Help on tile spacing

anrolApril 25, 2012

We are doing a bathroom floor in 1 by 2 foot tile. What is the best spacing for the tile? Thanks

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Personal preference. We did 1/16 grout joints in our MB with 12x24 porcelain tile, and 1/32 joints with the same size travertine tile in our FR.

DH and I like minimal grout joints, with grout that matches in color as well as possible. Others like wider grout joints with/or without grout that blends in less.

What do you prefer?

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 11:30PM
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DIY or professional installation?

What is your intended pattern? Which leads to...

How flat are the tiles? If you set two of them together, glaze-to-glaze, do they rock at all?

Those questions aside...a basic guide would be to take a stack of the tiles and set them on edge, like a deck of cards. Measure the variation in size from one tile to another. A typical grout joint width would be 3 times the variation in tile size. Example, the tiles are within 1/16th" of each other, then use a 3/16th" grout joint.

Best, Mongo

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 11:59PM
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From an aesthetic point of view, less is more.
1/16th or less.

If you travel overseas especially in asia, you will see tile set with no grout. tight..

    Bookmark   April 26, 2012 at 12:07AM
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Thanks very much for the quick responses. I just have one sample tile here now but I find Mongo's explanation pretty interesting. My DH will be laying the tiles in a staggered pattern(brick) The wall tile will be 4 by 16 subway, stacked.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2012 at 1:48AM
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With the additional info, here's what you need to be aware of...

We like to think that our tiles are perfectly flat and uniform in size. Some are, some are not. Depends on the manufacturing process, as well as the quality control of the manufacturer.

12" by 24" tiles can have some "bow" to them, instead of being perfectly flat, when set on the floor they'll have a slight arch. It follows that the maximum height of the arch will be midpoint of the tile, or in your case, at the 12" point of the long 24" edge.

With you doing a floor pattern of staggered brick, if you do a half-tile offset, then the high point of the "arch" of each tile will be next to the ends of the tiles in the adjacent rows. You'll have what's referred to as "lippage"; the edge of one tile being higher that the edge of an adjacent tile.

With 12" by 24"s, you can essentially eliminate lippage due to bowed/arched tiles by using a stacked pattern. You can minimize it by using a 1/4 offset, or a 6" with a 24" long tile. A 1/3 offset (8" with 24" tiles) would have more lippage. A half-offset would maximize lippage.

Lippage. How "bad" its "bad". It's a matter of the amount of lippage versus the width of the grout joint. Let's say you have a 3/16" arch in the midspan of each 24" long tile. If you were to use a 1/16th" grout line and set your tiles in a half-offset pattern, you'd have 3/16" of vertical lippage between two tiles set 1/16" apart. It would be very noticeable, a possible toe stubber, a dust and debris catcher, etc, etc.

Now lets go a bit extreme simply for comparison. You have the same lippage but you're using 1/2" wide grout lines. In this case, your wide grout lines will act as transitional ramps between the differences in elevation. The lippage will be less noticeable.

So there's a balance there.

So, if your long tiles are bowed, it'll be something to address. The amount of bow versus the amount of offset in the pattern versus width of grout line.

If your tiles are flat, no worries!

Now, the "three times the variation in tile size" comment.

If your tiles are all perfectly uniform in size, again, no worries!

If however, there is variation in size from tile to tile, it needs to be addressed, especially if you plan on going with a narrow grout line.

Let's say your tiles are within an 1/8" of each other in size and you were going with a 1/16" grout line:

Using tile spacers: Tile spacers will maintain your grout line width, but with the tiles being different sizes, your straight grout lines will get pushed and pulled out of line due to the varying widths of the tiles as you work across the floor.

Gridding the floor: Gridding will maintain your straight grout lines as you work across the floor. But when you set a tile that is 1/8" wider than the norm, that extra width could "fill" your 1/16" grout line, and you could end up with tiles touching each other.

By using "three times", your tiles should never touch. When wider tiles are set next to one another, some grout lines might be a little tighter. some a little wider when narrower tiles get set. But overall it'll look fine.

One other tidbit...and again, I'll explain this using extremes...If I plan on a 1/8" wide grout line and my width varies +/-1/16th, that's a 50% variation in grout line width and it might be noticeable to the eye.

If I plan on a 1/2" wide grout line width and my variation is +/-1/16th", that's a 12.5% variation in grout line width and it probably won't be noticed by the eye. all comes down to how flat the tiles are and how uniform in size the tiles are.

A good starting point is to find out if your tiles are "rectified". Rectified tiles are fired in large sheets and cut to size after the clay is fired. They tend to be uniform in size and flatter. They can often be distinguished by the edge of the tile having a perfect 90-degree angle. A post-firing sawn edge versus a molded edge.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2012 at 10:13AM
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