5 Ways to Lay Rectangular Tile

Posted by Anastasia Casey on

Choosing a tile product and grout color is only part of the equation when tiling a space. Deciding on the layout of the tile will also have an impact on the look and feel that the tile offers. Rectangular tile offers a plethora of options for pattern layout and here are a few of our favorites.

kitchen with running bond subway tile

Design by Vestige Home | Photo by Rebecca McAlpin

Running or Offset Bond

The most common and simple to lay, the running bond is often called a bricklayer's pattern because it is frequently used in brick installation. This pattern has strong historical precedence, and lends itself to a space with a classic, timeless feel. Each tile is laid horizontally at a 50 percent offset, meaning each joint aligns with the center of the tile above and below it. The 50 percent offset is the most traditional, so for added movement and interest try a 25 percent or 1/3 offset.

Shop our similar style: Magma Green

tile with horizontal stack

Design by Shannon Tate Interiors | Photo by Joyelle West

Horizontal Stack

A straight bond is the simplest to lay, with each tile stacked directly on top of the one below. This pattern will give your space a decidedly midcentury nod, so it is right at home in a ranch-style home or contemporary architecture and it's certainly having a moment now, thanks to the sleek, graphic element it lends to a space. To keep things interesting, choose a coordinating tile in a different shape for other elements in the room, or use this method to give square tile a modern edge. 

Shop our similar style: Makoto Umi Terracotta

shower with vertical stack tile

Design by Banner Day Interiors | Photo by Emily Gilbert

Vertical Stack

The vertical, or soldier stack, is modern and minimal, and a great way to show contrast between tile and grout color. This pattern requires precision when installing and is best left to a professional, as any slight imperfections will compromise the look. A vertical stack is a great choice for closed-in or small spaces as it will create the illusion of height.

Shop our similar style: Sorrento Verde

shower with herringbone tile

Design by and photo courtesy of reHabitat Interiors


This pattern is created by laying the vertical end of one tile along the horizontal end of another to create a 90-degree angle. This popular pattern is seen often on flooring and in fabric, and creates a lot of interest and movement when used on the wall. The orientation of the pattern can change the look dramatically, as shown in this shower, where the designer specified the pattern be laid on the diagonal, rather than with the V facing either up or down.

Shop our similar style: Big Subway White

bathroom with crosshatch tile

Design by Lauren Bradshaw Design | Photo by Joseph Bradshaw

Crosshatch or Basketweave

For this interesting pattern, sets of two or three tiles are alternated in vertical and horizontal orientation to resemble the weave of a basket. For a more graphic look, choose tile and grout with high contrast, and for a softer look, make selections that are closer in color.

Shop our similar style: Artisan Sahara

Bonus tip:

In gathering images for this post, we noticed an almost-universal trend: each designer paired the strong lines of rectangular tile with round or at least rounded shapes elsewhere in the room. Either the mirror, sink, coordinating tile, lighting, or accessories (often more than one of these elements) is used to soften the straight angles of the tile, giving the room movement and interest.

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