10 Professional Steps to Calculate the Layout of Wall Tiles


    – Step 1: Calculate the number of tiles required

    – Step 2: Make a template ruler

    – Step 3: Plan the direction in which the tiles are to be laid on the vertical axis

    – Step 4: Case 1: Plan the installation from the center of a wall

    – Step 4: Case 2: Plan the installation from a window or door

    – Step 4: Case 3: Plan the installation from the corner of a wall

    – Step 5: Locate sockets and switches

    – Step 6: If you are planning color schemes or a mosaic, number the tiles

    – Step 7: Mark the wall

    – Step 8: Nail the battens to the wall

    – Step 9: Start tiling

    – Step 10: Transfer the measurements to the tiles to be cut

Laying out the tiles consists of drawing up a plan applied to the surface to be tiled, with indications that will guide and plan the laying of the tiles. The layout makes it possible to determine the number, location, form, and laying sequence of the tiles and the layout of the joints.

The layout is an essential step to take before you even buy the tiles.

1. Calculate the number of tiles required

Start by measuring the width and height of the wall(s) you will tile, which will allow you to determine the number of tiles you will need.

Sketch the area to be tiled using a scale (e.g., 1 tile on paper equals 20 cm): this makes it easier to transfer the measurements and plan the installation. Draw the doors and windows on the sketch.

Measure the area to be tiled in m².

    – If the area is not a simple rectangle, divide it into rectangular areas, measure them, and add them together (see diagram).

    – If necessary, sketch to help you divide the area properly. And if any angles are not suitable, try to isolate them into rectangular triangles.

    – If you plan to tile a wall with a window or door, measure the width and height of the window (or door) frame and then calculate its area. Deduct the area of the window from the area of the wall.

Then calculate the area of a tile in m² (length × width in meters).

All that remains is to make the following division:

Wall area to be tiled in m² ÷ area of one tile in m² = number of tiles

Plan to buy 10% more tiles to replace any faulty or broken tiles. Do the following calculation:

The number of tiles × 1.1 = number of tiles to buy 2.

2. Make a template ruler

A template ruler is a measuring tool that you make yourself from a wooden strip (long stick). You can use it to mark the walls.

    – Place a wooden strip on a table or the floor and use it as a ruler. Choose a strip 1.5 m or 2 m long.

    – Line up a row of tiles with the crosspieces along the strip. The spacers are plastic elements inserted between two tiles during installation and determine the spacing of the joints.

    – Using a felt-tip pen or a grease pencil, mark the position of the tiles on the strip, respecting the spacing of the crosspieces: you obtain a wooden stick graduated to the size of the tiles. This is the template rule.

If the tiles are rectangular :

        ◦ Line up a row of tiles with their crosspieces and a cleat to transfer the length of the tiles. This cleat will help to mark the horizontal rows on the wall.

        ◦ Align the tiles, with their braces, along with a second cleat to transfer the width of the tiles. This cleat will help to mark the vertical rows on the wall.

3. Plan the direction of tile installation on the vertical axis

Wall Tiles

It will help if you lay wall tiles from the right angle. This means determining a basic vertical and horizontal axis.

A floor is never perfectly flat or horizontal. For wall tile to be vertical, you can’t start tiling from the floor. You will start from a horizontal cleat nailed to the bottom of your wall.

To determine where to place this cleat, draw lines on the wall with your template ruler.

    – If you are tiling a wall without height constraints (for example, to tile a kitchen or bathroom wall partially), place the strip horizontally so that there is a maximum of one tile height between the top of the strip and the floor. Then plan the installation from below using the template ruler. Stop your layout when you reach a height you are comfortable with. For example, if your tiles are 10 cm, you will place the top of the strip at a maximum of 10 cm from the floor.

    – If you are tiling a specific height on a wall or an entire wall, plan the installation from the top, always using the template rule. You will nail the cleat below the location of the last full tile.

