Free Shipping in the Continental USA on all Brutal Ceiling Tiles!

Grid Guides: What Is a Tile Grid?

Many interior design enthusiasts consider the ceiling as the fifth wall. That’s 25 percent more wall space for you to work with! 

However, many people still overlook this part of the room. 

A tile grid system is a great way to capitalize on this space in your home that you can’t afford to miss.

Read on to learn about the many types of tile grids and the different patterns you can choose to spruce up your ceiling (or any other wall you want to tile).

What Is A Tile Grid?

A tile grid is a framework of bars parallel or across each other where you place tiles. 

Meanwhile, a ceiling tile grid system supports ceiling tiles hanging from the central ceiling. You then place the ceiling tiles in the grid. 

A ceiling tile grid's advantage is that they hide the wiring and pipes above the ceiling. In addition, they provide easy access for maintenance and come in a variety of styles and patterns. 

Tiles Grid Systems

There are a few different types of tile grid systems. These are:

Exposed Grid

Exposed grids are the most common type of tile grid system. They consist of long metal strips known as "mains", interconnected with shorter metal pieces known as "tees." 

The mains and tees combine to form a grid system consisting of 2' by 2' or 2' by 4' squares. Each tile features a standard 15/16" wide metal frame in this grid system, though there are narrower or broader versions. 

Concealed Grid

Concealed grid systems hide the grid from view by using acoustical tiles. The tile is made with a tiny groove built into its perimeter to slide over the mains and tees hiding the grid. 

Many find the smooth and clean look created by the concealed grid aesthetically pleasing. The concealed ceiling grid system is more expensive than an exposed grid. It can also make it difficult to access areas above the ceiling for maintenance purposes.


Bandraster tile grid systems are the most versatile type. The Bandraster grid consists of metal mains and tees of different lengths to form various patterns. 

You can therefore use this grid system to attain other arrangements. Similarly, these ceilings need to be of special sizes to fit into the unique grid.

Tile Grid Patterns

There are different ways to arrange tiles that's why so many tile grid patterns exist. The following are some excellent ways you can layout tiles.

Grid Tile Pattern

The grid pattern is the most common way of laying out a square or rectangular tiles whereby the edge of the grid lines up to the walls. This can be exceptional, as there may be no need to cut tiles or have any wastage. 

The tile grid pattern can be straightforward to apply and cost-effective depending on the size of your and tiles the room.

Offset Tile Pattern 

This is the following most straightforward tile grid pattern to choose from. You can either use square or rectangular tiles. First, you lay the first row of tiles. Place the tile's end at the center point above when you move to the next row. In this pattern, you offset the tiles like you were laying bricks.

Harlequin Tile Pattern 

The harlequin grid pattern gives a more prominent space illusion and is helpful in rooms with unconventional shapes. It is simply the grid pattern, though set diagonally at 45° to the walls. You can only use square tiles for this pattern.

Herringbone Tile Pattern

This type of tile grid pattern is a favorite and becoming quite popular. Typically, the design is laid length-ways along the longest wall to maximize the effect. In this method, you can achieve the herringbone pattern by interlocking rectangular tiles at an angle of 45° to the wall.

Basketweave Pattern

This type of tile grid pattern involves setting horizontal tiles against vertical tiles. The design is simple and achieves a textured finish without much effort.

Alternatives To Tile Grids For Ceilings 

There are instances where you affix the tiles to the ceiling without the grids. If you’d rather this method, the following are ceiling tiles without a grid system:

Nail-Up Ceilings

Are you willing to do away with ready access to your ceiling surface? Nail-up ceilings are tile options that mount directly to the ceiling. They allow you to hide many ceiling defects and dramatically change the room's look. 

You can nail metal ceiling tiles made from steel, tin, or aluminum in place. The tiles give a historic ambiance to a room since most of the new metal ceiling tile patterns emulate popular designs of the nineteenth century. Original tin ceiling tiles are sometimes salvaged and available for use. 

Metal ceiling tiles are hefty even though they appear light individually. Cumulatively, if you nail the metal ceiling, it could pull free from the plaster or wallboard ceiling. 

Because of their weight, you need first to cover the ceiling with wood. Plywood does the trick as you just have to attach the tiles to the plywood instead of directly to the plaster.

Glue-Up Ceilings

Glue-up tiles require minimal preparation and provide a lighter ceiling treatment. These tiles are similar to those used in suspended grid systems and are made of PVC plastic. 

Unlike metal ceiling tiles, you can use household scissors to trim plastic ceiling tiles. 

To prepare for glue-up ceiling tiles, all you need to do is clean the ceiling's surface of dust or anything that might hinder adhesion. As long as your ceiling is relatively smooth and intact, you are good to go.

Next, set the tiles on the ceiling. Use a roller to apply a quick-grab water-based adhesive to the back of the tiles. The adhesive's quick-grab property allows some lateral adjustment of the tile as you slide it into position while keeping the tile firmly in place. 

Installing a glue-up tile ceiling can be a one-person task if you are ready to frequently travel up and down the ladder as you alternately glue and stick the tiles. An efficient method is to utilize two people—one to apply the glue on the tiles and pass them up, and another person on the ladder to stick the tiles.

Expanded Foam Ceilings

Expanded Foam Ceilings are made from polystyrene foam lighter than PVC tiles. You can easily use a utility knife to trim foam tiles which are usually 24 inches squared. 

Foam tiles are great for ceiling use as they forgive the often bumpy surface of ceiling finishes. You can simply glue them up by dotting the tiles on the back with adhesive instead of the roll-on glue you need for PVC tiles. 

But, foam is challenging to keep clean. Luckily, polystyrene foam tiles can be painted, hence you don't have to worry about them getting dirty fast. If you opt to paint the tiles, consider doing it first before you install them

Which Option Do You Like Best?

Now that you have learned about the different types of ceiling tiles systems and tile patterns, you need to decide which one will be best for your space. Whether you choose to use a tile grid or freestyle, we can help. You can get a free consultation on premium tile options and designs by contacting us.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published