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How to Pick the Right Trowel to Install Your Mosaic Tile

How to Pick the Right Trowel to Install Your Mosaic Tile

In addition to being a terrific way to save money on an incredible home update, a DIY tile job can be both entertaining and productive. We're convinced that almost everyone can lay tile successfully, and we're here to offer the best advice to make sure your job is everything you'd thought it would be!

First-time tilers frequently make mistakes related to preparation and tool choice. Fortunately, it's a simple repair, and we're here to assist.


What Trowel to Use for Your Mosaic Tile Project?
The proper trowel is one of the most important but frequently forgotten tools for a DIY tile installation. It's not as easy as picking up any old trowel and hoping for tidy results! To apply adhesive to your tiles, you obviously need a piece of metal with a handle, but choosing the appropriate tool is crucial to a successful connection and the durability of your tiles.

You'll increase your chances of success by picking the appropriate type and trowel size for the tiles you wish to install! Keep reading if you're considering a DIY tile project to learn how to chose

What is tile trowel?
Let's begin with the fundamentals! In essence, a trowel's function is to apply tile adhesive to the substrate, such as your floor, wall, or ceiling, while controlling the amount of glue you apply. It contains a handle and a flat metal plate that are used to scoop up and spread the glue, making sure you always lay down the same amount of mortar to achieve a neatly tiled finish.

Your trowel does more than just distribute mortar; it also provides a level surface with just the correct amount of mortar to effectively place the tiles. In order to apply the necessary mortar coverage for your chosen type of tile, choosing the suitable trowel is crucial in this situation.

Mortar Coverage: What is it?

What does it mean to use the proper trowel to ensure proper mortar coverage when installing tile, though?

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) establishes the minimum covering requirements for tile in wet and dry locations: 80% for bathroom floors, backsplashes, fireplaces, etc., and 95% for wet areas like showers or outdoors. Wherever they are laid, natural stone tiles should have a minimum of 95% coverage.

Keep in mind that as tile sizes increase and lengthen, mortar coverage becomes increasingly crucial, especially for big format tiles with a side that is 15 inches or longer. It's also crucial that your surface be flat; if you're installing tile on a floor that has a slight slope, you'll probably need to spread your mortar thicker than is recommended.

Tip: Putting the tile down after applying the mortar, then taking it up and inspecting the back is a quick way to confirm that you have enough coverage.

If there are any gaps in the adhesive coverage on either the substrate or the back of your tile, you don't have enough mortar to completely adhere your tile to the substrate.

If you see that more than 15% of the tile's back is exposed, extra mortar is required to guarantee a strong connection and prevent cracking or chipping following installation.

The variety of tiles on the market today makes it more crucial and difficult to provide complete mortar coverage. A "one size fits all" trowel and method won't work since different tile types and sizes require varying amounts of mortar. Finding the correct trowel might be challenging because to the abundance of alternatives. When selecting the best one for your tile installation, size and shape are the two most crucial considerations!

Which trowel would be best for your project, then? Continue reading to see which trowel will work best with various installations and tile kinds.

Trowels in Various Forms (Notches)
The amount of mortar that is sandwiched between the tile and the substrate depends on the shape of the trowel's teeth, commonly known as the "notch." Notches assist establish intervals between mortar lines as well as help apply mortar in straight, even lines. When tile is pressed into the mortar, air can now escape. U-Notched, V-Notched, and Square-Notched trowels are the three shapes that are crucial to understand.

A V-notch trowel has V-shaped edges with a continuous zigzag (or sawtooth) pattern, as the name would imply. V-notch trowels spread the least amount of mortar, making them excellent for putting mosaic tiles with a mesh backing or squares smaller than 4" For wall and ceiling applications, V-notch trowels are also preferable since they distribute less mortar than Square-Notch trowels.

Square-Notched Trowels
These trowels often dispense more mortar than the other two and their square or rectangular notches produce rows of mortar with level gaps in between. The square-notch can be used for any tile larger than 4 inches, just like the U-notch. Most floor tiles are typically installed with square-notched trowels.

Using a Square Notch Trowel to Spread Mortar for Flooring Tile
As a general rule, use a square notch for big format tiles and a v-notch for mosaic tiles.

A U-notch or Square-notch trowel will work best for most average-sized tiles because the difference in adhesive spread is negligible.

Choosing the appropriate trowel size for your tile installation
In addition to the notch's design, the size of your trowel will have a significant impact on how much adhesive is applied. Remember that applying too much adhesive can make a mess and be very difficult to remove, while using too little can result in damaged or cracked tiles.

Your trowel size will depend on three things to apply the right amount of glue;

1. Mosaic tile size
2. How thick your adhesive under the tile needs to be
3. The kind of surface (e.g., floor or wall)

Once these variables have been established, be sure to comprehend how trowels are measured.

Typically, when using V-notch trowels, you will notice that there are two measurements to take into account: the notch's width and its depth.

Contrarily, square or U-notch trowels typically have three numbers to take into account: the first is the notch's width once more, the second is the distance between the notches (which is unimportant for trowels with V-notches), and the third is the notch's depth.

Most trowels' product specs contain this information.


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