Next, you can install the wall tile from the corner or center of a wall or an opening.

4. Case 1: Plan the installation from the center of a wall

On an entire wall, tiles are installed from the center. To start the installation from the center of the wall:

    – Measure the width of the wall and draw the vertical axis that runs through the middle of the wall. Make sure it is vertical with a plumb line.

    – Using the template ruler, mark the vertical rows of tiles starting from the center:

        ◦ If the border spaces (the “edges”) are less than half a tile wide, you can begin to draw the marks.

        ◦ If the edge spaces of the wall are more than half a square wide, shift your template ruler to center a tile on the centerline of the wall.

        ◦ Starting from this new marker, the edge spaces will be less than half a square. Then draw the markers.

4. Case 2: Plan the installation from a window or door

    – If your wall has a window or door in its central area, take the centerline of the window or door frame. Then follow the same procedure as for installation from the center of a wall.

    – If the openings are not in the center area of the wall, draw a vertical axis at the edge of the door or window. Then draw the lines from this axis.

Note: remember to put a support strip above the door or window so that you can rest the tiles on it during installation.

4. Case 3: Plan the installation from the corner of a wall

In the case of a protruding corner, the tile is installed from the corner.

Mark the vertical rows of tiles on the wall with the template ruler.

5. Locate outlets and switches

Accurately locate electrical outlets and switches:

    – Outlets and switches should be placed in the center of a tile as much as possible.

    – Electrical boxes should be recessed in the wall: take into account the thickness of the tile and the layer of mortar adhesive.

    You will drill-The tiles at the level of the sockets, and electrical boxes with a hole saw or cut with a parrot cutter.

Important: Turn off the power supply before removing the electrical boxes and outlets.

6. If you plan to use color or mosaic, number the tiles

If your tile has multiple colors or a mosaic with patterns, transfer the lines you made on the wall to your initial sketch. Then color the tiles in your design. The layout allows you to see the pattern that you will make.

Then number the order in which you will lay the tiles on your sketch. The sketch will help guide you and avoid mistakes when laying the tiles.

Finally, number the tiles on the back according to the order they will be laid, and assemble them in as many piles as there are tile colors.

The first tiles to be laid will be at the top of the stack, and conversely, the last tiles will be at the bottom.

7. Mark the wall

Once you have determined the starting point and the direction you want to lay the tiles, mark the wall with the markings for laying the strips.

Drawing marks will make the installation work easier and avoid unpleasant surprises.

    – Use the template ruler to mark the first row and line of tiles on the wall.

    – Draw markers to guide you as you lay the battens according to what you have planned.

    – Check the verticality of the marked lines with a plumb line.

    – Check the horizontality of the lines with a spirit level.

When installing wall tiles, there are often small gaps that you must cover with cut tiles. These gaps are called edges.

Nail the battens to the wall

Nail wooden strips along with the marks on the wall. They will serve as a base from which you will then lay the first row of tiles.

    – Nail the horizontal strip at the first horizontal marker.

    – Nail the vertical strip at the first complete row of tiles, ensuring that the two strips are perfectly perpendicular.

9. Start laying the tiles

Once the layout is complete, the lines are drawn, and the wooden strips are attached to the wall, prepare the adhesive mortar, glue the wall, and lay the tiles.

You will lay the tiles from the battens at a right angle.

Start the installation of the tiles with the whole tiles.

As you go along, check for verticality with a plumb line and horizontality with a spirit level.

10. Transfer the measurements to the tiles to be cut

The cut tiles, called edge tiles, fill in the small spaces left on a wall after all the whole tiles have been installed.

Once you have determined the width of the edges, transfer the measurements to the tiles to be cut. Draw lines with a felt pen,

then cut the tiles to the size needed to cover the edges.

Materials for the layout of the wall tiles

Paper + pencil


Tape measure

Spirit level

Plumb bob

Colored markers


Powder line



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