiles which you can find in specialist art tile shops. These will either be found in highly decorated styles or in unusual shapes and can make great accents.


Before you begin laying tile, you will need to do a lot of planning. Is the area going to be one solid color or will you have a pattern? If you’re using a pattern, what will it be and what colors will you use? Take some sample tiles and lay out the pattern to see if it works well, and check that the colors you’ve chosen match.

Will you be using tiles that are all the same size? If not, you’ll need to draw out your pattern to scale on graph paper. This will let you assess its feasibility as well as help you judge how many tiles you’re likely to need. Don't forget to visit DIY stores for samples in the early stages of a tiling project.

If you’re using special accent tiles, where will they be placed? How many will you need? Will the color or design match the other tiles? Again, lay some out beforehand to ensure everything works together.

Important Things You should Always Consider

Before you begin laying tiles, know the right way of doing it. Using a pencil, quarter the area and start at the center, working outwards. This ensures the edges will all be even.

Take the time to lay out an area with spacers beforehand. This gives you a chance to see just how the pattern will work, especially if you’re mixing tiles of different shapes and sizes where the pattern will be more complex. Follow the pattern you’ve drawn on graph paper.

When you’re working with different colors, whether it’s something as simple as black and white, or even pastels or various primary colors, lay things out to make sure they work well together. It’s much easier to do this first than end up removing tiles later.

Make sure you have enough tiles and that they're all from the same batch so there will be no variation in color. The more complex the pattern, the more often you need to stop and check that everything is even. Frequent checks can stop a lot of additional work later on. If you’re using edge tiles, remember to keep to the pattern you’ve established in the rest of the area.