In order to do professional installation of any type, it is necessary to have the right tools on hand. You can’t drive a nail without a hammer and you can’t drill a hole without a drill and drill bit.
Tile installation isn’t hard, but without the right tools, it becomes downright impossible. As every professional in construction knows, their work can only be as good as the tools they use to construct it.
If you’re a professional tile installer what needs to be in your toolbox? Let’s take a look at 10 important tile installation tools you should have on hand for every job you work.
1. Notched Trowel
A notched trowel is a basic but indispensable tool for laying tile. You use it, of course, to spread the mortar necessary to bond the tile to whatever surface you’re tiling.
You will probably need at least two types of notched trowels. One with U-shaped notches and one with square shaped notches.
Each type performs a slightly different function. Thus, it is important to have both in your arsenal so you are ready to face any type of tile installation.
2. Tile Cutter
At some point, you’ll need to cut the tile to fit the area where you are installing it, then you will need a tile cutter. You may choose between a manual tile cutter or a wet saw.
The manual tile cutter has a very small rotating blade that you use to score the tile where you want to cut it. Then you push down on the lever to put pressure on both sides of your scored line.
This will cause the tile to break in a clean line. Cutting tile this way helps to avoid the tile cracking and splitting in all directions.
When choosing your manual tile cutter, pick one that offers a variety of cutting measurements as you will work with tiles of different sizes. One with double guides makes it easier to score and cut the tile as well. You’ll use it a lot so be sure to choose a quality cutter.
The manual tile cutter is the most basic and versatile way of cutting tile.
For some jobs, you may find that a wet saw will work better. Check out this post to find out more about choosing the right wet saw for your project.
3. Tile Nippers or Pincers
What about when you need to make cuts that are not in a straight line? Some of those cuts are complicated for a manual tile cutter and even for a wet saw.
That’s where a handy tool called a tile nipper comes in. Score the tile first, like you would with the manual tile cutter. Then you can use the nippers to carefully cut around the curve.
Always go slowly and patiently when you’re cutting irregular cuts in tile. Otherwise, you can easily break the piece and have to start over.
Not all jobs will require cutting around curves, so it’s possible to get away with not having one. But, as a professional, you need to have all the tools on hand to be able to complete any job that you are hired to do. So make sure you go ahead and put tile nippers on your list.
4. Diamond Drill Bits
Diamonds don’t just make lovely jewelry. As the hardest substance on the Moh’s scale of mineral hardness, they make great cutting tools.
When installing tile, it may be necessary to cut holes in it for pipes, drains or other reasons. Drilling holes in tile require a great deal of precision. Plus, the instrument you use has to be incredibly sharp and hard to make the hole without cracking the tile.
Diamond-tipped drill bits are the perfect option. You’ll want a set with different diameters so you’ll have what you need for every job.
Also, consider getting one that features wet cutting. This will help to reduce both noise and dust on the job site.
Openings on the side of the tool are a great feature as well. This helps the excess escape as you’re cutting as well as allows for air flow to keep the tips cooler. This will speed your process if you don’t have to wait for it to cool down all the time.
5. Mortar Mixer
The mortar mixer is kind of like a tile installer’s equivalent of a baker’s stand or hand mixer. It is a simple tool consisting of a motor, a rod, and paddles that go into the mortar.
However, as a professional tile installer, it’s important to have the appropriate tools. You’ll get a lot of use out of the mixer and can use it to mix other materials than just mortar. Plus, it will speed up the installation process and save your shoulders and wrists the strain of mixing by hand.
Many of you will ask yourselves if the use of an electric mixer is strictly necessary. The answer is yes, absolutely. The mixer will ultimately mix the mortar better than you could by hand.
Current mortars or thin-set contains chemical additives that need to be activated and this is only possible by using an electric mixer. This means that you’ll get a stronger bond and longer lasting tile installation.
6. Rubber Buckets
A bucket is a basic tool, but an indispensable one. Without a bucket, you can’t mix your mortar for the tile.
For this type of job, choose a rubber bucket rather than a plastic one. The mortar won’t stick as strongly to a rubber bucket, thus making it easier to clean at the end of the day and also more durable.
7. Rubber Mallet
Another important rubber tool that you will need is a rubber mallet. You use this to gently tap the tiles snugly into place once you’ve laid them in the mortar.
Don’t think you can get away with wrapping the head of a normal hammer in something soft. It won’t work and you’ll end up being frustrated by all the tiles you break with this shortcut.
You’ll save yourself a lot of money and frustration in the long run by investing in a solid rubber mallet from the get-go.
8. Grout Float
A grout float is a great tool that again has no substitute. Once you’ve laid the tile you want to fill the seams with grout to seal them off. The grout float is how you do it.
You use the tool by pressing firmly down on the tile and letting the mortar squish out and fill up the seams. Again, you might think you can jerry-rig a replacement for the grout float. However, the even pressure that you need is virtually impossible to achieve without a proper tool.
9. Grout Sponge
In a perfect world the grout would fill up the seams perfectly and you’d be done. But this world is far from perfect. You will need a sponge to clean off the excess from around each tile.
Aha! Surely you can substitute a regular sponge for a grout sponge and not have to buy a special product. But no, you can’t use a regular sponge. You’ll soon find it coming to pieces in your hand and leaving behind thick trails of grout.
A specially made grout sponge is thicker and denser and much more adequate for the work.
10. Tile Spacers
An important aesthetic quality is the spacing between each tile. It is virtually impossible to space tiles exactly the same width apart. And trust us when we say, it will be very noticeable in the finished product if the seams are uneven.
Tile spacers make quick work of this process. These are a handy little plastic device that you can slip down into the space between each tile. With the spacer in place, all you have to do is lay the tile and fit each piece snugly against the spacers.
Back in the day, tile installers used nails, screws or other random bits to space the tiles. However, this isn’t the most precise or easiest way of doing things. Spacers aren’t too expensive and well worth the investment, so don’t hesitate to add them to your toolbox.
Other Tile Installation Tools
These are the main tile installation tools that you will need to have in your arsenal. There are a few other tools that can help make the job easier or may be necessary for certain installations.
These include safety equipment like goggles and knee pads. Also, other types of saws like wet tile saws and professional motorized tile saws. And finally, leveling tools like a tile leveling system, chalk or laser lines, and a bubble level.
Looking for the best in tile installation tools? Be sure to download our catalog and browse through the quality tools we offer to fill your professional toolbox.