Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tile Patterns: Playing with Pinwheel Designs


The pinwheel pattern is a popular and versatile tile layout that adds great visual interest by integrating solid color with decorative tiles into a timeless design. Here's a great example of a pinwheel tile pattern that pairs glazed ceramic dots with large ceramic tiles in a matte finish.

A pinwheel pattern with striking gloss and matte finishes.
A pinwheel pattern with Yucatan Glazes in striking gloss and matte finishes.
You can create a pinwheel pattern using only plain, solid color field tile. In the example above, tiles in similar colors are set-off by contrasting matte and gloss glazes. You can also add brightly glazed tiles with neutral colors to add a punch of color. If you're hesitant of using too much color in the pattern, then consider randomly alternating the brighter colors dots with dots in the same glaze as the larger tile, as seen in the example below.

Brightly colored glazed tiles can be randomly added to add interest to the design.

Or, you could choose to incorporate decorative tile with plain field tile, as seen in the two concepts show below.

Decorative 1" ceramic tiles, referred to as dots, can be paired with 4" plain white tile.

Decorative 1" ceramic tile dots are paired here with 4" plain blue tile.

The pinwheel pattern is created by combining two different tile formats, usually with squares of different sizes.

A pinwheel pattern for tile often uses two different sizes of square tile.
A pinwheel pattern for tile often uses different sizes of square tile.

But, you can also create a pinwheel using tiles in different formats, such as squares and rectangles.

A Pinwheel Pattern for tile can use both square and rectangular formats.

When using square formats, you can use two squares that are relatively close in size.

Large Square / Medium Square Pinwheel
The pinwheel pattern is a common tile layout.

Or, you can use squares that are distinctly different in size.

Small "dot" tiles used with a much larger format tile create a pinwheel.
Small "dot" tiles can be used with larger format tile to create a pinwheel.

The pinwheel pattern works equally well on floor installations as it does for a backsplash or wall. In this installation, Mission Red Rustic Pavers in different formats are paired with glazed field tile. This random pattern draws its design inspiration from the classic pinwheel pattern.

This random floor tile pattern draws its inspiration from the pinwheel pattern.
This random pattern draws its inspiration from the pinwheel pattern.

Tile Tip: Calculating Other Tile Formats
If you aren't using a standard layout where we provide the ratio of tiles required, or you find yourself with uncommon tile sizes, then you'll need to calculate the tiles required by finding the ratio of small tiles to larger tiles using the exact area of each tile. So, measure the tiles and get out the calculator, then follow these easy steps
  1. Find the exact square inches of each tile to get an accurate amount. Do NOT use the tile's nominal dimensions.
  2. Find the area of the large tile in inches.
  3. Find the area of the smaller tile in inches.
  4. Divide the the area of the smaller tile by the larger tile.
  5. The ratio can be used to determine the number of smaller and larger tiles required for any job.
Example
Say the exact dimensions of the larger tile are 12"x12"; the smaller tile dimensions are 4"x4".
  • 12"x12" = 144 sq. inches
  • 4"x4" = 16 sq. inches
  • 16 / 144 = 0.1111
For a tile job that requires coverage of 100 sq. ft., you'll need 11.11 sq. ft. of 4"x4" and 88.89 sq. ft.of the larger format tile.

A Tile's Nominal Size 
Remember that tile is sold in nominal sizes. A 12"x12" tile might be as small as 11-5/8" or as big as 12-1/2".  Nominal means "about." Read more about nominal tiles sizes on our website.

The percentages shown are based on a full layout with no cuts. Actual percentages will vary depending on the area to be tiled and the layout.

Tile Tip
Perform a dry layout before you start. Layout the tiles in the pinwheel pattern using the grout width you desire. When you do this before installing, you will be able to pinpoint problems. Remember, with any layout, you want to avoid small cuts, cuts on small tile, and cuts by doorways on flooring tile. You will minimize waste, save time and avoid problems with a dry layout.

A dry layout with Andalucia dots & Yucatan Milkweed 4"x4"
This dry layout features our Spanish Andalucia ceramic tile dots and Yucatan ceramic tile in Milkweed 4"x4".

To see more tile layout patterns besides the pinwheel pattern discussed here, see our post on Rustic Cement Tile Paver Patterns.


To learn more about tile patterns, see my previous posts on Tile Tips for the Pattern Addict and Tile Tips for the Pattern Shy. You'll be a pattern pro!
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