Tile spacers description
Tile spacers are small accessories made out of plastic. They can have the shape of a "T" or they can look like a cross or "+" symbol. The size of spacers also varies, as they are available between 1/4 and 3/8 of an inch.
Spacers are used in tiling projects to maintain an even gap between the tiles that have been installed in the adhesive. Thus, once the adhesive dries out, the grout line that will be made will look nice and even.
To correctly use spacers, they have to be installed at the corners of each laid tile. Then the tiles will need to be pushed so that the spacer touches the corners of every tile in its proximity. These items can be removed immediately after finishing the installation of the tiles and can be used for future projects as well.
How important spacers are?
Even if most spacers available on the market are made out of plastic, it is possible to find spacers manufactured out of ceramic or wood. As mentioned earlier, their size can also differ, as they are available as follows:
- 1/8 inch
- 1/16 inch
- 3/16 inch
- 1/4 inch
- 3/8 inch
When selecting tile spacers, it is worth knowing that their size will directly impact the size of the grout joints. Determining the size of the grout joints is based on a set of factors and will tell you what kind of grouting material to use. However, in most cases, narrow grout joints are preferred. This is because wider joints provide a more generous area for stains to appear. Besides this, narrower joints make a tiled surface look more uniform, like being made out of one single slab, which is preferred by homeowners.
Buying the right spacers for a tiling project
As mentioned, the size of spacers can vary from 1/8 to 3/8 of an inch. The selection of the size is mostly based on the size of grout lines you want to obtain in the end. While it is true that thinner grout lines are easier to maintain and clean, there are cases in which thicker grout lines are required, such as when installing tiles with irregular edges. In general grout lines for walls are thinner, ranging between 1/8 and 1/4, while the size of grout lines for floors, and other horizontal surfaces, can be wider, between 1/4 and 3/8 inches. The walls of a room are not forming a proper square and you need to lay tiles on the floor of that room? Then it would be best to choose a wider grout line, for better results, which means spacers of a larger size. When choosing wider grout lines, it is easier to cover the irregularities resulted at the edge of the tiles.
How to tell how many spacers you need to finish a job? Calculating this part is simpler than you may think. You will need to count the number of tiles first, at least those you can lay within a day. Then take the found number and multiply it by 4. Then calculate a 10 to 20% overage to the obtained number. This will save you from running out of spacers when you have just a few tiles to lay to finish the project.
How to use tile spacers: useful tips
If you want to create thin grout lines along with the tiles, it will be difficult to take the spacers out by hand. In this case, pliers with a needle nose will be of great use. But, even so, operate the pliers with care, to avoid moving the tiles from their place. Also, spacers of small sizes can be quite fragile, and making one break will cause quite trouble when trying to remove it.
You don't have to use the same spacers' size for a tiling project. You can play with grout line widths to create different designs and layouts. So, using spacers of different sizes is possible. This is even used when laying mosaic or bordered-style tile patterns.
Still, you won't find any kind of help in tile spacers if you're using tile with irregular edges or pieces of tiles that have been poorly cut. In case you're laying pieces of tiles to form a mosaic pattern, spacers are useless, as it would be best to lay the pieces by eye.
- Choosing the best size for your tile spacers
The type of tiles that will be installed are the ones that will dictate the size of the spacers you need to use. If you will install small tiles, with sizes of 8x8 inches, for instance, you will need spacers for thin grout lines. Thus, sizes, in this case, vary between 1/32 and 1/16 inches. Tiles with sizes between 12x12 and 16x16 inches could use spacers sizes ranging between 1/16 and 1/8 inches, with 1/8-inch spacers being used when tiling floors. If your tiles exceed 16x16 inches, it will be quite difficult to keep them properly aligned. In this case, besides using spacers, you will need to measure each set tile. This way, you check the consistency and make adjustments if needed. Large tiles can be used to obtain grout lines of 1/16 inches in size, but it is possible to narrow these lines to as little as 1/32 inches, as long as you keep your eyes on the tiles and repair inconsistencies.
Now that you decided upon the right sizes for your spacers and you purchased them, it is time to move on to their installation. The following pieces of advice will help you make the most of your tile spacers.
- Determine the center of the room and start your measurements there. With the help of a chalk line, draw a grid you will use as guidance. Laser grids are just as good as a chalk line.
- You can start laying tiles, by positioning the first one, respecting the grid you previously made.
- Take the spacers and put them in each corner of the tile, checking for the spacers to be aligned properly and flushed.
- Continue by laying the next tile, aligning it with the first tile and its spacers.
- Take more spacers and place them in the empty corners of the newly laid tile. Continue repeating this process with all the tiles, until the entire surface is covered.
- Use your fingers or pliers to take out the spacers before the adhesive dries out completely. To do so, see just how fast the adhesive dries by reading the manufacturer's instructions.
- Once the adhesive is dry, you can begin grouting the spaces between the tiles.
It is worth knowing that you can find spacers that can be left in their position, as they allow you to grout without problems. Because these spacers feature empty spaces that allow the grout to flow freely and set adequately, they are recommended for large size tiles, as they provide additional support for the tiles.