How should my bathroom tile be laid out?

Discuss How should my bathroom tile be laid out? in the Tiling Forum area at

Andy Smith

Active Member
Hi all,

New to the forum - thanks for having me and sorry for the long first thread.

I’m having my bathroom retiled (after a hilariously bad tile-job by another company - more on that later) and am hoping for some advice on how to lay out the tiling on one of the walls. It’s being done by a professional tiling company but I’d like to be able to specify how I’d like the tiles laid out because I’m a bit of a perfectionist and I know that if I leave it to someone else to decide, I'll always wonder if I should have made a different decision.

The tiles will be 24x12” and will be horizontally placed. I’m leaning towards a vertical stack pattern rather than broken joint or 1/3rd joint, etc as that seems to be the fashion out here. The tiles are rectified porcelain concrete-effect, so a modern tile in a modern bathroom.

But I’m struggling to reconcile a number of detail issues.

The wall in question is the head-wall for the tub. It has a 30” wide tub with shower controls on the wall over the centre line of the tub (so the controls are centred 15” from the side wall). But the tiling area is 33” wide to allow for a slight overhang for the shower curtain to sit on so the centre line for the tiled area is 16.5" from that wall. So the shower controls are centred over the tub, but are not centred within the tiled area...

If I use a vertical stack pattern, should I:
A. Centre a tile on the shower controls and use a small filler piece on either side (one of which would be 3” wide and the other being 6” wide)
B. Centre a tile within the 33” wide area and use identical small filler piece on either side (both of which would be 4.5” wide). This would make the shower controls “off centre” in relation to the middle tile by a few inches.
C. Place a full tile against one side of the 33” area and then use a 9” filler to complete the row using only 2 tiles. This would have the shower controls way off centre in relation to any tiles.

Obviously I can’t have all of these 'wishes':
1. The tile centred on the 33" wall area to allow even filler pieces each side.
2. The shower controls centred over the tub at 15" from the side wall, for symmetry for the tub filler spout.
3. The shower controls and tub filler centred on the middle line of a tile.
4. Only two tile pieces per row (i.e. no small filler pieces)

What would folks on here recommend? The shower controls and tub filler cannot be moved and I wouldn't want to, even if they could. I also don't think that the 33" tiled area can be shrunk down to 30" to match the tub width - I believe that the 3" overhang is standard best practice.

Attachment PDF showing a schematic of the situation. Obviously once I make this decision, that'll dictate the rest of the tiles on this wall.

Next question will be about where I place the first row on that wall: at the ceiling, on the tub deck, at the floor level...

Thanks for reading and sticking with it!


Paul C.

Trusted Advisor
Professional Tiler
Personally for the sake of even cuts and a focal point, I would centre off the section above the bath. But that's even dependent on where the rest of the cuts in the room would fall.

You could centre the joint with the shower valves but that would leave a nasty slither cut down the left hand side which would look awful.......

unless you had something that was approximately bath to ceiling height that you could simply wang right in the corner in front of it to hide it, cuz then it would be perfectly acceptable??? like..... a thin tree in a pot? or an inflatable sword-fish?


Unregistered (Please Register)
Vertical stack pattern and centre the valve/bath tub.

For me anyway. Sometimes you have to be in the room though to get the feeling. Focal points vary depending on what you have in the room. Some rooms you can discard all the rules of tiling because it just doesn’t look right visually.

Andy Smith

Active Member
Thanks for the replies, folks. Much appreciated. Couple of thoughts:

1. The tub sits right in the alcove so there’s only a 1” rim in that corner - way too small to put anything on to hide the corner tiles from tub to ceiling. And I just sold my last inflatable swordfish. ;)
2. If the left tile in the stack is cut at 18” wide and the right one at 15” wide, not only is the stack itself unsymmetrical by a visible amount (I don’t think you’d notice 17” on the left and 16” on the right, for instance) but as soon as you factor in the shower controls, a bather would see that the grout line would look strangely off-centre where it hits the shower controls.

We’d ruled out the 50/50 brick pattern overlap and are moving away from the 66/33 overlap too because it looks a little old fashioned to tastes over here (I’m an English expat in Vancouver, Canada). Stacked tile seems to be the way to go here these days - especially with large format tile.

It seems that we either have to:
1. Forget about the shower valve position and only focus on the tile in relation to the wall itself. Which would suggest a 16.5/16.5” symmetrical stack and we’ll have to accept that the grout line will hit the shower controls off centre. OR
2. Forget about the wall area and centre the tile grout line on the shower valve.

I have attached 2 PDFs showing these layouts, with the rest of the wall and window included.

All thoughts appreciated.



Tile seller

Active Member
Grout line centre of the valve looks best to me.
It's also,(as the valve is placed) centre of the bath too then.
I think your notice where the grout line sits more than the tile length either side of it.

Andy Smith

Active Member
I’m an architect, hence the diagrams.

In terms of rubbing people up the wrong way, I have a new policy after being too trusting and having too much faith in people to make sensible decisions: anyone who interprets clarity and specificity as an irritation isn’t someone I want to be in the position of paying to work for me.

I’m already having to redo this tiling job because I put too much faith in the guy who did the last install. Attached is one example of where he ignored instructions to limit the foot wall to two tiles per row and instead doggedly stuck to an exact 1/3rd overlap...

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