Using the Golden Ratio for Tile Installations
The golden ratio is a mathematical equation found everywhere. From snail shells to hurricanes; from pyramids to stock market charts. We don’t need to know every detail to use it in tile applications, nor do we have to be a math wiz to know how it works. We just need to know the basics.
This ratio is used to determine proportions that we unconsciously feel are pleasing to the eye. Architects have used this equation for centuries and Leonardo Da Vinci is considered to have used the golden ratio masterfully in his art.
It’s just math
Basically, the golden ratio is 1.618 to 1. For tile purposes, this doesn’t have to be exact so we can round it to 60/40. If a=60 and b=40 then c=100. The ratio of b to a is the same as a to c. Easy, right?
So let’s apply this to tile. Oftentimes, tile showers will have a decorative stripe that runs horizontally through them. Designers will always tell you to put this accent strip in around “shoulder height” or “eye level.” Why at this height? The answer can be found with the golden ratio.
It’s common for homes to have 8-foot tall ceiling heights. If we multiply 8 ft x 0.618 it comes out to almost exactly 5 ft.- which just happens to be shoulder height-ish.
So with the accent placed at shoulder height then the bottom portion of the shower wall is 5 ft leaving the top portion to be 3 ft. Well, 3 is to 5 as 5 is to 8. Perfect!
If you flip the photo above over, you then have the proper height for a wainscot. It’s also not unusual to have a horizontal accent at the 3 ft. level instead of at 5 ft. Alternatively, I’ve done showers where the customer has wanted a vertical accent strip. How did I determine where to put them? Well, I cheated. I have a golden ratio app on my phone.
Since the back wall of this shower was 5 feet wide the tile accent stripe was at the 3′ 1″/1′ 11″ split.
How Exact Do I Need To Be?
Typically, you don’t want to cut the accent into a tile when installing an accent strip. Instead you would want it in between two full rows of tile. As a result, if you’re a couple of inches too high or too low- that’s ok. When it comes to tile installation the golden ratio should be used a general guideline and not a strict rule.
Centering Your Accent Tile
Centering isn’t wrong. In fact, sometimes it’s preferable. Consequently, you’ll have to examine your bathroom and choose the layout that you feel is best. If centering isn’t the best option then the golden ratio can be a guide for an off-centered placement.
Now that you’ve figured out where to put your tile accent strip check out my post on how to avoid a common pitfall on installing them.