Taking on a tiling project can be a daunting task. Even before you can consider choosing your tiles there is a lot of prior planning required. The first task would be to measure up your space. Then looking at how best to prepare the area that you plan to tile. Are the walls flat? Do they need a skim of plaster? Do they need resheeted with a suitable backer board? Are the floors fully secured to reduce movement and reduce the likelihood of broken tiles? Are the floors flat and even? If not you will need to look at our floor levelling compound?
When all this has been planned you are in a place to choose suitable tiles for your project. We have a huge selection of tiles, we are confident from our vast offerings that there will be something to suit your project. From rustic and natural stones to modern and contemporary we have something to fit all styles. This then leads on to making sure you have the correct grout, adhesive and the right tools to carry out the job. If deciding on what equipment you need to complete a large or small tiling project is a daunting prospect then don’t worry as help is at hand in the form of this handy tiling tools guide…
Essential Tiling Tools
A lot of tiling tools are quite versatile and can be used whether tiling a wall, floor, splashback, wetroom or whatever. These lists however aim to provide you with a checklist of all the things you can’t start a job without.
Measuring up accurately is perhaps the most important task when tackling a tiling project – after all, one those tiles have been cut and adhered to your substrate there’s no going back. Make sure you have a good quality tape measure (with no obscured markings) before you start and measure both the surfaces you intend to tile on to and the tiles themselves before moving on to the next task. Once you’ve done that, measure the lot again to ensure that you don’t end up with a nasty surprise when you begin to dry lay your tiles.
Pencil / Tile Marker
The old adage measure twice cut once is something that is critical when marking out cuts for tiles, make sure your measurement is accurate before attempting to cut any tiles. It’s important to mark the tiles correctly otherwise you could wind up with lots of wasted tiles due to inaccurate cuts. The biggest cause of this inaccurate guide lines, and off-centre holes for pipes if you don’t measure and mark up accurately. Make sure you have a couple of pencils lying about when in the midst of your tiling project so there’s always one within reach. We recommend investing in a pack of chinagraph pencils – they’re great for marking on hard, glossy surfaces such as ceramic and porcelain. Your marked up line will also stay visible if using a wet cutter and won’t wash off.
We recommend using one of these for tapping wall and floor tiles level during fixing, or removing old and unwanted tiles. The rubber mallet allows you to use a reasonable amount of force to help set the tile into the bed of adhesive and get the surface completely level.
Unless you have perfectly equal walls or floors, at some point you’re going to have to cut a few tiles. Most can be cut with precision using a Rail Cutter. These simple devices are very easy to use – most variants incorporate a scribe wheel; a wheel construed from hard material such as tungsten carbide which is dragged over the tile to ‘score’ it. The ‘breaking arm’ is then pushed down after scribing to break the tile along the straight mark. Rail tile cutters available in a variety of sizes too, so no matter how big or small your tiles, you will be able to cut them to whatever dimensions you require.
Some of the more hardy tiles such as Quartz tiles and high grade porcelain tiles may need to be cut using a wet wheel cutter. These cutters normally come with water reservoir to keep the blade cool. Most will have a flat bed in order to pass the blade through the tile. These cutters will normally be used for any curved cuts or if you want to take a piece out of a tile. With these wet cutters there can be an amount of residue released into the atmosphere, to avoid breathing this in we offer a dust mask, more about these will feature later in the post.
For smaller, more fiddly cuts though, you’ll definitely need a pair of these. Tile nippers are ideal for taking of small pieces of tile, they are great for tidying up rough edges of a tile. Before new technologies were introduced into tiling these were a tilers main way to cut a tile for anything that wasn’t a straight line, but they are still a key tool even today. You’re likely to come across as many irregular cuts as you are straight ones throughout the course of your project, and that’s where Tile Nippers come into their own. These pliers-like handheld tools are perfect for gripping and nipping small chunks of tile in a controlled fashion, meaning you can snip away and create the cut that you require in order to tile around pipes, sanitary ware, and light fittings etc.
There’s nothing worse than selecting some aesthetically pleasing tiles and expertly cutting and laying them only to to find that your spacing is all off-kilter when it comes to grouting. Such DIY disasters are avoidable though with the help of just a few small bits of plastic. Yes, Tile Spacers are incredibly handy little things that, as their name suggests, help you equally space tile during installation. Spacers are generally cross-shaped and come in a variety of sizes from 2mm to 5mm, and are used by either pushing between four corners of adjoining tiles or turned on edge and positioned where the edge of one tile sits atop of another.
We also have introduced a T-Spacer into our range. Perfect for if you are tiling in a ‘brick bond’ pattern without having to break bits of a cross style spacer.
