Must-have tools for laying tiles

Laying new tiles can transform a room, but without the correct tools, it can become a DIY nightmare.


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Whether you’re planning to tile a floor or a wall – or both – the results can be striking, transforming a kitchen, bathroom or entertainment area and making it easy to maintain for years. Having the right tools for the job can be the difference between a fun or frustrating tile laying experience. The experts from TAL give us some tips on which tools to invest in.
“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.




  1. Tile cutter: Select either a manual or electrical 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 400mm tile cutter will not be able to cut a 500mm tile as the tile will be too long,”  says Margon.  
  2. 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 6mm notch is used for wall tile applications and a 10mm notch for floor tiles as well as heavy or large format wall tiles,” says Margon.
  3. Tile spacers: They ensure that tiles are evenly spaced out and that your project looks as professional as possible.
  4. Rubber mallet: This tool is specially designed to bed tiles into the adhesive without air pockets and voids forming to prevent the tiles from cracking.
  5. Spreader: 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.
  6. Grout sponge: This is made from dense foam and is designed to last longer. It allows for smoother finishing of grout and cleaning of tiles. A sponge with rounded edges will not make grooves in the grout while wiping off excess grout.


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If you’re tackling a renovation project and removing broken tiles or replacing existing tiles, a useful tool is a 3-in-1 Tile Nipper, which consists of a tile nipper with tipped jaws for cutting and shaping wall tiles, a tile pry bar for lifting and re-positioning tiles and a tile breaking chisel for breaking tiles when removing broken tiles.


Some additional tools that will make the job easier include:
•    Tile nipper – for cutting and shaping wall tiles
•    Tile scorer – used to score and snap wall and floor tiles
•    Profile gauge – to measure curves, EG. around toilet base
•    Adhesive and grout mixer, mechanical version
•    Knee pads
•    Dust mask


TAL supplies the Tilemate tiling tool range, which is available at Tile Africa outlets, tile and flooring merchants and selected hardware stores nationwide. Visit the TAL Talk blog where you’ll find handy tips to guide you when tiling, visit


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