Making a Dimensional Layout Drawing

A dimensional layout drawing puts on paper all the details of the surfaces you'll be reflooring. It shows the layout of the material -- such as tiles or planks. The drawing allows you to plan precisely, assists a supplier in helping you make estimates, and will lead you to answers to other questions about your project.

The making of a drawing is a straightforward procedure. The process begins with a rough sketch on which you post the measurements of the room. Then you make a scale drawing based on the sketch and measurements. In the final stage you use tracing paper to draw in the flooring pattern or to experiment with options.

Prestart Checklist

About an hour to sketch and measure a basic 12x12 room. Time for making a dimensional layout plan will vary with the complexity of the design and the number of alternative layouts drawn.

Sharp pencils, measuring tape, ruler, architect's scale, plastic drawing square

Measuring and sketching accurately

Selection of flooring materials

Large sheets of graph paper and tracing paper, masking or drafting tape

Before you measure the room, make a rough sketch of its contours. Start in a corner and measure to the nearest 1/8 inch the length of every surface where it changes direction. Post the measurements on the sketch as you go. Note the dimensions of appliance recesses, cabinets, and built-in furnishings.

Tape your dimensional drawing securely to your work surface, then tape a piece of tracing paper over it. Carefully draw your flooring layout on the tracing paper. Experiment with various designs, using new sheets of tracing paper until you arrive at the layout that looks best in the room. Whenever possible hide the edges of cut tiles or planks under toe-kicks, along an inconspicuous wall, or under a countertop backsplash. Doorways should start with a full tile or plank. If not revise the layout.

Adjust for uneven borders and rows

If your first layout results in unevenly spaced borders and end rows, consider revising your layout. Remove the partial pieces and the full flooring tiles on each axis. Redraw the layout with the remaining section of full tiles centered in the room. This will leave enough space for wider tiles at the borders. Measure to the edge and divide by 2. In this example seventeen 2-inch border tiles and fifteen 12-inch full tiles were removed, leaving a space of 14 inches / 2 = 7 inches, or more than a half-tile at each border.

This method also allows you to make more accurate material estimates. If you count the tiles in the first layout, you'll find there are 55 full tiles and 17 cut tiles. Counting the tiles in the final layout results in an estimate of 40 full and 32 cut tiles.

Laying out irregular shape tiles

Octagonal and other irregularly shaped tiles usually have a reference point you can use to anchor your dimensional layout. Use a ruler to lightly draw in layout lines and space them to conform to the tile-grout dimension. Cut a thin cardboard template scaled to the overall configuration of a square of the tile and use the template to draw trial layouts.

Most irregular tiles are sold by the square foot. To make material estimates divide the total area by the coverage per carton.

Pro Tip: Estimate materials

To estimate the materials needed, first compute the area of the surface by multiplying its length by its width. For complicated surfaces compute the overall area and subtract the space in the nooks and crannies.

Estimate flooring quantities by dividing the coverage per carton into the total area and adding 10 percent for breakage, cut tiles, and mistakes. Save unused flooring pieces for future repairs.

For ceramic and stone projects, figure backerboard quantities by dividing the sheet area into the surface area. Grout and adhesive coverage will vary among manufacturers. Consult your supplier and don't forget tape, screws, and other materials.


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