Inlaid Tile Rug Tutorial


Okay tile time!… again.    This project is an inlaid tile rug.  Wasn’t the easiest thing, and it was not as perfect as I would have liked… But I was happy with it overall!  And, as an added bonus, I learned a lot.  If you have missed the other posts from the half bath check them out here:  half bathroom before, installing a pocket door, and installing the new faucet.


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I’ve mentioned before that I actually really like tiling, it is like a big human sized puzzle, that I am building as I go…FUN! (Some of you are questioning if I indeed have a life?… And the short answer is…probably not!)


I have a few tiling projects under my belt now – 2 kitchens, 5 bathrooms…  I like to try to push myself, so I’ve never actually tiled a plain 12” x 12” square pattern.  But I have tiled 3 diagonal floors (so many stinkin’ cuts!), a kitchen, a bathroom, and another bathroom.   5 brick pattern (definitely a favorite look) recently our master bathroom, our last master bathroom (and the reveal), the 1/2 bath in our first house, our Texas kitchen… but I haven’t posted yet.


Experience, doesn’t always equal perfection, but I certainly had fun designing this inlaid tile rug in the half bath.  I learned a lot too… And I am sure I will try this again some day.  So, lets start talking about it.  (By the way…if you need some basic tiling tips go here.)


HOw to install an inlaid tile rug



The floor started looking like this, your basic builder grade linoleum, not all together awful, (I’ve seen uglier patterns and colors)  But for resale value, it was not as great.  There was yellow staining from those  rubber (or whatever it is) backed bath rugs, and the toilet had been leaking (before we bought it), so the back corner was peeling up, and needed to be repaired at the least.  Since i had some tile on hand, I decided to tile.


Inlaid tile rug tutorial (1)  Inlaid tile rug tutorial (2)

We removed everything (including the toilet) and cleaned the floor before I started


1. Laying out the tile, and determining the size of the inlaid tile rug:

I start all my tile projects by laying out the tiles where ever possible, this doesn’t mean every single tile, but usually the important site lines through the room.  This really gives you an understanding of what the space will look like!  The most important reason for doing this is that it will keep cuts even around the space.

Since this space is just a powder room 32” x 8’, there are limited ways to view the rug.  You will see it from the porcelain throne, or from the hall.  So, the most important site lines were the tile right in front of the vanity and the toilet, they needed to be equally sized.  Then there was the tile in the doorway and the tile directly across the “rug” next to the wall they also needed to be evenly cut and centered.  Once these tiles were laid out, I could see how much I needed to cut for the basic size of my rug. I marked my floor and then I started making cuts, erring on the big side, to get the overall layout for the room.

  • FYI- I didn’t worry about how big the tiles were behind the toilet, those tiles just followed the pattern I had set according to the centered rug and were cut accordingly.   They are not visible immediately, so were the least important cut to make… (I hope that makes sense)

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This project started with a non-existent budget $100 at the most.   Basically, I wanted to see what could be done to update the whole room using what we had.

These particular floor tiles were left over from my last house.  I had enough to do the upstairs bath and just enough to finish off this bathroom as well.  I also had some 2×2 mosaic tiles that I had planned on using in the last house.  The tentative plan for the rug was to use the mosaics as a border, then the center of the rug would be the same floor tiles turned diagonally for interest’s sake.

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Once the tiles were cut I laid them in place dry with the spacers as carefully as I could (notice the square), because at this point I was figuring out the design of the rug.  I realize that I may be going about this backward.  With the tight space in this bathroom, I didn’t want any strange sliver cuts of tile around the rug, I wanted solid tiles.

2. Determine the design of your inliad tile rug

You can see (below) that I changed out other mosaics for something more decorative.  There were two reasons for this.  The original 2” x 2” mosaic tiles were only 1/8th inch thick and the other tile I had was 1/4 inch thick… which made me worry for keeping the tile level when using the thin set – I am an amature after all.  But ultimately the decision came down to the look, I wanted something more exciting than what I had.  These accent tiles are not cheap, but I didn’t need much, and they only cost me $25 dollars.   I figured $25.00 for a brand new custom floor that I LOVED instead of just “liked” was worth every penny!

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At first I just wanted to use two tiles laid in a diamond pattern, but as you can see they didn’t quite fit (the center corners are overlapping!  Bummer… but that is okay we just began to improvise and mess around a bit.

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To avoid cutting off the corners in a strange way on the outer edge of the rug, I centered another diagonal tile and carefully cut the “ v “ cuts to make the center tile fit… and wa-la…

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Then some more small cuts to fit in the leftover space.

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Then finally the outside corners.

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At this point, the rug was basically done, but I checked to see if it would be good to incorporate some of the leftover decorative tiles… ultimately they got the boot, just to keep it simple.  but you can see how it would be easy to play around with the design.

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3.  Set tile in thin set mortar


Once the tile was all cut and the design set, I picked up the tile and carefully laid them on the floor, (in order) in the next room.  Then I mixed mortar, and laid all the outside tiles, being sure to keep the rug portion square.  Then once all the field tile was in place and set (usually takes 24 hours) I laid the rug within the space I had left over.  I had to make a few little cut adjustments, but all the careful planning paid off and it turned out just fine.


4. Grout and seal!  DONE!

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Well what do you think of my little DIY inlaid tile rug?  If you like it, I hope you will consider pinning or sharing this tutorial, THANKS!

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Cassity Kmetzsch started Remodelaholic after graduating from Utah State University with a degree in Interior Design. Remodelaholic is the place to share her love for knocking out walls, and building everything back up again to not only add function but beauty to her home. Together with her husband Justin, they have remodeled 6 homes and are working on a seventh. She is a mother of four amazing girls. Making a house a home is her favorite hobby.

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  1. I did something similar when I tiled my balcony. Loved the effect – nicest balcony in the building. I love the way you worked out the center three tiles. Nice!

  2. That is amazing! I am gearing up for my first tile project. I will definitely be checking back on your other posts for tips 🙂