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How To DIY The Moroccan Pattern With Fish Scale Tiles or Ogee Drops

Do you remember my post early this year delving into the history of ogee drop tiles? They are otherwise referred to as Moroccan fish scale tiles. I hope you remember because that backsplash is one of my most favourite features of our house. A couple weeks ago I received an email from a reader who purchased similar tiles and was having difficulty figuring out how to begin laying them to achieve the iconic pattern that we used in our kitchen.

In that post I spent a lot of time talking about what an ogee drop tile actually is, and breaking down the misnomer Moroccan fish scale tile. As you remember, the ogee drop arranged in the right pattern looks remarkably like a fish scale, which is why they have been dubbed fish scale tiles. We went over the history of the ogee arch and it’s English Gothic roots, dissecting where Moroccan comes into the mix.

However, I didn’t spend any time talking about how we came to have it successfully installed on our wall. To begin with, I went looking for the most experienced tile layer I could find. He was 80-years-old man and knew more than a thing about tiles. Even with his decades of accumulated knowledge we had multiple powwows to confer about how he would translate the pattern laid out on my counter top on to the wall. So, I’m going to share some diagrams with you today that I hope will help you if you decide to DIY this project, or that will help your tile installer if you can’t find a tile installer who feels comfortable working with the Moroccan fish scale tiles, or ogee tiles, as I prefer to refer to them.

moroccan pattern ogee drop or fish scale tiles

Fireclay Tile

Making this Moroccan pattern, as Fireclay Tile has dubbed it, is actually rather easy once you see it broken down. It begins with two simple principles: symmetry and centres. The first thing you should do is find the centre of the wall where the tile will be laid and draw a vertical line depicting that centre. The tiles should be placed moving outward from that centre, beginning at the counter top (or horizontal surface of choice) and fanning upward towards the cabinetry or ceiling to create a symmetrical effect.

To create the base row that sits along the counter top you will need to cut a number of the ogee tiles (or Moroccan fish scale tiles) along the red line depicted below in my infographics. You will then alternate the two pieces of the tile along the horizontal surface, working out from the centre line you drew. Once this portion of the backsplash is finished the rest of the task is quite simple, just like fitting pieces of a puzzle together. You will find that you can’t go wrong as you move up the wall, as the tiles will be impossible to arrange incorrectly if you have done the base layer correct.

diy moroccan fish scale tiles or ogee drop moroccan pattern

diy moroccan fish scale tiles or ogee drop moroccan pattern

I hope these two diagrams will help you better understand how to correctly install ogee tiles in order to achieve this unique design. I believe it elevates the look of this tile from the more common Moroccan fish scale pattern, into a more timeless midcentury modern inspired look. Have fun and please comment or email me if you have any more questions as I am always happy to share my experiences!


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  • Reply Eric

    What is the spacing between the tiles?

    November 13, 2016 at 9:47 pm
    • Reply Jenn Schleich

      Hey Eric, I don’t know how I missed your comment so sorry. Our tile installer eyeballed the spacing based on his experience, but I believe you could use those plastic tile spacers they sell at home depot.

      August 15, 2017 at 9:27 pm

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