DIY: essential tiling tools

2015-07-30 06:00
Tile cutter.

Tile cutter.

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IF you’re planning on tackling a significant tiling job it is worth investing in the correct tools and materials for the job at hand.

Laying new tiles in your home, whether it’s on the floor or against the wall, is an investment that will update the room and offer a durable and easy- to-maintain surface for years to come.

The tools can, however, make or break the tile-laying experience; therefore avoid tackling the project with substandard tools or tools that aren’t really designed for tiling.

“Using good-quality tools will result in a professional floor and wall tile installation and the tools will also last longer as they’re designed for the job,” says Sharon Margon, technical adviser at TAL.

Tile cutter

Select either a manual or electric cutter. Cutters are available in a range of sizes.

“It is important to use the correct cutter for the size of tile you are installing. For example, a 400 mm tile cutter will not be able to cut a 500 mm tile as the tile will be too long,” she says.

Adhesive trowel

It spreads the adhesive evenly and effectively to ensure correct contact with the tile. An adhesive trowel has a straight and notched edge.

The straight edge spreads the adhesive, while the notched edge ensures that an adequate amount of adhesive is spread across the work surface when pulling the trowel through the adhesive.

The notched edge makes grooves that allow air to escape when the tile is pressed into the adhesive.

The size of the notch also varies for floor and wall applications.

“The general rule is that a 6 mm notch is used for wall-tile applications and a 10 mm notch for floor tiles, as well as heavy or large-format wall tiles,” says Margon.Tile spacers

These ensure that tiles are evenly spaced and that your project looks as professional as possible.

Rubber mallet

It’s specially designed to bed tiles into the adhesive without air pockets and voids forming, to prevent the tiles from cracking.


A combination spreader consists of a notched edge for fast application of grout, a squeegee for rapid grout application and includes a grout finishing profile.

Grout sponge

This is made from dense foam and is designed to last longer. It allows for a smoother finishing of grout and the cleaning of tiles.

A sponge with rounded edges will not make grooves in the grout while wiping off excess grout.

Additional tools to make the job easier

• Tile nipper - for cutting and shaping wall tiles.

• Tile scorer - used to score and snap wall and floor tiles.

• Profile gauge - to measure curves, for example around the toilet base and to then cut the tile according to the shape.

• Adhesive and grout mixer, mechanical version.

• Knee pads.


IF you’re tackling a renovation project and will be removing broken tiles or replacing existing tiles, consider how you are going to remove the tiles. There are a number of tools that can be used to remove existing tiles:

Three-in-one tile nipper

This multifunctional three-in-one tiling tool is perfect for replacing broken tiles. It consists of a tile nipper with tipped jaws for cutting and shaping wall tiles, a tile pry bar for lifting and repositioning tiles, and a tile-breaking chisel for use when removing broken tiles.

Heavy-duty tile remover

This professional quality tool can be used to remove wall and floor tiles as well as carpets and vinyl tiles. The tile remover is made with reinforced steel; therefore it can be used in conjunction with a hammer

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