Whether you're laying tiles on the floor or the wall spaces, you'll need the right tools for the job. Discover the different types of tiling tools that should be included in your toolbox so you can work with efficiency and ease.
While tiling can be considered an art, you can’t be too creative when it comes to the tools needed for installing them. Using subpar materials can be tough especially when you undertake a serious tiling job. You run the risk of getting bogged down at the task, damaging the tile or the tool, or worst, even hurting yourself.
With the right tools, you can get done with a tiling job in as little as just more than a day. Check out what you’ll need for working with your favorite finish.
Table of Contents
- Tile Scribe
- Straight Edge
- Tile Cutter
- Margin Trowel
- Finishing Trowel
- Gauging Trowel
- Notch Trowel
- Pointing Trowel
- Wet Saw
- Spiral Mixer
- Tile Nippers
- Tile Rub Stone
- Hand Saw
- Tile Drill Bits
- Rubber Mallet
- Hole Cutter
- Profile Gauge
- Notched Spreader
- Grouting Spreader
- Screed Set
- Angle Measuring Tool
- Grout Bag
- Leveling Floor Pliers
- Level Wedges
Tile scribes are tools that generally have a very hard tip so they are able to easily mark and score a glazed tile so it can be broken in the correct place. Without using a tile scribe to score your tiles, you will find it very difficult to get them to break in the right place, which will mean that you end up wasting a lot of tiles instead of being able to use them. Tile scribes need to be used in conjunction with a straight edge so you can create a straight line for breaking the tile. While a tile scribe won’t break through the tile by itself, it does make it possible for the person laying the tile to snap the tile in half along the line.
Imperative for correctly using a tile scribe, a straight edge makes scoring your tiles for cutting fast and easy. Without using a straight edge, you will find that you are unable to mark your tiles correctly and that they will break unevenly as a result. This can cost you a lot of time and money, which is why using a straight edge each time you pick up your tile scribe is very important.
There are a number of different types of tile cutters on the market, but they all have the same purpose, and that is to cut your tile into the correct size and shape for your project. While many people prefer to use a tile scribe because it is smaller and easier to learn how to use, a tile cutter is much more reliable and faster to use once you understand how to operate it. Generally, they have a scribe wheel that the user will pull across the surface of the tile to score it.
There is also a breaking arm that is pushed onto the tile to help break it cleanly and evenly along the mark left by the scribe wheel. It’s important to make sure that the tile cutter you buy is large enough to handle the tiles you will be cutting. It’s also important to ensure that you can easily replace the scribe wheel on your tile cutter so you don’t have to buy a whole new tool when the wheel wears out.
One of the types of trowels that you are going to need when you are laying tile is a margin trowel. These have a very distinct shape that makes them easy to tell apart from other types of trowels. They are v-shaped in the back and have a rectangular front. Due to their unique shape, they are ideal for mixing, scooping, and spreading materials such as thinsets. Their shape makes them ideal for working in tight quarters.
Also known as “float trowels,” these trowels have a large, flat blade that is shaped like a rectangle and a handle that comes out of the middle of the blade. Finishing trowels are used to smooth a surface. You can easily buy them in a number of different lengths and widths to ensure that you have the right size for your project.
These trowels have a v-shape in the back and a rounded tip that make them perfect for mixing small amounts of compound or mortar. You’ll have complete control over your mixing when you use one of these trowels for the job.
Used mostly to spread mortar and thinset, notch trowels are available with many different sizes and shapes of teeth, which allows you to easily apply the right amount of adhesive for your tiling work. Look for notch trowels that are available with square, slant-notch, u-notch, and even v-notch teeth.
These trowels are easy to identify thanks to their pointed tip. They are perfect for working in very small areas and spreading your mortar or thinset in places that other trowels would not be able to fit in. They are similar in shape and use to a brick trowel, but are significantly smaller.
To be able to quickly and accurately cut as much tile as possible, you will want to invest in a quality wet saw to speed up your job. While many people worry about the safety of using a wet saw, as long as you are careful when using the saw, you will not be in any danger and will find that you can quickly cut tile to the exact size that you need for your project.
