- How to choose the best trowel for tile installation
If you like doing things with your hands and you've got some spare time available, taking in a DIY home improvement project can help you save a lot. Not to mention that you'll enjoy the satisfaction of doing something yourself. Thus, installing tiles on a floor or wall can be a great way to spend free time in a constructive manner. Tiling is a task that can be done by almost anyone, with a bit of patience, attention, and a few tools. To make things easier for you, we prepared several tips and tricks meant to help you save time and effort and obtain the desired results in your tiling endeavors.
- The working principle of a tile trowel
If you're familiar with regular trowels for masonry tasks, then it's worth knowing that a tile trowel looks very much the same. Thus, it will feature a plate made out of metal and an ergonomic handle. The purpose of this trowel is to help you spread tile adhesive and mortar easily and evenly, across a flat surface. What sets tile trowels apart? When selecting a tile trowel, you should pay attention to its notches. These notches are important because they help complete two essential tasks. A very important task performed by the notches is the even spreading of mortar, no matter how much material you scoop up with the trowel. This way, the thickness of the adhesive material is always the same. Then, the trowel allows the formation of empty spaces in between lines of adhesive. This space is required to relieve pressure as tiles are pressed into the adhesive during installation. Without the existence of these spaces, air pockets can get formed under the tiles, which keep the tiles from being laid flat and create proper adhesion with the material.
- Tile trowels with square notches
Tile trowels that feature square notches will create spaces between lines of mortar with a flat and regular shape. Compared with trowels equipped with V-shaped notches, these ones are capable of spreading a bigger quantity of mortar. At the same time, the generous spaces they create allow more room for the mortar to settle and smush. In general, this type of trowel is used for the majority of floor tiling projects and for almost any tile that has a size of more than 2 square inches.
It is worth knowing that the so-called "U"-notch trowel is considered a variation of the square-notch trowel. If the square-notch trowel delivers too much mortar for your project, the U-notch can be a better option, as the amount of delivered mortar is smaller. Also, you can use this trowel wherever a square-notch trowel may go.
- Tile trowels with V-shaped notches
It is very easy to identify V-notch trowels, as they have a clear sawtooth or zig-zag pattern on the edges of the plate. If you need to lay tiles that are smaller in size, like tiles under 2 inches or even mosaic, this type of trowel is the best option. The reason behind such an option is the fact that a lower quantity of mortar is dispersed across the surface, which suits small tiles better. Due to the same reason, this trowel is used when installing tiles on walls or ceilings.
- The sizes of notches
To decide upon the best size of notches, you first need to understand the meaning of the number indicated on the product. Thus, you will notice several numbers mentioned on the trowel, for example "1/4 x 3/8 x 1/4". The first number is the width of the tool, in this case 1/4 inches. The second number represents the space between the teeth of the trowel, for our example 3/8 inches. And, finally, the third number indicates the depth of the teeth, 1/4 inches in this case.
However, it is possible to find trowels that will mention only two numbers instead of three. When this happens, you need to know that the first number mentioned represents both the width and spacing between the teeth. The second number is the depth of the teeth. This is commonly met among V-notch trowels, which feature only two numbers. Thus, you will see mentioned the width and depth of the trowel.
- How to select the best notch size
Now that you know what the values of these numbers represent, you wonder how to determine which of them will help you deliver top results. To start with, simply talking to the supplier of your tiles may lead you to the ideal notch size for your tiling project. Ideally, you should perform a test before installing the tiles. You should try to lay a few tiles on a layer of mortar, then lift them up, seeing just how much mortar reached the tile and the surface below it. This is known by professionals as being the "coverage".
Regarding the coverage, there are a few aspects that must be remembered. If you install tiles in dry areas of a house, the coverage should reach 80%. For tiles installed in wet areas, such as the bathroom, the coverage must reach 95%, the least. This means that 95% of the tile should be in direct contact with the mortar, and 5% or less should be dry, without any mortar. When installing tiles, you need to make sure that the corners of each tile get mortar, regardless of the recommended level of coverage for the tile.