Design intricate tile patterns using graph paper.

How to Use Graph Paper to Arrange Tile

by Christina Ash

When faced with a wall or countertop to tile, your mind needn't go blank as you strive to come up with an attractive tile design that fits in with your decor. With just some graph paper, construction paper and markers, you can experiment with tile colors, shapes and sizes to create a design that suits you, from simple geometric patterns to intricate mosaic ones.


Roughly sketch out the shape of the area you're going to tile on a piece of paper, including any jagged edges, indents and odd-shaped corners. Measure the edges of the area, in inches, and write these measurements on your draft plan. Work out the scale that you'll need to use on your graph paper and draw your plan, to this scale, on the graph paper. Write the scale alongside the plan.

Directly Onto Graph Paper

This method works well if you have a clear idea of the design that you want or if you'll be using a straightforward pattern of tiles -- for example, a checkerboard design. Keeping to the scale of your plan, draw the arrangement of the tiles directly on the graph paper, using a pencil and ruler. For example, if you plan on using 6-inch-square tiles and your graph paper squares each represent 2 inches, each tile you draw will be three squares by three squares. Color in each tile using colored pencils or markers to give a visual record of your color scheme.

Construction Paper Tiles

This method offers the most flexibility if you want to play around with tile sizes, arrangements and patterns before you commit to a design. From construction paper, cut out different tile shapes and sizes to the same scale as your graph paper plan. While it's not immediately important here, if you already have a color scheme in mind, then use the appropriate colored paper. Arrange and rearrange the tiles to your heart's content on your graph paper plan until you find a design that you really like.

Repeating Patterns Templates

If you’re considering using a repeating pattern in your tile design, such as a small hexagonal shape, then you can create a template of the shape to use on your graph paper. Either cut out a complete shape from white paper and color it in, or make it by taping together smaller tiles cut out of construction paper to form the overall shape. You have a choice then of drawing around the template on the graph paper several times to make your design, or making more of these shapes and arranging them all on the graph paper to see how they fit together.

About the Author

Christina Ash has been writing since 1982, throughout her career as a computer consultant, anthropologist and small-business owner. She has published work in various business, technology, academia and popular books and journals. Ash has degrees in computer science, anthropology and science and technology studies from universities in England, Canada and the United States.

Photo Credits

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