Using a wet saw is better than a regular saw because the water helps keep the diamond-coated blades from overheating and becoming dangerous. It is easy to cut small shapes, bevels, and even odd angles with the help of a wet saw – shapes that would be impossible to cut otherwise. The main area of concern when using a wet saw is making sure there is water running over the blade to keep it from overheating. Replacing your blades when they dull is also important as doing so will help keep you safe.
It’s important that you make sure that the wet saw you buy for your tiling project offers a diamond blade, a blade guard, overload protection, and an adjustable guide fence. These will all help keep you safe. You also need a water tank to hold the water used when the saw is running and a waterproof switch to turn the saw on and off.
If you need to mix a lot of grout for a tile job, you may want to invest in a spiral mixer to make the job faster and easier. Rather than getting tired trying to mix all of your mortar or grout by hand, when you invest in a spiral mixer, the whole process will go much faster and more smoothly, and you won’t have to worry about whether or not your product is mixed completely or evenly. These mixers attach to a power drill to make it easy to thoroughly mix your product without breaking a sweat. Make sure you have a large five-gallon bucket to hold the product while it is being mixed so that it does not splash everywhere.
Tile spacers are very helpful for ensuring that when you lay your tiles, they are all the same distance from each other and are at the correct angles so they do not get out of shape. No matter whether you are installing tile on a countertop, floor, or wall, spacers will make the job a lot easier. After you have spread your adhesive onto your surface, you simply need to set a tile down and gently twist it into place.
Then, place spacers on the sides of the tile, checking to ensure that they are straight when you put them into place. They can be used to create any size of width that you want between your tiles. When your tiles have been placed but haven’t completely adhered, you will want to go back and remove your spacers before allowing the tile to finish drying, and then laying the grout.
While not ideal for cutting straight edges off of tile, tile nippers are perfect for making circular cuts that would otherwise be impossible to achieve with a tile saw. It’s important when using tile nippers to first outline where you are going to be cutting so you do not accidentally take off too much of the tile. Take your time and remove very small pieces of the tile so you do not accidentally break it. One problem with using tile nippers is that they leave the surface edge of the tile very hard and dangerous, so you need to make sure that you smooth out the edges.
Tile Rub Stone
Any sharp edges left on your tile can be very dangerous and can cause you to catch your fingers or your feet on the tile, depending on its location. If you have used tile nippers, you need to make sure that you smooth down the edges of your tile so they are not dangerous to anyone in your household. Using a tile rub stone is the best and fastest way to do this. These are specially designed to make it easy to smooth out the rough edges left on tile when it has been cut so that you aren’t in danger of getting injured.
These tile saws are necessary so you can easily cut irregular shapes in your tile without having to use tile nippers. While tile nippers are ideal for fine and small work, you can often use a tile saw without having to worry about making a mistake as long as you are working on straight lines.
They need to be large enough so that you can easily accommodate the tile that you are cutting, so it’s important to buy one that offers ample room for your size of tile. You will need to use a tile cutting blade that is round and has cutting edges on all sides of the blade, so you can use it as easily as possible. Make sure that when you use a tile saw, you cut from the glazed side of the tile and cut on the down, not up, stroke with the blade.
Tile Drill Bits
If you are going to be drilling through tile, you need to invest in the right drill bits for the job or you will become frustrated breaking all of your drill bits. Tile drill bits can easily be used with a regular hand drill, but it’s important to use the drill on a low speed to keep it from overheating or damaging your tile. These tile drill bits have carbide on them to ensure that they are able to cut through the hard surface of tile, and can also easily drill through mirrors and glass as well.
Because tile is so brittle and easy to damage when you are working with it, you need to make sure to take care that you do not accidentally damage any of your tile. When you use a rubber mallet, you will be able to easily edge your tiles into the correct position without worrying about them being damaged. The soft head is large enough to easily hit the tile in the right location, and the blow’s force is spread out over a large area of the tile so you don’t have to worry about it shattering or breaking. Even though a rubber mallet is perfect for putting in tile and is gentler than a regular hammer, you still need to be careful and use very little force when tapping tiles into place.
