Using a Notched Trowel

What You'll Need
Square-notched or V-notched Trowel
Adhesives or Setting Materials
Margin Trowel

Notched trowel is used to "comb" adhesives and setting materials onto various surfaces before tiles are applied to it. "Square" or "V" shaped notches are used to notch the trowel. It is best not to attempt to apply tile adhesives or setting material to surfaces without using a notched trowel to apply it. If the surface is horizontal, then a square notched trowel should be brought into use for combing adhesives and setting materials onto the surface. On the other hand, a V-notched trowel should be used for combing adhesives and setting materials onto vertical surfaces. A trowel’s notch comes in a selection of different depths because of the different thicknesses that tiles come in. Use a notch depth that is two-thirds of the tile’s depth you are going to tile with. This ensures the correct amount of adhesive is always applied.

Notched trowels are usually metal but it is possible to buy cheaper ones which are made of plastic. The plastic trowels are useful if you just want to use them for one project – maybe a single wall – and discard it afterwards. The metal trowels are to be cleaned after each use and used again perhaps over several days or weeks and from one project to another. If you believe that your project will take several days or weeks to complete or that future projects will need the use of a notched trowel then it is well worth spending the extra money on a good quality metal trowel and making it part of your DIY toolset.

Step 1 – Apply Adhesive

In order to explain simply and clearly in a brief, but informative manner, in the following instructions the substrate which takes the adhesives or setting materials will be called simply the ‘wall.’ Thee adhesives or setting materials are called ‘adhesive.’

Apply the adhesive to the wall over a small area. Scoop out some adhesive using the narrow edge of the trowel. Drop it on the wall and use the flat surface of the notched trowel to smooth it over the surface.

Step 2 – Comb the Area

Use the margin trowel if you need to manually mix the correct amount of adhesive and then if you need to spread the adhesive.

Use the trowel’s notched side to apply additional adhesive and comb the wall area until the notches are at their full depth in order to determine that the proper amount has been applied.

Step 3 – Smooth the Adhesive

Lightly smooth the notched adhesive using the flat long side of the trowel. This will ensure a consistent bed of adhesive will have been created to take the tile when it is applied.

Step 4 – Scrape the Adhesive

Use the margin trowel to scrape excess adhesive from the wall. Also wipe clean immediately to ensure further repeated use.

Step 5 – Apply Tile

Push the tile into the adhesive by twisting it into place. This twisting motion will seat the tile firmly to the adhesive. Apply pressure to the tile so that it makes contact across the whole of the adhesive that was applied with the notched trowel.