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Tiling Bathroom Walls: Diagonal Tiles

Start at the center of the wall with plumb and level layout lines



Tile contractor Tom Meehan: For the upper half of the wall, I will lay the tile on the diagonal. First of all, I need to make a story pole, which I do using the diagonal tiles already on the other walls. On this wall, the main feature is the mirror. Anytime there’s a mirror on the wall, I want to have full diagonal pieces around the perimeter of it. To obtain this layout, I start with one diagonal piece at the centerline and draw a level line. After that I use the story pole and measure out from the centerline so that I will have full diagonal pieces on both sides of the mirror. Then I measure to the top of the mirror, laying out for full diagonal again.

I start tiling at the centerline and continue around the wall. Anytime I am framing anything, whether it’s a bathroom mirror or an island in the middle of a kitchen floor, if I start on one side I continue until I complete it and connect all the pieces. If, for some reason, something is out of plumb or out of square, I can slide the tiles over before the thinset or cement sets up.

Now that I have the mirror frame done, I use the level to straightedge it. More than anything, I want a perfectly straight line wherever the mirror is going to meet the tile.

Now that I’m done with the difficult wall, it’s time to tile the last two walls. In the corner will be a cabinet. I’m going to start a full diagonal piece there. I’ll work my way across to the other corner, where I’m going to do a folding effect of the tile. These 6x6 tiles have little space sets on the side, which establish their own grout joints. If the tiles were uneven or hand-molded, I would use spacers to keep them in place. When I tile diagonally on a wall, I always use a straightedge in the middle of the wall. If the wall is really large, I use a square to keep the corners lined up.

There are only two ways to handle an inside corner with diagonal tiles. This is a fold. I put the regular cut in there, and then the return piece ties it together. It gives the appearance of the tile being folded right in place. Another option is the mirror effect. I prefer the wraparound.

The walls are done. I just have a little more work to do in the shower stall.

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