If you do not want to use a tile drill bit or can’t find one, you can use a hole cutter instead. These have a diamond cutting edge that comes in direct contact with the surface of the tile. They range in size so you can find the perfect one for your needs, and they will easily work with a regular power drill. When used correctly, you will enjoy a very smooth finish and surface. Generally, when using a hole cutter, you will want to use water to lubricate it and ensure that it does not wear down too quickly. Also be careful when using one as they do not have a locating point like drill bits do, which can make them a bit more difficult to use.
Sharp and rough edges are very dangerous when you are installing tile, and the best thing to do is to file them down right away so you aren’t injured either during installation or when your project is finished. Using a file is easy, but it is important that you work slowly and only remove small amounts of tile at a time. Look for a tile file that has both a curved and a flat face so that you can easily file and smooth out both contoured and straight edges without having to find another tool for the job.
This handy tool makes it easy to transfer various shapes onto your tile so that it can be cut correctly. While they are indispensable for tiling, they are also very helpful for woodworking as well.
If you do not want to have to use a trowel to spread your adhesive, you can benefit from buying and using a notched spreader. These make it easy to spread adhesive quickly and evenly so you don’t have to worry about whether or not it is too thin or thick in certain places. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes.
Using a notched spread with a “v” notch is ideal for when you are installing tile in light or ordinary duty areas and aren’t worried about your tile needing to stand up to a lot of heavy use. On the other hand, if you are tiling in a high-traffic area and are worried about the tile slipping or popping out of the adhesive, you will want to use a spreader that has square notches instead. These provide a higher percentage of area coverage and are ideal for use in damp areas like showers as well as on floors.
Once your tiles are in place and the adhesive has dried, you will need to make sure that you can easily and correctly put grout between the tiles. Using a grouting spreader will speed up this job and make it significantly easier for you to complete. These come with a flexible edge that helps push and pull the grout around on the tiles without accidentally scratching or damaging your tiles. If you notice that the flexible edge of your grouting spreader has become damaged, you will need to replace it or you will have problems grouting. They can easily become damaged due to how abrasive grout tends to be.
Dealing with an uneven floor can be a nightmare, but there are a few tools that can help ensure that you have a level surface on which to tile. One of the products that you need is a screed set. These sets make it very easy to ensure that you have a level surface and that your tiles will not be uneven or at risk of popping out in the future.
Angle Measuring Tool
If you need to cut your tiles into different angles, using an angle measuring tool that was made specifically for this purpose will make the job much quicker and easier. It can be almost impossible for people to determine the angle at which they need to cut their tile, but using this tool will not only allow you to measure the angle that you need but also to mark it on your tile.
After you have grouted your tile, you will need to remove any excess grout from the surface of your tile before it dries. A large sponge is ideal for this purpose. Unlike kitchen sponges which are significantly smaller and have an abrasive side, a sponge for tiling work is very large, can hold plenty of water, and is soft all over so you do not accidentally scratch the surface of your tiles. Using a sponge makes it easy to wash away your tiles and reveal their beauty when you are finished applying the grout.
A level is imperative to use if you want to make sure that your tiles are all positioned correctly and that they will not be uneven when your surface is finished. No matter whether you are installing tile on a floor, a countertop, or a wall, it’s important that you use a level. Not only will uneven tile be difficult to walk on or work on, but it also won’t look very nice and will lower the quality and the appearance of your project when it is finished.
Using a grout bag is a great way to reduce the amount of cleanup that you have to do when you are finished putting grout in your new tile. Grout bags are similar to piping bags that are used to decorate cakes in that they hold an amount of grout so the user can easily squeeze out the correct amount and direct where it needs to go. Look for one that is made of seamless vinyl so you don’t have to worry about it bursting while you are using it.
Leveling Floor Pliers
These pliers make it very easy to evenly install tile without worrying about how slow you will go. They make it possible to quickly lay a lot of tile. When you buy leveling floor pliers, you will enjoy that they have adjustable tension so they can be adjusted to fit the type and size of tile that you are using. Additionally, they help improve the adhesion of your tile.
These wedges will help you avoid any changes in height when installing your new tile. Your tiles will not shift position when they are drying, which means you won’t have to go back and make any changes in the future. Look for wedges that can be used multiple times and which are of high quality.