If you think you’re going to complete a tiling project without getting at least a little bit messy then think again. Mixing both adhesive and grout involves a bit of water but you can minimise the amount of mess you make by ensuring you have a respectable receptacle to mix it in. Don’t be tempted to cut corners and use an old washing up bowl – it’ll do the job but you will get stuff EVERYWHERE. Save yourself from a huge post-job clean-up operation by investing in a sturdy bucket in which to do your mixing. We stock a massive 35L version featuring a handy measuring gauge, so you can get your quantities spot on.
Although not strictly essential a mixing paddle is always a good tool to have in your arsenal as it’ll save you a lot of effort when mixing grout and adhesives. Sure, you can do that manually with a trowel or an improvised stirrer but a proper, designed-for-the-task-in-hand mixing paddle will ensure that materials are mixed effectively and shave quite a bit off the time it takes to complete your project. Mixing paddles are usually constructed from high-grade steel and are designed to fit most power drills. They allow you to mix the required product fully without leaving any dry unmixed product or air bubbles. They will help especially with grout to help eliminate any ‘patchy’ areas being left where the grout hasn’t been mixed properly and so when it has dried there is very obvious colour variation in certain parts of the grout.
Consisting of a flat rubber base topped off with a handle, a grout float is a sort of trowel that is used to press the grout in to the gaps in between your freshly laid tiles. The rubber part acts almost like a squeegee and is construed from that particular material to prevent damage to the tiles when applying grout. They can become quite worn over time and will need replacing, however, they’re quite inexpensive so you won’t have to break the bank should you need another when the next tiling job comes around. If used in conjunction with a small grout scourer you can keep the project as clean as possible as you go along.
Small Grout Scourer
A small coarse scouring pad, for the removal of stubborn grout and adhesive residue from tiled surfaces. Perfect for keeping your tiles clean as you go along, in order to keep the amount of grout residue to deal with to a minimum once the grout has dried on the surface of the tiles. This tool is really handy if you have selected a tile with a rougher surface, where grout residue is like to build up more.
The daddy of the tiling tool world, a Notched Trowel is the only way to spread adhesive on to your substrate. Believe us, nothing else will do (unless you want tiles falling off all over the place). Used for spreading thinset mortar on floors or thicker mastic on to floors, these sturdy trowels are made from steel and feature notches set into one end and the leading edge. Different trowels feature different sized and shaped notches; square notched trowels give a thicker bed would usually be used for floors whereas trowels with curved notches are better for walls. Make sure you choose the right trowel for the job in hand. We offer a perfect plastic trowel for those wanting to avoid having to buy more than 1 trowel for their project if you require a different size notch for wall and floor due to your selected tiles.
So you’ve let the adhesive cure, expertly applied your grout, removed the spacers, and now everything looks great, right? Wrong. There’s a good chance that the surfaces of your lovely tiles are covered in grout. That’s where a heavy duty sponge comes in handy as you will be able to clean up as you go along. Make sure you buy a proper, dense-celled, dual-purpose sponge though as those little scourers you have under the sink or the floppy old thing your wash the car with will be no use at removing lingering grout.
Drills / Drill Bits / Drill Guides
There will be scenarios where you will need to create a hole in your tiles. This will usually occur where there are any pipes your are tiling around, or around a fitted shower. We offer a number of different sized drill bits which can be attached to a masonry drill in order to create the right torque to pass through the tile easily. We offer diamond drill bits designed to cope with the toughest of tiles and a circular drill which will work with the softer ceramic tiles we sell. In conjunction with these drill bits we have disposable drill guides which can adhere to a tile surface to stop the drill slipping across the surface of the tile.
Tile Levelling System
To be used for both floor and wall, our levelling bases and wedges will help you achieve a level tiled surface. The levelling bases are available in both 1 and 2mm grout joints, for use with tile thickness from 3 – 12mm. The tile levelling wedges and levelling pliers are sold separately.
Dust Mask / Disposable Gloves
Along with all the tools for doing the job you are going to want to protect yourself at the same time. For this purpose we have dust masks and disposable gloves available. The dust mask is great to prevent you inhaling any of the stoor and residue that is created when mixing up any adhesive or grouts. The disposable gloves are easy to use, throw away PVC tiling gloves. For protection against skin irritation when grouting and mixing tile adhesive. They are also great when using black coloured grouts which are renowned for staining your hands!!
So there you have it – these are the basic tools you need to do an adequate tiling job on either walls or floors. Of course, there’s other ‘nice to have’s’ such as Knee Pads, Silicone Guns, Mosaic Backers, but the tools listed above should see you right. If you need any further help with your tiling project then give our friendly customer services team a call on 01324 619496.