Ceramic Tile Tools: Setting, Grouting, and Sealing

The many ceramic tile tools you’ll need for a tiling project can pose quite a challenge, but we have just the thing to make it easy for you. The following is a comprehensive list of ceramic tile tools—ranging from tile setting tools to grout sealing tool—and a brief guide on how to use them.

Tile Setting Tools

Notched Trowel: This tool is a flat piece of metal with a handle. It has both flat edges for smoothing adhesive and notches to enable you to score the surface of the adhesive. Different trowels have notches of different sizes and shapes. As each adhesive is different, so is the type of notched trowel you will use.

Rubber Mallet: A rubber mallet is useful for gently tapping small tiles into the adhesive without damaging the surface of the tiles.

Bedding Block and Hammer: A bedding block is simply a piece of wood which has a surface covered in a piece of soft material – like a scrap piece of carpet – to protect the tile. You will use a hammer to strike the bedding block as you slide it across the tiles. This will push the tiles into the adhesive evenly without damaging them.

Tools for Grouting Tiles

Spacers: Some tiles come complete with built-in spacers, but more than likely you will need to purchase small plastic spacers. These “x”-shaped pieces will insure that you get even grout joints. To use them, you simply place them at the location where four tile corners meet. Depending upon the type of spacers, you will either have to remove them before they become stuck to the adhesive permanently or grout over them once the adhesive has cured.

Rubber Float or Squeegee: Use these tools to push grout over the tiled surface and into the joints. These work well for large areas. However, colored grout may need special care, as smoothing this grout over certain tiles may actually stain the tiles.

Grout Bag: This bag is much like the type of bag cake decorators use to ice cakes. Squeezing the bag pushes the grout through a tube, allowing you to get into smaller joints. It is also useful for colored grout. However, this tool can be difficult to use. On your first tiling project, it is advisable to stick with the rubber float/squeegee method of applying grout.

Striking Tool: This tool, which can be purchased or made from household objects, will allow you to get clean, concave grout joints. Simply run the tool over the joints with slight pressure to achieve this effect.

Grout Sealing Tool

Foam Rubber Roller:
A foam rubber paint roller is useful in applying sealant before and after grouting.

Setting, grouting, spacing, and sealing tiles is a snap if you know what tools are needed for specific projects. After a few ceramic tile projects, you will begin to get a feel for which tools work best for you.